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divide France, an Ode, from the earlier Ode on the Departing Year will not be inclined to make light of Wordsworth's influence on his friend. Here, from Frost at Midnight, are the lines describing the stillness of the night in the poet's seaside cottage :

Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! The thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,

Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, everywhere
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,

And makes a toy of Thought.

And here are the lines at the end of the poem, wherein he promises to the infant sleeping beside him an education far different from his own :

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Both moods, the mood of solitary brooding that concentrates all the meditative sympathies on the smallest objects, and the mood of catholic enjoyment and abandonment of the feelings to the varying tides of nature, are moods that might have been learned from Wordsworth. Coleridge is, of course, expressing his own feelings; but the influence of Wordsworth caused him to turn over afresh the material for poetry that he found in his own mind, and to seek a new value and significance in parts of it that had not heretofore held the central place in his attention.

The counter-influence is more difficult to trace, for a reason remarked by Mr. Dykes Campbell; when Wordsworth was impressed by the thought of others, the influences "permeated his whole being, and were so completely assimilated as to have become part of himself before any of their results came to the surface." The main thought of Dejection: An Ode, conveyed in the stanza beginning

O Lady! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does Nature live,

whether he learned it from Coleridge or not, had a long and momentous history in Wordsworth's poetry. It is a safe conjecture that his friendship with Coleridge quickened his critical powers, and taught him to study the workings of his own

imagination in a more conscious and detached manner. It may even have encouraged him to advance as explicit doctrine what had value merely as perception, and so to make the Lyrical Ballads seem like a gauntlet flung in the face of public taste. But the chief benefit he received from Coleridge's friendship lay, after all, in the strength that comes from early appreciation. To be understood is a rare and great happiness; it helped Wordsworth to bear with equanimity many long years of public indifference and ridicule.

CHAPTER III

POETIC DICTION

WHEN the Lyrical Ballads were first published the larger and more difficult questions concerning the nature and methods of the poetic imagination were not mentioned in the Preface. Only one question is there conspicuous, a question of diction. "The majority of the following poems," says the Preface,

are to be considered as experiments. They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure."

A poet should think twice and thrice before he writes a preface to his own work. By writing these two short sentences Wordsworth secured for certain years an almost complete neglect of many novel aspects of his poetic manner, and ranged against him, as opponents of his poetry, all who disagreed with his theory. He involved himself also (and this was no unmixed misfortune) in a

more elaborate exposition and defence of that theory. In the long preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads he puts the issue on broader grounds, and, in wonderfully condensed language, explains his own view of the principles of Poetry. The most important paragraph of this famous apology must be quoted at length :—

The principal object, then, proposed in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them throughout, as far as this was possible, in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of the imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect; and further, and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature, chiefly, as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement. Humble and rustic life was generally chosen because in that condition the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; because in that condition of life our elementary feelings co-exist in a state of greater simplicity, and, consequently, may be more accurately contemplated and more forcibly communicated; because the manners of rural life germinate from those elementary feelings, and, from the necessary character of rural occupations, are more easily comprehended, and are more durable; and, lastly, because in that condition the passions of men are incorpor

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