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William Wordsworth's poetry


The Daffodils (I wandered lonely as a cloud)

‘I’ is the first word of the poem because it wants to underline an idea of individualism, the personal quality of poet’s experience.
The poet was wandering in the country side, Lake District (an important source of inspiration in England), and his comparison with the clouds ‘floating’ is to express an absent-minded, aimless attitude. The attitude was immediately broken by the vision of a huge number of daffodils that gave him a positive, pleasant, surprised attitude, an emotion of joy, happiness, loneliness (in positive terms), quietness…
The word which refers to the daffodils are: golden, bright, dancing, fluttering, crowd, stretched, heads, continuous as the stars… so there is a Personification of the daffodils, because the poet attributed human qualities to the flowers. Wordsworth compares in stanza 2 the daffodils to the stars because of their yellow colour, their brightness and their great number. He also underlines the idea of a part of universal order (stars and daffodils are fixed and brightening) and the importance of God in every element of nature: Pantheism.
The description seems a sort of painting: yellow=daffodils, stars; blue= lake; green= trees, grass.
The poem can be divided in two parts, because there is a change in the tenses of verbs. In the fort stanza the poet expresses a passed experience which produces in him a sense of quietness, a pleasant sensation.
Wordsworth always builds his poems in the terms of a ‘poetry making progress’ he recollects in tranquillity the experience, recreates the same pleasant sensations and then he writes the poem in the base of a concrete experience (the ordinary) and creates the extraordinary giving a semblance of novelty (Real poet).
Blake is the opposite of Wordsworth, he starts from the ideal and arrives to the real (Ideal poet), they had a different attitude, but they share the same idea of imagination, of the role of poetry.
Wordsworth considers nature as a moral teacher! He is a pantheist.
The scene is described using the sight (I saw, I gaze…)
In the last stanza he describes that, when he is lonely in tranquillity, a vision, a flash appears in his memory (‘inward eye’), and he recreates mentally his precedent experience.
The line are RUN OF LINE (enjambement).
The atmosphere is more similar the Lamb, but it is not a religious poem, Wordsworth worships the nature.
In Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth wrote about:
Subject matter of poetry: ‘to describe incidents and situations from common life. […] Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because, in that condition, the essential passion of the heart find a better soil’, great simplicity.
Role of the poet: he is an ‘ordinary man endowed with a knowledge of human nature’
Language of poetry: a ‘language really used by men’, plain and emphatic.

Solitary reaper

This poem by Wordsworth, as usual, is the result of a concrete experience: a trip in the countryside where he saw a reaper who is working and singing.
In the first stanza the poet is talking to the reader, the use of imperative (behold, stop, pass…) makes clear that he is addressing to an imaginary passerby.
The setting of the poem is the field in the countryside of Hebrides (islands off the Scottish coast).
In the second stanza the reaper’s singing is compared to a Nightingale singing and a Cuckoo-bird singing to underline the harmoniousness, the sweetness, the beauty of the melody of the melancholy, sad, popular song of the reaper.
All the places mentioned suggest a sense of solitude, silence, remoteness.
In line 17 the poet asks what the reaper is singing because she is singing in a popular language, probably Gaelic, so the poet doesn’t understand the words of the song. He thinks she is maybe singing about historical events or every-day sorrows and pains.
Even if the poet can’t hear the song anymore, he creates it in his mind with the emotion he felt, and the pleasant sensation comes every time he remembers it.
This is a sad and nostalgic poem, in fact, as Wordsworth expresses in Lyrical Ballads, ‘humble and rustic life was generally chosen because in that condition the essential passions of the heart find a better soil’.
The poet begins in the present tense, but shifts to the past in stanza 4. the tense shift is used to express an experience of the past that is remembered in the present. The use of the past is to emphasize the recollection in the past and the long-term effect of the event.
‘Daffodils’ and ‘Solitary reaper’ are both inspired by a past concrete experience and underline the pleasure of the memory when ‘recollected in tranquillity’. Both the poems are based on the principles stated in the Preface, in fact they both deal with ‘incidents and situation from common life’ (the sight of daffodils and reaper who is singing and working in a field). ‘Humble and rustic life’ is used because it better expresses the simple feelings.

Composed upon Westminster bridge

As usual Wordsworth starts from a concrete sensory experience, perceived through sight and hearing, that gives him a source of inspiration for the poem. The poem deals with the beauty of London in the early morning, when the sun rises on the town (as is clearly stated in Lyrical Ballads, the subject matter are ‘incidents and situations from common life’). London is described with human qualities = Personification.
The city is unpolluted, magnificent, majestic and beautiful, London and his elements both expresses a sense of brightness. In this moment London seems to be transformed for Wordsworth because of the dawn, it seems to wear a different garment, and the poet is surprised of this sight.
The sight produces to the poet a sense of surprise, astonishment, peace, a deep calm, ademiration, unexpected view of London.
It is a Petrarchan sonnet divided in an octave (ABBA-ABBA) and a sestet (CDC-DCD), so the poem could be divided in two parts:
1) In the first part: the poet outlines the view of London from Westminster bridge.
2) In the second part: the poet expresses his sense of admiration and peace to the breathtaking beauty of London in the early morning.
The language in characterized by the use of some figure of speech: inversion, repetition and personification. The tone is emphatic, intensely emotional, astonished.
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