Too Long Away, We Revisit an Old Friend

You did not think that I would cast you adrift to wander the wilds of Wordsworth alone did you?  Or more like you are thinking, "I thought we'd gotten away from that obsession."  Ah, but no.  Wordsworth is more than an obsession, more than a moment's preoccupation.  He is one of the few poets I can think of who offers what amounts to a real vacation in the middle of you day or week as you read him.

For those tracking closely, we pick up where we left off in book 6.

from The Prelude Book VI
William Wordsworth

Mighty is the charm
Of those abstractions to a mind beset
With images, and haunted by herself,
And specially delightful unto me
Was that clear synthesis built up aloft
So gracefully; even then when it appeared
Not more than a mere plaything, or a toy
To sense embodied: not the thing it is
In verity, an independent world,
Created out of pure intelligence.

Part of the continuing Ode to Geometry--as unlikely a subject as one can bring to mind with only a moment's thought--Wordsworth tells us what the interest is.  Geometry pulls the poet who is caught up in words and images out of that vast and deep pool--it pulls the poet out of self with the contemplation of a higher, more abstract thing.  But Geometry, like poetry builds.  It builds on what has come before.  Just as poetry advances image by image and poet by poet, so too with geometry and in the end of both you have created a new world.  They are of different types, but both are new and alive in unexpected and unaccountable ways.


  1. "...a real vacation in the middle of your day or week as you read him."

    I've noticed the same.

  2. Today I went to the French alps...Also from Book VI:

    ...The wondrous Vale
    Of Chamouny stretched far below, and soon
    With its dumb cataracts and streams of ice,
    A motionless array of mighty waves,
    Five rivers broad and vast, made rich amends,
    And reconciled us to realities;
    There small birds warble from the leafy trees,
    The eagle soars high in the element,
    There doth the reaper bind the yellow sheaf,
    The maiden spread the haycock in the sun,
    While Winter like a well-tamed lion walks,
    Descending from the mountain to make sport
    Among the cottages by beds of flowers.

    Whate'er in this wide circuit we beheld,
    Or heard, was fitted to our unripe state
    Of intellect and heart. With such a book
    Before our eyes, we could not choose but read
    Lessons of genuine brotherhood, the plain
    And universal reason of mankind,
    The truths of young and old.

  3. Dear Bea,

    It is a source of much delight to me that some have taken up _The Prelude_, perhaps partially as a result of my poor efforts here to make it better known. People don't much care for long poetry, but I think your passage here shows clearly that this long form can be as readable and more lovely than any comparable prose.



  4. Steven -- Not only have you prompted me to put The Prelude in my reading queue, your Dublin posts also inspired me to return to Ulysses 20 years after my first attempt to read it. The book is a blast; wish I hadn't waited so long to dig into it again. These associations and inspirations really are the great joys of this whole blogging business...

  5. Dear Jeff,

    When thinking about my MA thesis two topics presented themselves to me as logical possibilities--Analysis of linking passages in Li Haute Livre du Saint Graal (popularly--the Perlesvaus) or Braided Streams of Consciousness--Images of the Interior life from Joyce and Wolfe.

    Amazing the way (great?) minds think alike?

    I love _Ulysses_. (But I guess that is pretty obvious here, hein?)



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