Thursday, September 01, 2016

Seamus Heaney on William Wordsworth's One Big Truth

Turner, Buttermere

Behind him lay a childhood and schooltime full of luminous and enlarging experiences around Hawkshead, in the mountains of his native Cumberland. He had grown up visited by sensations of immensity, communing with a reality he apprehended beyond the world of the senses, and he was therefore naturally inclined to accept the universe as a mansion of spirit rather than a congeries of matter. He had also grown up in a rural society where the egalitarian spirit prevailed and people behaved with reticence and fortitude in a setting that was both awesome and elemental. All of which predisposed him to greet the outbreak of the French Revolution with hope and to espouse its ideals:
If at the first outbreak I rejoiced
Less than might well befit my youth, the cause
In part lay here, that unto me the events
Seemed nothing out of nature’s certain course,
A gift that rather was come late than soon.
The natural goodness of man he inclined to take for granted, so it did indeed seem possible that the removal of repressive forms of government and the establishment of unmediated relations between nature and human nature could lead to a regeneration of the world. Certainly, when Wordsworth and his friend Robert Jones went on a walking tour through France in 1790, the summer after the fall of the Bastille, they could not miss the atmosphere of festival and the feeling that the country had awakened.
Read more here

No comments: