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A comparison of Wordsworth's and Housman's conception of poetry

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A COMPARISON OP WORDSWORTH’S AND HOUSMAN’S
CONCEPTION OP POETRY
A T h esis
P resented to
th e F a c u lty o f th e D epartm ent o f E n g lis h
The U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h e r n C a l i f o r n i a
In P a r t ia l F u lfillm e n t
o f th e R eq uirem ents f o r th e Degree
M aster of A rts
fry
J u l i a H azel Cooper
June 1941
UMI Number: EP44145
All rights reserved
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This thesis, w ri tt en by
............HAZEL-COQPER...............
under the direction of hs*f.. Fa culty C o m m it te e ,
a n d a p p r o v e d b y a l l its m e m b e r s , has been
pres en te d to and a c c e p te d by the C oun c il on
G ra du at e S t u d y a n d Research in pa r ti al fulfill­
m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r th e d e g r e e o f
-MAS.TSE..DE-ARTS-
Dean
Secretary
D ate
1 M E , ...194:1
Faculty Committee
JS.
Chairman
A COMPARISON OF WORDSWORTH'S AND HOUSMAN'S
CONCEPTION OF POETRY
OUTLINE
PAGE
INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................
i
PART I
......................................................................................................
1
..........................
1
. .......................
27
C h ap ter I .
W o rd sw o rth 's T h eo ry
C hapter I I .
H o u sm an 's T h e o ry
C hapter I I I .
PART I
I
.
A C om parison o f T h e o r ie s
. . .
49
..................................................................................................
64
A C o m p a r i s o n o f P o e m s .......................
64
C h a p te r IV.
CONCLUSION
..............................
102
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE
INTRODUCTION
........................................................
PART I
.
. . . . . .
i
............................
1
CHAPTER
I .
WORDSWORTH’ S THEORY OF P O E T R Y .............................. .
B i o g r a p h i c a l s k e t c h o f W ordsw orth
S u b j e c t and aim s
S ty le
.
. . . .
..............................................................
................................................................................
N ature o f th e p o e t
.........................................................
The m e t h o d o f p r o d u c i n g p o e t r y
II.
1
HOUSMAN'S THEORY OF
..........................
POETRY ........................................
27
B i o g r a p h i c a l s k e t c h o f Housman ..........................
The name o f p o e t r y
.........................................................
The n a t u r e o f p o e t r y
...................................................
The p r o d u c t i o n o f p o e t r y
III.
PART I I
A COMPARISON OF THE
. . . . . . . . .
T H E O R I E S ...................................
49
. ■.......................................................................................................
64
CHAPTER
IV.
A COMPARISON OF WORDSWORTH'S AND HOUSMAN’ S
P O E M S ......................................... •.............................................
Form a n d s t y l e
Themes o f p oem s
64
CHAPTER
PAGE
P h ilo so p h ical im p lica tio n s
...............................
CONCLUSIONS .......
102
BIBLIOGRAPHY
107
..........................................................................................
INTRODUCTION
W hat o u r p o e t s h a v e h a d t o s a y a b o u t t h e i r c r a f t h a s
been a s u b je c t o f g e n e r a l i n t e r e s t alm ost sin c e th e b eg in n in g
of E n g lish l i t e r a r y
c ritic ism
in the s i x te e n th c e n tu ry .
i n t e l l e c t u a l a n a ly se s of the c r i t i c s
can never ta k e
The
the p la c e
o f th e f i r s t - h a n d a c c o u n ts o f th e p o e t i c p r o e e s s w hich have
come down t o u s i n a s t e a d y s t r e a m f r o m t h e E l i z a b e t h a n s —
D a n i e l , S id n e y , J o n s o n , and o t h e r s — th ro u g h D ryden, Pope,
W ordsw orth, C o l e r i d g e , S h e l l e y ,
and w hich c o n tin u e s to d a y in
t h e w o r k s o f s u c h p o e t s a s H o u s m a n , Amy L o w e l l , a n d T . S .
E lio t.
These a c c o u n ts — a p o lo g i e s , a n a l y s e s ,
co d ifica tio n s
of
r u l e s — d i f f e r w id e ly and prom ote th e a m b i g u i ty w i t h w h ich t h e
w o r d p o e t r y h a s e v e r b e e n c l o u d e d , a n a m b i g u i t y w h i c h Housman
r e c o g n i z e d I n The Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y .
alth o u g h our co n cep tio n s
of what i s ,
N ev erth eless,
or is n o t,
p o e t r y may
c h a n g e w i t h t h e p a s s i n g o f t h e c e n t u r i e s , w h a t men who h a v e
i n d u b i t a b l y p o s s e s s e d t h e p o e t i c m i n d a n d h a v e p r o d u c e d s.ome
o f our g r e a t e s t p o e tr y have had to say a b o u t p o e tr y w i l l a l ­
ways be o f i n t e r e s t
to u s.
The p u r p o s e o f t h i s
th esis
is
t o compare Housman’ s
v ie w s o f p o e t r y a s he e x p r e s s e s them p r i n c i p a l l y
i n The Name
and N a t u r e o f P o e t r y w i t h W o rd s w o rth ’ s v iew s a s he s e t them
f o r t h in th e A d v ertisem en t to
t h e 1798 e d i t i o n
of the L y r ic a l
B a l l a d s , t h e P r e f a c e o f 1 8 0 0 , e n l a r g e d a n d r e v i s e d i n 1 8 02
ii
a n d 1 8 0 5 , a n d t h e A p p e n d i x on P o e t i c D i c t i o n , a d d e d i n 1 8 0 2 ,
a n d t o c o m p a r e t h e poems o f Housman w i t h c e r t a i n
w o r t h ’s l y r i c a l b a l l a d s and r e l a t e d poems.
the th e s is
of th ree
in to
two p a r t s :
P art I ,
o n .th e
o f W ords­
I have d iv id e d
th eo ry ,
co n sists
c h a p t e r s — W o rd s w o rth ’ s t h e o r y , Housman’ s t h e o r y ,
and
t h e c o m p a r is o n o f t h e two; P a r t I I c o n s i s t s o f t h e c o m p a ris o n
o f t h e poem s t h e m s e l v e s .
The t h e o r i e s o f t h e s e
tw o p o e t s p r e s e n t i n t e r e s t i n g
m a t e r i a l f o r co m p ariso n and c o n t r a s t .
w h i l e co m p a rin g them,
B u t we m u s t r e m e m b e r ,
t h a t W o rd s w o rth was w r i t i n g a f o r m a l
a p o l o g y f o r w h a t h e c o n s i d e r e d new i d e a s i n p o e t r y , a n d t h a t
what he s a id a p p li e d p r i m a r i l y to
th e l y r i c a l b a l l a d s and n o t
t o t h e whole o f h i s p o e t r y , n o t e v e n t o a l l
volum es he c a l l e d L y r i c a l B a l l a d s .
t h e poems i n t h e
M o r e o v e r , W o rd s w o rth was
w r i t i n g from th e p o in t o f view o f a p o e t, and, n o t only t h a t ,
b u t f r o m t h e p o i n t o f v i e w o f a p o e t w ho se a i m w a s t o r e f o r m
E n g lish p o e try .
lectu rin g
and,
Housman, on t h e
o t h e r h a n d , was s im p ly
on p o e t r y f o r t h e e n l i g h t e n m e n t o f h i s a u d i e n c e ;
i f we a r e
to take h i s c o n c lu sio n s a t a l l
s e r i o u s l y , he
w a s g l a d w hen t h e l e c t u r e was o v e r a n d r e a d y t o b i d c r i t i c i s m
farew ell fo rev e r.
He w a s p r i m a r i l y
and n a t u r e o f p o e t r y i n g e n e r a l ,
p r a c t i c e ; w hat he sa y s o f h i s
That l i t t l e ,
how ever,
is
in terested
i n t h e name
not in ex p lain in g h is
own p r a c t i c e
is
own
in cid en ta l.
e x t r e m e l y p r o v o c a t i v e , f o r Housman
s a y s i n The Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y t h a t h e b e l i e v e s ,
in -
iii
s o f a r a s o n e c a n make a s s u m p t i o n s a b o u t a n o t h e r ’ s m e t h o d o f
co m p o sitio n ,
t h a t much o f h i s
own p o e t r y came i n t o b e i n g i n
t h e manner w h ich W ordsw orth d e s c r i b e s
in the
P reface to the
L y rical B a llad s,
In cid e n ta lly ,
s i n c e m o s t o f H o u s m a n ’ s poems a r e
b a l l a d f o r m , I am t r e a t i n g
W ordsw orth’s w orks,
in
p r im a r ily only t h a t p a r t o f
th at is ,
h i s b a l l a d s , w hich i s
com parable
t o H o u s m a n ’ s ; W o r d s w o r t h ' s o t h e r w o r k s I am p u r p o s e l y o m i t ­
tin g
in t h is
th e sis.
P A R T
I
CHAPTER I
A.
It
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.OP WORDSWORTH
Is ob v io u sly u n n ecessary to give a d e ta ile d o u tlin e
o f W o rd s w o rth 's l i f e
to note
in t h i s
th esis.
My i n t e n t i o n
is
sim p ly
th e most im p o r ta n t e v e n ts i n h i s e a r l y l i f e up t o
1 80 0 i n s o f a r a s t h e y c o n t r i b u t e d t o t h e
co n d itio n in g of h is
m ind.
the
I in ten d a ls o
tem per o f th e
to suggest b r i e f l y
in te lle ctu al
t i m e s , f o r W o rd s w o rth ’ s m ost i m p o r t a n t d i s c u s ­
s i o n o f p o e t r y was p a r t i a l l y
the p ro d u c t of c irc u m s ta n c e s.
W o r d s w o r t h was b o r n A p r i l 7 ,
1 7 7 0 , i n C o c k e r m o u t h , on
th e r i v e r Derw ent in C u m b erlan d .^ • H is f a t h e r se rv e d th e
E a r l o f L onsdale as a la w y e r.
eig h t y ears
H is m o t h e r d i e d when he was
o ld , and h i s f a t h e r f iv e y e a rs l a t e r .
Prom t h e
t i m e o f t h e d e a t h o f h i s f a t h e r u n t i l 1 7 9 5 , when h e r e c e i v e d
a l e g a c y o f L900 f r o m R a i s l e y C a l v e r t , h e was d e p e n d e n t u pon
r e la tiv e s fo r sup p o rt.
and e n te r e d S t .
He a t t e n d e d H a w k s h e a d Grammar S c h o o l
J o h n ’s C o lle g e , C am bridge, 1787, r e c e i v i n g
h i s B . A. d e g r e e i n 1 7 9 1 .
W o r d s w o r t h was b y n a t u r e
in d ep en d en t,
se n sitiv e ,
and
F or t h i s b r i e f b i o g r a p h ic a l s k e tc h I have depended
u p o n G e o r g e McLean H a r p e r , W i l l i a m W o r d s w o r t h s
H is L if e ,
W o rk s a n d I n f l u e n c e (New Y o r k s
C h a s . S c r i b n e r ’ 3 S o n s , 2nd
e d . , 1923)":
sy m p a th e tic w ith th e dow ntrodden.
At th e end o f N o v e m b e r,■
1791, he w ent t o P ra n c e and re m a in e d t h e r e f o r t h i r t e e n
m onths o r m ore.
U n d e r t h e i n f l u e n c e •o f G e n e r a l M i c h e l
B eaupuy he was drawn t o
t h o u g h t h e saw i n i t
th e F re n c h R e v o lu tio n b e c a u se he
t h e end o f s l a v e r y and i n j u s t i c e
t h e b e g i n n i n g o f a new s o c i a l o r d e r .
B u t he was d i s i l l u ­
s io n e d l a t e r by th e e x t r e m i s t s and r e j e c t e d
rejected
re su lts
and
them a s he
a l l m ovements and p o l i t i c a l s y s te m s w h ic h e m p h a s is e d
r a t h e r t h a n hum an v a l u e s .
When W i l l i a m G o d w in p u b l i s h e d P o l i t i c a l J u s t i c e
1793, s h o r t l y a f t e r W ordsw orth had r e t u r n e d
W ordsw orth f e l t
to E ngland,
t h a t he had found a s y m p a th is e r .
comed G o d w i n ’ s d o c t r i n e
of; a l l p r i n c i p l e s
He w e l ­
of n e c e ssita ria n ism , h is red u ctio n
in to a sin g le
a ry hu m an itarian ism ,
in
one, re a so n , h is r e v o lu tio n ­
and h i s condem nation o f w a r.
he p roceed ed to b u i l d up h i s
th e R e v o lu tio n , he r e a l i s e d
B ut, as
p h ilo s o p h y around the f a i t h
th at
P o litic a l Ju stice
s i m i l a r r e v o l u t io n a r y system s s t r u c k a t
of
and a l l
the v e ry r o o t s
of
s o c i e t y b y d e s t r o y i n g t h e - f u n d a m e n t a l human r e l a t i o n s h i p s
w h i c h make u p a l a s t i n g
a ll
s o c ia l organism .
such system s as p e rv e r s io n s
He r e c o i l e d f r o m
of the o r i g i n a l purpose of
the R evolution*
I n 1795 W o rd sw o rth w e n t t o R acedow n, an d i n J u l y ,
1 7 9 7 , he became C o l e r i d g e ’ s n e i g h b o r a t A l f o x d e n , n e a r N e t h e r
Stow ey,
in S o m e rse tsh ire .
T o g e th e r they, p lan n ed and w rote
t h e L y r i c a l B a l l a d s , w h ic h was p u b l i s h e d t h e f o l l o w i n g y e a r *
W ith h i s
s i s t e r D o ro th y and C o l e r i d g e he t r a v e l l e d
f o r s e v e n m onths i n 1 7 9 9 - 1 8 0 0 .
i n Germany
Most o f th e f i r s t book o f
T h e P r e l u d e , L u c y G r a y , a n d t h e c h i e f " L u c y ” poems w e r e
w r itte n during h is
stay
i n Germany.
Upon t h e i r r e t u r n
to
E n g la n d i n D ecem ber, 1799, W ordsw orth and D o ro th y s e t t l e d
Dove C o t t a g e , G r a s m e r e , a n d C o l e r i d g e
at
sh o rtly a fte r se ttle d
a t K esw ick.
I n 1800 W o rd s w o r th ’ s i n t i m a t e a c q u a i n t a n c e w i t h
C o lerid g e continued
resu lted
to stim u la te h is
p o e t i c a c t i v i t i e s , w hich
i n The R e c l r a s e , The B r o t h e r s , M i c h a e l , Poems on t h e
N am in g o f P l a c e s , a n d t h e f a m o u s P r e f a c e e x p l a i n i n g t h e
th e o r y of th e “ l y r i c a l b a l l a d s ” o f the f i r s t
second e d i t i o n
p u b lish ed
ed itio n .
The
o f th e L y r i c a l B a l l a d s and th e P r e f a c e were
in Jan u ary ,
1801.
W o rd sw o rth ’s e m p h a sis upon f e e l i n g and p a s s i o n i n th e
P r e f a c e was a c o n s c i o u s r e v o l t a g a i n s t t h e r a t i o n a l i s m o f
the e ig h te e n th c e n tu ry .
F o llo w in g th e psychology of L ocke,
e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y r a t i o n a l i s m c o n s i d e r e d man a c r e a t u r e
reason.
He h a d n o i n n a t e
of
i d e a s ; h i s m ind a t b i r t h , was th e
ta b u la r a s a , e n t i r e l y d evoid of im p re s s io n s .
Thus t h e f i r s t
s t e p i n t h e a t t a i n m e n t o f k n o w l e d g e was f o r t h e m i n d t o
acq u ire a sto re
ap p lied
of sense e x p e rie n c e s ;
the f a c u l t y
of reason
to th e se e x p e rie n c e s le d to th e p e rc e p tio n of
rela tio n sh ip s
and to kn o w led g e.
G odw in’s P o l i t i c a l J u s t i c e
was a l o g i c a l o u t g r o w t h o f t h i s e m p h a s i s u p o n r e a s o n .
In
G o d w in 's sy s te m , e v e r y t h i n g w hich c o u ld n o t be j u s t i f i e d
th e .b a sis
o f r e a s o n was s t r i c t l y
v ested r ig h ts ,
re lig io n ,
and a l l
upon s e n tim e n t o r t r a d i t i o n .
f e e l i n g and i n t u i t i o n a s
upon
e x c lu d e d from th e s t a t e :
s o c ia l i n s t i t u t i o n s based
T r u t h was th e s o l e a r b i t e r ;
s o u r c e s o f knowledge w ere condem ned.
T he r e v o l u t i o n a r y W o r d s w o r t h was n a t u r a l l y
i n sym pathy
w i t h t h e e n d s w h i c h G o dw in s o u g h t t o a c h i e v e , b u t h e h a d come
to fe e l
t h a t any sy stem w hich r e j e c t e d
p a ssio n and f e e l i n g
i g n o r e d s o m e th in g f u n d a m e n ta l i n t h e m ake-up o f m ankind and
te n d e d to d e s t r o y him a s a s o c i a l o r g a n is m .
In H a r tle y 's
O b s e r v a t i o n s on Man h e f o u n d a p s y c h o l o g y w h i c h r e c o g n i z e d
e m o t i o n an d w h ic h l o o k e d u pon t h e mind a s an i n e v i t a b l e
p r o c e s s o f developm ent tow ard h a p p in e s s and good.
D isillu ­
s io n e d and p e r p le x e d by th e r a t i o n a l i s m o f t h e . r e v o l u t i o n a r y
t h e o r i s t s , W o r d s w o r t h b u i l t f o r h i m s e l f a new p h i l o s o p h y
b a s e d on t h i s
system of p sy c h o lo g y .
T h i s p h i l o s o p h y was f i r s t
B allad s.
ex p ressed in the L y r ic a l
In th e A d v e rtisem en t to the f i r s t
W ordsw orth a s k e d t h e r e a d e r t o o b se rv e
(1 7 9 8 ) .
the " n a t u r a l d e lin e a ­
t i o n o f hum an p a s s i o n s , human c h a r a c t e r s ,
2
e d itio n
a n d h um an i n c i d e n t s .
W i l l i a m W o rd s w o rth , W o rd s w o rth : R e p r e s e n t a t i v e Poems,
A rthur B e a tty , e d it o r
( G a r d e n C i t y , Hew Y o r k :
D oubleday,
D o r a n & Company, I n c . , 1 9 3 7 ) , A d v e r t i s e m e n t t o L y r i c a l B a l l a d s
p. 675. .
1
In the
P r e f a c e o f 1800 he a s s e r t e d
w as " t o make t h e
tracin g
"to
i n them .
th a t h is
i n c i d e n t s o f common l i f e
p rin c ip a l ob ject
i n t e r e s t i n g by
• . th e p r im a r y law s o f o ur n a t u r e "
fo llo w th e f l u x e s and r e f l u x e s
by t h e g r e a t and s im p le a f f e c t i o n s
o f t h e m i n d when a g i t a t e d
of our n a tu re ." 3
T h u s , we s e e t h a t W o r d s w o r t h t u r n e d n a t u r a l l y
common man b e c a u s e o f h i s b e l i e f
ru stic
the
life
was g e n e r a l l y c h o s e n ,
and
in dem ocracy;
to the
"Low a n d
because in th a t c o n d itio n ,
e s s e n t i a l p a s s io n s o f the h e a r t f in d a b e t t e r s o i l in
w hich th e y can a t t a i n
th e ir m atu rity
.
.
At th e tim e
W ordsw orth w ro te L y r i c a l B a l l a d s , he h ad tu r n e d t o f e e l i n g
a n d p a s s i o n i n h i s r e c o i l f r o m a r a t i o n a l s y s t e m a n d , more
sp e c ific a lly ,
t o f e e l i n g a n d p a s s i o n i n t h e common m an ; i n
t h e common man s u c h p a s s i o n s a r e m o r e e l e m e n t a r y ,
sin ce
they
a r e u n d e r l e s s r e s t r a i n t a n d a r i s e more d i r e c t l y fro m c o n t a c t
w ith n a tu re .
C o n s e q u e n t l y , W o rd sw o rth became a c r i t i c
not
b e c a u s e he w a n te d t o , b u t b e c a u s e he h ad t o e x p l a i n and
d e f e n d h i s new c o n c e p t i o n o f p o e t r y .
B.
In th is
th esis
it
SUBJECT AND AIMS
i s n o t ray p u r p o s e t o d i s c u s s t h e
3
I b id ., P reface to L y ric a l B allad s
1802, and 1 8 0 5 ), p . 681.
4
I b id ., P reface,
p. 679.
(T exts o f 1800,
whole o f W o rd s w o rth ’s t h e o r y o f p o e t r y , b u t to d i s c u s s t h a t
part
of h is
th e o ry w hich i s
c o m p a rab le t o Housman’ s t h e o r y —
W ordsw orth’s th e o ry as s e t f o r t h
in the A d v ertisem en t to the
first
th e second e d i t i o n o f the
e d i t i o n and th e P r e f a c e
to
L y r i c a l B a l l a d s and i n th e A p p e n d ix , i n w hich he expounds h i s
theory of p o e tic d ic tio n .
W o r d s w o r t h ’ s avowed p u r p o s e
’’ t o m a k e •t h e
in the L y r ic a l B a lla d s is
i n c i d e n t s o f common l i f e
a s c e r t a i n how f a r t h e l a n g u a g e
i n t e r e s t i n g ” ^ a n d ”t o
o f c o n v e r s a t i o n i n th e m iddle
and lo w er c l a s s e s of s o c i e t y i s a d a p te d to th e p u rp o se s of
p o e t i c p l e a s u r e . ” ® H is m ethod o f m aking t h e s e
in te restin g
n a tu re .”
of the
is
to tra c e
in cid en ts
i n t h e m t h e ’’ p r i m a r y l a w s o f o u r
I n 1 8 0 2 , when W o r d s w o r t h r e v i s e d t h e
P r e f a c e , he expanded th e s ta te m e n t of h i s
s a y s t h a t h i s a i m i s ’’ a b o v e a l l ,
situ atio n s
t o make t h e s e
i n t e r e s t i n g by t r a c i n g , in them ,
o ste n ta tio u sly ,
th e p rim a ry law s of our n a t u r e :
o f e x c i t e m e n t . ” *^
though n o t
c h ie fly ,
id ea s in a
T h is aim i s r e p h r a s e d a g a i n i n th e
5I b j d . , P re fa c e , p. 679.
6I b i d . , A d v e rtis e m e n t, p. 67 5 .
7
purpose and
i n c i d e n t s and
tru ly
f a r a s r e g a r d s t h e m a n n e r i n w h i c h we a s s o c i a t e
sta te
1800 e d i t i o n
Ib id . , P reface, p. 679.
as
7
P r e f a c e , whe n W o r d s w o r t h s a y s n o t o n l y t h a t " e a c h o f t h e s e poems
has a p u rp o se," h u t t h a t t h is purpose is
lu strate
il­
t h e manner i n w hich o u r f e e l i n g s and i d e a s a re
asso ciated
in a s t a t e
of ex cite m en t."
