Sunday, August 07, 2022

Remembering the English Poets- Wordsworth

 " Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”

Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey

As I spend the month of August remembering English poets and their lasting influence on me, I have to take some time TRYING to capture the power of William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850). And to be honest, I don't know how to do it. Wordsworth has a style that defied the common conventions of poets during his day. His poems were designed for simple understanding and are very readable to almost anyone. I guess that is why I enjoy him in particular. 

The William Wordsworth poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, has been a recurring joy to me throughout my adult life. . It portrays a speaker who has encountered a field of daffodils waving in the breeze who seem to be 'dancing' in the wind. The beauty of nature in that moment is so powerful that the image is burned into his soul. And later, all alone, quiet and even blue- he hearkens back to that moment as it 'flashed on his inward eye'

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.

Wordsworth's style and subject matter aligns frequently with my needs to meditate on life, death, creation, and substantive, healing memories which characterize the life God has blessed me to have.

I find it interesting that he spent countless hours in the outdoors during his formative years. He had been sent off to school by a guardian after Wordsworth lost both his mother (at age 7) and father (at age 13) in a village that was surrounded by a lake and vacant woods.

As a boy, I practically lived in the woods as well. My house was at the base of Ruffner Mountain in East Lake. In the days before cell phones- we would pack a brown bag lunch and walk off into the woods, only to return at dusk.

Over time, we  had it all 'mapped out'- the limestone quarries, the iron ore mines, we knew how to get to (and climb) the old fire tower, and we knew that over the ridge was the Ruffner ball fields.

Of course now I experience this immersive beauty in fishing, hikes at Oak Mountain, sunsets at Briarwood, and my bliss of retreat, Lake Caroline.

As I experience these moments, orchestrated by the Lord, I often find that Wordsworth captures the feelings the best. I have to give a little nod to Thoreau and Walden Pond as well.... but Wordsworth resonates in my soul.

Here are just a few examples- just excerpts, but each piece has a connection to my personal experiences and happy places.


As I am writing this, I can already tell that I have been away from Lake Caroline for way too long.
And I only get to go there as a blessed benefit and generosity from the owner. I am always wary that this door may not be open forever. The picture at the top of this post has even more significance and part of it is that beautiful red tree that sits so majestically on that point across the water from the cabin.

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters,
rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din            This is a repeating theme- Wordsworth remembers
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,            and the memories are treasures- yes, indeed
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure

If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft—
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,     The 'sylvan' (wooded) river 'Wye'- the Wye River Woods
How often has my spirit turned to thee!


From the field, or better yet, from the press box- come soak in this beautiful moment!

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;


There are a number of places there- Eagle's Nest and others. I often think of this when I am on the white trail and the jagged ridge leading to the Shackelford Peak view

I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.


This summer in Alaska- oh my - I don't know if any poem can capture that place

Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


Lake Martin may be the prettiest place in Alabama

Oh there is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.

Time to move on- this time of year isn't great for writing.... hope to cover more later. These are SMALL samplings of great treasures if we learn to dig for it. Again, no substitute for God's Word...but wonderful expressions of God's world!

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