Wordsworth Resolution And Inde Essay, Research Paper
Wordsworth did not write by using lofty, eloquent language, and great issues and personalities as subjects. This childlike quality was typical of Romanticism. Wordsworth s along with other poets such as Blake, Coleridge, Byron, Shelly and Keats were all poets of this historical period (1780 1830). During this period these poets tended to view the world through the eyes of children or tried to see the world in a childlike way. Children could be said to speak in simple unelaborated expressions and in the eighteenth century children were often seen as truly uncorrupted and as closer to nature. (Bygrave, P25) Wordsworth, unlike his contemporaries, recognized that good poetry is “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” and therefore nothing along the lines of strait-laced, stoic little old women, or grandiose dining rooms. He wrote of rustic life: not much was said, but never were the important things left out. Life s most elementary feelings were revealed in the most permanent ways: ever-present in the surroundings.
Wordsworth s aesthetic appreciation was not destroyed by his poetic vanity: he finds no need to embellish his phrases for sophistication.
Common language served Wordsworth s purpose well. As Wordsworth worked to revive the powers he felt as a child, he plunged into his past. As a result, he was able to free himself of the time s poetic conventions and use pure language to compose testaments of the wonders of the world around us.
In ‘Resolution and Independence’ the poem’s consciousness of itself as a poem is central to its achievement. This consciousness is shown by a characteristic feature of Wordsworthian and Romantic poetry: the poem’s gradual, indirect, compelling shaping of itself into a journey. A central figure in that journey is figurativeness itself: relatively straightforward at the beginning, metaphors and its workings grow increasingly self-exploratory as the poem progresses. Even the opening’s straightforwardness is deceptive. The poem does not simply move from happiness to depression before recovery as a result of the encounter with the Leech-gatherer. The opening’s ‘now’ is conscious of a previously troubled ‘then’, as is hinted by the initial lines: ‘There was a roaring in the wind all night; / The rain came heavily and fell in floods; / But now the sun is rising calm and bright’ (1-3). This poem intimates the unstable happiness of the present, this happiness, energetically conveyed through the lines about the hare in stanza 2, should not be underplayed; here, indeed, the poem’s use of the present tense results in an epiphanic syntax. The hare in all its exuberant vigour springs forth from these lines:
The Hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist; which, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run. (11-14)
These lines suggest that happiness, in this poem, consists in an imaginative sympathy with fellow-creatures. But if the ‘mist’ that the hare ‘Raises’ is wholly natural, it hints at the imagination’s aura-bestowing powers; certainly the imagination choreographs the verbal dance performed by plashy earth and glittering mist. In this recognition lies the seeds of subsequent disquiet. For the poet wishes to understand his happiness as a recovery of boyish lack of self-consciousness: ‘I heard the woods, and distant waters, roar; / Or heard them not, as happy as a Boy’ (17-18). That comparison points up the distance between the poet as adult and as boy, as does the later, more insistent, ‘I bethought me of the playful Hare: / Even such a happy Child of earth am I’ (30-1). In the former lines the desired lack of consciousness is asserted self-consciously; in the latter the poet’s primitivism – his sense of himself as ‘a happy Child of earth’ – betrays the same kinds of fear. The poet has already retreated into the past tense; ‘that morning’, he confesses, ‘fear, and fancies, thick upon me came; / Dim sadness, and blind thoughts I knew not nor could name’ (26, 27-8). That past tense concedes that the vision of the hare could not last; at the same time, it consigns to the past the ’sadness’ which the reader experiences in the present. But the only refuge from ‘untoward thoughts’ (54) of the ‘despondency and madness’ (49) that a wryly feminine rhyme sees as the lot of poets is the creative transformation of such thoughts attempted by the poem’s second half.
The stanza (64-70) just after the old man has entered the poem almost deconstructs the imaginative activity as it runs in slow motion ‘the conferring, the abstracting, and the modifying powers of the Imagination’. ‘As a huge Stone … (64); ‘So that it seems…’ (68); ‘Like a Sea-beast …’ (69); (and at the start of the next stanza) ‘Such seemed this Man …’(71): the largely monosyllabic diction and clearly signposted comparisons work less to evoke the old man than to indicate the poet at work. However, the writing is neither stillborn nor laboured. Its ‘modifying’ phrases and movements engage the reader in the drama of sense making staged in the poem: sense making that is cautiously and intricately aware of its own processes, and reluctant to claim decisive success. The passage is prepared for by the lines, ‘My course I stopped as soon as I espied / The Old Man in that naked wilderness’ (57-8). When the Leech-gatherer is made the object of a series of likenesses, the poem’s course, too, is ’stopped’ before it continues in its one-foot forwards, two feet sideways manner. The passage’s would-be clinching ‘Such seemed this Man’ is noteworthy for its evasive verb. The questioning of and imagining generated by the Leech-gatherer reinstates other-awareness, though the ‘other’ is now a mystery rather than an equivalent to the ’self’.
Throughout the poem, Wordsworth is shaping intuitions on the margins of language. He is able in this poem to use the idea of language as ornament — the old man’s ‘words’ (99) are ‘With something of a lofty utterance drest’ (101) — because it is what the Leech-gatherer is, rather than what he says, which is of first importance. What he says matters less for its almost banal content than for what it suggests (first) about the old man’s self-sufficiency and capacity to endure, and (second) about Wordsworth’s own ability to transform experience imaginatively. Words do not incarnate meaning in the Leech-gatherer’s case; rather, they act as enigmatic signs towards barely graspable significance.
Resolution And Independence has a constant AB ABB CC rhyme in each stanza It s central b rhymes ‘wander’ ‘continually’ in and out of one another, much as the Old Man’s ’shape, and speech’ trouble the poet’s imagination. The transference of ‘weary’ from human wanderer to natural environment in the phrase ‘weary moors’ displays the ‘conferring, the abstracting, and the modifying powers of the Imagination’. A weariness, not far removed from visionary dreariness, is experienced as a state in which human being and natural scene participate. The lines give access to an inner dimension in which time is experienced as a never-ending, haunting continuum. ‘Silently’ does much to suggest this inner dimension glimpsed by the poem, as though its words were negotiating with the state that prompts them into being.. Wordsworth’s resolution in the final stanza is obliquely but powerfully related to the imaginative independence reaffirmed, in however ‘troubling’ a manner, in the previous stanza. The confident future tense of ‘I’ll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor’ (147) has at the back of its mind the on going present implied by ‘continually’ (137).
Wordsworth is strangely not at ease. He searches nature for an answer, but nature does not bring reconciliation to his distraught emotions. The poet has an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. Upon seeing the old man, Wordsworth is given a new hope for a way to gain the inner
peace that he has been looking for. The old man serves as an inspiration for Wordsworth.
Bygrave, Stephen, (1999) A102, Romantic Writings, The Open University Press
Owens, W.R & Johnson, (1998) A102, Romantic Writings: An Anthology, The Open University Press