W ordsw orth d e f i n e s
th at " i t
p rin cip ally "to
is
to fo llo w
th e purpose s t i l l
th e f lu x e s and r e f l u x e s
a g i t a t e d by t h e g r e a t and sim p le a f f e c t i o n s
He g i v e s f i v e
f u r t h e r by s a y in g
o f t h e m i n d when
of our n a tu re ."
e x a m p l e s o f poems t r a c i n g v a r i o u s o f t h e s e
a ff e c tio n s as fo llo w s:
. . . b y t r a c i n g t h e m a t e r n a l p a s s i o n t h r o u g h many o f
i t s m o r e s u b t i l e w i n d i n g s , a s i n t h e poems o f " T h e I d i o t
Boy" a n d " T h e Mad M o t h e r " ; b y a c c o m p a n y i n g t h e l a s t
s t r u g g l e s o f a human b e i n g , a t t h e a p p r o a c h o f d e a t h ,
c l e a v i n g i n s o l i t u d e t o l i f e a n d s o c i e t y , a s i n t h e poem
o f "The F o rs a k e n I n d i a n " ; by show in g, a s in th e s t a n z a s
e n t i t l e d "We A r e S e v e n , " t h e p e r p l e x i t y a n d o b s c u r i t y
w hich in c h ild h o o d a t t e n d our n o t io n o f d e a t h , o r r a t h e r
o u r u t t e r ' i n a b i l i t y t o adm it t h a t n o t i o n ; o r by d i s p l a y ­
i n g t h e s t r e n g t h o f f r a t e r n a l , o r t o s p e a k more p h i l o ­
s o p h i c a l l y , o f m o r a l a t t a c h m e n t when e a r l y a s s o c i a t e d
w i t h t h e g r e a t arid b e a u t i f u l o b j e c t s o f n a t u r e , a s i n
The B r o t h e r s ; o r , a s i n t h e i n c i d e n t o f " S i m o n L e e , " b y
p l a c i n g my r e a d e r i n t h e way o f r e c e i v i n g f r o m o r d i n a r y
m o r a l s e n s a t i o n s a n o t h e r and more s a l u t a r y i m p r e s s i o n
t h a n we a r e a c c u s t o m e d t o r e c e i v e f r o m th e m .®
I n t h e a b o v e - m e n t i o n e d poems W o r d s w o r t h t r a c e s
b u t im passioned,
the sim p le ,
a f f e c t i o n s w ith such s k i l l t h a t
r e c e i v e s from them d e e p e r i m p r e s s i o n s
experiences in a c tu a l l i f e .
the r e a d e r
than he r e c e iv e s
from
W ordsw orth s t r e t c h e s h i s g e n e r a l
purpose f u r t h e r :
I t h a s a l s o b e e n p a r t o f my g e n e r a l p u r p o s e t o s k e t c h
8I b i d . ,
P r e f a c e , pp. 6 8 1 -8 2
8
c h a r a c t e r s under th e In flu e n c e o f l e s s im passioned
f e e l i n g s , a s I n ’’ The Two A p r i l M o r n i n g s , ’* ’’The
F o u n t a i n , ” " T h e O l d Man T r a v e l l i n g , ” The Two T h i e v e s , ”
&c c h a r a c t e r s o f w h i c h t h e e l e m e n t s , a r e s i m p l e , b e l o n g r
i n g r a t h e r t o n a t u r e t h a n t o m a n n e r s , s u c h a s e x i s t now ,
and w i l l p r o h a h ly alw ays e x i s t , and w hich from t h e i r
c o n s t i t u t i o n may b e d i s t i n c t l y a n d p r o f i t a b l y c o n t e m ­
p la te d .§
T h u s we s e e t h a t W o r d s w o r t h ’ s p u r p o s e i n t h e L y r i c a l
B allad s is
t o " m a k e t h e i n c i d e n t s o f common l i f e ” i n t e r e s t i n g
by t r a c i n g
i n t h e m t h e " p r i m a r y l a w s o f o u r n a t u r e . " . Now t h e
q u estio n a ris e s :
W here c a n W o r d s w o r t h o b s e r v e m o s t a c c u r a t e l y
t h e " p r im a r y law s o f o u r n a t u r e " ?
"The p r im a r y law s o f o u r n a t u r e "
s u c c e s s f u l l y in "lo w and r u s t i c
f o r choosing r u s t i c
life
is
life ."
can be s t u d i e d most
W ordsw orth’s re a s o n
t h a t in r u s t i c
life
he f in d s
c h a r a c t e r s w hich b e lo n g t o " n a t u r e r a t h e r th a n t o m a n n e rs."
He g i v e s f o u r r e a s o n s f o r h i s
ch o ice:
Low a n d r u s t i c l i f e was g e n e r a l l y c h o s e n , b e c a u s e I n
t h a t c o n d itio n , the e s s e n t i a l p a ssio n s of th e h e a r t f in d
a b e t t e r s o i l in w hich th ey can a t t a i n t h e i r m a t u r i t y ,
a r e l e s s u n d e r r e s t r a i n t , a n d s p e a k a p l a i n e r a n d m ore
em phatic la n g u a g e ; h e c a u se in t h a t c o n d it i o n o f l i f e our
elem en tary f e e lin g s c o - e x is t in a s ta te of g r e a te r
s i m p l i c i t y , a n d , c o n s e q u e n t l y , may b e m o re a c c u r a t e l y
c o n t e m p l a t e d , and more f o r c i b l y c o m m u n ic a te d ; b e c a u s e
th e m anners of r u r a l l i f e g e rm in a te from th o s e elem en­
t a r y f e e l i n g s ; an d, from th e n e c e s s a r y c h a r a c t e r o f
r u r a l o c c u p a t i o n s , a r e more e a s i l y c o m p re h e n d e d ; and
a r e m o re d u r a b l e ; a n d l a s t l y , b e c a u s e i n t h a t c o n d i t i o n
t h e p a s s i o n s o f men a r e i n c o r p o r a t e d w i t h t h e b e a u t i f u l
a n d p e r m a n e n t f o r m s o f n a t u r e . 10
9
10
I b i d . , P re fa c e , p. 682.
Ib id ..
P reface, pp. 679-80.
W ordaw orth l a r e v o l t i n g a g a i n s t
lite ra tu re,
v a lu e s.
w h i c h waa u t t e r l y
lack in g
the
e ig h te e n th cen tu ry
in d eep er em otional
T h e re was p o i s e , b a l a n c e , h a rm o n y , and p e r f e c t i o n o f
form in th e p o e tr y o f th e e ig h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , h u t c le v e r n e s s
was s u b s t i t u t e d f o r p a s s i o n .
c ra tic .
F o r t h e "common m a n , ” P o p e , a s w e l l a s h i s c o n t e m ­
p o raries,
c ared n o t a snap of h is
re c o ils ag ain st th is
o ld er w r ite r s ,
life
T h i s p o e t r y was f r a n k l y a r i s t o ­
fin g ers.
a rtific ia lity
W ordsw orth
and r e f e r s
to
the*w ork o f
s u c h a s C h a u c e r a n d S h a k e s p e a r e , who u s e d " l o w ”
and e le m e n ta r y f e e l i n g s
in t h e i r p o e tic
ex p ressio n .
D e m o c r a t i c a l l y , W o rd s w o rth p r e f e r s t h e more d u r a b l e p a s s i o n s
o f man b e c a u s e t h e y a r e u n i v e r s a l a n d c a n b e u n d e r s t o o d b y a l l
p e o p l e , n o t by j u s t a s e l e c t fe w .
A lth o u g h W ordsw orth h a s c h o se n " lo w ” l i f e ,
h e g o e s on
t o say t h a t he a g r e e s w ith th e c u r r e n t o u tc r y a g a i n s t th e
triv ia lity
a n d m e a n n e s s o f much c o n t e m p o r a r y p o e t r y .
h im s e lf he has ch osen a m iddle c o u r s e .
For
He s a y s t h a t h i s
can be d i s t i n g u i s h e d from th e v e r s e s o f h i s
poems
co n tem p o raries
b e c a u s e e a c h o f h i s poems h a s ” a w o r t h y p u r p o s e . ”
W ordsw orth
a d m its t h a t he d oes n o t alw ay s b e g in to w r i t e w ith a d i s t i n c t
purpose fo rm a lly c o n c e iv e d , f o r p o e try is n o t co nceived
fo rm ally .
'^ It h a s t o d o w i t h f e e l i n g s a n d i s p r o d u c e d s p o n -
t a n e o u s l y ; b u t t h e p o e t , b e i n g a man o f m o re t h a n u s u a l
org an ic s e n s i b i l i t y ,
is
a l s o a man who h a s t h o u g h t d e e p l y .
W ordsw orth d e s c r i b e s
the p ro ce ss in
t h i s ways
10
F o r a l l good p o e t r y i s t h e s p o n t a n e o u s o v e r f l o w o f
pow erful f e e lin g s :
b u t th o u g h t h i s be t r u e , poems t o
w hich any v a lu e can be a t t a c h e d , w ere n e v e r pro d u ced
on a n y v a r i e t y o f s u b j e c t s b u t b y a m an, who b e i n g
p o s s e s s e d o f more t h a n u s u a l o r g a n i c s e n s i b i l i t y , h a d
a l s o t h o u g h t l o n g a n d d e e p l y . 11
As h e c o n t i n u e s h i s d e s c r i p t i o n
see th a t h is e x p la n a tio n i s
o f t h e p r o c e s s o f p o e t r y , we
g iv en in term s of th e a s s o c i a t i o n
psychology:
- F o r o u r c o n tin u e d i n f l u x e s o f f e e l i n g a r e m o d if ie d and
d i r e c t e d by our th o u g h ts , w hich a r e ind eed th e r e p r e s e n t a ­
t i v e s o f a l l o u r p a s t f e e l i n g s ; a n d , a s by c o n te m p l a ti n g
the r e l a t i o n of th e se g e n e ra l r e p r e s e n ta tiv e s to each
o t h e r we d i s c o v e r w h a t i s r e a l l y i m p o r t a n t t o m e n , s o , b y
th e r e p e t i t i o n and c o n tin u a n c e o f t h i s a c t , ou r f e e l i n g s
w i l l be c o n n e c te d w ith im p o r ta n t s u b j e c t s , t i l l a t l e n g t h ,
i f we b e o r i g i n a l l y p o s s e s s e d o f much s e n s i b i l i t y , s u c h
h a b i t s o f m ind w i l l b e p r o d u c e d , t h a t , b y o b e y in g b l i n d l y
a n d m e c h a n i c a l l y t h e i m p u l s e s o f t h o s e h a b i t s , we s h a l l
d e s c r i b e o b j e c t s , and u t t e r s e n t im e n t s , o f such a n a tu r e
and in such connexion w ith each o t h e r , t h a t th e u n d e r- s t a n d i n g o f t h e b e i n g t o whom we a d d r e s s o u r s e l v e s , i f
he be i n a h e a l t h f u l s t a t e o f a s s o c i a t i o n , m ust n e c e s ­
s a r i l y b e i n some d e g r e e e n l i g h t e n e d , a n d h i s a f f e c t i o n s
a m e l i o r a t e d . 1^
W o r d s w o r t h s a y s f u r t h e r t h a t h i s poems i n t h e L y r i c a l
B a l l a d s may b e d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m t h e p o p u l a r poems o f h i s
day by th e f a c t
t h a t 11t h e f e e l i n g
th e r e in developed g iv e s
i m p o r ta n c e t o t h e a c t i o n and s i t u a t i o n ,
and s i t u a t i o n
th in g .
to t h e f e e l i n g . ,tl3
He t h i n k s
^ I b i d .,
12
and n o t th e a c t i o n
The f e e l i n g
is
the im portant
t h a t u t h e human m i n d i s c a p a b l e o f b e i n g
P re fa c e , p. 681.
I b i d . , P re fa c e , p. 681.
Ib id . , Preface,
p. 682.
e x c ite d w ith o u t the a p p lic a tio n
lan ts,
li
14
of g r o s s and v i o l e n t
and t h a t th e b e s t s e r v ic e
be engaged i s
m ind o f h i s
in w hich any w r i t e r can
to produce or e n la rg e t h i s
reader.
stim u­
c ap a b ility
in the
He s a y s t h e r e a r e a n u m b e r o f c a u s e s
f o r s e n s a t i o n a l i s m , among w h i c h a r e
. . .
th e g r e a t n a t i o n a l e v e n ts w hich a r e d a i l y ta k in g
p l a c e , a n d t h e i n c r e a s i n g a c c u m u l a t i o n o f men i n c i t i e s ,
w here th e u n i f o r m i t y of t h e i r o c c u p a tio n s p ro d u ce s a
c ra v in g f o r e x t r a o r d i n a r y i n c i d e n t , w hich th e r a p i d
com m unication o f i n t e l l i g e n c e h o u r l y g r a t i f i e s .
T his tendency in the l i f e
by th e l i t e r a t u r e
id le
ex p lo ited
and t h e a t r i c a l e x h i b i t i o n s o f th e c o u n tr y .
The s e n s a t i o n a l l i t e r a t u r e
n o v els,
and m anners o f th e day i s
o f the day he d e s c r i b e s a s “ f r a n t i c
s i c k l y a n d s t u p i d G e rm a n t r a g e d i e s ,
and e x tr a v a g a n t s t o r i e s
i n v e r s e . “ 16
and d e lu g e s o f
T hese, he d e c la r e s ,
d r i v e him t o a t t e m p t t o c o u n t e r a c t th e e v i l .
H is I n t e r e s t
ru stic
in
t h e p a s s i o n s h a s s e n t him t o “ low and
l i f e ” in c o n tr a s t to the
so cial l if e
p o r t r a y e d by th e
d o m in an t p o e t r y o f th e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , w hich was co n ce rn e d
w i t h t h e d i f f e r e n c e s b e t w e e n men in<
t e r n a l and n o t a p a r t of our n a tu r e .
m a n n e rs, w hich a re ex ­
T he “ l o w ” w a s d a n g e r o u s
ground i n W o rd sw o rth ’s t im e , and he i n d i c a t e s
m id dle c o u r s e .
He i s
low ; b u t he i s
^ I b i d . , P re fa c e , p. 682.
15
1 Ft
I b i d . , P re fa c e , p. 683.
I b id . , P refa ce, p. 683.
th a t h is
is
n o t t r i v i a l and mean,
a
12
l i k e much o f t h e p o e t r y o f h i s t i m e , n o r i s h e s e n s a t i o n a l .
C.
STYLE
A f t e r e x p l a i n i n g t h e s u b j e c t and aim s o f h i s
W ordsw orth t u r n s t o t h e s t y l e he u s e s
p o etry ,
i n t h e poems h e i s
defending.
I n t h e A d v e r t i s e m e n t t o t h e L y r i c a l B a l l a d s he
in d ic a te s the m a te ria ls
o u t o f w h i c h p o e t r y i s made:
I t i s th e honourable c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of p o e try t h a t i t s
m a t e r i a l s a r e to b e 'f o u n d in e v e ry s u b je c t w hich can
i n t e r e s t t h e human m i n d .
The e v i d e n c e o f t h i s f a c t i s
to be sought, n o t .i n the w ritin g s of c r i t i c s , b u t in
th o se of p o e ts them selves
W ordsw orth r e a l i z e d
the
th at
t h a t the
sim ple language u sed in
l y r i c a l b a l l a d s w o u l d b e s o new a n d c o n f u s i n g t o many
t h e y would n o t ev en r e c o g n i z e
he makes t h i s e x p l a n a t i o n
them a s p o e t r y a t a l l ;
so
in the A d v e rtis e m e n t:
R e a d e rs accustom ed to th e g a u d in e s s and in a n e p h r a s e ­
o l o g y o f many m o d e r n w r i t e r s , i f t h e y p e r s i s t i n r e a d i n g
t h i s book to i t s c o n c lu s io n , w i l l perhaps f r e q u e n tly
h av e t o s t r u g g l e w i t h f e e l i n g s o f s t r a n g e n e s s and awkward­
ness::
t h e y w i l l l o o k ro u n d f o r p o e t r y , and w i l l be
Induced to e n q u ire by w hat s p e c ie s of c o u r te s y th e s e
a t t e m p t s c a n b e p e r m i t t e d t o a s s u m e t h a t t i t l e . 18
I n t h e P r e f a c e o f 1800 W o rd sw o rth d e v o t e s v e r y l i t t l e
space to a d is c u ssio n
L y rical B a llad s.
17
18
of the
sty le
of h is
poems i n t h e
W hat h e d o e s s a y h e s a y s i n o r d e r t o a v o i d
I b i d . , A d v ertisem en t, p . 674,
I b i d . , A d vertisem en t, p. 6 7 5 .
13
b e in g c e n s u r e d f o r n o t h a v in g done w h a t he n e v e r a tt e m p t e d t o
• do.
use
T here a re
two t h i n g s h e s a y s h e h a s t r i e d
to av oid:
the
o f what i s u s u a l l y c a l l e d p o e t i c d i c t i o n and th e " u s e o f
many e x p r e s s i o n s ,
in th e m s e lv e s p r o p e r and b e a u t i f u l , b u t
w hich have b een f o o l i s h l y r e p e a t e d by bad p o e t s ,
feelin g s
o f d i s g u s t a r e c o n n e c te d w i t h them a s i t
p o s s i b l e by any a r t
of the
till
i3 s c a rc e ly
o f a s s o c i a t i o n t o o v e r p o w e r . " 19
s t y l e u s e d by o t h e r p o e ts he h a s t r i e d
such
In place
to adopt the
l a n g u a g e o f men a n d t o h o l d h i s r e a d e r ’ s i n t e r e s t b y k e e p i n g
h i m i n t h e com p an y o f f l e s h a n d b l o o d .
R arely in
has he used p e r s o n if ic a tio n s , of a b s t r a c t
t h a t such p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s
d ev ice
to ele v ate
the
i d e a s ; he f e e l s
s h o u ld be r e j e c t e d a s " a n o r d i n a r y
sty le,
H is re a s o n f o r r e j e c t i n g
t h e s e poems
and r a i s e
it
a b o v e p r o s e . " 20
t h i s d e v i c e he e x p l a i n s i n
t h i s way:
. . .
I have proposed to m y se lf to i m i t a t e , and, as f a r
a s i s p o s s i b l e , t o a d o p t t h e v e r y l a n g u a g e o f men; a n d
a s s u r e d l y s u c h p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s d o n o t make a n y n a t u r a l
or re g u la r p a rt of th a t language.
They a r e , i n d e e d , a
f i g u r e o f 1s p e e c h o c c a s i o n a l l y p r o m p t e d b y p a s s i o n , a n d
I h a v e made u s e o f t h e m a s s u c h , b u t I h a v e e n d e a v o u r e d
u t t e r l y t o r e j e c t them a s a m e c h a n ic a l d e v i c e o f s t y l e ,
o r a s a f a m i l y l a n g u a g e w h ic h w r i t e r s i n m e t r e seem t o
la y c la im to by p r e s c r i p t i o n .
I h a v e w i s h e d t o k e e p my
r e a d e r i n t h e company o f f l e s h and b l o o d , p e r s u a d e d t h a t
by so d o i n g I s h a l l i n t e r e s t h im .
I am, h o w e v e r , w e l l
a w a r e t h a t o t h e r s who p u r s u e a d i f f e r e n t t r a c k may
i n t e r e s t him l i k e w i s e ; I do n o t I n t e r f e r e w i t h t h e i r c l a i m ,
I o n l y w i s h t o p r e f e r a d i f f e r e n t c l a i m o f my own.
1Q
I b i d . , P re fa c e , pp. 584-85.
20
21
I b id . , P re fa c e , p. 683.
I b id ., P reface,
pp. 683-84.
14
W ordsw orth d o es n o t d e f i n e
in the
p o e tic d ic tio n very c le a r ly
P r e f a c e o f 1 8 0 0 , b u t he d o e s f e e l t h a t h e n e e d s t o
make a n e x p l a n a t i o n so. t h a t t h o s e who w i s h t o a n a l y z e a n d
c o m p a r e h i s w o r k s w i t h o t h e r s c a n s e e why h e h a s c h o s e n t h e
lan gu ag e he u s e s
in p referen ce
t o t h e m o re a r t i f i c i a l
used by th e e ig h te e n th c e n tu ry w r i t e r s .
language
He b e g i n s h i s
apology
as follo w s:
I f i n a poem t h e r e s h o u l d b e f o u n d a s e r i e s o f l i n e s , o r
even a s i n g l e l i n e , in w hich th e la n g u a g e j though n a t u r a l ­
l y a r r a n g e d , and a c c o rd in g t o th e s t r i c t law s of m e tr e ,
d o e s n o t d i f f e r from t h a t o f p r o s e , t h e r e i s a num erous
c l a s s o f c r i t i c s , w h o , whe n t h e y s t u m b l e u p o n t h e s e
p r o s a i s m s , a s t h e y c a l l t h e m , i m a g i n e t h a t t h e y h a v e made
a n o t a b l e d i s c o v e r y , and e x u l t o v e r th e p o e t a s o v e r a
man i g n o r a n t o f h i s own p r o f e s s i o n *
Now t h e s e men w o u l d
e s t a b l i s h a canon o f c r i t i c i s m w hich th e r e a d e r w i l l co n ­
c l u d e he m u st u t t e r l y r e j e c t , i f he w i s h e s t o be p l e a s e d
w i t h t h e s e v o l u m e s . And i t w o u l d b e a m o s t e a s y t a s k t o
prove t o him , t h a t n o t o n ly th e lan g u ag e of a l a r g e
p o r t i o n o f e v e r y good poem, e v e n o f t h e m ost e l e v a t e d
c h a r a c t e r , m ust n e c e s s a r i l y , e x c e p t w ith r e f e r e n c e t o th e
m e t r e , i n no r e s p e c t d i f f e r fro m t h a t o f good p r o s e , b u t
l i k e w i s e t h a t some o f t h e m o s t i n t e r e s t i n g p a r t s o f t h e
b e s t poems w i l l b e f o u n d t o b e s t r i c t l y t h e l a n g u a g e o f
p r o s e , when p r o s e i s w e l l w r i t t e n . 2 2
Even M il to n ,
among I n n u m e r a b l e o t h e r w r i t e r s ,
exam ples o f t h i s
tru th
By way o f i l l u s t r a t i n g
in h i s p o e tic w r itin g s ,
fu rn ish ed
sa y s W ordsw orth.
t h e s u b j e c t i n a g e n e r a l way, he
c h o o s e s a s o n n e t o f G r a y ’ s , who " a t t e m p t e d t o w i d e n t h e s p a c e
o f s e p a r a t i o n b e t w i x t p r o s e a n d m e t r i c a l c o m p o s i t i o n , a n d was
m o re t h a n a n y o t h e r man c u r i o u s l y e l a b o r a t e
22
Ib id . , P reface, p. 685.
in the s tr u c tu r e
15
of h is
part
own p o e t i c d i c t i o n *
of th is
W ordsw orth sa y s
s o n n e t w hich i s . o f any v a lu e
is
t h a t th e only
the
ita lic iz ed
lin e s:
I n v a i n t o me t h e s m i l i n g m o r n i n g s s h i n e ,
And r e d d e n i n g P h o e b u s l i f t s h i s g o l d e n f i r e :
The b i r d s i n v a i n t h e i r am orous d e s c a n t j o i n ,
Or c h e e r f u l f i e l d s r e s u m e t h e i r g r e e n a t t i r e .
These e a r s , a la s I f o r o th e r n o te s r e p in e ;
A d i f f e r e n t o b j e c t do th e s e e y es r e q u i r e ;
My l o n e l y a n g u i s h m e l t s n o h e a r t b u t m i n e ;
• And i n my b r e a s t t h e i m p e r f e c t j o y s e x p i r e ;
Y et m orning s m ile s th e b u sy r a c e t o c h e e r ,
And n e w - b o r n p l e a s u r e b r i n g s t o h a p p i e r m en ;
The f i e l d s t o a l l t h e i r w o n te d t r i b u t e b e a r ;
To w arm t h e i r l i t t l e l o v e s t h e b i r d s c o m p l a i n *
I f r u i t l e s s mourn t o h im t h a t c a n n o t h e a r
And w e e p t h e m ore "B ecause 1 w e e p i n ~ v a i n *
W ordsw orth sa y s
that th is
poem sh o w s " t h a t t h e l a n g u a g e
o f p r o s e may y e t b e w e l l a d a p t e d t o p o e t r y ” a n d " t h a t a l a r g e
p o r t i o n o f t h e l a n g u a g e o f e v e r y g o o d poem c a n i n n o r e s p e c t
d i f f e r from t h a t
o f g o o d p r o s e * ” .2 5
He a d v a n c e s a s t i l l m o r e
f o r c e f u l s t a t e m e n t when h e s a y s ,
* * * I d o n o t d o u b t t h a t i t may b e s a f e l y a f f i r m e d , t h a t
th e r e n e i t h e r i s , n or can b e, any e s s e n t i a l d i f f e r e n c e
betw een the lan g uage of p ro se and m e t r i c a l co m p ositio n *
I n a n s w e r t o t h o s e who a f f i r m
t h a t the d i s t i n c t i o n b e ­
tw e e n p r o s e a n d p o e t r y i s rhyme and m e t r i c a l a r r a n g e m e n t , he
says:
25I b i d . ,
P re fa c e , p. 685.
24
I b i d . , P re fa c e , pp. 685-86,
D e a t h o f M r. R i c h a r d W e s t ) *
25
I b i d . , P r e f a c e , p . 686*
26I b i d . ,
P reface,
p. 686.
