William Wordsworth was known as the poet of nature. He devoted his life to poetry and used his feeling for nature to express him self and how he evolved.
Wordsworth had two simple ideas that he put into his writing of poetry. One was that poetry was the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. The second idea was that poets should describe simple scenes of nature in the everyday words, which in turn would create an atmosphere through the use of imagination (Compton 2).
Wordsworth is deeply involved with the complexities of nature and human reaction to it. To Wordsworth nature is the revelation of god through viewing everything that is harmonious or beautiful in nature. Mans true character is then formed and developed through participation in this balance. Wordsworth had the view that people are at their best when they are closest to nature. Being close creates harmony and order.He thought that the people of his time were getting away from that.
In poetry the speaker describes his feelings of what he sees or feels. When Wordsworth wrote he would take everyday occurrences and then compare what was created by that event to man and its affect on him. Wordsworth loved nature for its own sake alone, and the presence of Nature gives beauty to his mind, again only for minds sake (Bloom 95). Nature was the teacher and inspirer of a strong and comprehensive love, a deep and purifying joy, and a high and uplifting thought to Wordsworth (Hudson 158). Wordsworth views everything as living. Everything in the world contributes to and sustains life nature in his view.
This can be seen in the following quote from Wordsworth, He who feels contempt for any living thing hath faculties which he has never used (Quoted Hudson 159).
Wordsworth uses nature in a majority of his poems. He uses different aspects of nature, but always nature shines through. In the poem Stray Pleasures Wordsworth writes about spring and things that are visible in spring.
If the wind do but stir for his proper delight,
Each leaf, that and this, his neighbor will kiss;
Each wave, one and tother, speeds after his brother:
They are happy, for that is their right!
In the previous passage Wordsworth touches several different aspects of nature. Wordsworth writes of leaves, rain and waves. These things are typically considered nature, but things such as the birds are typically not. This is what Wordsworth does so wonderfully, considered everything a part of nature and conveys this to the reader. Another talent that Wordsworth has is convincing the reader that everything is alive. Ordinarily the reader would consider such things as showers a part of nature but not alive. Wordsworth gives nature to things that are not nature and life to things that are not alive. He writes of the waves as they come in to shore and as one crashes another one follows. He calls the second one the brother to the first. This is amazing use of words and imagery. The reader is able to view the waves following each other and rolling one after the other. Wordsworth gives the waves life like characteristics by referring to them as siblings. This technique is called personification. Wordsworth uses personification throughout the entire poem. He does this with the waves as well as with the leaves. He refers to the leaves touching each other as they grow close to each other on the branches as kissing. This is another example of Wordsworths brilliant use of imagery. The reader can see the leaves moving intimately in the wind in an almost human like manner. Wordsworth uses many techniques in his poetry, in this selection imagery and personification are apparent.
Wordsworth always compares some aspect of life with nature. In his two poems, The Ruined Cottage and The Tables Turned he discusses his ideas of nature and education. He uses the scenery he encounters on his walks to push toward revealing its mystical substance. In a particular way Wordsworth expresses his beliefs on nature that could only be Wordsworth.
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things;
Come forth and bring with you a heart
Wordsworth appears to feel very strongly about his topic and he declares this in the previous words. It is apparent to the reader that he is saying that the environment is filled with tons of sources for information that can inspire and teach man what is good and evil ethically. Then Wordsworth seems to warn the reader that at times the mind is able to deceive us about what the world is telling us. He suggests that instead of always using your mind, open up and see with your heart and let the beauty of everything in. This is an example of Wordsworth sharing his passion and concern for nature with his audience.
In The Ruined Cottage, Wordsworth depicts experiences of the Pedlars childhood and youth as an education through the senses and the imagination (Gill 135).
By his intense conceptions to receive
Deeply the lesson deep of love which he
Whom Nature, by whatever means has taught
To feel intensely, cannot but receive.
The Pedlar provides the metaphysical underpinning to his conviction, spelling out the argument, not as intuition but as a demonstrate truth, that love of Nature, which demands intense participation in the life of this majestic imagery, the clouds, / The ocean, and the firmament of heaven, must lead both a perception of the harmony of all things and to acceptance of human suffering of human joy (Gill 135). Wordsworth is conveying to his reader his opinion on how we learn from nature.
