WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770-1850)He was born in the English Lake District and he spent there his happy childhood and most of his adult life; this place was to become his main source of inspiration. He was educated in Cambridge and in 1790 he went on a walking tour of France and Alps. The contact with French Revolution filled him with enthusiasm for democratic ideals. He returned to France and fell in love with Annette Vallon who bore him a daughter that was called Caroline.
The brutal and destructive developments of the Revolution and the wars between France and England brought him a nervous breakdown.
He went to live with the sister Dorothy in 1795 and she remains his most faithful friend. In the same year he moved to Somerset to be near Coleridge and their friendship became very important for the development of English Romanticism.
They produced a collection of poems called “LIRICAL BALLADS” (1798); it opens with Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner” and ends with Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey”. The second edition of 1800 contained also the “Preface” by Wordsworth that became the “MANIFESTO OF ENGLISH ROMANTICISM”.
In 1802 he married a childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson. In 1843 he was made Poet Laureate (he was considered the most important English poet).
The last year of his life were marked by the growing conservatism of his political views and the decline of his creative powers. He died in 1850.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 5
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay: 10
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay, 15
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
1)Vagabondavo da solo come una nuvola che fluttua in alto sopra le valli e le colline quando improvvisamente vidi una folla, una schiera di giunchiglie dorate, vicino al lago, al di sotto degli alberi, ondeggianti e danzanti nella brezza.
2)Continue come le stelle che risplendono e scintillano nella via lattea, si estendevano in una linea senza fine lungo il margine della baia: ne ho viste 10.000 con un’occhiata, che scuotevano le loro teste in un’allegra danza.
3) Le onde accanto a loro danzavano; ma esse superavano le onde spumeggianti in gaiezza. Un poeta non poteva che essere felice in una tale compagnia giocosa.
4) Io fissavo e fissavo ma pensavo poco a quale ricchezza lo spettacolo mi aveva dato: perché spesso, quando sono sdraiato sul mio divano in uno stato d’animo ozioso e pensieroso, esse appaiono (improvvisamente) in quell’occhio interiore che è la beatitudine della solitudine, e allora il mio cuore si riempie di piacere e danza con le giunchiglie.
This poem, written in 1804 and published in 1807, recounts the experience of a walk the poet went for with his sister, near their home in the Lake District.
The poem was inspired by the sight of a field full of golden daffodils waving in the wind. The key of the poem is joy, as we can see from the many words which express pleasure and delight: in fact the daffodils are golden, waving in a sprightly dance and outdoing the waves in glee: they provide a jocund company and the sight of them fills the poet’s heart with pleasure.
The flowers are set in a natural environment made up of land, air and water. The words related to the three elements are: for land: vales, hills, tree. For air: cloud, breeze, stars, milky way. For water: lake, bay, waves. All nature appears wonderfully alive and happy in fact the cloud floats on high; the stars shine and twinkle, the waves dance and sparkle in glee. The daffodils, too, are not static like in a painting, but alive with motion. They are in fact fluttering and dancing in the breeze, and tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The sight of the daffodils amazes the poet at first because of their great number in fact they a crowd, continuous, ten thousand, host, never ending-line. Yet Wordsworth is not interested in the flowers as such, but in the way they affect him; that is from inner to deter worlds and vice verse. The sight of the flowers brings the poet delight but he doesn’t realize that at the moment but only later, when memory brings back the scene. It is clear that the daffodils have a metaphorical meaning. They may represent the voice of nature, which is scarcely audible except in solitude, the magic moment when our spirit develops a visionary power and we “return to the enchanted unity with nature we knew in childhood; they may represent a living microcosm within the larger macrocosm of nature. Describing the daffodils the poet mentions only one colour: golden; but the whole poem implicitly suggests a wealth of colours: white = clouds; green = hills, vales, trees; blue = lake; silver = star; silver-white = milky way. In stanza 4 the poet suggests the perfect state of mind we should be in to hear the voice of nature; he says we should be in a sort of inner emptiness almost like that of the mystics when they enter into communion with God.