( G r a y ’ s " S o n n e t on t h e
. . • t h e l a n g u a g e o f s u c h p o e t r y a s I am r e c o m m e n d i n g
I s , a s f a r a s Is p o s s i b l e , a s e l e c t i o n of the language
r e a l l y s p o k e n b y men; t h a t t h i s s e l e c t i o n , w h e n e v e r i t
i s made w i t h t r u e t a s t e a n d f e e l i n g , w i l l o f i t s e l f f o r m
a d i s t i n c t i o n f a r g r e a t e r th a n w ould a t f i r s t be im a g in e d ,
and w i l l e n t i r e l y s e p a r a t e th e c o m p o s itio n fro m th e
v u l g a r i t y and meanness o f o r d in a r y l i f e ; and, i f m etre
be su p e ra d d e d t h e r e t o , I b e l i e v e t h a t a d i s s i m i l i t u d e
w i l l be produced a l t o g e t h e r s u f f i c i e n t f o r the g r a t i f i ­
c a t i o n o f a r a t i o n a l m i n d . 27
It
is
in te restin g
to note a t
t h i s p o in t th a t th ro u g h o u t the
P r e f a c e s a n d t h e A p p e n d i x W o r d s w o r t h s h o w s how v e r y i m p o r t a n t
he t h in k s
it
is
that
j
th e la n g u a g e o f p o e t r y be th e n a t u r a l
l a n g u a g e o f men i n r e a l l i f e — s e l e c t e d a n d m o d i f i e d .
u s e s t h e w ord " s e l e c t ” o r one o f i t s
eig h t
tim es;
word i t s e l f ,
fo rm s no l e s s
He
than
he u s e s t h e m eaning o f th e w o rd , b u t n o t th e
e l e v e n o r more t i m e s .
W ordsw orth d i d n o t f e e l t h a t he had d i s c u s s e d p o e t i c
d ictio n fu lly
enough i n th e P r e f a c e ; h en ce he added th e
A ppendix i n 180 2 .
I n th e A ppendix he e x p r e s s e s a b e l i e f
th at
p o e try should be a n a t u r a l e x p re s s io n of the p o e t ’s f e e l i n g s :
The e a r l i e s t p o e t s o f a l l n a t i o n s g e n e r a l l y w r o te fro m
p a s s io n e x c ite d by r e a l e v e n ts ; th ey w rote n a t u r a l l y ,
a n d a s men:
f e e lin g p o w erfu lly as they d id , t h e i r
la n g u a g e was d a r i n g , and f i g u r a t i v e .28
W ordsw orth f e e l s
th eir
t h a t t h e e a r l y p o e t s came n e a r e r e x p r e s s i n g
ideas n a tu r a lly
than l a t e r
p o e ts, because
th e y were
n o t i n f l u e n c e d b y w r i t e r s who h a d s e t u p a n o r n a t e
27
I b i d . , P re fa c e , p. 687.
28I b l d . , A ppendix, 1802, p . 704.
sty le
to
17
cover t h e i r lack of fe e lin g fo r
th eir
su b ject.
He d e c l a r e s :
I n s u c c e e d i n g t i m e s , p o e t s , a n d men a m b i t i o u s o f t h e
fa m e o f p o e t s , p e r c e i v i n g t h e i n f l u e n c e o f s u c h l a n g u a g e ,
a n d d e s i r o u s o f p r o d u c i n g t h e same e f f e c t , w i t h o u t h a v ­
i n g t h e same a n i m a t i n g p a s s i o n , s e t t h e m s e l v e s t o a
m e c h a n i c a l a d o p t i o n o f t h o s e f i g u r e s o f s p e e c h , a n d made
u s e o f t h e m , s o m e t i m e s w i t h p r o p r i e t y , b u t much m o r e
f r e q u e n t l y a p p l i e d them t o f e e l i n g s and I d e a s w i t h w hich
th e y had no n a t u r a l co n n ex io n w h a ts o e v e r .
A language
was t h u s i n s e n s i b l y p r o d u c e d , d i f f e r i n g m a t e r i a l l y fro m
t h e r e a l l a n g u a g e o f men i n a n y s i t u a t i o n . 2 ^
W ordsw orth f e e l s
early
th at
th a t the
p o e t s was a l s o a s e l e c t e d
e le m e n ta ry lan gu ag e of the
lan g u ag e, because even a t
t i m e t h e p o e t was a p e r s o n o f h i g h e r s e n s i t i v i t y
t h e a v e r a g e r u n o f men.
than
He s a y s ,
I t I s in d eed t r u e t h a t th e lan gu ag e o f th e e a r l i e s t
p o e t s was f e l t t o d i f f e r m a t e r i a l l y f ro m o r d i n a r y l a n ­
g u a g e , b e c a u s e i t was t h e la n g u a g e o f e x t r a o r d i n a r y
o c c a s i o n s ; b u t i t was r e a l l y s p o k e n by men, la n g u a g e
w h ich t h e p o e t h i m s e l f h ad u t t e r e d when he h ad b e e n
a f f e c t e d by t h e e v e n t s w h i c h he d e s c r i b e d , o r w h i c h he
h a d h e a r d u t t e r e d by t h o s e a ro u n d h im .
To t h i s l a n g u a g e
I t i s p r o b a b l e t h a t m e t r e o f some s o r t o r o t h e r was
e a r l y s u p e r a d d e d . 30
Thus,
through the c e n t u r i e s ,
was s e p a r a t e d s t i l l
life
th e g en u in e
lang u age o f p o e tr y
f u r t h e r f r o m t h e l a n g u a g e u s e d i n common
s o t h a t t h e r e a d e r w a s moved b y t h e p o e t r y m ore t h a n h e
was moved b y t h e r e a l e v e n t s
in l i f e .
T h i s p h r a s e o l o g y was
r
a great
te m p ta tio n to the l a t e r p o e ts and caused th e c o rru p ­
tio n in
the succeeding p o e tic
29
30
sty le.
I b i d . , A ppendix, pp. 7 0 4-705.
I b i d . , A ppendix, p. 7 0 5 .
The e a r l y
p o ets possessed
18
an u n u su a l lan g u a g e,
t h o u g h I t w a s s t i l l t h e l a n g u a g e o f man*
The s u c c e e d i n g p o e t s w e re e n v i o u s o f t h i s
i m i t a t e -it*
g en iu s*
tio n
s t y l e and w ish e d t o
But th ey d id n o t p o s s e s s th e p a ssio n o f p o e tic
W o rd sw o rth makes t h i s
of p o etic
s ta te m e n t a b o u t the d e g ra d a ­
s t y l e by the p o e ts
of the p re c e d in g ag es:
I n p r o c e s s o f tim e m e t r e became a sym bol o r p r o m is e o f
t h i s u n u s u a l l a n g u a g e , and w h o ev er to o k upon him t o
w r i t e i n m e t r e , a c c o r d i n g a s h e p o s s e s s e d more o r l e s s
o f t r u e p o e t i c g e n i u s , i n t r o d u c e d l e s s o r more o f t h i s
a d u l t e r a t e d p h ra s e o lo g y i n t o h i s c o m p o s itio n s , and th e
t r u e and t h e f a l s e became so i n s e p a r a b l y in te r w o v e n t h a t
t h e t a s t e o f men w a s g r a d u a l l y p e r v e r t e d ; a n d t h i s
la n g u a g e was r e c e i v e d a s a n a t u r a l l a n g u a g e ; and a t
l e n g t h , by t h e i n f l u e n c e o f b o o k s upon men, d i d t o a
c e r t a i n d e g r e e r e a l l y b e c o m e s o . 3 ^The a b o v e d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e p e r v e r t e d
lan g u ag e u se d by p o e ts up to th e tim e
of the p u b lic a tio n
h y r i c a l B a l l a d s show s t h a t a d e p l o r a b l e s i t u a t i o n
of
th en
e x i s t e d , w h ich W ordsw orth d e s c r i b e e a s f o l l o w s :
A buses o f t h i s k in d w ere im p o r te d fro m one n a t i o n t o
a n o t h e r , and w ith th e p r o g r e s s o f r e f in e m e n t t h i s
d i c t i o n becam e d a i l y more a n d more c o r r u p t , t h r u s t i n g
o u t o f s i g h t th e p l a i n h u m a n itie s o f n a t u r e by a
m o tle y m asquerade o f t r i c k s , q u a i n t n e s s e s , h i e r o ­
g l y p h i c s , a n d e n i g m a s , 32
For f e a r
th a t the re a d e r w i l l s t i l l n o t c le a r ly under­
s t a n d w h a t h e m e a n s b y t h e p h r a s e **p o e t i c d i c t i o n ” a s h e u s e s
it,
W ordsw orth e x p l a i n s by th e u s e o f i l l u s t r a t i o n s ,
31
32
I b i d . , A p p e n d i x , p . 7 06 *
I b i d . , A ppendix, p. 7 0 6 .
using
19
th e
f o llo w in g passage from Johnson:
T u r n on t h e p u r d e n t A n t t h y h e e d l e s s e y e s ,
O bserve h e r l a b o u r s , S l u g g a r d , -and be w is e ;
No s t e r n comm and, n o m o n i t o r y v o i c e ,
P re s c rib e s h e r d u t ie s , or d i r e c t s h e r ch o ice;
Y e t , t i m e l y p r o v i d e n t , s h e h a s t e s away
To s n a t c h t h e b l e s s i n g s o f a p l e n t e o u s d a y ;
When f r u i t f u l Summer l o a d s t h e t e e m i n g p l a i n ,
She c r o p s t h e h a r v e s t a n d s h e s t o r e s t h e g r a i n .
How l o n g s h a l l s l o t h u s u r p t h y u s e l e s s h o u r s ,
U nnerve th y v i g o u r , and u n c h a in th y powers?
W h i l e a r t f u l s h a d e s t h y downy c o u c h e n c l o s e ,
And s o f t s o l i c i t a t i o n c o u r t s r e p o s e ,
A itid st t h e drow sy charm s o f d u l l d e l i g h t ,
Y ear chases y e a r w ith u n rem itted f l i g h t ,
T i l l w a n t now f o l l o w i n g , f r a u d u l e n t a n d s l o w ,
S h a l l s p r i n g t o s e i z e t h e e , l i k e an ambushed f o
W ordsw orth c a l l s
e .
t h e f o r e g o i n g p a s s a g e a "hubbub o f words"
in co m parison t o th e b e a u t i f u l o r i g i n a l p a ssa g e from th e
B ib le:
Go t o t h e A n t , t h o u S l u g g a r d , c o n s i d e r h e r
w ay s, and be w i s e ; w h ich h a v in g no g u i d e ,
o v e r s e e r , o r r u l e r , p r o v i d e t h h e r meat i n th e
summer, a n d g a t h e r e t h h e r f o o d i n t h e h a r v e s t .
How l o n g w i l t t h o u s l e e p , 0 S l u g g a r d ? when w i l t
thou a r i s e out of th y s le e p ?
Yet a l i t t l e
s l e e p , -a l i t t l e s l u m b e r , a l i t t l e f o l d i n g o f t h e
hands to s le e p .
So s h a l l t h y p o v e r t y come a s
one t h a t t r a v a i l e t h , a n d t h y w a n t a s an arm ed
man.
Proverbs, chap. v ith .3 4
^
Thus W ordsw orth f e e l s
t h a t when t h e p o e t i s f i r e d b y
r e a l p a s s io n from a n a t u r a l s i t u a t i o n ,
f u l enough to e le v a te
the f e e lin g s
is
power­
o f th e r e a d e r above th o s e
^^ I b i d . , A ppendix, p. 707.
34
the f e e l in g
I b i d . , A p pend ix, pp. 7 0 7 - 7 0 8 ,
20
experien ced in r e a l l i f e .
He p o i n t s o u t i n t h e q u o t a t i o n
from Johnson t h a t th e u se of p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s ,
“ f r u i t f u l S u m m e r ,'’ “ s l o t h , '* “ a r t f u l
sh ad es,"
such as
“ soft s o lic ita ­
t i o n s , “ only debases th e f e e l i n g w hich th e p o e t w ishes to
e x p r e s s , b u t , a s h e sh o w s i n
i n P r o v e r b s , when a s e l e c t i o n
in l i f e
is
chosen,
of th e n a t u r a l language as used
the s e n s i b i l i t y
t o th e r e a d e r and th e f e e l i n g
experien ced
th e q u o t a t i o n from th e c h a p t e r
in r e a l l i f e .
is
of the w r it e r
i s conveyed
even g r e a t e r th an t h a t
W ordsw orth’s th e o r y ,
th erefo re,
i s t h a t n e i t h e r la n g u a g e n o r m e t e r by i t s e l f makes p o e t r y ,
for,
r e p e a t i n g a p o r t io n o f the f o r e g o in g q u o t a t i o n , “ in
p r o p o r t i o n a s i d e a s and f e e l i n g s a r e v a l u a b l e , w h e th e r th e
c o m p o s itio n be i n p ro se
or in v e r s e ,
o n e a n d t h e sa m e t h i n g . "
p o etic
fee lin g
as language
The i m p o r t a n t t h i n g i s
co uld be e x p re ss e d
is concerned.
th e y r e q u i r e and e x a c t
the f e e l i n g -
in prose or v e rs e ,
as fa r
But r e a l p o e try r e q u ir e s th e
s i m p l e , n a t u r a l l a n g u a g e o f t h e common m an , s u c h a s C h a u c e r ,
S h a k e sp e a re , M ilto n , and o t h e r o ld e r p o e ts u se d ,
m o dified
and s e l e c t e d .
A th o ro u g h a n a l y s i s o f W ordsw orth’s s t y l e
what he i s
to i t s
try in g
to do i s . t o r e s t o r e
form er s t a t u s ,
to r e tu r n
show s t h a t
the language o f p o e try
to the n a tiv e ,
n a tu ra l lan ­
guage alw ays u se d in E n g li s h p o e tr y u n t i l th e n e o - c l a s s i c
m isco n c ep tio n s developed a p o e t i c ' s t y l e .
us
to an e x p la n a tio n
o f the n a t u r e
T h is a n a l y s i s
o f th e p o e t , w hich i s
leads
the
21
next to p ic
fo r d iscu ssio n .
D.
NATURE OP THE.POET
W ordsw orth a r g u e s t h a t
prose,
the p o e t,
i s a man s p e a k i n g t o m e n .
a n d p o e t r y a l i k e a r e human t e a r s ,
i n b o t h i s human b l o o d .
d istin g u ish es
p r o s e * 35
is
the v i t a l
I t fo llo w s,
speaking of i s
n a tu ra l,
The t e a r s
the w r i t e r of
s h e d toy p r o s e
and the b loo d c i r c u l a t i n g
T h e re i s no c e l e s t i a l
ichor th a t
j u i c e s o f p o e t r y fro m -those o f
th erefo re,
the p le a su re
th at
t h e p l e a s u r e W ordsw orth
t h a t comes f r o m t h e t r u t h f u l ,
s i m p l e p o r t r a y a l o f human p a s s i o n s .
^ W ordsw orth t h e n t r i e s
t o c o u n te r th e argum ent t h a t
rim e and m e te r c o n s t i t u t e a d i f f e r e n c e
fo r d ifferen ces
tio n *
lik e
p a v e s t h e way
in lan g u a g e.a n d o th e r a r t i f i c i a l d i s t i n c ­
He a n s w e r s t h a t t h e
tio n of th e
th at
language he p ro p o se s
is a selec­
l a n g u a g e r e a l l y u s e d b y men a n d t h a t t h e m e r e
p r o c e s s of s e l e c t i o n w i l l produce a c o n s id e r a b le d i s t i n c t i o n
and s e p a r a te
th e language of the
poem f r o m t h e v u l g a r i t y a n d
meanness of th e lan g u ag e o f o r d in a r y l i f e .
added,
the d i s t i n c t i o n w i l l g r a t i f y
Then t h i s q u e s t i o n a r i s e s :
t h e r a t i o n a l m i n d * 35
W hat o t h e r d i s t i n c t i o n
I b i d *, P r e f a c e , p p . 6 8 6 -6 8 7 .
36
Ib id .,
P r e fa c e , p. 687.
And i f m e t e r i s
^
22
w o u ld one h a v e?
trea tin g
W ordsw orth b e l i e v e s
p a s s i o n he c a n n o t weave i n any s p l e n d o r o f h i s
th e n a tu r a l splendor is
of the p ro p er p lea su re
to ta s te
and a s k s :
t h a t when t h e p o e t i s
s u f f i c i e n t . . Then, sin c e
of p o etry
and m oral f e e l i n g s ,
W h at i s
a po et?
q u e s tio n s he answ ers
is
the
own:
su b ject
of such g r e a t im portance
h e t a k e s i t u p on g e n e r a l g r o u n d
To whom d o e s h e s p e a k ?
These
in d e ta il :
He i s a man s p e a k i n g t o m ens a m an, i t i s t r u e , e n d u e d
w i t h more l i v e l y s e n s i b i l i t y , more e n t h u s i a s m and
t e n d e r n e s s , who h a s a g r e a t e r k n o w l e d g e o f hu m an n a t u r e ,
and a more c o m p r e h e n s iv e s o u l , t h a n a r e s u p p o s e d t o be
common among m a n k i n d ; a man p l e a s e d w i t h h i s own p a s s i o n s
a n d v o l i t i o n s , a n d who r e j o i c e s m o r e t h a n o t h e r men i n
th e s p i r i t of l i f e t h a t i s in him ; d e l i g h t i n g t o con­
tem p late s i m i l a r v o l i t i o n s and p a s s io n s as m a n ife ste d
in th e g o in g s-o n of the u n i v e r s e , and h a b i t u a l l y im p e lle d
t o c r e a t e t h e m w h e r e h e d o e s n o t f i n d t h e m . To t h e s e
q u a l i t i e s h e h a s a d d e d a d i s p o s i t i o n t o be a f f e c t e d more
t h a n o t h e r men b y a b s e n t t h i n g s a s i f t h e y w e r e p r e s e n t ;
an a b i l i t y o f c o n j u r i n g up i n h i m s e l f p a s s i o n s , w hich
a r e i n d e e d f a r f r o m b e i n g t h e same a s t h o s e p r o d u c e d b y
r e a l e v e n ts , y e t ( e s p e c ia lly in those p a r ts of the
g e n e r a l s y m p a t h y w h i c h a r e p l e a s i n g a n d d e l i g h t f u l ) do
more n e a r l y r e s e m b l e t h e p a s s i o n s p r o d u c e d by r e a l e v e n t s ,
t h a n a n y t h i n g w h i c h , f r o m t h e m o t i o n s o f t h e i r own
m i n d s m e r e l y , o t h e r men a r e a c c u s t o m e d t o f e e l i n t h e m ­
s e l v e s ; whence, and from p r a c t i c e , he h a s a c q u ir e d a
g r e a t e r r e a d i n e s s and power in e x p r e s s i n g w h at he t h i n k s
and f e e l s , and e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e t h o u g h t s and f e e l i n g s
w h i c h , b y h i s own c h o i c e , o r f r o m t h e s t r u c t u r e o f h i s
own m i n d , a r i s e i n h i m w i t h o u t i m m e d i a t e e x t e r n a l e x ­
citem en t
E ven t h o u g h t h e p o e t i s more s e n s i t i v e
i n g s t h a n t h e common m a n , W o r d s w o r t h h o l d s
not equal n a tu re ,
ferin g
th at
s u r p a s s e s him ;
t h a t the
surround­
poet can­
th e lan g u a g e of r e a l p a s s io n and s u f ­
th u s,
t h e p o e t w ould do w e l l t o
'Z X f
Ib id .,
to h is
Preface,
pp. 6 8 8 -6 8 9 .
try to
23
equal n atu re
in stead
o f f a n c y i n g t h a t h e c a n s u r p a s s h e r . 3 **
When p o e t s r e a l i z e
lence of n a tu r e ,
t h e i r own.
they t r y
But t h i s
is
t h a t they cannot e q u al the e x c e l­
to s u b s titu te
the a t t i t u d e
some e x c e l l e n c e
o f t h o s e who t h i n k o f
p o e t r y a s a m a t t e r o f amusement and i d l e
the
o b je c t of p o etry is
tru th , not
of
p le a s u r e ; w hereas
the o b je c tiv e t r u t h
of
s c i e n c e , r e s t i n g u p o n e v i d e n c e a n d a p p e a l i n g t o a man i n h i s
p r o f e s s i o n a l and p r a c t i c a l c a p a c i ty ,
o p e ra tiv e,
tru th
th at
is
its
b u t t r u t h g e n e r a l and
own w i t n e s s ,
c arried aliv e
in to
t h e h e a r t b y p a s s i o n , a p p e a l i n g t o a man a s h e i s a m a n . 3 *3
Here i s
b eliev es
ceiv es
th a t p o etry is
lo ftily ;
p leasu re.
tru th fu l;
the g r e a t p o in t in th e
it
Preface.
concerned w ith t r u t h ,
W ordsw orth
w hich he con­
i s n o t a n o b j e c t o f amusement o r i d l e
T his b e in g s o ,
the
s t y l e m u st be n a t u r a l and
and th e p o e t must n o t b r e a k i n w i t h t r a n s i t o r y ,
a ccid en tal,
c a p r i c i o u s ornam ents o r t r y
f o r h i m s e l f by a r t s
and o f p o e t r y .
to e x c ite ad m iratio n
t h a t assume th e m eanness o f h i s
Such a r t s
are c e r ta in ly
su b ject
out of place in
d r a m a t i c p o e t r y a n d j u s t a s much o u t o f p l a c e when t h e p o e t
is
s p e a k i n g i n h i s own c h a r a c t e r ,
^8I b i d . , P re fa c e , p. 689.
39
I b id ., P reface, p. 690.
th e p o e t b e in g what he i s .
24
E.
THE METHOD OP PRODUCING POETRY
W o r d s w o r th 's t h e o r y o f t h e m ethod o f p r o d u c in g p o e t r y
i s very im p o rtan t because i t
gives us a b e tte r u n d erstan d in g
o f t h e ' p o e t and a k e e n e r i n s i g h t i n t o h i s p o e t r y .
H is
m ethod o f p r o d u c in g p o e t r y he d e s c r i b e s a s f o l l o w s :
I have s a id t h a t p o e try i s th e spontaneous o v erflo w
o f p o w erfu l f e e l i n g s : i t ta k e s i t s o r i g i n from em otion
r e c o l l e c t e d in t r a n q u i l l i t y : th e em otion i s c o n te m p la te d
t i l l by a s p e c ie s o f r e a c t i o n th e t r a n q u i l l i t y g r a d u a lly
d i s a p p e a r s , a n d a n e m o t i o n , k i n d r e d t o t h a t w h i c h was
b e fo re the s u b je c t of c o n te m p la tio n , i s g r a d u a lly p ro ­
d u c e d , and does i t s e l f a c t u a l l y e x i s t i n th e m ind.
In
t h i s mood s u c c e s s f u l c o m p o s i t i o n g e n e r a l l y b e g i n s , a n d
i n a' mood s i m i l a r t o t h i s i t i s c a r r i e d o n ; b u t t h e
e m o tio n , o f w h a te v e r k in d and in w h a tev e r d e g r e e , from
v a r i o u s Causes i s q u a l i f i e d by v a r i o u s p l e a s u r e s , so
t h a t in d e s c r i b i n g any p a s s io n s w h a ts o e v e r, w hich a r e
v o l u n t a r i l y d e s c r i b e d , t h e mind w i l l u p o n t h e w h o le be
in a s t a t e of en jo y m en t.
Now, i f n a t u r e b e t h u s c a u t i o u s
i n p r e s e r v i n g i n a s t a t e o f e n j o y m e n t a b e i n g t h u s - em­
p lo y e d , th e p o e t ought t o p r o f i t by th e l e s s o n th u s h e l d
f o r t h t o h im , and ought e s p e c i a l l y to ta k e c a r e , t h a t
w h a te v e r p a s s i o n s he com m unicates t o h i s r e a d e r , th o s e
p a s s i o n s , i f h i s r e a d e r ' s m in d b e s o u n d a n d v i g o r o u s ,
s h o u ld a lw a y s be a cco m p an ied w i t h an o v e r b a l a n c e o f
p l e a s u r e .40
W ordsw orth b e l i e v e s
ing o f th e s o u l,
It
th a t p o etry is
th at i t
the r e s u l t
o f an o u tp o u r­
s h o u l d come w i t h o u t c o n s c i o u s e f f o r t .
i s many t i m e s a n e m o t i o n e x p e r i e n c e d a t some p r e v i o u s t i m e
a n d r e c a l l e d b y t h e p o e t w hen h e i s
poet su stain s
reactio n
gins to
the em otion u n t i l
form .
The
i t g ra d u a lly produces a
i n th e p o e t ' s m ind; a s i t
take a d e f i n i te
i n a r e c e p t i v e mood.
becomes e n r i c h e d ,
i t be­
The p o e t i s n o l o n g e r i n
^ I b i d . , P r e fa c e , pp. 6 9 8 -6 9 9 .
25
tr a n q u illity , fo r h is
T his i s
m in d i s
now i n a s t a t e
th e w ay, W ordsw orth s a y s ,
of a c tiv ity .
t h a t s u c c e s s f u l co m po sitio n
b e g i n s , a n d t h e poem g r o w s a s t h e mood c o n t i n u e s .
w hich th e p o e t e x p e r ie n c e s
is
The e m o t i o n
a p l e a s a n t o n e, no m a t t e r w hat
p a s s i o n h e may b e d e s c r i b i n g .
