Wordsworth (1770-1850) was part of the Romantic Period (1784-1837)
"We Are Seven"
- death should be kept from children since they are furthest from
this little girl knows well about it because two of her brothers and
have died. The others have gone away. Until recently, a newborn
had only about a 50% of surviving until adulthood. She has no one to
with. Hangs around graveyard because they are the only ones around.
between life and death.
"The Tables Turned"
- For the culture of the Wife of Bath's era, a person was supposed
authority over ones own experience.
- From the Enlightenment forward, true knowledge comes from
scientist was to gather knowledge from nature, not from books. The
kept this trait and applied it to their personal lives.
- Urges his friend to quit studying and come play.
"Let Nature be your Teacher" (16)
- You’ll learn more from it than from other men. Romantic view of
centered around its power.
Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of
the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798
- Beauty of Tintern Abbey has sustained him through the years
- Woods, mountains, rocks ~ wilderness of nature
- During Enlightenment, poets used reason, precision, &
- (80) - Romantics seek other things. He responds to what he saw
appetite; a reeling and a love."
- Has reflective attitude about nature. Feels it’s part of him,
are in harmony with it and do not need to progress to another spiritual
level to have communion with God.
- (27) "sublime" - Unity with Divine can be found in nature.
- (106) "half create, / And what perceive." He perceives what is in
but he also projects his own feelings onto nature. This is an example
"Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known"
- The speaker of the poem is going to see his girlfriend Lucy when
he is struck by a "strange fit of passion." He is suddenly afraid
that Lucy might be dead.
- This kind of panic is not unusual. If my toddler isn't
visible in the daycare when I go to pick him up, I immediately start to
be afraid that somebody has taken him. Not that that's ever
"The Ruined Cottage"
- The cottage that falls into disrepair reflects the spirit
of its owner, Margaret. Her husband ran off to war. She
fell into depression; their children died, and the cottage fell apart
"Michael: A Pastoral Poem"
- Michael is a shepherd; his wife is Isabel; their son is Luke.
- The Latin word for shepherd is pastor, just as in modern English a
pastor is a shepherd to a Christian 'flock,' a church.
- It is related to the word pasture.
- Thus pastoral poems typically involve shepherds, pastures, and
flocks of sheep.
- The life of this family on the farm is a simple, happy one.
- When the son Luke goes to work for a rich man, he gets into
trouble in the complicated urban life and has to flee the
country. His parents die from grief.
"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"
- What flower keeps the cloud company?
- When we are alone, we can still commune with nature.
"Ode: Intimations of Immortality"
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood"
- Based on Platonic doctrine. Learning is recollection; you know
before you are born & forget it when you’re born.
- "The Child is Father of the Man" - The adult you become is the
of the child you were.
- Everything seemed glorious when he was a child. He's lost
he felt when the world was new to him.
- Cost of enlightenment shatters dreams because you must have a
for believing in something.
- Getting in touch with child within him
- Platonic doctrine. You’re born with knowledge but cannot access
infancy/youth, you walk in light and recollect best. As you grow older,
enter common light.
- Earth is mother. Father is sky. He is more spiritual than
This is an ancient doctrine.
- Stanza 7, child is closer to Divine. Begins to play part/absorb
others around his as he ages.
- "Thou, over whom thy Immortality / Broods like the Day" - Genesis
the spirit of God was brooding over the face of the deep.
our own spirit ("Immortality") broods over us to give us life.
- Recapture youth by frolicking outside. Find the "splendour
grass, of glory in the flower"
"Ode to Duty"
What is the basis for the good, happy life? One of the answers is
to be a good person. There are various definitions of what is
means to be good: obeying God, trying to bring a good result, or trying
to do your duty.
The idea that doing your duty is the goal of ethics is called the DEONTOLOGICAL theory of ethics.
Wordsworth wrote this poem in response to seeing Peele Castle
Some of the dominant images the poem presents are the wind, the sea,
and the sun. As a romantic poet, Wordsworth often looked to
nature to find inspiration.
"The world is too much with us"
- By "world," Wordsworth means the human world of society and
not the natural world.
- We waste too much time making/spending money.
- We are cut off from nature and therefore have lost touch with
We are controlled by commerce.
- The impersonality of Enlightenment diesm makes him lonely. God
things up & does not intefere with our lives. The universe does not
care what happens to us.
- He would rather be a Pagan with an "outworn creed" (a view that
disproven), – He could then worship the gods of Nature. He’d rather be
a pagan so he wouldn’t feel that nature doesn’t care about us.
- If he were pagan, he could visualize gods controlling nature and
feel so lonely.
- Proteus, God of Sea, has ability to change his shape so any
arises from sea could be Proteus.
"Surprised by joy"
- Wordsworth experienced the tragedy of losing a 4-year-old
daughter to death. He thought he would never be happy again, so
he was suprised to find himself happy one day.
- When he does feel joy, he then feels guilty for forgetting his
sorrow. This is called survivor's guilt.
Mutability means change. Change is the only constant, according
to the poem.
"Steamboats, Viaducts, and Railways"
Wordsworth is dealing with the consequences of the Industrial
Revolution. A poet in love with nature, what would he make of the
'progress' that altered it?