Download Wordsworth's philosophic song by Wordsworth, William; Wordsworth, William; Jarvis, Simon PDF

By Wordsworth, William; Wordsworth, William; Jarvis, Simon

Wordsworth's aspiration to 'philosophic tune' replaced the relatives among philosophy and English poetry.

summary: Wordsworth's aspiration to 'philosophic track' replaced the relatives among philosophy and English poetry

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Sample text

In its local context, the force of this last halfline is apparently clear: under the weight of her distress, the woman attributes or misattributes voluntary agency to the stocks and stones which make up the waggon, as though it were the waggon’s own hardheartedness which had denied her family bread. But the words also call up another register, a biblical one. ‘Stocks and stones’ recall the recurrent lapses of the ancient Hebrews into idolatry: As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets.

Yet when we remember that these are not harmoniously complementary but directly opposed stances (bury the body: slight the body) we see the extent to which ‘the character of philosophical poet’ cannot at any rate be one of placidly co-operative addition, as it is when lofty philosophy is tenderly versified, producing neither loftiness nor tenderness. It is instead one of simultaneous affinity and antagonism between two characters which are themselves internally in productive conflict. Is it conceivable that Wordsworth’s characterization of Simonides as a ‘philosophic Poet’ was seriously meant, and important for his sense of what philosophical poetry was?

The result of this would only be to show us what Wordsworth’s paradox does not fit in with. 63 This is almost to say that it does not fit in with philosophy itself. The passage does not Introduction: poetic thinking 31 attempt to define the ‘beings’ which supposedly have properties which spread beyond themselves; yet it clearly does not permit, either, the conclusion that the meaning of a word such as ‘being’ is so evident to all as to require no further discussion. What we are partly discovering here is the difference which philosophic song’s being song makes.

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