If
t h e p o e t i s c a u t i o u s , he
w i l l p r o f i t by t h e l e s s o n p r e s e n t e d t o him and w i l l p ro d u ce
i n h i s r e a d e r ’ s m in d a n o v e r b a l a n c e o f p l e a s u r e a l s o .
th is
d e scrip tio n
it
Prom
seem s t h a t W ordsw orth b e l i e v e s t h e p o e t ,
b e i n g a man o f m o r e t h a n u s u a l s e n s i b i l i t y
s t a t e d , w r i t e s from i n s p i r a t i o n .
a s he h a s b e f o r e
The p o e t c a n e x p e c t s u c h
i n s p i r a t i o n w hen h e a l l o w s h i m s e l f t o b e i n a r e c e p t i v e m o o d .
T h is t h e o r y would i n d i c a t e . t h a t W ordsw orth b e l i e v e s
p o e t c a n n o t w r i t e a poem f r o m t h e e f f o r t
t h a t the
of th e conscious
mind a l o n e , b u t m u s t b e g u i d e d by a n e m o t i o n w h ic h g ro w s a s
he c o n te m p la te s i t .
W hether W ordsw orth a p p l i e s
th is
th eo ry
t o a l l o f h i s poems i s n o t a s u b j e c t t o b e d i s c u s s e d
th esis.
The a p p l i c a t i o n o f t h i s
w i l l be d i s c u s s e d , how ev er,
for
le n g th in
t h e P r e f a c e o f 18 1 5
the p ro d u c tio n o f p o e tr y .'1
powers I s h a l l n o t d i s c u s s h e r e ,
th e
th eo ry to the L y r ic a l B a llad s
in a l a t e r c h a p te r.
W ordsw orth e x p l a i n s a t
n t h e powers r e q u i s i t e
in th is
sin ce
These
they a re n o t a p a rt
of
sub ject under d isc u ssio n .
A l l o f th e t h i n g s w hich W ordsw orth h a s s a i d a b o u t h i s
c r a f t — s u b j e c t and a im s ,
sty le,
n atu re
of the p o e t,
and th e
m ethod o f p r o d u c in g p o e t r y — have b e e n d i s c u s s e d s u f f i c i e n t l y
26
fo r the
of th e ir
c o m p a r is o n o f W o r d s w o r t h 's a n d H o u sm an 's c o n c e p t i o n
craft*
CHAPTER I I
HOUSMAN'S THEORY OP POETRY
A.
At t h e
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OP HOUSMAN
tim e o f A. E . H o u sm an 's b i r t h
in 1859, R om anti­
cism had been s t e e r e d i n t o r e s p e c t a b i l i t y and had gone t o
seed#
He w a s b o r n i n t o t h e w o r l d w h i c h we u s u a l l y r e f e r t o —
and w i t h l i t t l e
r e l i s h — as V icto rian #
to d ay co n n o tes A rn o ld 's
d id acticism
P h ilistin e s,
in l i t e r a t u r e ,
ex p lo itatio n of lab o r.
and, a t
t h e O x fo rd Movement,
t h e same t i m e , u n p a r a l l e l e d
B u t one h a s a f e e l i n g t h a t Housman,
b o t h a s s c h o l a r a n d p o e t , was l i t t l e
ev en ts.
“ V i c t o r i a n ’* f o r u s
a f f e c t e d by contem porary
H is v a lu e s a re e t e r n a l v a l u e s ,
w rite about sp e c ific
even ts
e v e n t h o u g h h e may
i n a s p e c i f i c moment o f t i m e .
Housman w a s b o r n i n F o c k b u r y , W o r c h e s t e r s h i r e ,
in S h ro p sh ire as i s
o ften s u p p o s e d . H e
and n o t
w ent t o Brom sgrove
S c h o o l fro m 1870 t o 1 8 77, and th e n r e c e i v e d a s c h o l a r s h i p a t
S t.
Jo h n 's C o lle g e ,
O xford,
i n t h e a u t u m n o f 1877#
He f a i l e d h i s “ G reats** i n 1 8 8 1 a n d w e n t t o w o r k a s a
c l e r k i n t h e P a t e n t O f f i c e , where he re m a in e d t e n y e a r s .
F o r t h e b i o g r a p h i c a l m a t e r i a l on Housman I am i n d e b t e d
p r i m a r i l y t o L a u r e n c e Housman, A. E . H ,:
Some P o e m s , Some
L e t t e r s a n d a P e r s o n a l M em oir b y H i s B r o t h e r ( L o n d o n :
J o n a t h a n C a p e , 193*7).
28
D uring th e s e t e n y e a r s he had a c c e s s
s t u d i e d f o r a n d p a s s e d h i s ^ G r e a t s . ’1
the
t o t h e B r i t i s h Museum a n d
I n 1 8 92 h e r e s i g n e d f r o m
P a t e n t O f f i c e t o become P r o f e s s o r o f L a t i n
C o l l e g e , L o n d o n , a t w h i c h t i m e h e made h i s
L ec tu re ,
in U n iv e rs ity
fam ous I n t r o d u c t o r y
He p u b l i s h e d a t h i n v o l u m e o f p o e m s , A S h r o p s h i r e
L a d , i n 1 8 9 6 , a n d e v e r s i n c e h i s name h a s b e e n l i n k e d w i t h
S h ro p sh ire,
Of h i s a t t a c h m e n t t o S h r o p s h i r e h e s a y s ?
a s e n tim e n ta l f e e lin g f o r S h ro p sh ire because
its
h ills
" I had
were
our w estern h o riz o n .”^
H is a p p o in tm e n t a s Kennedy P r o f e s s o r o f L a t i n and
F ello w o f T r i n i t y C o lleg e
in 1911,
tim e
H is l i f e
to w rite
he e d i t e d .
in the U n iv e rs ity
h e r e was r a t h e r q u i e t ,
o f C a m b r i d g e came
a n d he fo u n d ample
t e r s e , a c c u r a t e n o t e s f o r th e L a t i n t e x t s w hich
H is s c h o l a r l y c r i t i c i s m s consumed m ost o f h i s t i m e ,
b u t i n 1922 he p u b l i s h e d L a s t Poem s, a n o t h e r t h i n v o lu m e .
name i s
s i g n i f i c a n t of the f a c t
t h a t he had no i n t e n t i o n
The
of
p u b l i s h i n g a n o t h e r volume o f p o e t r y , b u t a f t e r h i s d e a t h i n
193 6 h i s b r o t h e r L a u r e n c e p u b l i s h e d More P o e m s ,
w il li n g to have h i s b r o th e r p u b lis h t h i s
A, E , w a s
posthum ous volum e,
b u t h e i n s t r u c t e d L a u r e n c e t h a t h e w a s t o i n c l u d e n o poem
w hich he th o u g h t i n f e r i o r
It
is
n e cessarily
iro n ic
th at
t o a n y poem a l r e a d y p u b l i s h e d .
s u c h a g e n i u s a s Housman s h o u l d b e
judged a m inor p o e t sim p ly b e c a u se o f h i s
2Ib id .,
p. 21.
lim ited
29
o u tp u t.
He s t r o v e f o r p e r f e c t i o n , a n d t h e s i m p l i c i t y o f h i s
poems i s
sim ila r to
t h a t o f t h e poems o f W o r d s w o r t h a n d
H eine.
Housm an w a s s h y ,
in g ly re s e rv e d .
in him :
proud, and r e t i c e n t ;
h e was p r o v o k -
A l l th e e m o tio n s he e v e r f e l t were p e n t up
he g a v e no e x p r e s s i o n t o them , e x c e p t i n h i s
poems.
He r e m a i n e d a b a c h e l o r a n d k e p t e v e n h i s m o s t i n t i m a t e
a c q u a in t a n c e s a t a r m 's l e n g t h ; he n e v e r p e r m i tt e d even h i s
f a m i l y t o know h i m i n t i m a t e l y .
He h a d a d u a l p e r s o n a l i t y -
one a s a p o e t a n d a n o t h e r a s a s c h o l a r ,
w ith in i t s e l f .
H is p e r s o n a l i t y a s a p o e t was an e x p r e s s i o n
of h is p h y s ic a l em otions, b u t h is
was a n e x p r e s s i o n o f h i s
to
and e a c h was d i s t i n c t
p e rso n a lity as a sch o lar
in te lle c tu a l a c tiv itie s.
I f we a r e
ju d g e th e d o m in a n t p e r s o n a l i t y b y th e amount o f tim e he
was i n c h a r a c t e r i n e a c h r o l e , we s h o u l d s a y t h a t h e w a s m o r e
a s c h o l a r t h a n a p o e t — b u t o n ly b e c a u s e he w a n te d i t
It
is, th e r e f o re ,
lect
to re p re s s
reg re tta b le
t h a t he a llo w e d h i s
t o be s o .
stro n g
in te l­
s o many b e a u t i f u l p o e t i c e x p r e s s i o n s .
H is c r i t i c i s m was o c c a s i o n a l .
I have ta k e n h i s p o e tic
t h e o r y f r o m T h e Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y p r i m a r i l y , w i t h a
few p a s s a g e s fro m h i s I n t r o d u c t o r y L e c tu r e and an o c c a s i o n a l
rem ark from h i s c l a s s i c a l rev iew s and p r e f a c e s .
Laurence
H o u s m a n 1s M e m o ir s I h a v e u s e d i n a f e w i n s t a n c e s .
B.
THE NAME OF POETRY
H ousm an o f f e r e d h i s p o e t r y t o t h e w o r l d w i t h n o
30
apology*
I t was n o t u n t i l t h i r t y - s e v e n y e a r s a f t e r t h e f i r s t
e d i t i o n o f A S h r o p s h i r e L a d t h a t Housman e x p r e s s e d h i s
c e p t i o n o f p o e t r y i n The Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y .
con­
He was
a l r e a d y a fam o u s poet-, f r e e
to speak w ith th a t " a rro g a n t
tem per" w h ich he a t t r i b u t e d
to h im se lf.
The f i r s t
n atu re
i m p e d i m e n t i n t h e way o f a d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e
o f p o e t r y , Housman s a y s ,
t h e name, i t s
is
the
in h ere n t vagueness of
many l o o s e l y u s e d l e g i t i m a t e
general sense,
for
senses.
In a
i n s t a n c e , we s p e a k o f t h e d i f f e r e n c e b e ­
t w e e n p o e t r y a n d p r o s e whe n we a c t u a l l y mean t h e d i f f e r e n c e
b etw een v e r s e and p r o s e .
even "rym d o g e r e l ,"
in d icate
It
the
V e r s e , th e w id e r te rm , w hich i n c l u d e s
sh ou ld be u se d a s th e g e n e r a l term to
type o f w r i t i n g w hich d i f f e r s
i s a rra n g e d in m e tr ic a l form .
from p ro se
in th a t
The t e r m p o e t r y s h o u l d b e
r e s e r v e d f o r more s p e c i f i c u s e .
H ousm an t h e n i n d i c a t e s f i v e
ing in co m p lex ity ,
lev e ls
of p o etry , d i f f e r ­
t o w h i c h we may l e g i t i m a t e l y a p p l y t h e
w ord p o e t r y — l e g i t i m a t e l y ,
th at
is,
In so fa r as i t
is
leg it-
m a t e t o f o l l o w a c u s t o m w h i c h h a s r e f u s e d t o make f i n e d i s ­
tin c tio n s.
T he f i r s t
lev el is
. . . v e r s e w hich can a t l e a s t be c a l l e d l i t e r a t u r e ,
t h o u g h i t may d i f f e r f r o m p r o s e o n l y i n i t s m e t r i c a l
fo rm , and be s u p e r i o r t o p r o s e o n ly i n t h e s u p e r i o r
c o m e l i n e s s o f t h a t f o r m i t s e l f , and t h e s u p e r i o r
t e r s e n e s s w hich u s u a l l y goes a lo n g w ith i t . ^
York:
A . E . H o u s m a n , T h e Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y
The M a c m i ll a n Company, 1 9 3 7 ) , p . 6 .
(New
31
Th e s e c o n d l e v e l
ure,
I s on e w h i c h g i v e s
to he su re ; bu t th e p le a su re a r is e s
sim p ly from th e
r e a d e r ’s p e rc e p tio n of th e a u th o r ’s ta l e n t
in co n seq u e n tia l ideas
G ilp in * a R id e .
the re a d e r p le a s ­
fo r p u ttin g
i n t o m e t r i c a l fo rm , a s in Cow per’s.
T h is l e v e l o f p o e tr y i s
s im p ly l i g h t and
p l e a s a n t , m aking no p r e t e n t i o n s t o be what i t
obviously is
n o t.
Of t h e t h i r d
l e v e l , he s a y s :
n A t y p i c a l exam ple n e e d
n o t be any l e s s p l a i n and sim p le and s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d , b u t i t
w ould be a l i t t l e
r a i s e d . 11^
And t h e n h e q u o t e s a s a n e x a m p l e
of p o etry of th is
l e v e l a s t a n z a from D a n i e l .
He s a y s of- i t :
T h e r e we a r e c e a s i n g t o g a l l o p w i t h t h e C a l l e n d e r ’ s
h o r s e and b e g in n in g t o f l y w ith P e g a s u s . . . . D i c t i o n
a n d movement a l i k e , i t i s p e r f e c t .
I t i s made o u t o f
th e m ost o r d i n a r y w o rd s, y e t i t i s p u re from th e l e a s t
a l l o y o f p r o s e ; a n d h o w e v e r much n e a r e r h e a v e n t h e a r t
o f p o e t r y may h a v e m o u n t e d , i t h a s n e v e r f l o w n o n a
su re r or a l i g h t e r w in g ,5
P e r f e c t t h a t s t a n z a fro m D a n ie l i s , he s a y s ; b u t
p o e t r y c a n a s k f o r more t h a n p e r f e c t i o n .
p o e try in v o lv es
v e rsific a tio n ."
touches
The n e x t l e v e l o f
s o m e th in g more t h a n " p u r e l a n g u a g e a n d l i q u i d
It
i n v o l v e s " s o m e t h i n g w h i c h m oves a n d
in a s p e c i a l and r e c o g n is a b le w ay,"6
4rb id .,
5
Ib id .,
6Ib id .,
p. 6.
p. 7.
pp. 7 - 8 .
To i l l u s t r a t e
32
th is
e le m e n t, he q u o te s a s ta n z a from B r u c e ’s o r L o g a n 's
Cuckoor
Sweet h i r d , t h y bow er i s e v e r g r e e n ,
Thy sk y i s e v e r c l e a r ;
Thou h a s t no s o r r o w i n t h y s o n g ,
No w i n t e r i n t h y y e a r , 17
The e l e m e n t w h i c h i s p r e s e n t i n t h i s
s ta n z a and w hich h a s
n o t been p r e s e n t i n th e s t a n z a s w hich he h as q u o ted p r e v i o u s ­
ly ,
is a "tin g e
of em otion."
And a t
t h i s p o i n t he d e f i n e s
w hat he t h i n k s t h e p e c u l i a r f u n c t i o n o f p o e t r y i 3 ;
and in so
d o i n g p a v e s t h e wa y f o r h i s l a t e r l i m i t a t i o n o f t h e w o r d .
He s a y s :
T h e r e a new e l e m e n t h a s s t o l e n i n , a t i n g e o f e m o t i o n .
And I t h i n k t h a t t o t r a n s f u s e e m o t i o n — n o t t o t r a n s m i t
th o u g h t b u t to s e t up in the r e a d e r 's sense a v ib r a ­
t i o n c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o w h a t was f e l t b y t h e w r i t e r —
i s the p e c u lia r fu n c tio n of p o e tr y .
E ven where t h e
v e rs e i s n o t th u s b e a u t i f u l and engaging in i t s e x t e r ­
n a l form . . .
i t may y e t p o s s e s s t h e same v i r t u e a n d
e l i c i t a lik e resp o n se .8
He s a y s t h a t h e w i l l n o t now a s c e n d t o t h e h i g h e r
lev els
of the le g itim a te a p p lic a tio n
in speaking of th e
o f t h e word p o e t r y , b u t
tw o e x a m p l e s w h i c h h e q u o t e d a s h a v i n g
th e e m o tio n a l tin g e n e c e s s a ry f o r the p re v io u s l e v e l , he g iv e s
u s some i d e a o f w h a t q u a l i t i e s h e s e e s i n t h e h i g h e s t p o e t r y .
He s a y s r
I h a v e c h o s e n t h e s e two e x a m p l e s b e c a u s e t h e y may a l m o s t
be c a l l e d h u m b le , and c o n t a i n h a r d l y more t h a n t h e p r o -
^ Ib id .,
p. 8.
8I b l d . , pp. 8 -9
33
m lse o f w hat p o e t r y a t t a i n s t o b e .
H ere i t i s n o t l o f t y
or m ag n ific e n t or in te n s e ; i t does not tr a n s p o r t w ith
r a p t u r e n o r overw helm w i t h awe; i t d o e s n o t s t a b th e
h e a r t n o r shake th e s o u l n or ta k e th e b r e a t h away.
The l e v e l s r e p r e s e n t t h e l e g i t i m a t e u s e s o f t h e word p o e t r y ,
d esp ite
the f a c t
th a t-.it is
to le v e ls d iffe rin g
am biguous t o a p p ly th e
i n k i n d s o much a s
same w o r d
th ese do.
B u t , h e s a y s , we h a v e c o n t r i b u t e d e v e n f u r t h e r t o
t h e c o n fu s io n o f th e terra p o e t r y by " a f f i x i n g
it
e it h e r to
d i s s i m i l a r t h i n g s a l r e a d y p r o v i d e d w i t h n a m e s o f t h e i r own,
o r t o new t h i n g s f o r w h i c h new n a m e s s h o u l d b e i n v e n t e d . ”
As a n e x a m p l e o f s o m e t h i n g w h i c h a l r e a d y h a s a name o f i t s
o w n, b u t
t o w h i c h t h e name p o e t r y i s a p p l i e d , h e c i t e s
”w lt” of the se v e n te e n th c e n tu r y - -w it,
the
n o t i n t h e modern s e n s e ,
b u t i n Dri. J o h n s o n ' s s e n s e , ” a c o m b i n a t i o n o f d i s s i m i l a r
im ages,
or d isc o v e ry of o c c u lt resem blances
en tly u n lik e .”
Such a d i s c o v e r y ,
t o do w i t h p o e t r y .
afford
is
friv o lo u s ^
a n d , a d d s Housman, " i n t e l l e c t u a l l y
p o ets, but
th at is
resem blances
t h e s e d i s c o v e r i e s may
Some o f t h e s e men o f t h e
were c o n s i d e r a b l e
th e ir w it,
s a y s Housman, h a s n o t h i n g
W hatever p l e a s u r e
in te lle c tu a l,
to say,
sev en teen th cen tu ry
th e y were n o t p o e t s b e c a u s e o f
th eir a b ility
to .in d ic a te ” occult
in th in g s a p p a re n tly u n l ik e .”
9I b i d . ,
p. 9.
10 I b i d . , p p . 9 - 1 0 .
13- I b i d . ,
p. 10.
in th in g s ap p ar­
F o r, he sa y s,
34
s i m il e and m etaphor a r e " t h i n g s
And h e m e a n s j u s t
sty le,
th at.
in e s s e n tia l to p o e try .
S i m i l e a n d m e t a p h o r may e n h a n c e t h e
make t h e m e a n i n g c l e a r ,
or p lease
man u s e s t h e m " b e a u t i f u l l y i n h i s
d esp ite h is
statem en t,
i n t h e m s e l v e s j Hous­
own p o e m s , a n d i n d e e d ,
r a r e l y d i s p e n s e s w i t h them .
p o e t r y may h e w r i t t e n w i t h o u t t h e m ;
o f p o e tr y and need n o t he in c lu d e d
But
th ey a re n o t the esse n ce
in the d e f i n i t i o n
of
p o etry .
In a d d itio n th ere
is,
he s a y s ,
p o e try , a c o u n te rfe it o ffere d in place
In the h i s t o r y o f E n g lis h l i t e r a t u r e
th is
in fe rio r su b stitu te
century.
is
s u c h a t h i n g a s sh am
o f the r e a l a r t i c l e .
t h e h e s t exam ple o f
to he found in th e
He s a y s t h a t t h e p o e t r y o f t h e
i s n o t c o n s id e r e d p o o r sim ply b e ca u se
it
eig h teen th
e ig h te e n th century
d iffered
from th e p o e tr y of o t h e r ages h u t because i t
in kind
even a t
its
b e s t d id n o t m easure up t o what th e w o rld h a s alw ays a g re e d
to c a l l p o etry .
" T r ie d by t h a t s ta n d a r d th e p o e tr y o f th e
e ig h tee n th cen tu ry ,
and good, f e l l
e v e n w he n n o t v i c i o u s ,
ev en when sound
short
H ou sm a n t h e n g o e s on t o
show how e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y
p o e tr y d i f f e r e d from th e p o e tr y o f th e g r e a t p o e tic ag es in
th e h is to r y of E n g lish l i t e r a t u r e .
12I b i d .,
pp. 10-11
13I b id .,
p.
15.
But f i r s t he s a y s t h a t
35
tw o k i n d s
of p o e tr y w ere produced i n th e e i g h t e e n t h c e n tu r y
and t h a t t h e y sh o u ld n o t be c o n f u s e d .
” a g o o d s o u n d w o r k a d a y a r t i c l e ’*:
co n tro v ersy .
To t h i s
The f i r s t
t y p e was
s a tir e , burlesque,
type o f l i t e r a t u r e
and
the e ig h te e n th cen­
t u r y was draw n b e c a u s e o f th e i n t e l l e c t u a l b e n t o f i t s
H i g h p o e t r y i s n o t a t home i n t h i s
sa tire ,
g en iu s.
type, b u t, n e v e rth e le ss,
b u r l e s q u e , and c o n tr o v e r s y a re r e s p e c t a b l e l i t e r a r y
a c h i e v e m e n t s w hen d o n e w e l l . 1^
In a d d i t i o n to th e "so u n d w orkaday a r t i c l e , ” th e
e ig h te e n th cen tu ry p o ets t r i e d
lik e
t o p r o d u c e p o e t r y m ore n e a r l y
t h e b e s t o f w h a t we h a v e c a l l e d g r e a t p o e t r y , b u t t h e y
s u c c e e d e d i n p r o d u c i n g o n l y w h a t Housman c a l l s ’’ s h a m p o e t r y . ”
When t h e p o e t s o f t h e
som ething l e s s
they t r i e d
eig h teen th cen tu ry tr ie d
to produce
p e d e s t r i a n t h a n w h a t t h e y c o u l d d o w e l l , when
t o w r i t e g r e a t and im p a ss io n e d p o e t r y ,
duced c o u n t e r f e i t .
The r e a s o n f o r
t u a l w arp o f th e a g e .
th is
lay
In ev ery w alk o f l i f e
c e n t u r y men w e r e d o m i n a t e d b y i n t e l l e c t .
they pro­
in the
in the
in te lle c ­
e ig h teen th
They r e f u s e d t o
occupy th e m se lv e s w ith a n y th in g w hich d id n o t lend i t s e l f to
a n a l y s i s and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n by t h e r e a s o n and th e i n t e l l e c t .
’’Man h a d c e a s e d t o l i v e
14I b i d . ,
15
f r o m t h e d e p t h s o f h i s n a t u r e . ” 15
pp. 16-17.
I b id ., p.
16.
36
The f e e l i n g s w h ic h f o s t e r t h e b i r t h
o f g r e a t p o e t r y — im pas­
sio n e d p o e try --w e re n o t th en "abundant and u rg e n t
in the
i n n e r man." ^
The m ost d i s t i n g u i s h i n g f e a t u r e
and p o v e r t y - s t r i c k e n "
p o e t r y was i t s
o f t h i s "pompous
d ictio n .
Housman s a y s :
T h e way t o w r i t e r e a l p o e t r y , t h e y t h o u g h t , m u s t b e t o
w r i t e som ething as l i t t l e l i k e p ro se a s p o s s i b l e ; th ey
d e v i s e d f o r t h e p u r p o s e w hat was c a l l e d a " c o r r e c t and
s p le n d id d i c t i o n , " w hich c o n s i s t e d in alw ays u s i n g th e
w rong word i n s t e a d o f t h e r i g h t , a n d p l a s t e r e d i t a s
o r n a m e n t , w i t h n o t h o u g h t o f p r o p r i e t y , on w h a t e v e r
th ey d e s ire d to d ig n if y .
I t commanded n o t i c e a n d w a s
n o t e a s y t o m i s t a k e ; s o t h e p u b l i c m ind soon c o n n e c t e d
i t w i t h t h e n o t i o n o f p o e t r y a n d came i n t h e c o u r s e o f
t i m e t o r e g a r d i t a s a l o n e p o e t i c a l . 1?
