The Poet in Search of a Poem

  • D. D. Devlin


Wordsworth was not only in search of a public; he was also in search of a poem. He believed that poetry must be artless, that the impressiveness of the subject as it is in Nature and in fact would be enough to make a poem, and that the poet “will feel that there is no necessity to trick out or elevate nature”; and at the same time he steadily saw the poet as artist and his poems as made things, the result of craft, workmanship and “long and deep thinking”. He saw little in recent literature to persuade him that the task of resolving such opposite views of poetry would be an easy one. “In historical terms,” say Professor Lindenberger,

we might think of Wordsworth as veering between two irreconcilable literary systems: between the demands of decorum and the demands of sincerity, or … between the responsibilities imposed by the recognition of a hierarchy of styles and the responsibilities he felt to the truth of his personal experience.1


Substantial Reality Romantic Poet Emotional Capital Bare Fact Real Language 
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    Herbert Lindenberger, On Wordsworth’s “Prelude” (Princeton, 1963) p. 32.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric 3 vols (1811; ist edn 1783) iii, pp. 311–12.Google Scholar
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    Alexander B. Grosart, The Prose Works of Willidm Wordsworth 3 vols (London, 1876) iii, p. 426.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Helen Darbishire, The Poet Wordsworth (Oxford, 1950) p. 35.Google Scholar
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    Donald Wesling, Wordsworth and the Adequacy of Landscape (London, 1970) p. 47.Google Scholar
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    Mary Jacobus, Tradition and Experiment in Wordsworth’s “Lyrical Ballads” (Oxford, 1976) p. 9.Google Scholar
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    J. W. Mackail, Select Epigrams from the Greek Anthology (London, 1906).Google Scholar
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    F. W. Bateson, Wordsworth: A Reinterpretation (London, 1954) p. 14.Google Scholar

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© D. D. Devlin 1980

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  • D. D. Devlin

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