William Wordsworth Essay, Research Paper
Through the many works of William Wordsworth is found a vast correlation through his poetry and the experiences which he went through as an early child and throughout the rest of his life. These experiences etched themselves into Wordsworth’s mind giving him a favorable ability to put his experiences and emotions into words through his pleasurable poetry. To greater understand the poetry he wrote, it is crucial to have a knowledge of the life he lived.
William Wordsworth, (1770-1850), was born the second child of John and Ann Wordsworth at Cockermouth, Cumberland, on April 7th, 1770. Wordsworth was living up a decently good childhood at Cockermouth until 1778, where in March of that year his mother Ann died and the family was split up. Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy was sent to live at Halifax with her mother’s cousin, and the boys of the family were sent to school at Hawkshead where they were educated well and cared for. Wordsworth also happened to later write a poem about this early time in his life called “The Prelude.” In this poem Wordsworth directly conveys the childish activities which he experienced which seemed quite normal, but would later develop him into a great poet.
Four years had passed since his mother died and then, on December 30th, 1983 after celebrating the Christmas holidays, his father passed away at Wordsworth’s young age of thirteen. After this occurrence their house was given up and the boys were made to live with their maternal grandparents the Cooksons, and their uncle, Christopher Crackanthoope Cookson. At this time in Wordsworth’s life he underwent a significant change experienced dependency through patronization and also underwent a rebellious state from having to live with people who weren’t parents and surely wasn’t as fond of. Having an uneasy and restless mind, Wordsworth left for St. John’s College, Cambridge, in the fall of 1787. Three years later in 1790 Wordsworth had already given up any intent on earning an honors degree. In 1791 Wordsworth left to visit France to lean the language but ended up receiving a political education which would effect his poetry through his observation of the government and his friendship with and army officer named Michel de Beaupuy. Through this experience Wordsworth developed a mind state which included a view against corruption and poverty and he looked to a more utopian time in which men could live in brotherhood an the world could be a better place. Not only did he experience a political rousing here he also met his lover, Annete Vallon who soon became pregnant.
Wordsworth at this time really began his work into poetry with the first publication of his poems. These included “An Evening Walk” and “Descriptive Sketches” which both appeared on January 29th, 1793. Three days later France declared war on England and England quickly responded by declaring war on France. This event greatly tormented the mind of Wordsworth by meshing his patriotism for his own country and his inner hope for the Revolution. Near this same time a friend William Calvert, proposed what might have been the most dramatic change in his life. This proposal included a tour of West England by traveling on a small cart called a whiskey. An accident quickly occurred to the whiskey and Wordsworth was forced to travel on foot through the countryside. This event would later change his life into isolation and frustration. Going through these fields Wordsworth had frightening visions of ancient Britons engaged in savage war and human sacrifice when they passed by the ruins of Stonehenge. This trip developed some major themes into his poetry which include an awareness of the poverty and outcasted people in society, and an appreciation of the beauty of natural landscapes. All of this enabled Wordsworth to live independently and simply. William and his sister Dorothy quickly settled into a house in Dorset called Racedown. He wrote a plentiful amount of poetry while living here and shared quite a bit of this poetry with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In these years his sister Dorothy also showed a vast amount of love and care accompanied with a faith and appreciation for her brother and his poetry.
In October of 1802 Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson, after a short visit to France to see Annette and the nine year old Anne-Caroline. Wordsworth had known Hutchinson and her family since childhood and stayed with them at their farm at Socburn-on-Tees. Soon after in 1805 his brother John Wordsworth died at sea. He left for Malta in January of 1804 and before leaving there Coleridge introduced him to Sir George Beaumont, a wealthy patron and connoisseur, who later became a benefactor and friend until his death in 1827. Wordsworth also turned to Beaumont in the greatest trauma of his adult life which was the death of his brother John. After the year 1807 Wordsworth poetry somewhat diminished and he wrote little good poetry after this year. Some factors that may have contributed to this include the loss of the stimulus of Coleridge and his respectable life. Wordsworth moved to Rydal Mount and remained there from 1813 until his death on April 23rd, 1850. In the late years of his life he was greatly honored. The University of Durham gave him an honorary degree in 1838 , and Oxford did the same in 1839, he later became poet laureate in 1843. Most of the final years of his life were filled with the illness of his sister and the death of his daughter Dora in 1847. Although going through these pains in his life Wordsworth experienced the satisfaction of seeing his poems grow in popularity, and his fame spread through the English-speaking world.
Many of Wordsworth’s poems contain many borrowings and influences from eighteenth century poets. Quite a bit of his poems are also written in couplets and Spenserian stanzas, both popular forms of poetry during the eighteenth century. Through almost all of Wordsworth’s poems is seen an individual voice which is original and powerful while still staying in his peaceful view on the world. Wordsworth believed that love of nature leads to love of humanity which led to him writing in the serene yet simple way in which he did. One of the greatest works Wordsworth ever composed was the “Lyrical Ballads”, where he teamed up with Coleridge. Wordsworth’s role in this was to present ordinary life in a way that the reader could see it with new eyes. “Lyrical Ballads” has many poems that are concerned with average people in ordinary surroundings who have problems which are common such as poverty, pregnancy and old age. Some literary critics have disliked Wordsworth’s poetry because of the awkwardness of it. Some of his thoughts are more intriguing than his poetry which is the case in his preface to “Lyrical Ballads.” This exert shows a better view into Wordsworth’s mind,
“…a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volition’s, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volition’s and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them.”
This exert reaches deep into Wordsworth’s soul showing the joy that he feels for life and also his higher understanding for life. He also says in that exert that if you should not be able to find these joys of life then you should create them yourself. This is a quote that many people could take to life and use it to life a happier and fuller life.
Wordsworth also often questions some of the values and morals that go on throughout the world. In his poem, “Star-Gazers”, this is very apparent.
“…A boaster , that when he is tried, fails and is put to shame?
Or is it good as others are, and be their eyes in fault?
Their eyes, or minds? or, finally, is your resplendent vault?…
Or is it rather that Conceit rapacious is and strong
And bounty never yields so much but it seems to do her wrong?
Or is it, that when human Souls a journey long have had
And are returned into themselves, they cannot but be sad?…”
In this exert it is apparent that Wordsworth is concerned with the fact that he questions the equality and forgiveness factor of people. He is also questioning the fact whether somebody should let out their emotions when they are in need to. Wordsworth was a strong believer in letting the emotions out with the nature of things in the world.
Wordsworth often made the simplicity of life much more than it actually was, this comes alive in one of his most famous poems, “The Solitary Reaper.”
“Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound…”
In this poem Wordsworth is greatly effected by this girl in the field, although it is such an everyday occurrence Wordsworth looks for the beauty in it and wonders if anybody else has ever had such experience. In this poem and many others like it, Wordsworth takes the simplest part of life and turns it into a beautiful occurrence.
Wordsworth has caught the eyes of many readers over the last two centuries. His simplicity and love for nature is a key reason why it has done so. Even I have developed a great respect for Wordsworth. He went through a dramatic childhood in which he was quickly thrown into the harsh nature of life, and even through these traumas, he was able to pick out the beauty and nature of life, and better yet to write these works down for everybody to enjoy. Without the paths given to Wordsworth and the paths that he chose, the experiences in his life probably wouldn’t have effected the emotions of his poetry. Nevertheless these experiences did happen to him and doing so made him one of the greatest Romantic poets of his time.