T hus, because of the a r t i f i c i a l i t y
of the v o c a b u la ry ,
d e s c r i p t i o n o f n a t u r a l o b j e c t s was l i m i t e d ;
c o u ld n o t be d e s c r ib e d a t a l l ,
F u rth er,
such a d i c t i o n
w ith any a c c u ra c y .
th e
and so were n o t n o t i c e d .
c o u l d n o t e x p r e s s h um an f e e l i n g s
The l i n e s o f r e a l p o e t r y t o be fo u n d i n
eig h teen th cen tu ry ,
man i l l u s t r a t e s
some o b j e c t s
then, are
the f e a tu r e s
few and f a r b e tw e e n .
and fo rm a tio n of t h i s
t a k i n g e x a m p l e s f r o m t h e p o e t r y o f Po p e a n d D r y d e n .
concludes h i s d is c u s s io n
17 I b i d . ,
18
We
of m eter, fo r
and N a t u r e o f
l ie c o u l d h a v e
s t y l e by
T h is
o f t h e a m b i g u i t y o f .the name p o e t r y
and he t u r n s to th e d i s c u s s i o n o f i t s
16I b i d . , p .
Hous­
n a t u r e . 18
18.
pp. 18-19.
h a v e no
he o n ly
P o etry ,
used in
m e a n s o f t e l l i n g w h a t H ousm an t h o u g h t
r e f e r s t o i t i n a f o o t n o t e i n The Name
p . 4 ; even th o u g h he had m a t e r i a l w hich
h i s l e c t u r e , he d i d n o t do i t .
37
C.
THE NATURE OF POETRY
H ou sm an h a s a l r e a d y s a i d
in ta lk in g about p o etry is
s t i l l g reater d iffic u lty
the vagueness of
rests
rea d er of p o e try , fo r often -h e
p o e t r y when he r u n s a c r o s s
o f p o e t r y by f i r s t
p e rc eiv e d ."
t h a t the f i r s t
in the
is
it.
im pedim ent
th e name.
in se n sib ility
incapable
But a
o f the
of recognizing
Housman a p p r o a c h e s t h e n a t u r e
co n sid erin g "th e
o rg a n by w h ich p o e t r y i s
T h e n u m b e r o f p e o p l e who d o p o s s e s s
the organ of
p e rc e p tio n i s d e c id e d ly few .
Housman s a y s t h a t a p e r s o n may g e t p l e a s u r e f r o m
poems e v e n t h o u g h h e
is
in sen sib le
to p o e try ;
p oem s s e l d o m
c o n s i s t o f p o e t r y a l o n e , a n d t h e p e r s o n may e n j o y " s o m e t h i n g
else"
ab le
i n t h e poems b e s i d e s p o e t r y .
to analyze
Many p e o p l e who a r e u n ­
t h e i r s e n s a tio n s th in k they are en jo y in g
p o e t r y w hen i n r e a l i t y
th e y a re e n jo y in g t h i s "som ething e l s e , "
f o r o f t e n b o t h may b e f o u n d i n t h e
T h is "so m eth in g e ls e "
d e p e n d i n g on t h e p o e t .
K eble and W ordsw orth.
same p a s s a g e .
may b e a n y n u m b e r o f t h i n g s ,
He c i t e s
f o r exam ple t h e a d m i r e r s o f
Many d e v o u t p e o p l e a d m i r e t h e p o e t r y
o f K eble e x c e s s i v e l y , b u t
they a re
g io u s c o n te n t r a t h e r than i t s
r e a l l y adm irin g i t s
pure p o e tr y .
re li­
L i k e w i s e , many
p e o p le adm ire W ordsw orth f o r h i s p h i lo s o p h y , h i s n o b le m o ra l
c o n cep tio n s, h is deep in s ig h t
s a y s Housman, a r e
i n t o h u m an n a t u r e .
These t h i n g s ,
in c lo s e and harm onious a l l i a n c e w ith h i s
38
p o e tr y , b u t th e y are d i s t i n c t from i t*
In analyzing th e n atu re
o f p o e t r y , ' Housman s a y s
t h a t he c a n n o t s a t i s f y h i m s e l f t h a t
He d o e s n o t f e e l
ex p ressio n
e x alte d
th a t prose
is
of p recio u s tr u th s ,
sen tim en ts.
th ere are
p o e tica l id eas.
t o o ’S a s e a m e d i u m f o r t h e
p ro fo u n d o b s e r v a t i o n s , and
He s a y s t
T h e u t m o s t t h a t I c o u l d a d m i t i s t h a t some i d e a s d o ,
w h ile o t h e r s do n o t , le n d th e m s e lv e s k i n d l y t o p o e t i c a l
e x p r e s s i o n ; and t h a t t h e s e r e c e i v e from p o e t r y an e n ­
h a n c e m e n t w h ic h g l o r i f i e s a n d a l m o s t t r a n s f i g u r e s them ,
and w hich i s n o t p e r c e i v e d t o be a s e p a r a t e t h i n g e x ­
c e p t b y a n a l y s i s ,-*-9
H is a n a l y s i s
of tru th s
l e a d s him t o b e l i e v e
e x p re sse d in b o th p o e try and prose
t h a t th e p o e try i s n o t in the id e a , but
i n th e words i n w hich t h e
idea i s
clo th ed .
exam ple th e s e v e n t h v e r s e
of the f o r t y - n i n t h
He g i v e s a s a n
Psalm i n th e
B o o k o f Common P r a y e r , " B u t n o man may d e l i v e r h i s b r o t h e r ,
n o r make a g r e e m e n t u n t o God f o r h i m , ” w h i c h h e s a y s i s p o e t r y
so m oving t h a t he can h a r d l y k e e p h i s v o i c e s t e a d y i n r e a d ­
in g i t .
To show t h a t h i s r e a c t i o n
is
the e f f e c t
of the
l a n g u a g e , h e e x p e r i m e n t s b y r e a d i n g t h e same t h o u g h t
in the
B i b l e v e r s i o n , "None o f th em can b y any m eans re d e e m h i s
b ro th er,
n o r g i v e t o God a r a n s o m f o r h i m , " w h i c h h e s a y s h e
can re a d w ith o u t em otion.
A l l t h a t H ou sm a n h a s s a i d a b o u t t h e n a t u r e
19
Ib id .,
p . 34*
of p o etry ,
so f a r ,
he seems t o
the th in g
say In t h i s
one s e n t e n c e :
s a i d h u t a way o f s a y i n g i t . " 2 0
not a d e fin itio n
of p o etry ,
can,
He s q y s t h a t " t h e
in te l le c t u a l co n ten t,
its
i s a s c l o s e a u n i o n a s c a n w e l l be I m a g i n e d . " 21
Then t h e q u e s t i o n a r i s e s :
p o etry
is
s a i d and p r e p a r e s u s f o r
say f u r t h e r about p o e tr y .
c o m b in atio n o f language w ith i t s
m eaning,
A lthough t h i s
i t does h e lp us to u n d erstan d
r a t h e r c l e a r l y what he h a s a l r e a d y
what he has to
"P o etry is not
Can t h e r e b e s u c h a t h i n g a s
i n d e p e n d e n t o f m eaning?
H ousm an t h i n k s
th at
th ere
f o r h e s a y s t h a t s o m e t i m e s e v e n w hen p o e t r y h a s a m e a n ­
i n g , " i t may b e i n a d v i s a b l e
to draw i t
o u t . " 22
He q u o t e s
C o l e r i d g e a s s a y i n g " P o e t r y g i v e s m o s t p l e a s u r e w hen o n l y
g e n e r a l l y and n o t p e r f e c t l y u n d e r s t o o d ,"
and th e n adds t h a t
p e r f e c t u n d e r s t a n d i n g som etim es a lm o s t e x t i n g u i s h e s
"M eaning i s
o f the
in te lle c t,
p leasu re.
and p o e tr y i s n o t , " 2^
i s more p h y s i c a l , a n d t h e p l e a s u r e d e r i v e d fr o m i t
P oetry
is
of the
em otions o r f e e l i n g s .
T h u s H o u sm a n s e e m s t o s a y tw o t h i n g s a b o u t p o e t r y :
(1)
it
i s " n o t the
(2) " t h e
in te lle c t
t h i n g s a i d b u t a way o f s a y i n g i t , "
is
n o t t h e f o u n t o f p o e t r y . " 24 ■The a s -
2 QI b i d . , p . 3 5 .
21I b id .,
22
and
pp. 35-36.
Ib id .,
p. 36.
23I b id .,
p. 37.
24I b id .,
p. 38.
40
s e r t io n t h a t the I n t e l l e c t
refe ren c e to
I s n o t th e f o u n t he p ro v e s hy
the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , f o r he sa y s t h a t th e
e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y would h av e b e e n a b l e t o w r i t e
p o etry
b e tter
som etim es
if
i t w ere.
He t h i n k s
t h a t the
h in d ers the production of p o e try ,
tru sted
to reco g n ize
it,
as is
in te lle c t
and t h a t
seen in the
it
c a n n o t even be
c ase o f S m art.
Th e o n l y poem, b y w h i c h h e i s r e m e m b e r e d , w a s w r i t t e n ,
i f not
w h i l e he was i n a c t u a l c o n f in e m e n t i n an a s y lu m , a t any r a t e
v e ry soon a f t e r w a r d .
And whe n t h e
sane and I n t e l l i g e n t
e ig h te e n th c e n tu ry c o lle c te d h i s p o e t i c a l w orks, " i t excluded
th is
piece as
'b e a r in g m elancholy p ro o fs of th e r e c e n t e s t r a n g e ­
ment o f h i s m i n d . ' " 2 ®
H ousm an c a r r i e s
fu rth er th is
id e a t h a t m eaning i s
n o t e s s e n t i a l t o p u r e p o e t r y b y s h o w i n g t h a t f o u r mad men—
C h r i s t o p h e r S m a r t, Cowper, C o l l i n s , and B l a k e — w ro te
t h e most
b e a u t i f u l p o e try of the e ig h te e n th c e n tu ry .
H o u sm an 's e s t i m a t e
to ry to t h a t of the
of B lake
is d ecidedly c o n tra d ic ­
e ig h tee n th cen tu ry ,
f o r he s a y s :
F o r me t h e m o s t p o e t i c a l o f a l l p o e t s i s B l a k e .
I fin d
h i s l y r i c a l n o t e a s b e a u t i f u l a s S h a k e s p e a r e ' s a n d more
b e a u t i f u l t h a n a n y o n e e l s e ' s ; a n d I c a l l h i m more
p o e t i c a l th a n S h a k e s p e a r e , even though S h a k e sp e a re h a s
s o much m o r e p o e t r y , b e c a u s e p o e t r y i n h i m p r e p o n d e r a t e s
more t h a n i n S h a k e s p e a r e o v e r e v e r y t h i n g e l s e , and i n ­
s t e a d o f b e i n g c o n fo u n d e d i n a g r e a t r i v e r c a n be d ru n k
p u r e f r o m a s l e n d e r c h a n n e l o f i t s ow n.2 ®
25I b id .,
p. 38.
26I b i d . , p. 3 9 .
41
He s a y s t h a t S h a k e s p e a r e i s
in g h a s power i n i t s e l f
th ere.
are
H o usm an i s
sep arate
saying,
in e f f e c t ,
is
no p o e t r y were
t h a t m eaning and p o e t r y
such a th in g as pure un­
f o r “B l a k e ' s m eaning i s
n o n -ex isten t,
h earin g to h is
i n t h o u g h t t h a t h i s mean­
t o move u s e v e n i f
t h in g s and th e r e
m ingled p o e tr y ,
v irtu a lly
so r i c h
o fte n unim portant or
s o t h a t we c a n l i s t e n w i t h a l l
our
c e le s tia l tu n e .”
In o rd e r to I l l u s t r a t e
h is
p o i n t , Housman c i t e s
s e v e r a l poems b y B l a k e a n d b y S h a k e s p e a r e t o sh o w t h a t m e a n ­
ing i s
ou t,
i n d e p e n d e n t o f p o e t r y o r t h a t t h e m e a n i n g , when d r a w n
i s a poor and f e e b l e
t h i n g com pared w i t h th e
P o e tr y and m eaning, he s a y s , have a power a l l
n e ith er is
He d e c l a r e s
d e p e n d e n t on t h e o t h e r f o r
its
t h a t B lake a g a in and a g a in ,
and th e n , w r i t e s
p o etry .
t h e i r own, a n d
p o w e r t o move u s *
a n d S h a k e s p e a r e now
p o e t r y so n e a t and unm ixed w i t h m eaning t h a t
n o th in g e x c e p t p o e t i c em otion i s
perceived
or m a tte rs.
A l l t h a t Hous man h a s s a i d a b o u t B l a k e m e r e l y i l ­
l u s t r a t e s w hat he t h i n k s
“ pure and s e l f - e x i s t e n t
“ p o e tic e m o tio n ,” “n e a t,
of a l l p o etry .
Such p h ra s e s as
p o e try ,” “ c e l e s ti a l
or a d u lte ra te d w ith
m e a n i n g , ” " s u g g e s t i o n , ” may b e summed u p i n
w h i c h h e made e a r l i e r a b o u t t h e n a t u r e
i s n o t the
tu n e ,“ “ n o n se n se,”
.
the
p . 39
. little
statem en t
of p o etry :
t h i n g s a i d b u t a way o f s a y i n g i t . ”
27I b id .,
.
“ P oetry
Pure un-
42
m i n g l e d p o e t r y may e x i s t w i t h o u t m e a n i n g , w h i c h i s
m eaning i s
o f the
in te lle c t,
esse n tia ls
a n d p o e t r y i s m o re p h y s i c a l *
T h a t h e t h i n k s o f p o e t r y a s a p h y s i c a l r e s p o n s e may h e d i s ­
c e rn e d in such p h ra s e s as "a n e t of th o u g h tle s s d e l i g h t , "
and th e s ta te m e n t t h a t p o e tr y s e t s up a " s t r o n g tre m o r of
unreasonable
m in d .”
little
ex citem en t
. . .
in
some r e g i o n d e e p e r t h a n t h e
T h i s p h y s i c a l r e s p o n s e h e d i s c u s s e s m ore i n d e t a i l a
la te r.
H aving c i t e d B lak e a s th e " m o st p o e t i c a l o f a l l
p o e ts,"
the
one i n whom p o e t r y p r e p o n d e r a t e s o v e r o t h e r
t h i n g s more t h a n i n o t h e r p o e t s ,
th at
even S h a k e sp e a re , he ad m its
i n m ost p o e ts th e " p o e t r y i s
d is e n g a g e d from i t s
to blend i t s e l f
as in the
less
o f t e n found th u s
u su a l c o n c o m ita n ts ," 2®
F o r p o e t r y seems
I n d is tin g u is h a b ly w ith c e r ta in o th e r th in g s ,
in stan ce
of a passage
of W o rd sw o rth 's w hich H ous-
man q u o t e s :
Sorrow , th a t i s n o t so rro w , b u t d e l i g h t ;
And m i s e r a b l e l o v e , t h a t i s n o t p a i n
To h e a r o f , f o r t h e g l o r y t h a t r e d o u n d s
T h e r e f r o m t o hum an k i n d , a n d w h a t we a r e .
O n e 's f e e l i n g s
response p a rtly
in reading
th is
to the p o e try ,
p en etratin g tru th
of the
2 8 I b i d . , p . 44 *
29Ib id . .
p. 44.
passage are com posite, a
p artly
th o u g h t."
t o " t h e d e p th and
T h is i s p o e tr y in w hich
43
the poetic emotion is so skillfully blended with other con­
stituents as to make it difficult to distinguish one from
the other.
Housman feels that the purpose of poetry is to arouse
an emotional response in the reader, and he says that poetry
should "harmonize the sadness of the world."30
In the
italicized poem which introduces More Poems he says his
"verses" "span tears of eternity, and sorrow" and are to be
read by "ill-treated fellows . . . when they're in trouble"
31
after he is dead.
Housman does not like didactic poetry,
and he does not deliberately try to teach or give a lesson to
the world.
He writes from inspiration, and the meaning in
his poems is implicit rather than explicit.
He writes "to
harmonize the sadness of the world" because the bent of his
mind and the age in which he lives makes him wish to restrain
optimism and condition one to bear inevitable disappointments
in life.
He then goes on to say something more specific about
feeling or emotion which poetry kindles.
Poetry finds
its way "to something in man which is obscure and latent,
something older than the present organisation of his nature,
30K. E. Symons, A. E. H . , p. 37.
'man
3 -*-A. E. Housman, The Collected Poems of A. E. Hous(London:
Jonathan Cape, 1939), p. 155.
44
lik e
th e p a tc h e s o f fe n w hich s t i l l
th e d rain ed
it
l i n g e r h e r e and t h e r e
lan d s of C am b rid g esh ire .”
«Tp
in
In s h o r t , he s a y s ,
seem t o h im more p h y s i c a l t h a n i n t e l l e c t u a l .
He t h e n
i n d i c a t e s — he does n o t d e f i n e — w hat he t h i n k s p o e t r y i s :
P o e t r y i n d e e d s e e m s t o me m o r e p h y s i c a l t h a n i n t e l ­
le c tu a l.
A y e a r o r t w o a g o , i n common w i t h o t h e r s , I
r e c e i v e d fro m A m erica a r e q u e s t t h a t I would d e f i n e
p o etry .
I r e p l i e d t h a t I c o u l d no more d e f i n e p o e t r y
t h a n a t e r r i e r c a n d e f i n e a r a t , b u t t h a t I t h o u g h t we
b o t h r e c o g n i s e d t h e o b j e c t b y t h e sy m p to m s w h i c h i t
provokes in u s .
One o f t h e s e s y m p to m s w a s d e s c r i b e d i n
c o n n e c tio n w i t h a n o t h e r o b j e c t by E li p h a z th e T e m a n ite :
’A s p i r i t p a s s e d b e f o r e my f a c e :
t h e h a i r o f my f l e s h
s t o o d u p . 1 E x p e r i e n c e h a s t a u g h t m e , when I am s h a v i n g
o f a m o r n i n g , t o k e e p w a t c h o v e r my t h o u g h t s , b e c a u s e ,
i f a l i n e o f p o e t r y s t r a y s i n t o my m e m o r y , my s k i n
b r i s t l e s so t h a t th e r a z o r c e a s e s to a c t .
T his p a r t i ­
c u l a r s y m p t o m i s a c c o m p a n i e d b y a s h i v e r down t h e s p i n e ;
t h e r e i s a n o th e r w hich c o n s i s t s in a c o n s t r i c t i o n o f
th e t h r o a t and a p r e c i p i t a t i o n of w ater to the e y es;
and t h e r e i s a t h i r d w hich I can o n ly d e s c r i b e by borrow ­
in g a p h r a s e fro m one o f K e a t s ’ s l a s t l e t t e r s , w here he
s a y s , s p e a k i n g o f Fanny B ra w n e , ’e v e r y t h i n g t h a t r e m in d s
me o f h e r g o e s t h r o u g h me l i k e a s p e a r . ’ T h e s e a t o f
t h i s s e n s a t i o n i s t h e p i t o f t h e s t o m a c h . 33
He e v e n c a l l s
p o e t r y a “ s e c r e t i o n , ” th e d i s c u s s i o n o f w hich
sta tem e n t ta k e s us to the c o n s id e ra tio n
of the l a s t t o p ic —
how H o usm a n b e l i e v e s t h e p o e t w r i t e s h i s
D.
THE .PRODUCTION OF POETRY
Housm an f u r t h e r
32
illu stra te s
h is
H o u s m a n , T h e Name a n d N a t u r e
33I b i d .,
p o etry .
pp. 45-46.
p o in t th a t p o etry
of P o etry , p. 45.
45
does not lend i t s e l f
to s c i e n t i f i c
d i s s e c t i o n by d i s c u s s i n g
t h e wa y i n w h i c h h i s
own p o e t r y came i n t o b e i n g *
And, he
a d d s , he h a s r e a s o n to b e l i e v e from th e a c c o u n ts l e f t by
W ordsw orth and B u rn s t h a t th e p o e t r y o f o t h e r s h a s had i t s
i n c e p t i o n i n much t h e
same m a n n e r *
’KA
He c o n s i d e r s t h e p r o d u c t i o n o f p o e t r y a n i n v o l u n ­
tary act.
P a rtic u la rly
produced e n t i r e l y
in i t s
first
stag es,
p a s s iv e ly by the p o e t.
i f he w ere c a l l e d u p o n , n o t t o d e f i n e
general class
of th in g s
a " s e c re tio n * '*
to w hich i t
p o etry is
H o usm a n s a y s
p o e t r y , b u t t o name t h e
b e l o n g s , he would c a l l i t
T h i s s e c r e t i o n may b e , h e a d d s ,
such as tu rp e n tin e in
the f i r ;
or i t
such as th e p e a r l in the o y s t e r .
p o e t r y i s m ore c o m p a r a b l e t o t h e
th at
a n a tu r a l one,
may b e a m o r b i d o n e ,
He t h i n k s
latter
th a t h is
own
than to th e fo rm er,
f o r h e s a y s t h a t h e h a s n e v e r w r i t t e n p o e t r y u n l e s s h e was
out o f h e a l t h and t h a t th e
ex p erien ce,
though p l e a s u r a b l e ,
was e x h a u s t i n g *
He t h e n g o e s on t o g i v e a v e r y i n t e r e s t i n g a c c o u n t
of th e p ro d u ctio n of h is
own p o e t r y , u s i n g t h e l a s t
A S h r o p s h i r e Lad a s a n , e x a m p l e . .
poem i n
H e-saysr
H aving d ru n k a p i n t o f b e e r a t lu n c h e o n — b e e r i s a
s e d a t i v e t o t h e b r a i n , a n d my a f t e r n o o n s a r e t h e l e a s t
i n t e l l e c t u a l p o r t i o n o f my l i f e — I w o u l d g o o u t f o r a
w a l k o f tw o o r t h r e e h o u r s . As I w e n t a l o n g , t h i n k i n g
^ 4.
Ib id . , p. 47.
35I b id .,
p p . . 47-4-8.
46
o f n o th in g in p a r t i c u l a r , only lo o k in g a t th in g s around
me a n d f o l l o w i n g t h e p r o g r e s s o f t h e s e a s o n s , t h e r e
w o u l d f l o w i n t o my m i n d , w i t h s u d d e n a n d u n a c c o u n t a b l e
e m o t i o n , so m e tim e s a ' l i n e o r two o f v e r s e , so m e tim e s a
w hole s t a n z a a t o n c e , a c c o m p a n ie d , n o t p r e c e d e d , by a
v a g u e n o t i o n o f t h e poem w h i c h t h e y w e r e d e s t i n e d t o
form p a r t o f .
Then t h e r e would u s u a l l y be a l u l l o f
an h o u r o r s o , ’ th e n p e r h a p s t h e s p r i n g would b u b b le u p
a g a i n . ' I say b u b b le u p , b e c a u s e , so f a r a s I co u ld
make o u t , t h e s o u r c e o f t h e s u g g e s t i o n s t h u s p r o f f e r e d
t o t h e b r a i n was a n a b y s s w h i c h I h a v e a l r e a d y h a d
o c c a s i o n t o m e n t i o n , t h e p i t o f t h e s t o m a c h . When I g o t
home I w r o t e t h e m do w n , l e a v i n g g a p s , a n d h o p i n g t h a t
f u r t h e r i n s p i r a t i o n m ig h t be f o r t h c o m in g a n o t h e r d a y .
S o m e t i m e s i t w a s , i f I t o o k my w a l k s i n a r e c e p t i v e a n d
e x p e c t a n t f r a m e o f m i n d ; b u t s o m e t i m e s t h e poem h a d t o
b e t a k e n i n h a n d an d c o m p l e t e d b y t h e b r a i n , w h ic h was
a p t t o be a m a t t e r o f t r o u b l e and a n x i e t y , i n v o l v i n g
t r i a l and d i s a p p o i n t m e n t , and som etim es e n d in g i n
f a i l u r e . 35
I cannot h e lp q u o tin g in
th is
co n n ectio n a passage
from th e I n t r o d u c t o r y L e c tu r e w hich a t f i r s t
s i g h t seems t o
c o n t r a d i c t Housman*s s t a t e m e n t t h a t p o e t r y c a n be c l a s s i f i e d
as n a t u r a l , . u n i n t e l l e c t u a l ,
and i n s t i n c t i v e
as a s e c re tio n .