This state of mind favours the poet’s inner perception, which he calls “in ward eye”. Tanks to this inner perception the poet’s physical “loneliness” turns into a moment of ecstasy, which to calls bliss of solitude. Brief as it is, the poem presents a perfect structure. It is divided into four stanzas which correspond to the various moods of the poet.
Stanza 1 Setting and “shock” at the scene
Stanza 2 Description of the flowers
Stanza 3 Relationship between the flowers and the poet, the emotions of the poet (in the moment of the vision)
Stanza 4 Emotion recollected in tranquillity, consequences of the experience
The devices used by Wordsworth in this poem are. Similes: lonely as a cloud; continuous as stars. Personification: crowd, host, (the daffodils) fluttering and dancing (line 6), (the daffodils) tossing their heads (line12) ;( the waves) dance (line 13) company (line 16), (my heart) dances (line 24). The personification of the flowers make them alive as if endowed with a life and a soul of their own repetition: gazed (line 17). It conveys the impression of the poet breathless when faced with the beauty of nature and unable to remove his eyes from it.
THE MANIFESTO OF ENGLISH ROMANTICISM -> in the Preface of the second edition of Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth stated what the subject matter and the language of poetry should be. Poetry should deal with everyday situations or incidents and with ordinary people, especially humble, rural people. The language should be simple, the objects mentioned homely and called by their ordinary names.
In low and rustic life man is more direct, nearer to his own purer passions; therefore the poet is not a man in an ivory tower but a man among men, writing about what interests mankind.
MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD -> Wordsworth was interested in the relationship between natural world and the human consciousness. In his poetry he tells about the relationship between man and nature, the influences insights emotions and sensations which arise from this contact. One of the most considered concepts in Wordsworth is the idea that man and nature are inseparable: man exists not outside the natural world but as an active participant in it. Nature to Wordsworth means something that includes both inanimate and human nature, each is a part of the same whole.
NATURE COMFORT MAN IN SORROW, IT IS A SOURCE OF PLEASURE AND JOY, IT TEACHES MAN TO LOVE AND TO ACT IN A MORAL WAY, IT IS THE SEAT OF THE SPIRIT OF THE UNIVERSE.
God is in everything.
THE IMPORTANCE IF THE SENSES -> Nature means also the world of sense perceptions. Wordsworth exploited above all the sensibility of the eye and ear through. He was influenced by David Hartley. Sensations lead to simple thoughts, which later combine into complex and organised ideas. Moreover, these stages of the development of the mind correspond to the three ages of man: childhood, youth and adulthood.
CHILDHOOD AND MEMORY -> Wordsworth regarded childhood as the most important stage in man’s life; THE CHILD IS FATHER TO THE MAN. What the child sees is both more imaginative and more vivid than the perceptions of the adult, child’s experiences, retained in memory, provide food for future years of thought. MEMORY IS THE MAJOR FORCE IN THE PROCESS OF GROWTH OF THE POET’S MIND AND MORAL CHARACTER.
RECOLLECTION IN TRANQUILLITY -> “All genuine poetry takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity”. There is a vital relationship of present to past experience; the emotion is reproduced and purified in poetic form so that a second emotion is generated.
OBJECT-> POET-> SENSORY EXPERIENCE -> EMOTION -> MEMORY = RECOLLECTION IN TRANQUILLITY -> KINDRED EMOTION -> POEM -> READER -> EMOTION.
THE POET’S TASK AND HIS STYLE -> The poet, thought a common man, has greater sensibility and the ability to penetrate to the heart of things. The power of imagination enables him to communicate his knowledge, so that he becomes a teacher who shows men how to understand their feelings and improve their moral being. His task consists in drawing attention to ordinary things of life, humblest people.
Wordsworth abandoned the heroic couplet; he almost used blank verse, he proved skilful at several verse forms such as sonnets, odes, ballads and lyrics (short lines and simple rhymes).