Making the Best of It: The Later Poetry
After 1814 Wordsworth’s compulsion to write was increasingly matched by a concern to edit, order and anthologise his steadily growing body of work. The first collected edition of poems appeared in 1815, to be followed by a four-volume edition in 1820. A five-volume edition including The Excursion appeared in 1827, then another in 1832; a six-volume edition came out in the course of 1836–7. All the time revisions were being made to existing work, while new poetry was being added. Wordsworth had first begun to group his poems into categories in the Poems in Two Volumes of 1807, and the collected editions illustrate the increasing importance this process came to hold for him. In Wordsworth: Language as Counter-Spirit (1977), Frances Ferguson suggests that the classification of the poetry becomes an integral part of the poet’s creative drive: ‘the classification reflects an effort to understand not only the problem of the imagination but also to probe the question of the use of linguistic signs generally’. But she goes on to imply that Wordsworth’s engagement with classification is a symptom of decline in the quality of his poetry.
KeywordsLinguistic Sign Spiritual Realm Time Revision Prose Work Great Poetry
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