I f a n y o n e , he s a y s , w ants to be c o n v in c e d of th e v a lu e
c la s s ic a l ed u catio n ,
l e t him com pare M ilto n and S h a k e s p e a r e
to see what th e c la s s ic s * d id f o r th e
d id f o r the o t h e r .
of a
one and t h e
l a c k o f them
He s a y s :
T he d i g n i t y , t h e s a n i t y , t h e u n f a l t e r i n g e l e v a t i o n o f
s t y l e , th e j u s t s u b o r d i n a t i o n o f d e t a i l , th e due
a d a p t a t i o n o f means t o e n d s , t h e h i g h r e s p e c t o f t h e
c r a f ts m a n f o r h i s c r a f t and f o r h i m s e l f , w hich e n n o b le
V i r g i l and th e g r e a t G re e k s , a r e a l l t o be found in
M i l to n , and nowhere e l s e . i n E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e a r e th e y
a l l to be found:
c e r ta in ly not in Shakespeare.
In
36
Ib id .,
pp. 4 8 - 4 9 .
47
r i c h n e s s o f n a t u r a l endowment S h a k e s p e a r e was t h e
s u p e r i o r even o f M ilto n ; b u t he had s m a ll L a t i n and
l e s s G r e e k , a n d t h e r e s u l t - ~ I d o n o t know t h a t S a m u e l
Johnson
s t a t e s t h e r e s u l t t o o h a r s h l y when h e h a s t h e
n oble courage to say t h a t
S h a k e s p e a r e h a s nowhere
w r i t t e n m ore t h a n s i x c o n s e c u t i v e l i n e s o f g o o d p o e t r y . 15
The c o n t r a d i c t i o n ,
T h is p a ssa g e m ight l e a d
I rep eat,
i s m erely a p p a r e n t .
one t o b e l i e v e
t h a t H ousm an h e r e
r e c o g n i z e s t h e p r o d u c t i o n o f p o e t r y a s a more c o n s c i o u s
p ro c e ss th an he i s w i l li n g
N ature
of P o e try .
cal d iscip lin e
t o adm it i t
B u t I am s u r e t h a t h e m e a n s f o r t h e c l a s s i ­
t o be s o f i r m l y im b ed d ed i n t h e m ind t h a t
i s a s s t r o n g l y a t w o r k on t h e
the s e a t
tain ly
of
such
t o b e i n T h e Name a n d
the
it
s u b c o n s c io u s m ind— e v i d e n t l y
se cre tio n — as i t
an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n is
is
on t h e c o n s c i o u s .
C er­
p s y c h o l o g ic a l l y sound b e ­
c au se th e e n v ir o n m e n ta l f a c t o r s w hich c o n d i t i o n th e
conscious
m ind m u st a l s o c o n d i t i o n t h e s u b c o n s c i o u s .
Of c o u r s e Housman d o e s n o t m ean t o i m p l y t h a t t h e
m ere c o n t e m p l a t i o n o f t h e c l a s s i c s , h o w e v e r i n t e l l i g e n t l y ,
makes a p o e t ;
the c l a s s i c a l d i s c i p l i n e ,
n o t even in s u r e
the
he p o in ts o u t , does
o n e fs b ein g a w r i t e r of p a ssa b le
prose,
c l a s s i c a l s c h o l a r o f t e n p r o d u c e s a v e r y low g r a d e
p ro se — so o f te n ,
in f a c t ,
for
of
th a t f le e tin g ex cellen ces receiv e
to o h ig h a m easure o f p r a i s e .
Housman! s d e e p l e a r n i n g and h i s w ide r e a d i n g b e a r
*zrr
° A. E . Housman, I n t r o d u c t o r y L e c t u r e
The M a c m i ll a n Company, 1 9 3 7 ) , p . 1 6 .
(New Y o r k :
48
w itn ess to h is h igh re s p e c t fo r i n t e l l e c t u a l p u r s u its , hut
t h e d e e p sym pathy and h u m a n ity i n h i s
poems show t h e h i g h
r e g a r d i n w h i c h he h e l d t h e human s p i r i t .
In a n o th e r connec­
t i o n he makes a s t a t e m e n t w h ic h one c a n n o t h e l p a p p l y i n g t o
h im , and i n a l a r g e r s e n s e ,
to the p o e t.
He s a y s :
I f a man w i l l c o m p r e h e n d t h e r i c h n e s s a n d v a r i e t y o f
t h e u n i v e r s e , and i n s p i r e h i s mind w i t h a d u e m e a s u r e
o f w o n d e r a n d o f a w e , h e m u s t c o n t e m p l a t e t h e h u m an
i n t e l l e c t n o t o n l y on i t s h e i g h t s o f g e n i u s h u t i n
i t s a b y s s e s of i n e p t i t u d e .3 8
38
(C am bridge:
x ix .
M a n i l i u s , A s t r o n o m i c o n , e d i t o r , A. E . Housman,
C am bridge U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 3 7 ), V o l. I , p .
CHAPTER I I I
The p u r p o s e o f t h i s
ries
chapter is
t o compare th e t h e o ­
o f p o e t r y o f W o r d s w o r t h a n d H o usm an t h a t h a v e b e e n
o u tlin ed in
the p re c e d in g c h a p t e r s . 1
One o f t h e m o s t d e c i d e d l i k e n e s s e s
and H o u sm a n 's c o n c e p t i o n s o f p o e t r y i s
manner i n w hich p o e t r y i s
h im self reco g n ized .
i n W o rd sw o rth 's
t h e i r idea
of the
p r o d u c e d , a l i k e n e s s w h i c h Housman
Housman c a l l e d p o e t r y a 11s e c r e t i o n 1* a n d
s i n c e W o r d s w o r t h ’s m a n n e r w a s s o s i m i l a r t o H o u s m a n ' s we may
s a y t h a t b o t h o f them c o n s i d e r e d th e a r t o f p ro d u c in g p o e t r y
2
a process of s e c re tio n .
W hile t o u r i n g t h e A lp s , W ordsw orth
l e a r n e d f r o m Ramond d e C a r b o n n i e r e s t h a t
present
th e o b j e c t w hich he i s d e s c r i b i n g
tru th .
I n o r d e r t o do t h i s ,
th e w r i t e r must
in
its
e sse n tia l
h e m u s t r e n d e r t r u l y h i s own
i n n e r i m p r e s s i o n s , w h i c h a r e much m ore i m p o r t a n t t h a n t h e
o u te r im p ressio n s.
o f view o f i t s
He m u s t d e s c r i b e
effect
the
on h im , b u t a t t h e
scen e from th e p o in t
same t i m e h e m u s t
k e e p “ h i s e y e on t h e o b j e c t ” i n o r d e r t o g i v e a c l e a r o u t l i n e
I f e e l th a t i t is in a d v isa b le to re p e a t len g th y
q u o t a t i o n s in t h i s c h a p t e r , how ever germ ane t o t h e p o i n t u n d e r
d is c u s s io n ; th e r e f o r e in the f o o tn o te s I s h a l l r e f e r th e
r e a d e r t o t h e p l a c e t h e s e q u o t a t i o n s may b e f o u n d i n t h e
e a r lie r ch ap ters.
Supra. ,
p. 45.
50
and a p p r o p r i a t e e m o tio n a l com m entary.
adapted t h i s
le s s o n to h i s
w ith em otion, a b e g g ar,
tra c k in g over h is
own u s e .
3
L a t e r W ordsw orth
F or i n s t a n c e , he s e e s ,
a n d some t i m e l a t e r ,
past l i f e ,
tra n q u illy back­
he m e e ts t h e b e g g a r a g a i n
in
m em ory ; w h i l e h e c o n t e m p l a t e s t h e r e m e m b e r e d i m a g e , a n e m o t i o n
k in d red to
th at
of the o r i g i n a l e x p e rie n c e
in th e e x citem en t of h is
o u s l y t o p r o d u c e a poem,
is g en erated ,
and
p o w e rfu l em otion o v e rflo w s sp o n ta n e ­
W ordsw orth c a l l s
t h o s e moments o f
l i f e w h ic h h a v e t h e pow er o f r e t u r n i n g t o t h e m ind " s p o t s o f
tim e," because
t h e y a r e e x p e r i e n c e s w h i c h show t h e m i n d i n
th e a c t o f d o m in a tin g outw ard s e n se and g u i d in g i t
w orld of th e i n f i n i t e
E xcept in th e
in to
the
in fe e lin g .
in itia l
s t a g e s — Housman*s b e e r and
m e n ta l v a c u i t y a r e d i f f e r e n t from W o rd sw o rth ’s "rem em brance
of th in g s p a s t” — t h e i r " s e c re tin g "
p r o c e s s e s a r e much a l i k e .
We m i g h t s a y o f t h e e x p e r i e n c e s o f b o t h W o r d s w o r t h a n d H o u s ­
man w h a t P r o f e s s o r B e a t t y h a s
s a id a b o u t W ordsw orth’s e x p e r i ­
ence :
H is a s t o n i s h m e n t and t h e e m o t i o n a l c o n s e q u e n c e s were
n o t h i n g o t h e r t h a n one o f t h o s e i n n e r e x p e r i e n c e s
w h ic h h a v e t h e pow er o f r e t u r n i n g i n t o t h e mind a n d
d o m in atin g i t — n o t b ecau se th ey a re c o n v e n tio n a lly
i m p o r ta n t, b u t b e c a u se th e y have an i n e x p l i c a b l e in n e r
pow er.
3
W ordsw orth:
R ep resen tativ e
Poems, I n t r o d u c t i o n ,
p. x l i l ,
4I b i d . , In tro d u ctio n ,
p. x l i i .
51
If
t h e poem, h o w e v e r, w ere n o t b o r n c o m p le te
moments o f e m o t i o n a l r e s u r g e n c e ,
d iffic u lt
to f i n i s h
In the
i n one o f t h e s e
b o th p o e ts found i t
eq u ally
it.5
second p l a c e ,
the r e a d e r of th e
preceding
c h a p t e r s w i l l h a v e s e e n t h a t b o t h W o r d s w o r t h a n d Housman c o n ­
s i d e r f e e l i n g and e m o tio n f u n d a m e n ta l t o
the p o e tic
ex p eri­
e n c e , w h e th e r from th e p o in t o f view o f th e r e a d e r o r o f th e
p o e t.
It
r e m a i n s f o r u s t o d e t e r m i n e t o w h a t e x t e n t W ords­
w o r t h a n d H o usm a n a r e
em otion i s
in agreem ent as to
t h e way i n w h i c h
im portant to p o e try .
Housm an s a y s t h a t p o e t r y i s m o r e p h y s i c a l t h a n
in te lle ctu al.
He r e i t e r a t e s
th is
idea in h is
condem nation
o f t h e p o e t r y o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y a s “ sham1* a n d i n h i s
7
d i s c u s s i o n o f th e r e l a t i o n o f m eaning t o p o e t r y .
The
symptoms b y w h ic h h e r e c o g n i z e s p o e t r y a r e
sym ptom s.
said ,
is
Thus p o e t r y becom es f o r Housman, n o t t h e t h i n g
b u t t h e w ay i n w h i c h i t
t h e way t h a t m o v e s .
is
is
said ,
W ordsw orth,
o f view o f th e w r i t e r o f p o e t r y ,
p o etry
purely p h y sic a l
O
a n d t h e way o f p o e t r y
sp e a k in g from th e p o in t
says
th a t the
em o tio n , b u t em otion r e c o l l e c t e d
5S u p ra. , p. 25, p. 46.
5S u p r a . ,
p . 44.
^ S u p ra. , pp. 34-36.
® Supra. ,
p. 39.
9S u p r a . ,
p . 24:.
in
o rig in of h is
9
tran q u ility ;
52
a n d b y e m o t i o n we u n d e r s t a n d a p h y s i c a l r e a c t i o n a l s o .
F u r th e r m o r e , W ordsw orth t e l l s
c o n tain ed
u s t h a t a l t h o u g h t h e poems
in th e L y r ic a l B a lla d s have a p u rp o se,
p o se was n o t a lw a y s c l e a r l y d e f i n e d
b e g a n t o w r i t e . 10
T herefore,
c a l — r e a c t i o n was t h e
th a t pur­
i n h i s m i n d w hen h e
the e m o tio n a l--th a t i s ,
sta rtin g
physi­
p o i n t f o r W ordsw orth and
Hous man a l i k e .
B u t W ordsw orth went f u r t h e r .
th e psychology o f a s s o c i a t i o n ,
He w a s i n t e r e s t e d
a n d by means o f t h i s
in
psychology
h e fo u n d a way o f l i n k i n g t h o u g h t t o e m o tio n so t h a t p o e t r y
w h i c h was e m o t i o n w a s t h o u g h t f u l o r h a d a p u r p o s e .
purpose,
is,
feelin g s
a n d i d e a s a r e a s s o c i a t e d when we a r e i n a s t a t e
ex citem en t,
he t e l l s u s ,
That
or "to
t o show t h e m a n n e r i n w h i c h o u r
fo llo w the
f lu x e s and r e f lu x e s
w hen a g i t a t e d b y t h e g r e a t a n d s i m p l e a f f e c t i o n s
of
o f t h e m ind
of our
*1 -I
n a t u r e . 1*
H e r e we s e e o n e o f t h e f u n d a m e n t a l d i f f e r e n c e s
b e tw e e n W o rd sw o rth and Housman:
W o rd sw o rth p r o f e s s e d t o be
a p s y c h o l o g i s t a n d a t e a c h e r , b u t Housman d o e s n o t , a t
not in te n tio n a lly .
co n sid ers
H o u sm a n s p e a k 3 o f " p o e t i c
1QS u p r a . , p p .
1:LS u p r a . ,
12
em otion" and
th e f u n c t i o n o f p o e t r y to be th e " t r a n s f u s i o n
e m o t i o n , " 12 w h i c h i m p l i c i t l y " h a r m o n i z e s
S u p ra.,
9-10.
pp. 7,
10.
pp. 3 2 , 4 3 .
the
least,
of
sadness of the
w o rld ."^
W ordsw orth i m p l i e s . t h a t p o e t r y i s
of em o tio n ," b u t ,
m ore t h a n
th is,
h e makes t h e
p oem s e m o t i o n — t h e h i s t o r y a n d s c i e n c e
in to
su b ject of h is
of em otion.
p u ts t r u th a t the c e n te r of p o e try — t r u t h ,
a liv e
th e " tr a n s f u s io n
t o be s u r e , " c a r r i e d
th e h e a r t by p a s s i o n , " b u t n e v e r t h e l e s s
Poems o f a n y v a l u e , h e s a y s ,
th o u g h t lo n g and d e e p l y ,
tru th .
a r e w r i t t e n o n l y b y men who h a v e
and t h e i r f e e l i n g s
n a t u r a l l y m o d ifie d by th e s e
W ordsw orth
th o u g h ts.
and e m o tio n s a r e
He s a y s :
. . . and, as by c o n te m p la tin g the r e l a t i o n of th e s e
g e n e r a l r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s t o e a c h o t h e r we d i s c o v e r w h a t
i s r e a l l y i m p o r t a n t t o men, s o , by t h e r e p e t i t i o n and
c o n t i n u a n c e o f t h i s a c t , o u r f e e l i n g s w i l l be c o n n e c te d
w i t h i m p o r t a n t s u b j e c t s , t i l l a t l e n g t h , i f we b e
o r i g i n a l l y p o s s e s s e d o f m u ch s e n s i b i l i t y , s u c h h a b i t s
o f m ind w i l l be p r o d u c e d , t h a t , by o b e y in g b l i n d l y and
m e c h a n i c a l l y t h e i m p u l s e s o f t h o s e h a b i t s , we s h a l l
d e s c r i b e o b j e c t s , and u t t e r s e n t im e n t s , of such a n a tu r e
and in such co n n ex io n w ith each o t h e r , t h a t th e u n d e r ­
s t a n d i n g o f t h e b e i n g t o whom we a d d r e s s o u r s e l v e s , i f
he be i n a h e a l t h f u l s t a t e o f a s s o c i a t i o n , m ust n e c e s ­
s a r i l y b e i n some d e g r e e e n l i g h t e n e d , a n d h i s a f f e c t i o n s
a m e lio ra te d .^
Housm an q u i t e
co n sisten tly
s a y s t h a t m e a n in g h a s no
-1C
im portance to p o e tr y .
M eaning i s
of th e
is a p h y sical re a c tio n .
Though m eaning
p o e try as a co n co m itan t,
a n d man y o f H o u s m a n f s p o e m s h a v e a
is
in te lle c t;
p o etry
o ften p re se n t in
1 />
c l e a r and d e f i n i t e
m eaning,
l ^Supra. , p.
l ^W ord3w orth:
16
Supra. ,
t h e m e a n i n g , Housman m a i n t a i n s ,
43.
R ep resen tativ e
pp. 3 9 -4 3 .
Supra. , p. 43.
Poem s, P r e f a c e , p . 681*
54
is
in d epend ent of the p o e try — th e re a d e r should n ev er t r y
h a r d t o draw t h e m eaning o u t i f
m ig ht n o t f i n d
back of i t .
it
i s n o t obvious,
too
f o r he
t h e poem s o p l e a s u r a b l e i f h e knew t h e m e a n i n g
P u re p o e t r y u n a d u l t e r a t e d b y m eaning c an and
d o e s e x i s t , a n d H ou sm a n m e n t i o n s some o f B l a k e ’ s poem s a s
17
e x a m p l e s . ■ W o r d s w o r t h , h o w e v e r , a s we h a v e n o t e d , p l a c e s
t r u t h a s t h e u l t i m a t e aim o f p o e t r y ,
m eaningful.M ost
and t r u t h m ust be
o f W o r d s w o r t h ’ s p oem s b e a r o u t t h e
c o n t e n t i o n t h a t h e was p r i m a r i l y i n t e r e s t e d i n p o e t r y a s a n
e x p re ssio n of h is p h ilo so p h y ,
he f e l t ,
psychology,
and e t h i c s .
These,
c o u l d b e s t b e i n c u l c a t e d i n t h e m i n d s o f men t h r o u g h
th e ir h earts.
He e v e n w r o t e t h e L y r i c a l B a l l a d s a s a r e a c t i o n
from e i g h t e e n t h c e n tu r y r a t i o n a l i s m
a n d a s a means o f c a r r y i n g
th e i d e a s w hich he th o u g h t were r i g h t i n t o
the h e a rts
o f m en .
We do n o t n o w , p e r h a p s ,
r e a d W ordsw orth f o r h i s m e ssa g e ,
b e c a u se he d id sp eak t o
the h e a r ts
o f men we s t i l l
but
read his
p o etry .
It
i s h a r d t o keep from c o n j e c t u r i n g as t o
l o g i c a l r e a s o n s f o r Housman’s r e j e c t i n g
the psycho­
such a th e o ry ,
allow ed f o r
tea ch in g th ro u g h p o e try — i f ,
en tertain ed
such an id e a .
th e e th i c a l
or p r a c t i c a l value o f p o e try i s
w hich
in d e e d , he ev er
The o n l y p l a c e i n h e r e h e r e f e r s
1 ’'' s u p r a . , p p .
40-43.
1® S u p ra., pp.
10-13,
18-20.
to
i n poem L X I I i n
55
A S h r o p s h ir e L ad , w hich he a d d r e s s e s
poem h e s a y s t h a t a p o e t
d eath b efo re
s h o u l d n o t rhyme h i s
t h e i r tim e" and t h a t i t
dance or d r in k h is
to T erence.
“frien d s
to
i s b e t t e r f o r him t o
t r o u b l e s aw ay t h a n t o b o r e h i s f r i e n d s
w i t h them i n a d i d a c t i c
poem.
H o u s m a n Ts a l o o f a u s t e r i t y
w ould n e v e r a l l o w h im t o presum e t o i m p l a n t h i s
p h ilo s o p h y and e t h i c s
in h is
fellow m en;
l i e v e d w hat he s a i d t o T e re n c e .
teachin g h is
In th is
own i d e a s o f
so he m ust have b e ­
He u n d o u b t e d l y e n j o y e d
s t u d e n t s how t o d e a l o b j e c t i v e l y w i t h L a t i n
t e x t s , b u t he c o u ld n e v e r be b r o u g h t t o unbend f a r enough to
concern h im s e lf a c t iv e l y w ith the f a t e s
w ould s h r i n k from th e
of th e ir
so u ls.
He
su g g e stio n o f such a c lo se c o n ta c t w ith
h i s fellow m en.
As we h a v e s e e n , Housman d e v o t e s a l a r g e
T h e Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y t o a d i s c u s s i o n
p o rtio n of
o f t h e word
p o e t r y , i n w h ic h he makes a d i s t i n c t i o n b e tw e e n th e
v e r s e and p o e t r y . ^
V erse, he sa y s,
is
term s
th e g e n e r a l term
w hich s h o u ld be u s e d in c o n t r a d i s t i n c t i o n
to p ro s e ; p o etry
s h o u l d b e r e s e r v e d a s a name f o r t h o s e l i n e s ,
p arts
o r w h o l e poem s w h i c h s u c c e e d i n a c c o m p l i s h i n g
the t r a n s f u s i o n
o f e m o tio n w h ic h h e deems e s s e n t i a l b e f o r e
be c a lle d
th at
is,
p o etry .
verse
IQ
lin e s
o f poems,
of v e rs e can
Housman makes v e r s e w i d e r t h a n p o e t r y ;
in c lu d e s p o e tr y and "rym d o g g e r e l,"
T h e Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y , p . 5 .
and th e
56
d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n rym d o g g e r e l a n d p o e t r y I s
is " lite ra tu re ,'*
"verse"
sp irit.
is
w hereas d o g g e re l i s n o t .
a co n cep t of form ;
th a t "poetry"
th a t the l a t t e r
He k n ow s t h a t
is a concept of
W o r d s w o r t h m a k e s much t h e sam e d i s t i n c t i o n
note to the
d ifferen ce
in a f o o t­
P r e f a c e , a l t h o u g h he d o e s n o t d w e l l upon, th e
so lo n g a s d o e s Housman. . I s h a l l q u o te h i s n o t e
In f u l l s
I h e r e u s e t h e w o r d " p o e t r y " ( t h o u g h a g a i n s t my
own j u d g m e n t ) a s o p p o s e d t o t h e w o r d p r o s e , a n d s y n o n y ­
mous w i t h m e t r i c a l c o m p o s i t i o n .
B u t much c o n f u s i o n h a s
been in tro d u c e d in to c r i t i c i s m by t h is c o n tr a d is tin c tio n
o f p o e t r y and p r o s e , i n s t e a d o f t h e more p h i l o s o p h i c a l
one o f p o e t r y an d m a t t e r o f f a c t , o r s c i e n c e .
The o n l y
s t r i c t a n th l t h e s i s to prose i s m etre; [n o r is t h i s , in
t r u t h , a s t r i c t a n t h l t h e s i s ; b ecau se l i n e s and p a ssa g es
o f m etre so n a t u r a l l y o c cu r i n w r i t i n g p r o s e , t h a t i t
w ould be s c a r c e l y p o s s i b l e t o a v o id them, e v e n w ere i t
d e s i r a b l e , ] §0
W o rd sw o rth 's d i s t i n c t i o n betw een m e te r and p r o s e
the
is
c ertain ly
same a s H o u s m a n ' s d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n v e r s e a n d p r o s e .
I n a d d i t i o n , w h a t c a n W o rd s w o rth mean b y a more p h i l o ­
s o p h i c a l d i s t i n c t i o n b etw een p o e tr y and " m a t t e r o f f a c t , "
sin ce th a t d i s t in c t io n does not l i e
ment of th e
one?
The o p p o s i t e
in the m e tr ic a l a rra n g e -
of m atter of f a c t,
m ust be f e e l i n g and e m o tio n o r s p i r i t .
d i s t i n c t i o n betw een " t h e
lite ra tu re
20
lite ra tu re
or science,
De Q u i n c e y ' s b r o a d
o f know ledge and th e
o f p o w e r ", i s q u i t e h e l p f u l h e r e , f o r h e g o t t h e
W ordsworths
R e p r e s e n t a t i v e Poem3, P r e f a c e , p . 6 8 6 .
57
id e a from W ordsw orth.
first
is
He a s s e r t s
th at
the f u n c tio n of th e
t o te a c h and th e f u n c t i o n o f th e
and he m a i n t a i n s
second i s
t o move;
t h a t t h e m e a n e s t o f a u t h o r s who move h a s
p r e e m i n e n c e o v e r a l l who m e r e l y t e a c h a n d t h a t t h e
lite ra tu re
o f know ledge m ust p e r i s h by s u p e r s e s s i o n w h e re a s t h e l i t e r a ­
tu re
o f power i s " tr iu m p h a n t f o r e v e r as lo n g as th e lan g u ag e
on
e x i s t s in w hich i t s p e a k s .’
