Tag: William Wordsworth

Review; Romantic Circle’s “Poets on Poets”

“Poets on Poets” is a complementary page to the highly praised scholarly website Romantic Circles. The blog is monitored by editors Tilar Mazzeo and Doug Guerra, who are affiliated with their parent website, published by the University of Maryland. The blog is also available as an iTunes podcast consisting of 144 poems. The project aims to connect contemporary poetry with that of the Romantic period, accomplishing the task in a unique way. The audio archive contains downloadable mp3 files consisting of modern poets reading some of their favorite poems from the age of the Romantics. The posts not only answer the question about what contemporary writers are reading from this period but how, “The Poets on Poets project is an audio archive that testifies to the continued importance of Romanticism in the contemporary poetry world.  The premise of the collection is simple: we have asked practicing poets from around the world to read a Romantic-period poem that they particularly admire and that has influenced the way in which they think about their craft.”

Along with the recording is text which might mirror that of the original author’s version or might not. The depth of analysis available thus becomes not only questioning why these modern writers chose what poems they read, but also questioning why they might have chose the particular stanza or stanzas to focus on. As a result, readers not only see what writers are still being inspired by, but the intricacies that go along when someone converts a poem into spoken verse, making it into more of a presentation than simply lines on a page. The resource is for anyone, including scholars or just casual fans of poetry. The site is fully functional but seems to have slowed down considerably in the past few years. What I have found to be really cool and interesting is the ability to assemble many of my favorite poems into a playlist on iTunes in which I can listen to whenever  I like.  All of the poems are accessible to the public without any type of subscription fee, making it a great resource for English teachers who want their students to not only see the lasting effects that Romanticism has had on the present day, but to actually hear it as well. Without this resource it would be somewhat difficult to ask contemporary poets who they currently read from this particular canon, something that I personally have thought much about. Many of the poems we have read for class are available in the archive making it readily apparent that the authors we currently enjoy are also alive and well to countless others in the 21st century.

Some of my favorite posts are John Casteen reading “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth,  and V. Penelope Pelizzon reading from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.  The preface to the site by Jerome McGann is all about recitation as fine art, and uses quotes from authors we have studied in class, including one from Shelley that I particularly find to be insightful; that poetry “redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man,” and “Poets on Poets” surely aids in this resurrection as well.


(One addition in light of our current reading)

After reading “When I Have Fears” again and remembering how much I love it…


(^this one is amazing)



The life of things within the sylvan Wye

Until the breath of this corporeal frame, And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things.”

Wordsworth beautifully writes in “Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey,” of the nature and relationship between man with the world around him. I am heavily reminded of Emerson’s idea of how one becomes closer to “God,” by retiring to the seclusion of Nature and in what Wordsworth states as a “blessed mood,” becoming a Transparent Eyeball. What this means is that mind and body are not at all disconnected and because “God,” is something of the mind and since our bodies are contained within Nature but not limited to Nature then as a result man can become one and filter consciousness through a medium that is a intricately a part what it is conceiving. But really this is all just fancy talk for the idea that poetic purpose is not simply an aesthetic matter of meter and rhyme but in essence is the way in which man comes closer to their own form of “God,” which for Wordsworth and the Transcendentalists is nature contained within the heart of man. It seems quite clear that these “elevated thoughts; a sense sublime,” is the end result of introspection upon the mechanisms of love and the blissful recordings of man coming to terms with his own limitations of consciousness because of mortality while realizing that his spirit will rest eternally with the corporal feeding of the Divine Nature around him; that which will exist long after the poet is gone. Poetry thus becomes a blueprint for how man can come to terms with his eventually death by remembering that he is not only alive within the thoughts and memories of human beings but also that if Nature may lay us asleep in body and our thoughts can be made quiet by the power of harmony we in a sense have nothing to fear when only our body passes into the infinite but our mind remains transparent to the language that is the “God,” of the natural world.

What then is the true purpose of this poem and what are it’s rises and falls? Does this philosophy seem practical or is becoming a Transparent Eyeball really just superfluous imagination thinking that humans are anything more than animals? Or does being an animal that can think prove that whatever we may make a supported argument about is in essence true? Is “God,” within us? Did we create him so that he could be within us? Or is mind and body separate thus making “God,” a third party to the existence we have made upon the lonely planet Earth?


Wordsworth and the Art of Decay in “Old Man Traveling”

On the Principal Object of Poems;

Low and rustic life was generally chosen because in that condition the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language: because in that condition of life our elementary feelings co-exist in a state of greater simplicity, and , consequently, may be more accurately contemplated, and more forcibly communicated; because the manners of rural life germinate from those elementary feelings; and, from the necessary character of rural occupations, are more easily comprehended: and are more durable; and lastly, because in that condition the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature… because such men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is originally derived.”

Wordsworth clearly wishes to return to a primal language of humanity. In “Old Man Traveling,” it is the tranquility and decay of the animal that rests in his verse. This is not to say that Wordsworth considers humans base, or simply animals with a mind, but that to really create an impression upon the reader, poetry must present philosophical multiplicity wrapped up into a single, simple image of man in the throws of mortality. But why not focus upon the spontaneous overflow of emotion? Well he is, it is just not the emotion that one might think would accompany what I will call the “daffodil,” form of poetry. “Old Man Traveling,” strikes to the heart; the birds regard our subject not, for he is dead inside with the dying of his son, and nature must reflect upon this true condition of man. That we are utterly alone yes, because even our children may die in the hospital of Falmouth, but that as a result we are together in our isolation. Wordsworth accomplishes a clear picture of the chaotic communication between men and their world, while at the same time using this impact of symbolism to subdue our dwindling patience and composure so that we may learn to love a “peace so perfect that the young behold with envy, what the old man hardly feels.” The profit thus becomes unfiltered emotion, in the form of filtered tranquility and decay. This profit is a feeling of isolation, that reminds oneself that the translation of Death is the same for everyone, and in this we are together.

What do you guys think of the form of this poem? It seems one of the only ones from Wordsworth does does not have a easy to recognize meter or rhyme scheme? I think this poem is beautiful, but do you agree, I mean its pretty sad stuff, but sometimes that is the best example of human beauty, right? or better yet, do you agree when I say that Nature, in this poem, seems to wrap us in the warmth of her blanket only to whisper in our ear that the birds are busy pecking, and we are busy dying? Is that to pessimistic, or is there relief in knowing that the object of our journey is exactly to humble ourselves upon the love of our lowliness? Finally, Wordsworth writes often of the purpose of poetry, what is the purpose of this poem?



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