Just as Wordsworth sees nature in everything around him, he sees God in everything that is nature. He sees God everywhere in nature. Wordsworth feels that everything in nature is saluting the God that made them. This is obvious to his audience in his poem To a Sky-Lark.
There is madness about thee, and joy divine
With a soul as strong as a mountain river,
Pouring out praise to the almighty Giver,
This Wordsworth poem is all about nature and its connection with God. It is about nature recognizing who made it. The poem refers to the maker of nature as the giver. This is Wordsworth showing his admiration and appreciation to God. He also compares God to nature. He does this when he uses the almighty mountain river. Wordsworth gives a happy and joyful feel to the place above. He talks of this as the banqueting place. From Wordsworths imagery the reader get the feeling of a very rejoiceful place. He asks to be guided there.In this poem Wordsworth conveys to the reader the two things that he is most passionate about, nature and God and the two of them interlocked. One is part of the other. Nature comes from God and he also appears to suggest that nature goes back to God.Wordsworth said on a number of occasions that he wanted to be viewed as, as a teacher and he accomplished this through is poetry. Specifically in To a Sky-Lark where Wordsworth attempts to teach his audience that there is God in everything nature. Wordsworths belief is that God is everywhere, he conveys this to his audience through his use of nature and religion in he poetry.
Wordsworth uses nature to convey his emotions and thoughts. For instance, before the death of his brother in 1805 the words air, earth and sky were used by Wordsworth to convey joy and freedom. After suffering from the loss of his brother, his poetry changed dramatically. Wordsworth then used the same nature words to describe misery and grief. This can be see in his poem Immortality Ode. The clouds that gather round the setting sun,/Do take a sober colouring from an eye/That hath kept watch oer mans mortality. This is a perfect example of how it is apparent to the reader the change in Wordsworth. He is still using nature, but now in a much more negative and sad way, as opposed to joyful and optimistic.
Even in his later life and later poetry Wordsworth was still writing about nature. In one of Wordsworths later poems To Toussaint LOuverture it is evident that he is still looking to nature.
Powers that will work for thee; air earth and skies;
Theres not a breathing or the common wind
That will forget thee; thou hast great allies,
Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
And love and mans unconquerable mind.
In this poem Wordsworth conveys to the reader the same thing that he did in his earliest works. He proclaimed, almost as gladly as he had hailed in the early triumphs of the revolution, that nature is a joint agent with man in the struggle for freedom and liberty (Lacey 97). This just proves that Wordsworths love and belief of nature was a part of him. It was something that he truly believed in and wanted to teach and share.
In almost all of his poetry Wordsworth used nature. He used other aspects of life such as religion and revolutions, but he always surrounded those with nature. Wordsworth reflected the society of his time and portrayed it to his audience and he has helped a new generation learn about the society of his time and his love for nature and the things that he believes contributed to it. Through this his wish to teach is fulfilled and his love of nature is shared.
Bateson, F.W. Wordsworth a Re-Interpretation. London: Longmans, 1956.
Bloom, Harold. The Myth of Memory and Natural Man. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New Jearsey: Prentice Hall, 1972.
Compton. William Wordsworth. Online. May 1, 2000. Comptons Encyclopedia Online.
Durrant, Geoffrey. Wordsworth and the Great System, A Study of Wordsworths Poetic Universe. Cambridge: University Printing House, 1970.
Gill, Stephen. William Wordsworth a Life. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989
Hirsch, E. D. Jr. Wordsworth and Schelling a Typical Study of Romanticism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960.
Hudson. Studies in Wordsworth. *
Jones, John. The Egotistical Sublime, A History of Wordsworths Imagination. London: Chatto & Windus, 1960.
Lacey, Norman. Wordsworths View of Nature and its Ethical Consequences. Hamden: Archon Books, 1965.
Mahoney, John. William Wordsworth a Poetic Life. New York: Fordham University Press, 1997.
Purkis, John. A Preface to Wordsworth. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1970.