T h is d i s t i n c t i o n i s a p p lic a b le
t o Housman a s w e l l a s t o W o r d s w o r t h , f o r h e c a r r i e s
the id ea
even f u r t h e r th a n does W ordsw orth.
It
is
in te re stin g
to n o te w hat the
tw o .p o e ts have to
say about p o e tic
su b jects.
Housm an s a y s t h a t n o s u b j e c t s
are s p e c if ic a lly
p o e t i c . 22
W ord sw orth s a y s t h a t a l l know-
ledge i s m a tte r f o r p o e tr y
when i t
h a s become f a m i l i a r
e n o u g h t o a p p e a l t o man a s a man ( t h a t i s ,
as a c re atu re
w ith f e e l in g ) ,
and n o t m e re ly a s a s p e c i a l i s t ,
an a s tro n o m e r,
or a b io lo g is t.
fin er s p irit
"P odtry is
a g e o lo g ist,
th e b r e a t h and
of a l l know ledge. "
H ousm an a n d W ords virorth a r e a l i k e
i n m aking f e e l i n g
J o h n R i t c h i e F i n d l a y , " T h o m a s De Q u i n c e y , " The
E n c y c l o p a e d i a B r i t a n n i c a , 1 4 t h e d i t i o n , V I I , p . 2 3 2 ; arid
T h o m as De Q u i n c e y , C o n f e s s i o n s o f a n O pium - E a t e r , A r t h u r
B e a t t y , e d i t o r , (New Y o r k :
T he M a c m i l l a n C o m p a n y , 1 9 0 5 ) ,
p. x x x i.
22
23
Supra.,
p. 38.
Supra.,
p. 14.
58
and em otion th e b a s i s
man r e f u s e s
of p o etry , but
t o go f u r t h e r ,
they d i f f e r
i n t h a t Hous­
w hereas W ordsw orth u s e s th e em o tio n
a s a means o f c o n v e y in g t r u t h . t o h i s
readers.
B oth W ordsw orth
a n d Housman c o n d e m n t h e p o e t r y o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y b e ­
cause of i t s
d e f i c i e n c y i n f e e l i n g and e m o tio n .
To H ousm an
s u c h p o e t r y w as sham; t o W o rd s w o rth i t was i d l e a m u s e m e n t.
The i n t e l l e c t ,
not
the h e a r t ,
was t h e s e a t
of i t .
T h i s e m p h a s is on f e e l i n g a n d e m o tio n m ig h t i n d i c a t e
th at
t h e r e was a l s o a s i m i l a r i t y
i n t h e p h y s i o l o g i c a l makeup
o f W o rd sw o rth a n d Housman, f o r b o t h p o e t s r e c o g n i z e p o e t r y i n
s i m i l a r ways.
Housman s a y s t h a t o n e w ay h e r e c o g n i z e s
i s by th e p h y s i c a l s e n s a t i o n s i t
of th ese
causes
sen satio n s
is
t h e h a i r * on h i s
down t h e
spine;
a p rec ip ita tio n
or i t
the
produces
p it of h is
sk in to b r i s t l e
i n him .
stom ach.
The s e a t
P oetry a ls o
and a s h i v e r t o go
causes a c o n s tr ic tio n
of w ater to th e e y es.
p o etry
of the
A th ird
t h r o a t and
sym pto m h e
d e s c r i b e s by t h e p h r a s e fro m one o f K e a t s '
le tters,
was s p e a k in g o f Panny Brawne:
t h a t r e m i n d s me o f
h e r g o e s t h r o u g h me l i k e
d e scrip tio n
'*e v e r y t h i n g
» 24
a s p e a r . 1'
i s n o t so d e t a i l e d a s
A lth o u g h W o rd s w o rth 's
t h a t o f Housman, he h i n t s
a t a n u n u s u a l n e r v o u s o r g a n i z a t i o n when h e
tio n s / P elt
i n t h e b l o o d and f e l t
24S u p ra . ,
w hen h e
s p e a k s o f '*s e n s a -
a l o n g t h e h e a r t 1*
p. 44.
2 5T i n t e r n A b b e y , 1 1 . 2 7 - 2 8 .
th is
59
statem en t
tests
suggests a f f i n i t i e s
w h ic h H o u sm a n 's p h y s i o l o g i c a l
fo r p o etry .
In th e th ir d
p l a c e , we may c o m p a r e W o r d s w o r t h ' s a n d
Housman*s i d e a s o f p o e t i c
c u l t f o r two r e a s o n s .
sty le.
Such a com pariso n i s d i f f i ­
F i r s t , W ordsw orth g i v e s an o l a b o r a t c
d isc u ssio n of p o e tic d ic tio n
in the P re fa c e s to the L y r ic a l
B a l l a d s a n d i n t h e A p p e n d ix o f 1802 on P o e t i c D i c t i o n .
man s a y s l i t t l e
about sty le
Hous­
i n The Name a n d N a t u r e o f P o e t r y
a n d i n t h e I n t r o d u c t o r y L e c t u r e a n d we g e t o n l y a n i n c o m p l e t e
n o t io n o f w hat he th in k s ab o u t i t .
Second,
even w here t h e r e
i s e n o u g h e v i d e n c e t o make a c o m p a r i s o n , we c a n n o t d r a w a
h a rd and f a s t l i n e
and say t h a t th e y a r e a l i k e
spect and d i f f e r e n t
in t h a t r e s p e c t.
is
T h e m o s t t h a t we c a n s a y
th a t they are a lik e or d if f e r e n t
to a c e r ta in d eg ree.
W o r d s w o r t h a n d Housman w e r e l a r g e l y
th e
in
su b ject
th e ir a ttitu d e s
seen e a r lie r
to
of p o e tic
sty le,
as
is
in t h is r e - -
i n a g r e e m e n t on
sho wn b y t h e
sim ila rity
tow ard th e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y .
t h a t W o rd s w o rth 's p rim a ry p u rp o se
the L y r i c a l B a lla d s
is
to express
OR
in the
We h a v e
Preface
in e x p o s ito r y form th e
r e a s o n s w hich la y b e h in d h i s r e v o l t a g a i n s t th e e i g h t e e n t h
cen tu ry p o e tic
tio n ,
th e
th e b a s is
same t h i n g ;
t r a d i t i o n , w hich n e g le c t e d f e e l i n g
of h is
own p o e t r y .
a n d emo­
H ousm an s a y s e s s e n t i a l l y
e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y p o e t r y — o r sham p o e t r y —
26S u p r a .,
pp. 1 7 -2 0 , 3 4 - 3 6 .
60
i s a product of th e
in te lle c t,
a " t r a n s f u s i o n o f em o tio n ."
a p p ealin g to
T h is n e g le c t
the i n t e l l e c t ,
of the
re q u ire m e n t of g r e a t p o e try le d to an a r t i f i c i a l
not
fu n d am en tal
sty le "at
0*7
o n c e pompous and p o v e r t y - s t r i c k e n ,
w h ic h W ordsw orth and
Housm an b o t h c o n d e m n , a n d i n t h e i r c o n d e m n a t i o n we c a n s e e
c ertain
be.
sim ila ritie s
in what each th o u g h t p o e tic
sty le
should
•
Housman s a y s t h a t t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y t h o u g h t t h a t
t h e b e s t way t o w r i t e p o e t r y w a s t o w r i t e
lik e prose as p o s s ib le .
a rtific ia l
som ething a s l i t t l e
T h e way t o d o t h i s w a s t o
in v e n t an
la n g u a g e t o be u s e d f o r p o e t r y a l o n e — a la n g u a g e
o rn ate , h ig h ly d eco rated ,
and u l t i m a t e l y
in cap ab le of e x p re ss­
in g f e e l i n g and e m o tio n .
We a r e c e r t a i n l y
c o rre c t in in fe rrin g
fro m Housman’ s s t a t e m e n t t h a t he f a v o r e d p l a i n and s im p le and
s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d l a n g u a g e a s t h e m ed iu m f o r p o e t r y ,
r a i s e d by a " t i n g e
of em otio n ,"
though
fo r as I s h a ll p o in t out l a t e r ,
h i s p o e try b e a rs out t h i s assu m p tio n .
He b e l i e v e s
t h a t pure
language and l i q u i d v e r s i f i c a t i o n
can a f f o r d a c o l o r l e s s
p leasu re, but i t
in
is "the
presence
them o f s o m e th in g w h ic h
m o v es a n d t o u c h e s i n a s p e c i a l a n d r e c o g n i s a b l e way" t h a t
makes p o e t r y
lo g ic ally
in th e h ig h e st sen se.
led to
t h e common man a n d t o t h e l a n g u a g e o f common
man a s b e s t f i t t e d
97
W o rd sw o rth was q u i t e
to express
th e f e e l i n g s and em otions w hich
The Name and N a t u r e o f P o e t r y , p . 1 9 .
61
th e e ig h t e e n t h c e n tu r y had so long n e g l e c t e d .
a b s t r a c t i o n s and p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s
n a tu re .
Housman,
He e s c h e w s
and draw s h i s . i m a g e r y from
sp eak in g o f the e ig h te e n th c e n tu r y ,
s i m i l e and m etap h o r " t h i n g s
c a lls
i n e s s e n tia l to p o e try ."
T h u s we s e e t h a t W o r d s w o r t h a n d Housman a r e a p p a r e n t l y
in agreem ent in th e m a tte r of d i c t i o n .
c ia lity ;
T h e y c o n d em n a r t i f i ­
the fo rm er p le a d s f o r s i m p l i c i t y ,
im p lie s a p le a f o r s i m p l i c i t y and c e r t a i n l y
h is
p rac tic es
it
in
p o e try .
I f we e x a m i n e t h e i r d i s c u s s i o n
c e n t u r y f u r t h e r , we s e e t h e i r
degree, a t
least.
tra in in g ,
is
eig h teen th
l i k e n e s s e s becom ing f e w e r — i n
i n th e m ain b e c a u s e
la r g e ly a product of h is
c la ssic al
w hereas W o rd sw o rth ’ s i s d i c t a t e d by a p h ilo s o p h y o f
p rim itiv ism ,
in a d d itio n ,
of co u rse,
e ig h te e n th cen tu ry d ic tio n .
to h is re v o lt ag ain st
As I h a v e s a i d
o f H o u sm an 's t h e o r y o f p o e t r y
p o e t so t h a t he becomes an a r t i s t
in e x p r e s s i o n and th e v i r t u e
he would l a c k w i t h o u t t h i s
M ilto n and S h a k e sp e a re .
OQ
s u b c o n s c i o u s m ind o f
and d e v e l o p s d i g n i t y and
of so b rie ty ,
form al tr a in in g ,
W ordsw orth,
makes no m e n tio n o f su c h a c l a s s i c a l
^^Supra. ,
pp. 4 6 - 4 7 .
i n my d i s c u s s i o n
i n C h a p t e r I I , H ousm an f e e l s
t h a t a c l a s s i c a l know ledge te m p e rs th e
poise
of the
The d i f f e r e n c e s a r i s e
H o u sm an 's i d e a o f s t y l e
th e
and the l a t t e r
a ll
as in
o f w hich
the case o f
on t h e o t h e r h a n d ,
train in g
in M ilto n or
62
lack of i t
in S h ak esp eare, and, a lth o u g h he h o ld s
m asters of p o e tic
no d i s t i n c t i o n
d i c t i o n and s i m p l i c i t y
in th e
them u p a s
o f s t y l e , h e m ak e s
l a n g u a g e o f t h e t w o . * 2®
A l t h o u g h W o r d s w o r t h a n d H o usm a n d o a g r e e
th a t the
s t y l e m ust be sim p le and u n a d o rn e d by s u p e r f i c i a l i t y ,
d iffer
in t h e i r
o p in io n as to th e p lace
W ordsw orth sa y s p o e t r y i s
em otion— th e
em otion;
is
and t o him s t y l e
itse lf.
the
s c i e n c e and h i s t o r y
of
To H o u sm a n p o e t r y
sty le,
th erefo re,
is
is
t h e wa y
th e p o etry
H o u s m a n f s i d e a o f p o e t r y i s much s i m p l e r t h a n
W ordsw orth’s ,
part
31
i n t h e poem.
o n e among s e v e r a l o t h e r t h i n g s
w h i c h g o t o make u p p o e t r y .
of saying a th in g :
of sty le
they
fo r th e
t h in g s w hich W ordsw orth c o n s i d e r s a
o f p o e t r y , H ou sm a n c o n s i d e r s a s o n l y c o n c o m i t a n t s o f
p o e t r y , b e l i e v i n g t h a t r e a l p o e t r y c o u l d e x i s t w i t h o u t th em *
To su m m arize t h e
c o m p ariso n o f W o rd sw o rth 's and
H o u s m a n ’ s c o n c e p t i o n s o f p o e t r y , we s e e
p r o d u c i n g p o e t r y a r e much a l i k e .
o th e r in re c o g n iz in g
the b a s is
in s o f a r as the f e e lin g s
than i n t e l l e c t u a l ,
29
Supra.,
of p o e try as bein g p h y s ic a l,
and e m o tio n s a r e p h y s i c a l ,
reactio n s.
rath er
W ordsw orth, h o w ev er, went
in te rest
in the a s s o c ia ­
He w a n t e d t o show how o u r a b s t r a c t
p. 20.
•^ S u p r a . > p p .
51Supra.,
t h e i r m ethods o f
They a l s o r e s e m b l e e a c h
f u r t h e r t h a n H ou sm an b e c a u s e o f h i s
tio n psychology.
th at
16-18.
p. 39.
ideas
a r i s e u l t i m a t e l y from our s e n s a t i o n s ;
t h u s W o r d s w o r t h ’ s poems
m u s t h a v e m e a n i n g , w h e r e a s Housman t h i n k s t h a t p o e t r y c a n e x i s t
in d e p e n d e n t o f m eaning.
are
e sse n tia lly
dev oid of th e
In the m a tte r of s t y l e
in p o e try ,
they
in agreem ent in f a v o r in g unadorned s i m p l i c i t y ,
so -c alled "p o etic
co n cep tio n of s ty le
d ic tio n ."
comes fro m h i s
cen tu ry a r t i f i c i a l i t y
re v o lt ag ain st eig h tee n th
and h i s p r i m i t i v i s m , w h ereas Housman’s
c o n c e p t i o n comes m a i n l y f r o m h i s
we h a v e s e e n t h a t t h e
But W o rd sw o rth ’s
c la ss ic a l tra in in g .
A lso ,'
t w o p o e t s make t h e sa m e d i s t i n c t i o n
betw een p ro se and m e t r i c a l c o m p o s itio n .
P A R T
II
CHAPTER IV
A COMPARISON OP WORDSWORTH *S AND HOUSMAN'S POEMS
The p u r p o s e
of th e
of th is
sectio n is
t o com pare a number
poems o f W o r d s w o r t h a n d H o u s m a n s o t h a t
the re a d e r
may s e e w h e t h e r t w o p o e t s h a v i n g s o m e w h a t s i m i l a r v i e w s
a b o u t p o e tr y p ro d u ced s i m i l a r poems,
I s h a l l p o in t out th e
sim ila rities
b e t w e e n t h e poems o f t h e t w o p o e t s ,
sty le;
second,
first,
i n them es t r e a t e d by e a c h ;
th e p h ilo s o p h ic a l im p lic a tio n s of th e
re a d e r can r e a d ily
perceive
b e t w e e n t h e two w i l l a r i s e
m ore,
th at
in the
rath er,
in form and
and,
th ird ,
p oem s o f e a c h .
in
The
the g r e a t e s t d if f e r e n c e s
l a t t e r categ o ry .
t h e r e a d e r s h o u l d rem ember t h a t
to in clu d e a l l
and d i f f e r e n c e s
F u rth er-
I have not attem p ted
o f t h e po e m s o f e i t h e r W o r d s w o r t h o r H o u s m a n ;
I have c h o sen r e p r e s e n t a t i v e
poems.
In the case
of
W o r d s w o r t h , my c h o i c e h a s b e e n l i m i t e d m a i n l y t o t h e l y r i c a l
b a llad s
o f t h e v o l u m e c a l l e d L y r i c a l B a l l a d s a n d t o t h e po ems
w ritte n
in a s im ila r s p i r i t alth o u g h n o t p ro p e rly b a lla d s .
A.
FORM AND. STYLE
B o t h W o r d s w o r t h a n d H o u sm a n w r o t e b a l l a d s ,
good way i n w h i c h t o g e t a t
pare th e b a lla d s
th a t the
t h e i r form and s t y l e
two w r o t e .
is
and a
t o com­
A lthough th e b a l l a d
is
65
a f a i r l y w e ll d e fin e d form ,
H o u sm a n 's b a l l a d s
clu e to
the
They a re
the q u a lity
is d iffe re n t.
o f W o rd s w o r th ’ s and
These d i f f e r e n c e s a re a
i n d i v i d u a l m anner o r "idiom *1 o f t h e
su c h d i f f e r e n c e s a s one m ig h t n o t e
tw o p e o p le c o n v e r s i n g ; b y d i f f e r e n c e s
in to n atio n ,
a n d t i m i n g , we s e e t h a t
The b a l l a d
two p o e t s .
in l i s te n i n g to
in a tt i tu d e ,
g estu re,
t h e two a r e d i f f e r e n t .
i s a form c h a r a c t e r i z e d p r i m a r i l y by i t s
sim p le , d i r e c t r e p r e s e n ta t io n o f a d ram a tic ep isod e
n a rra tiv e
n atin g
form .
The b a l l a d
stan za
in
i s m ost f r e q u e n t l y a l t e r ­
ia m b ic t e t r a m e t e r and iam bic t r i m e t e r , rim e d a b c b .
A lth o u g h t h e m anner i n w hich th e b a l l a d
o r i g i n a t e d among
s i m p l e and hum ble p e o p l e h a s n e v e r b e e n e x p l a i n e d t o t h e
sa tisfac tio n
such p e o p le .
p articu larly
of a l l sc h o lars,
its
o r i g i n was c e r t a i n l y w i t h
The b a l l a d h a s b e e n a p o p u l a r fo rm f o r p o e t s ,
the ro m an tic p o e ts , b u t
th ey have o fte n p re s e rv e d
i t s g e n e r a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s w h ile m od ify in g i t s
t h e i r own p u r p o s e s .
Thus th e
form t o
t e r m b a l l a d h a s b e co m e a g e n e r a l
o n e , d e n o t i n g poems w h i c h k e e p t h e
sim p le , d ram atic s p i r i t
t h e f o l k b a l l a d b u t w h ic h do n o t n e c e s s a r i l y r e t a i n
ch aracteristics
o f the b a lla d
ch aracteristics
of th e f o lk b a l l a d ,
rep e titio n ,
tio n s,
trag ic
and l i t t l e
situ atio n s,
su it
stan za
or even a l l
of
a l l the
the
in te rn al
such as in c re m e n ta l
sudden and unannounced t r a n s i ­
o r no c h a r a c t e r d e v e lo p m e n t.
It
is
th is
m o d i f i e d t y p e o f l i t e r a r y b a l l a d w i t h w h i c h we a r e c o n c e r n e d
i n t h e p oem s o f b o t h W o r d s w o r t h a n d H o u s m a n .
Many o f t h e i r
66
p o e m s may b e c a l l e d b a l l a d s
e l a s t i c use
o n l y i n a c c o r d a n c e w i t h t h i s more
o f t h e term *
One o f H o u s m a n ' s . m o s t f a m o u s b a l l a d s
e x h i b i t s h i s manner o f . w r i t i n g
a n d o ne w h i c h
i s XXVII i n A S h r o p s h i r e L a d ;
’ I s my t e a m p l o u g h i n g ,
T h a t I was u s e d t o d r i v e
And h e a r t h e h a r n e s s j i n g l e
When I w a s man a l i v e ? 1
Ay, th e h o r s e s t r a m p l e ,
T h e h a r n e s s j i n g l e s n ow ;
No c h a n g e t h o u g h y o u l i e u n d e r
The l a n d you u s e d t o p l o u g h ,
’I s f o o t b a l l p la y in g
A long t h e r i v e r s h o r e ,
W ith l a d s t o c h a s e th e l e a t h e r ,
Now I s t a n d u p n o m o r e ? ’
Ay, t h e b a l l i s f l y i n g , .
The l a d s p l a y h e a r t an d s o u l ;
The g o a l s t a n d s u p , t h e k e e p e r
S tand s up to keep the g o a l,
’ I s my g i r l h a p p y ,
That I thought hard to le a v e ,
And h a s s h e t i r e d o f w e e p i n g
As s h e l i e s down a t e v e ? ’
Ay, she l i e s
She l i e s
Your g i r l i s
Be s t i l l ,
down l i g h t l y ,
n o t down t o w e e p :
w ell c o n te n te d .
my l a d , a n d s l e e p .
’ I s my f r i e n d h e a r t y ,
Now I am t h i n a n d p i n e ,
And h a s h e f o u n d t o s l e e p i n
A b e t t e r bed than m in e ? ’
Y es, la d , I l i e e a sy ,
I l i e a s l a d s would c h o o s e ;
I c h e e r a d ead m an 's s w e e t h e a r t ,
N e v e r a s k me w h o s e .
The m e t r i c a l fo rm o f t h i s
poem, a s w e l l a s o f m o st o f H ous-
man’ s o t h e r poems,
rim e
lar.
is
i s an a d a p t a t i o n
abcb, b u t the
lin e s
o f the b a l l a d
a re iam bic t r i m e t e r ,
stan za;
some i r r e g u ­
H o us m a n h a b i t u a l l y c h o s e d r a m a t i c a n d t r a g i c
He d o e s n o t d e s c r i b e
a rtific ia l
the
situ atio n s.
o r e x p l a i n t h e s i t u a t i o n a n d makes no
t r a n s i t i o n s betw een s t a n z a s .
He p r e s e n t s t h e
s i t u a t i o n d i r e c t l y and s i m p ly b y means o f t h e
common, e v e r y ­
day lan g u a g e w hich i s p e c u l i a r l y t y p i c a l of th e t r a d i t i o n a l
b a llad .
Let us s e t a g a in s t
t h i s a po e m o f W o r d s w o r t h ' s , " ‘We
A r e S e v e n 'J " w h i c h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e
th e m odified b a ll a d
o f h i s manner o f h a n d lin g
stan za.
A sim p le C h ild ,
T h a t l i g h t l y draw s i t s b r e a t h ,
And f e e l s i t s l i f e i n e v e r y l i m b ,
W hat s h o u l d i t know o f d e a t h ?
I met a l i t t l e c o t t a g e G i r l :
She was e i g h t y e a r s o l d , s h e s a i d ;
H e r h a i r was t h i c k w i t h many a c u r l
T hat c l u s t e r e d round h e r h e a d .
She h a d a r u s t i c , w o o d la n d a i r ,
And s h e w a s w i l d l y c l a d :
H er e y e s were f a i r , and v e r y f a i r ;
— H e r b e a u t y made me g l a d .
" S i s t e r s and b r o t h e r s , l i t t l e m aid ,
How many may y o u b e ? ”
"How m an y? S e v e n i n a l l , ’* s a i d s a i d ,
And w o n d e r i n g l o o k e d a t m e.
"A n d w h e r e a r e t h e y ?
I p r a y you t e l l . "
S h e a n s w e r e d , " S e v e n a r e w e;
And t w o o f u s a t Conway d w e l l ,
And t w o a r e g o n e t o s e a .
"Two o f u s i n t h e c h u r c h - y a r d l i e ,
My s i s t e r a n d my b r o t h e r ;
And, i n t h e c h u r c h - y a r d c o t t a g e , I
D w e l l n e a r t h e m w i t h my m o t h e r . "
68
"You s a y t h a t tw o a t
And t w o a r e g o n e t o
Y et ye a re se v e n !
I
S w e e t M a i d , how t h i s
C on w a y d w e l l ,
sea,
p r a y you t e l l ,
may b e . ”
T h e n d i d t h e l i t t l e M a id r e p l y ,
" S e v e n b o y s and g i r l s a r e we;
Two o f u s i n t h e c h u r c h - y a r d l i e ,
B eneath th e c h u rc h -y a rd t r e e . ”
"You r u n a b o u t , my l i t t l e M a i d ,
Your lim bs th e y a re a l i v e ;
I f two a r e i n t h e c h u r c h - y a r d l a i d ,
Then ye a r e o n ly f i v e . "
" T h e i r g r a v e s a r e g r e e n , t h e y may b e s e e n , "
T h e l i t t l e M aid r e p l i e d ,
" T w e l v e s t e p s o r m o r e f r o m my m o t h e r ' s d o o r ,
And t h e y a r e s i d e b y s i d e .
