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ocean in one writer to small flowers and quiet lakes in another.
"Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean - roll!
writes Byron; and Wordsworth:
"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
(3) A third mark is interest in, and affection for, the past. This is best shown in Scott's great series of historical novels; but it also appears in the frequent use of old metres the Spenserian stanza by Keats, Byron, and Wordsworth, for example; and the ballad measure by Coleridge and others. Charles Lamb's fondness for writers of long ago and for quaint turns of expression found in them, may be noted on every page. (4) The last mark necessary to be named here is the worship of imagination, a natural corollary to interest in the past. Scott's novels, again, are an admirable illustration of this; so are Byron's tales of the far-away East; and possibly better than either of these, Coleridge's bestknown poems - The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan.
With this brief characterization of the period from 1798 to 1832, we turn to the leading writers for detailed study. The poets were the first to give effective expression to the new spirit, and we shall treat the poets first.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, 1770-1850
Slow Journey to Recognition. That the new poetry did not make its way immediately is quite clear. The magazine editors ridiculed Wordsworth's simple style and humble subjects. A traveller in Wordsworth's neighborhood, some
years after the poet had written great poems, innocently asked him if he had ever written anything except the Guide to the Lakes. Even Byron, later one of the extreme figures in the revolt, satirized Wordsworth in an early poem as "The mild apostate from poetic rule."
The poet said that for years the income from his poetry was
GRAMMAR SCHOOL AT HAWKSHEAD.
not sufficient to keep him in shoestrings. His ultimate artistic triumph is made evident in many ways, not the least being his appointment as poet laureate in his seventy-third year. This honor came solely in recognition of his achievement, and with the understanding that the services usually belonging to the position would not be expected of him.
of England familiarly known as the Lake District. There he lived for seven years, when he was sent to school at Hawkshead, about twenty miles distant. The eight years at Hawkshead, ending with his removal to St. John's College, Cambridge, were very happy. No evidence is available pointing to special distinction at school; and the evidence of his autobiographical poem, The Prelude, points only to his being
INTERIOR OF HAWKSHEAD SCHOOL.
Wordsworth's desk is just at the right as one enters.
a very healthy boy, fond of sports and outdoor life. Nor did he at all distinguish himself at the University, though he was graduated in regular form in 1791.
Influence of the French Revolution.
he spent some time in France, and became enthusiastic over the Revolution. Of this time he wrote:
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!"
The excesses of the Revolution lessened his enthusiasm; and for some years after his return to England he suffered much from the unsettling of his faith in mankind.
With Sister and Friend.
- In 1795 he and his beloved
and devoted sister Dorothy settled in Dorsetshire, south
WORDSWORTH AT THE AGE OF FORTY-
After a crayon sketch by Haydon.
west England, prepared for an existence of "plain living and high thinking," supported only by a legacy of £900 left by a friend. They then moved to Alfoxden, in the adjoining county of Somerset, attracted thither chiefly by the personality of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. When the Wordsworths returned to the Lake District to live, Coleridge followed; and their friendship continued till Coleridge's death. To Coleridge, Wordsworth dedicated The Prelude; and he is
frequently referred to in other poems.
"Lyrical Ballads."- Before taking up their residence in the Lake District, the two poets had put out the epoch-marking book usually named as the beginning of the "Romantic Triumph." Lyrical Ballads may well have taken the critics
unawares. Wordsworth had previously published two slender volumes, Coleridge, four; but none of these had attracted attention. In Lyrical Ballads editors and reviewers found a strange, unheard-of gathering of things that set at defiance the whole body of "established rules" in poetry. There
was a mysterious story in verse about a sailor who took a voyage on which he had the most amazing experiences. Then there was a poem called Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, in which the author went into details about the changes in his own attitude toward nature. "This will never do," said the critics, "because we have never heard of such things in poetry, and therefore they are clearly improper."