No, it’s not a pun.  I’m talking about William (Daffodils) W.  Or rather assorted pundits were doing so on radio 4 on Thursday morning.  Sometimes the arty rent-a-gobs  can sound a bit pretentious especially when you’re washing the dishes or trimming your toenails.  You think ‘What?!’ or ‘Whit’ in this part of the world.  But I found this bunch riveting.  They were discussing The Prelude which I studied long time ago and the combination of knowledge and genuine enthusiasm was exciting to hear. 

Main points of interest?  The Prelude is the autobiography of a poet examining the formation of the poetic mind and continuing the mission that Wordsworth and Coleridge pursued, to use simple language (well it was simple for then) to convey feeling as opposed to the ‘reasoning machine’ they believed society had become.  They were, the speaker said, less interested in the ‘abstract idea of collective good’ than ‘the real individual idea of collective feeling’.  Some echoes of contemporary debates? 

Wordsworth’s recalling of times past, his ‘spots of time’ were not mere nostalgia but a way of renewing oneself by allowing special moments to illuminate the present.  One of the speakers was embarrassed to be reminded that he had decribed Wordsworth as pre-Freudian but it’s true in the sense that it’s the first major attempt in English poetry to ‘do’ psychology.  He explores ‘consciousness – the way we learn to know ourselves… and affection, the way we learn to love others through knowing ourselves.’

I refer you to the ‘Listen again’ website if you have the time and the interest!  I have quoted them randomly, but the participants, chaired by Melvyn Bragg, were Rosemary Ashton, Stephen Gill and Emma Mason.

2 Responses to “Wordsworth”

  1. 1 chris November 24, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    I have to confess I struggled with The Prelude, long ago when all the world was young (including you!). Maybe I should take another look ….

  2. 2 abf November 24, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    Is that clouds of glory I see trailing behind you?

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