William Wordsworth

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“A slumber did my spirit seal”

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“It is difficult for the modern mind to understand how we can do more than conceive intellectually of the Self or of God; but it may borrow some shadow of this vision, experience and becoming from that inner awakening to Nature which a great English poet has made a reality to the European imagination. If we read the poems in which Wordsworth expressed his realisation of Nature, we may acquire some distant idea of what realisation is. For, first, we see that he had the vision of something in the world which is the very Self of all things that it contains, a conscious force and presence other than its forms, yet cause of its forms and manifested in them. We perceive that he had not only the vision of this and the joy and peace and universality which its presence brings, but the very sense of it, mental, aesthetic, vital, physical; not only this sense and vision of it in its own being but in the nearest flower and simplest man and the immobile rock; and, finally, that he even occasionally attained to that unity, that becoming the object of his meditation, one phase of which is powerfully and profoundly expressed in the poem “A slumber did my spirit seal,” where he describes himself as become one in his being with earth, “rolled round in its diurnal course with rocks and stones and trees.” Exalt this realisation to a profounder Self than physical Nature and we have the elements of the Yogic knowledge.”[1]

“A certain number of his shorter poems rank among the greatest things in poetry and this number is not inconsiderable. But elsewhere he rises high, sometimes astonishingly high, for a few lines but cannot keep long to the high poetic expression and sometimes can sink low and sometimes astonishingly low, even to bathos and triviality, especially when he strains towards an excessive simplicity which can become puerile or worse. He intellectualises his poetic statement overmuch and in fact states too much and sings too little, has a dangerous turn for a too obvious sermonising, pushes too far his reliance on the worth of his substance and is not jealously careful to give it a form of beauty. In his works of long breath there are terrible stretches of flattest prose in verse with lines of power, sometimes of fathomless depth like that wonderful

Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone,[2]

interspersed or occurring like a lonely and splendid accident, rari nantes in gurgite vasto.”[3]

  1. The Synthesis of Yoga, p.306, “The Status of Knowledge”
  2. The Prelude, see archive.org/details/prelud00word, p.58
  3. The Future Poetry, p.136

See also