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Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” and “Tintern Abbey” ENGL 203 Dr. Fike.

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Presentation on theme: "Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” and “Tintern Abbey” ENGL 203 Dr. Fike."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” and “Tintern Abbey” ENGL 203 Dr. Fike

2 Reminder I have your tests. Please remind me to return them to you at the end of class. Explain grading system. We’ll talk about the content of the test after you have a chance to go over it on your own.

3 Review of Blake What kind of states are innocence and experience? This schema is an example of secularizing the sacred, a typical move in the Romantic period. Pre-existence  ? According to Blake, is nature good for the imagination? For Blake, which sense has the potential to redeem humankind? For Blake, what IS the imagination?

4 Imagination for Blake The Real Man The Christ in us An emanation of the divine spark in each of us The agent of renewal and of unity WW: Imagination = “Reason in her most exalted mood” (The Prelude 14.188-92).

5 Blake and WW on Nature Blake: Nature is a hindrance to the imagination. WW: Nature is the NURSE of the imagination. WW’s threefold understanding of nature: –External nature: scenery –All of existence –A presence/divine life that informs the whole and every part. A quasi-divine ministering presence. –See “TA,” lines 100ff.: “A motion and a spirit, that impels / All thinking things, all objects of all thought, / And rolls through all things.”

6 WW’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” What are the main points in WW’s theory of poetry? –What is poetry’s subject (595-96, 606)? –What is poetry’s purpose (603 and 607)? –What is poetry’s objective (603)? –What kind of language should poetry use (599, 696, 598-99, 600)? Take two minutes and see if you can find the answers.

7 Answers Subject: –Incidents from everyday life. –Psychology: Page 596: “the primary laws of our nature” Page 606: “the great universal passions of man” Page 144: “Into our Minds, into the Mind of man— / My haunt, and the main region of my song.” Purpose: Pleasure. Objective: Truth. Type of language: everyday diction that sounds like prose—”the language of men” (599). Differences from 18 th century: –Hazlitt’s comment that WW’s muse is a democratic and leveling one (vs. 18 th century poetry about aristocracy). –Neo-Classical poetry uses elevated diction.

8 What Is a Poet? See pages 601-02 and 605. Let’s read this together.

9 Answers A poet: –“is a man speaking to men” –Knows a lot—“greater knowledge of human nature” –Is tuned in to emotions—his own and others’: “a lively sensibility” –Has a good memory and can imagine distant things as if they are present (602, 605) –And has “greater promptness to think and feel without immediate external excitement”

10 Point Page 13, last par.: “But Wordsworth chose another way, not a personal mythology, but a de-mythologizing so radical that it enabled him to create modern poetry, if any single figure can be said to have done so.”

11 Method of Composition How did WW compose his poems? See pages 596 and 608. Note: Be sure to burn the boldfaced phrases on the next slide into your thinking machines.

12 Answers 608: “I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind.”

13 The Nature of Poetry 604: Poetry is all-encompassing. It binds together human society, and it spans all knowledge, and all time periods. Poetry is not just literature written in verse.

14 What IS WW Critical of? 597-98: “gross and violent stimulants” If you transpose this statement to the 21 st century, what might it refer to?

15 What Is the Poem’s Main Subject? “TA” concerns memory, the nature of the imagination, and imagination’s relationship to nature. The poem is about the mind’s dialogue with nature. See 102ff.

16 Group Work 1.What connections are there between WW’s “Preface” and “TA”? 2.Lines 1-22: What situation does the poet describe here? What impression do these lines create? 3.Lines 23-49: What has WW gained from his experience with nature here? 4.Lines 49-57: Compare what you find here to “The World Is Too Much With Us” (page 174). 5.Lines 58-111: What temporal divisions are present here? 6.Lines 111-end: Why is Dorothy, the poet’s sister, in the poem? What does WW want her to do for herself and for him?

17 #1: Connections to “Preface” The poet is affected by things as if they were present—good memory. Emotion recollected in tranquility. Concern not only with nature but also with men—see line 91, “The still, sad music of humanity.” Psychology: “the mind of man” (line 99). Prose: This is blank verse, but it is closer to prose than, say, Milton’s poetry. WW is writing about everyday life.

18 #2: What situation is described? WW has been away for five years. Emphasis on sight and hearing. “connect” in line 7 is ambiguous: what does the connecting? Probably “cliffs,” but “I” also works. Thus there is a sense of interaction between the mind and nature. POINT: Dialectical relationship.

19 #3: What has WW gained? Restoration (lines 25-31): “tranquil restoration.” Cf. “spots of time” on page 223. Pleasure (lines 27 and 31): “sensations sweet”; “feelings too / Of unremembered pleasure.” Aesthetic contemplation (lines 41 and 64-65): “that serene and blessed mood”; “in this moment there is life and food / For future years”

20 #4: Comparison to WW’s Sonnet “The World Is Too Much with Us” (pages 174- 75). “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers” (line 2). “the fretful stir / Unprofitable, and the fever of the world” (“TA,” lines 52-53). Octave:problem::sestet:solution. The imagination becomes active in the sestet.

21 #5: Temporal Divisions Early boyhood—oneness with nature. The boy is like an animal. Physical response to nature. Youth—emotional response to nature (Dorothy’s current state); perception of nature brings joy; “thoughtless youth” (line 90). Maturity—mental/intellectual response; “the philosophic mind” (“Intimations,” page 181, line 187). More sober (“sad,” lines 60 and 91). –Awareness that nature is more than scenery. –Awareness that he is part of humanity. –Awareness of the oneness of creation (101-02). –Potential for elevated thoughts. –Perception of the sublime (see H&H for a definition). Decay—line 113: “Suffer my genial spirits to decay”: advanced age, dulled response to natural beauty, diminished imagination.

22 More on #5 WW is worried about the decay of his imaginative/poetic powers. This is what he is worried about in the “Intimations Ode.” Here is the progression: –Pre-existence (the soul “cometh from afar” on page 178, line 61) –Birth (“a sleep and a forgetting” on page 178, line 58) –Physical response to nature –Emotional response to nature –Intellectual response to nature—WW’s current state –Some future state, when WW is more separate from nature, when he will be unable to write poetry (failure of the imagination, of mental powers).

23 #6: Dorothy, WW’s Sister WW is afraid of the fourth stage (decay), so he turns to his sister, who is in the second (irony: he is 28; she is 27). She is an incarnation of his former self. Her presence adds a social dimension. Cf. The Prelude, Book 8, title: “Retrospect—Love of nature leading to love of man.” Also, consider the fact that WW is addressing Coleridge in The Prelude (1.46). Vs. “alone” in line “TA,” line 22. She frames the poem: it begins with memory of being there in a former time, and it ends with WW’s statement that Dorothy will recollect the place (lines 141-42); her memory will soothe her as WW’s has soothed him. The ending also adds a religious quality: lines 151-52. Displacement of the sacred onto the secular. Cf. “spirit” in line 100. END

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