AD's English Literature : William Wordsworth’s Interest in Nature: Theory of “Emotion Recollected in Tranquility.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

William Wordsworth’s Interest in Nature: Theory of “Emotion Recollected in Tranquility.”

“The office of the poet is not that of the moralist, and the first aim of Wordsworth's poetry is to give the reader a peculiar kind of pleasure.” --WALTER PATER
 [From Appreciations, 1889. First published in the Fortnightly Review for April, 1874.]

William Wordsworth introduced nature into English poetry and revived interest in natural scenes and country folk in the truest sense of pleasure. Most of his great lyrics and odes had aesthetic pleasure of nature for their theme, for instance, Immortality ode and The Solitary Reaper. Wordsworth not only dwelt on the external beauty of nature but also revealed the inner aesthetic meaning of the various objects of nature. Thus in Immortality Ode he writes –
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

            Wordsworth does not use nature as a background for his scenes. He describes and defines it as a living embodiment heavenly pleasure which can influence the mind of man and fill it with god- glory beauty. Nature is percale by a divine spirit and can communicate with man who surrenders themselves to its claims.

Again, it was characteristic of Wordsworth that the beautiful sights and sounds in the world of nature would have a permanent place in his heart. These would never sink into oblivion. And, when recollected, these would render him great joy in his pensive hours. In his poem, The Daffodils Wordsworth says how the beautiful scene of the daffodil flower dancing in the gentle breeze was painted on the screen of his mind, never to be wiped out. It would flash upon his inward eye and fills his heart with pleasures. It was the ‘bliss of solitude’:
“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

Similarly, the sweet music of the solitary reaper in The Solitary Reaper was stored in his memory as a source of joy and inspiration. Here he says:
“I listen'd, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.”.

In a nutshell this is Wordsworthian theory of “emotion recollected in tranquility.” To be a poet is just the experiencing. Being a poet as spontaneous as nature, then there is no artificiality, then we don't have any character, then we are as innocent and pure as a child- submerged into the domain of tranquil recollection. Awareness is perfect now, nothing else is needed.

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