"My s t o c k i n g s t h e r e I o f t e n k n i t ,
My k e r c h i e f t h e r e I he m ;
And t h e r e u p o n t h e g r o u n d I s i t ,
And s i n g a s o n g t o t h e m .
"And o f t e n a f t e r s u n - s e t , S i r ,
When i t i s l i g h t a n d f a i r ,
I t a k e my l i t t l e p o r r i n g e r ,
And e a t m y , s u p p e r t h e r e .
"The f i r s t t h a t d i e d was s i s t e r J a n e ;
I n b ed sh e m oaning l a y ,
T i l l God r e l e a s e d h e r o f h e r p a i n ;
And t h e n s h e w e n t a w a y .
"S o i n t h e c h u r c h - y a r d she was l a i d ;
A n d , w h e n t h e . g r a s s way d r y ,
T o g e t h e r r o u n d h e r g r a v e we p l a y e d ,
My b r o t h e r J o h n a n d I .
"A n d when t h e g r o u n d w a s w h i t e w i t h s n o w ,
And I c o u l d r u n a n d s l i d e ,
My b r o t h e r J o h n was f o r c e d t o g o ,
And h e l i e s b y h e r s i d e . "
"How man y a r e y o u , t h e n , " s a i d I ,
" I f t h e y two a r e i n h e a v e n ? "
Q u ic k was t h e l i t t l e M a i d 's r e p l y ,
"0 M aster!
we a r e s e v e n . "
69
" B u t t h e y a r e d e a d ; t h o s e two a r e d e a d I
T h e ir s p i r i t s a re in heaven!"
•Twas t h r o w i n g w o r d s a w a y ; f o r s t i l l
The l i t t l e Maid w o u ld h a v e h e r w i l l ,
And s a i d , " N a y , we a r e s e v e n ! "
The b a l l a d s
c a r r y on t h e
everyday a c t i v i t i e s
b o th are w r itte n
of lif e
sim ply and d i r e c t l y .
r e g u l a r and h e a v i l y
sion
o f b o t h p o e t s a r e a b o u t h u m b l e p e o p l e who
how ever, s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n c e s in
obvious b e in g t h a t of l e n g t h .
of the b a l l a d .
T here a re ,
t h e most
W o r d s w o r t h 1s poems a r e u s u a l l y
the
c h a r a c t e r s and s i t u a t i o n s
and t h e r e b y p r o d u c e s sm ooth t r a n s i t i o n s from
one p a r t o f t h e s t o r y
t o th e n e x t , m aking h i s b a l l a d s v e r y
s i m i l a r t o t h e modern s h o r t
any in f o r m a tio n a b o u t th e
sto ry .
ch aracters
he makes a b r u p t t r a n s i t i o n s
H ou sm a n n e v e r g i v e s u s
or the
situ atio n s,
from p a r t t o p a r t o f th e
th e manner o f th e t r a d i t i o n a l b a l l a d s .
tio n a l b a llad
same
im pres­
th e form and s t y l e ,
He c a r e f u l l y d e s c r i b e s
in each b a lla d
They have th e
s t r e s s e d m e te r , w hich g i v e s th e
of rap id a c tio n c h a r a c te r is tic
lo n g er.
w i t h no f a n f a r e , and
c h aracteristic,
n o t i n th e form o f a r e f r a i n .
occurs
and
s to r y in
R e p etitio n , a tr a d i­
in b o th poems, a lth o u g h
W o rd sw o rth d e s t r o y s the' e f f e c t
o f r e p e t i t i o n b y i n t e r p o l a t i n g many d e t a i l s ,
b u t i f H ou sm an
d o e s n o t r e p e a t t h e same w o r d s , h e u s e s w o r d s t h a t h a v e much
the
sam e s o u n d , w h i c h g i v e s
tio n .
Each p o e t speaks
in
the s ta n z a s
the f i r s t
i f h e w ere one o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s
is
sim p le and n a iv e ,
in
the e f f e c t of r e p e t i ­
person in h is
th e poem.
poems, a s
But W ordsw orth
in k eep in g w ith the c h a r a c te r s
in h is
70
b a l l a d s , w h e r e a s Housman i s
f u l , w hich a g a in i s
b a llad *
su b tle
ch aracteristic
to th e
p o in t o f bein g p a in ­
of th e t r a d i t i o n a l popular
I n s h o r t , W ordsw orth i s undram a t i c
and slo w , w hereas
Housman i s d r a m a t i c a n d s w i f t ; W o r d s w o r t h n a r r a t e s a s t o r y ,
w h e r e a s Housman s u g g e s t s
one.
Two o t h e r poems t h a t may b e c o m p a r e d a r e V I I I f r o m A
S h r o p s h i r e Lad a n d "L u cy G ray" f r o m t h e L y r i c a l B a l l a d s .
e a c h poem t h e p a r e n t s
lo se a c h ild :
V III
'B 'arew ell t o b a r n and s t a c k and t r e e ,
F a re w e ll to Severn s h o re .
T e r e n c e , l o o k y o u r l a s t a t me,
F o r I come home n o m o r e .
' T h e s u n b u r n s on t h e h a l f - m o w n h i l l ,
By now t h e b l o o d i s d r i e d ;
And M a u r i c e a m o n g s t t h e h a y l i e s s t i l l
And my k n i f e i s i n h i s s i d e .
'My m o t h e r t h i n k s u s l o n g a w a y ;
' T h i s t i m e t h e f i e l d w e r e mown.
S h e h a d two s o n s a t r i s i n g d a y ,
T o - n ig h t s h e ' l l be a l o n e .
'A nd h e r e ' s a b l o o d y h a n d t o s h a k e ,
And o h , m a n , h e r e ' s g o o d - b y e ;
W e ' l l s w e a t n o m o r e on s c y t h e a n d r a k e ,
My b l o o d y h a n d s a n d I .
' I w is h you s t r e n g t h t o b r i n g you p r i d e ,
And a l o v e t o k e e p y o u c l e a n ,
And I w i s h y o u l u c k , come L a m m a s t i d e ,
A t r a c i n g on t h e g h e e n .
' L o n g f o r me t h e r i c k w i l l w a i t ,
And l o n g w i l l w a i t t h e f o l d ,
And l o n g w i l l s t a n d t h e e m p t y p l a t e ,
And d i n n e r w i l l b e c o l d . '
In
LUCY GRAY;
or S o litu d e
O ft I h a d h e a r d o f Lucy G ra y :
A n d , w he n I c r o s s e d t h e w i l d ,
I chanced t o see a t b re a k o f day
The s o l i t a r y c h i l d *
No m a t e , n o c o m r a d L u c y k n e w ;
She d w e l t on a w id e m o o r,
— The s w e e t e s t t h i n g t h a t e v e r grew
B e s i d e a h u m an d o o r !
You y e t may s p y t h e f a w n a t p l a y ,
The h a r e u p o n t h e g r e e n ;
B u t t h e sw e e t f a c e o f Luch G ray
W i l l n e v e r more be s e e n *
" T o - n ig h t w i l l be a sto rm y n i g h t —
You t o t h e t o w n m u s t g o ;
And t a k e a l a n t e r n , C h i l d , t o l i g h t
Your m o th e r th r o u g h th e snow ,”
"T h at, F a th e ri
w i l l I g l a d l y do:
'T is s c a r c e ly a fte rn o o n —
The m i n s t e r - c l o c k h a s j u s t s t r u c k t w o ,
And y o n d e r i s t h e moon I 11
At t h is the
And s n a p p e d
He p l i e d h i s
The l a n t e r n
F a th er r a is e d h is hook,
a fag g o t-b an d ;
w o rk ;— an d Lucy t o o k
in h e r hand.
Not b l i t h e r i s th e m o untain ro e :
W i t h man y a w a n t o n s t r o k e
H er f e e t d i s p e r s e th e pow dery snow,
T h a t r i s e s up l i k e smoke.
The
She
And
But
s t o r m cam e o n b e f o r e i t s t i m e ?
w a n d e r e d u p and down;
man y a h i l l d i d L u c y c l i m b :
n e v e r r e a c h e d t h e town
The w r e t c h e d p a r e n t s a l l t h a t n i g h t
W en t s h o u t i n g f a r a n d w i d e ;
B u t t h e r e was n e i t h e r so u n d n o r s i g h t
To s e r v e t h e m f o r a g u i d e .
72
A t d a y - b r e a k on a h i l l t h e y s t o o d
T h a t o v e r l o o k e d t h e moor;
And t h e n c e t h e y sa w t h e b r i d g e o f w o o d ,
A f u r lo n g from t h e i r door#
T h e y w e p t —- a n d , t u r n i n g h o m e w a r d , c r i e d ,
11I n h e a v e n we a l l s h a l l m e e t ; '*
— When i n t h e sn o w t h e m o t h e r s p i e d
The p r i n t o f L u c y 's f e e t '.
Then downwards f ro m t h e s t e e p h i l l ' s ed ge
They t r a c k e d th e f o o tm a r k s s m a ll;
And t h r o u g h t h e b r o k e n h a w t h o r n h e d g e ,
And b y t h e l o n g s t o n e - w a l l ;
And t h e n a n o p e n f i e l d t h e y c r o s s e d :
The m ark s w e re s t i l l t h e sam e;
They t r a c k e d them o n , n o r e v e r l o s t ;
And t o t h e b r i d g e t h e y c a m e .
T h e y f o l l o w e d f r o m t h e sn o w y b a n k
T h o s e f o o t m a r k s , one by o n e ,
I n to th e m iddle of th e p la n k ;
And f u r t h e r t h e r e w e r e n o n e i
- - Y e t some m a i n t a i n t h a t t o t h i s d a y
She i s a l i v i n g c h i l d ;
T h a t y o u may s e e s w e e t L u c y G r a y
U pon t h e l o n e s o m e w i l d .
O 'e r ro u g h and sm ooth sh e t r i p s
And n e v e r l o o k s b e h i n d ;
And s i n g s a s o l i t a r y s o n g
T h at w h i s t l e s in th e w ind.
alo n g ,
Vifith t h i s a d d e d e v i d e n c e — a n d man y o t h e r p oe m s o f e a c h
co u ld be added— c e r t a i n d i f f e r e n c e s
more e v i d e n t .
i n f o r m and s t y l e become
T h i s poem o f H o u s m a n ' s i s
H ousm an i s m o re d r a m a t i c
th a n W ordsw orth;
produce a com parable e f f e c t
obvio u sly in te r e s te d
t h a t he
in few er l i n e s .
p rim a rily
th e e p is o d e s he d e p i c t s ,
f u r t h e r ev id en ce
in the
and t h i s
is ab le
th at
to
W ordsw orth i s
l e s s o n t o be drawn fro m
in te re st
is,
of course,
73
c le arly
in d icated
s i s t e n t w ith h is
p o etry ,
in h is
th eo ry .
Housman,
t h e o r y t h a t m eaning i s
f o r in the
to o ,
is
q u ite
con­
n o n -e s s e n tia l to
poem j u s t q u o t e d h e i s
m ore c o n c e r n e d w i t h
h a v in g th e r e a d e r s h a re th e em otion o f th e m u rd e re r, h i s
sorrow a t le a v in g a s he th in k s o f th e
th in g s he w i l l m is s ,
t h a n i n t h e m o r a l l e s s o n t o b e r e a d i n t o a poem on a m u r d e r e r .
I f W ordsw orth had b e en w r i t i n g t h e
in te reste d
poem, h e w o u ld h a v e b e e n
in th e psychology o f th e m u rd e re r.
In the l i g h t
of the th e o rie s
o f th e two p o e t s ,
a l s o q u i t e a p p a r e n t why W o r d s w o r t h s e e m s u n a b l e
h i s b a l l a d s a s Housman d o e s .
e m o tio n and w hat i s
c la s s ic a l train in g
t o com press
b u t H ousm an!s
c a u s e s h im t o b e more s e n s i t i v e
He i s m o r e s e l e c t i v e
th u s he a c h ie v e s what I can d e s c r ib e
effe ct.
The i n t e l l e c t
is
W ordsw orth d w e lls upon th e
to be I n f e r r e d from i t ,
com pression of d e t a i l .
it
play s l e s s
to the
t h a n W ordsw orth;
o n l y a s a more c u t t i n g
part
i n t h e m aking o f h i s
t
poems t h a n o f W o r d s w o r t h ' s , a n d s o b y m e a n s o f c o m p r e s s i o n
and s u g g e s t i o n and s w i f t v i s u a l im agery he a c h i e v e s h i s
‘' t r a n s f u s i o n o f e m o t i o n " v e r y r a p i d l y . ,
I d o n o t m ean t o
im ply, how ever,
t h a t W o r d s w o r t h was
n e v e r a b le to a c h ie v e an e f f e c t d i r e c t l y and w ith o u t v e r b ia g e .
The o p p o s i t e
is
tru e
o f th e "Lucy"
poems.
Let us tak e f o r
e x a m p l e "A S l u m b e r D i d My S p i r i t S e a l " :
A s l u m b e r d i d my s p i r i t s e a l ;
I h a d n o hum an f e a r s s
She seem ed a t h i n g t h a t c o u l d n o t f e e l
Th e t o u c h o f e a r t h l y y e a r s .
74
No m o t i o n h a s s h e n o w , n o f o r c e ;
She n e i t h e r h e a r s n o r s e e s ;
R o lle d round in e a r t h ' s d i u r n a l c o u r s e ,
W ith r o c k s , and s t o n e s , an d t r e e s .
No o n e c o u l d h a v e s a i d m o r e i n s o f e w w o r d s , h u t t h e r e
ten d ern ess
in th is
im p lica tio n .
a ll
the
It
is a
poe m s e l d o m f o u n d i n H o u s m a n , e x c e p t b y
is i n t e r e s t i n g to note th a t
th is
poem a n d
o t h e r " L u c y " p o e m s , e x c e p t " I T r a v e l l e d Among Unknown
M en,” w e re w r i t t e n w h i l e ' W o rd s w o rth w as i n G ermany and r e a d ­
ing P e r c y 's R e liq u e s of E n g lis h P o e t r y , a c o l l e c t i o n
of
b a llad s.
C o m p a r a b l e t o "A S l u m b e r D i d My S p i r i t S e a l "
i s Hous-
raan' s LIV:
W i t h r u e my h e a r t i s l a d e n
For golden f r ie n d s I h ad ,
F o r many a r o s e - l i p t m a i d e n
And man y a l i g h t f o o t l a d .
By b r o o k s t o o b r o a d f o r l e a p i n g
The l i g h t f o o t b o y s a r e l a i d ;
The r o s e - l i p t g i r l s a r e s l e e p i n g
I n f i e l d s w here r o s e s f a d e .
I n t h e a b o v e poem o f H o u s m a n ’ s a n d t h e
last
w o r t h ' s "A S l u m b e r D i d My S p i r i t
t h e tw o men m e e t ,
ever.
H ere W ordsw orth i s
less
Seal"
s t a n z a o f W ords­
if
concerned w ith i n t e l l e c t u a l
\
id e a s and m ore' con cern ed w ith a c h ie v in g an e m o tio n al e f f e c t .
W ordsw orth a d d u c e s no l e s s o n and t e l l s
th ese
tw o poems a r e n o t b a l l a d s ,
b a llad tr a d itio n .
are very s im ila r,
no s t o r y .
A lthough
t h e y owe s o m e t h i n g t o t h e
The c o m p r e s s i o n and s u g g e s t i v e n e s s
i n them
and th e e m o tio n w hich e a c h a r o u s e s i s
eq u ally
75
stirrin g .
but th at
W o r d s w o r t h ' s poem i s m o r e p e r s o n a l t h a n H o u s m a n ' s ,
is
to be e x p e c te d ;
and t h e r e
is a to u ch of th e
to u r
de fo rc e ' i n H o u sm a n 's rim e sc h e m e .
^ Many o f H o u s m a n ' s poems make me h a v e
the
same p h y s i c a l
reactio n
t h a t Housman d e s c r i b e s a s h i s r e s p o n s e t o p o e t r y , a n d
//
some o f W o r d s w o r t h ' s b a l l a d s a f f e c t me t h e sam e w a y .
As I
analyze the
sen satio n ,
it
s e e m s t o me t h a t
p oem s i n w h i c h h e i s n o t t o o d e t a i l e d ,
leaves
s o much u n s a i d ,
the
it
i s W o rd s w o rth 's
o n e s i n w h ic h he
t h a t have th e g r e a t e s t a p p e a l.
For
in stan ce:
SHE DWELT AMONG THE UNTRODDEN WAYS
S h e d w e l t among t h e u n t r o d d e n w a y s
B e sid e t h e s p r i n g s o f Dove,
A M aid whom t h e r e w e r e n o n e t o p r a i s e
And v e r y f e w t o l o v e :
A v i o l e t by a mossy s to n e
H a l f h id d e n from th e eye I
- - F a i r a s a s t a r , w h e n o n l y o ne
I s sh in in g in the sk y .
S h e l i v e d u n k n o w n , a n d f e w c o u l d know
When L u c y c e a s e d t o b e ;
But she i s i n h e r g r a v e , a n d , oh,
T h e d i f f e r e n c e - t o me I
The l a s t
lin e ,
T h is s u b t l e ,
"The d i f f e r e n c e
em otion t h a t s t i r s
so l i t t l e .
is
very e x p re ssiv e .^
d e f t way o f h a n d l i n g a m e a n in g i s
H ousm an d o e s a g a i n a n d a g a i n
h i s memory.
t o m ei"
It
in h is
the r e a d e r ,
liv e s
A gain, I
and i t
and t a l k s ,
say,
it
is
p o e m s . s<I t
l i k e what
a ro u ses an
k e e p s com ing b a c k i n t o
and y e t th e
poet has sa id
the th in g s th a t are
l e f t un-
76
'''s a id t h a t a r e
suggestive
" L u c y 11 poems a f f e c t me i n
and a r o u s i n g .
A l l o f W ordsw orth’s
t h e same w a y , e x c e p t t h a t some
h a v e a s t r o n g e r a p p e a l t h a n o . t h e r s , a n d e v e n some p a r t s
sin g le
poem a p p e a l m o r e t h a n o t h e r p a r t s
o f t h e sa m e p o e m ,
B o t h W o r d s w o r t h a n d H ou sm an w r i t e
about the
th in g s
t h e y f i n d a b o u t them .
w ere w e ll e d u c a te d and v e rs e d
fille d
th eir
d id so .
in the
in sim p le
language
A lthough b o th p o e ts
c l a s s i c s and c o u l d h av e
poems w i t h many c l a s s i c a l a l l u s i o n s ,
n e ith er
They ch o o se an u n e l e v a t e d form o f p o e t r y i n w h ich
to e x p re ss th em selv es r a t h e r than the d i g n i f i e d e p ic ,
M ilto n .
of a
W ordsw orth, h o w e v er,
i s more d e t a i l e d
as did
t h a n Housman;
and h i s v i v i d p i c t u r e s c a r r y th e r e a d e r a lo n g w it h him a s i f
he w ere e x p e r i e n c i n g th e
a sin g len ess
Housman’s p o e t r y g iv e s
o f i m p r e s s i o n , and t h e e m o tio n a r o u s e d i s
a d eep-seated
th ere
em otion t o o .
one t h a t h o l d s t h e r e a d e r .
rize
I n e a c h p o e t ’s work
i s a k in d o f m agnetism t h a t draw s th e r e a d e r t o
c a u s e s him t o r e a d them a g a i n and a g a i n ,
and quote
stray b its
t h e i r power o v e r h im .
and f i n a l l y
I f th e re a d e r i s
to give s e v e r a l rea so n s
i f h e i s a s k e d why h e l i k e s H o u s m a n ’ s p o e m s , h e
He l i k e s
them ,
and t h a t
c e r ta in ly not because of th e
r a t h e r m o rb id .
t o memo­
a s k e d why h e l i k e s
fu m b le s a b o u t f o r words an d i s h a r d l y e v e r a b l e
reasons.
th e poems,
o f t h e po ems w i t h o u t b e i n g a w a r e o f
W o rd s w o rth ’s poems, he I s u s u a l l y a b l e
f o r doing so;
alw ays
is
a ll
th ere
to e x p la in h is
Is to
it—
s u b j e c t m a t t e r , w hich i s
som etim es
T hey a p p e a l t o h i m , an d when h e h e a r s
them t h e y
77
do s o m e t h i n g t o him*
p o etry
should do:
i s more d e t a i l e d ,
tem p eratu re,-*-
T h ey s i m p l y d o w h a t Housman s a y s r e a l
th ey " tr a n s f u s e
the em otion i s
e m o tio n ."
o f t e n t r a n s f u s e d a t a low er
i t was t h e " t r a n s f u s i o n
e x p e r i e n c e d when I r e a d t h e
c a u s e d me t o c h o o s e t h e
in g b o th p o e ts a t
the
S in c e W ordsw orth
o f em otion" t h a t
po e m s o f t h e s e
su b je ct of th is
I
tw o p o e t s t h a t
th e sis.
I was s t u d y ­
same t i m e when t h e r e a l i z a t i o n
of a
k i n s h i p cam e t o me,
W o r d s w o r t h , who i s n o t o n l y a p o e t b u t a t e a c h e r a s
w e ll,
is
su b je ctiv e
a d e fin ite
in h is
sty le
p u rp o s e i n m ind, a n d ,
ly d id a c tic ,
of w ritin g .
He w r i t e s w i t h
a lt h o u g h he i s n o t o f f e n s i v e ­
h i s b a l l a d s u s u a l l y have a l e s s o n b a c k o f them .
He m a n i p u l a t e s h i s
sty le
so s k i l f u l l y ,
how ever,
e m o t i o n s i n h i s r e a d e r , who d o e s n o t r e a l i z e
come a p u p i l .
sty le
Housman,
o f w r i t in g and i s
on t h e o t h e r h a n d ,
in te reste d
in
t h a t he has b e ­
is
o b jectiv e
in h is
the em o tio n al t r a n s ­
fu sio n r a t h e r th an in te a c h in g a le s s o n .
w rites as
t h a t he a ro u s e s
F irst
of a ll ,
he
i f he w ere e x p e r i e n c i n g th e e m o tio n , a l t h o u g h he
sa y s he d id n o t b e g in t o w r ite
tio n a l part
of h is
life
p o etry u n t i l
the r e a l l y
was o v e r a n d t h a t h i s
emo­
poems " s p r a n g
■^■Coleridge s a y s t h a t o n e o f t h e d e f e c t s o f W o r d s ­
w o r t h 's w ork i s " a n a p p a r e n t m inute a d h e re n c e t o m a t t e r - o f f a c t in c h a r a c t e r and i n c i d e n t s ; a b i o g r a p h i c a l a t t e n t i o n t o
p r o b a b i l i t y , and an a n x ie ty o f e x p l a n a t i o n and r e t r o s p e c t . "
(Sam uel T a y l o r C o l e r i d g e , B i o g r a p h i a L i t e r a r i a
London:
G eorge
B e l l and S o n s, 1889, p. 2 l S ) .
ch iefly
from p h y s i c a l c o n d i t i o n s . ” ^
te a c h e s a lesson*
a b o u t how p o e t r y
He d i d n o t f o r m u l a t e
is
p o e t r y t h a t he g a v e
th in k in g ,
i n h i s m ind a t h e o r y
p r o d u c e d , and i t was a p p a r e n t l y n o t
u n t i l he was a s k e d t o e x p l a i n
refle ctiv e
He n e v e r e x p l i c i t l y
it
in a le c tu re
any th o u g h t- - th e n
the n a tu re
of
i t was a m a t t e r o f
and a t a s k w hich he d id n o t r e l i s h ,
b e f o r e he c o u ld a n a l y z e w hat h e h i m s e l f h ad done when he
w r o t e a poem*
W ordsw orth p u b lis h e d h i s
because he f e l t
theory of p o etry
t h a t an e x p l a n a t i o n was n e e d e d b e f o r e h i s
p oe m s c o u l d b e a p p r e c i a t e d f o r t h e i r t r u e
w orth; m oreover,
b e c a u s e h e was a t e a c h e r a t h e a r t he l i k e d t o d o i t .
A l­
t h o u g h Housman w a s a t e a c h e r b y p r o f e s s i o n , h e g i v e s u s n o
in k lin g of th is f a c t
in h is
B.
poems.
THEMES OP POEMS
L e t u s now c o n s i d e r t h e
p o ets.
t h e m e s t r e a t e d b y t h e tw o
One t h e m e w h i c h W o r d s w o r t h t r e a t s
t a i l b u t w h i c h Housman t r e a t s
in d iv id u a l in r e la tio n
v e r y much i n d e ­
o n l y i n a g e n e r a l way i s
to so c ie ty .
the
As I h a v e m e n t i o n e d
p r e v i o u s l y , W ordsw orth to o k g r e a t i n t e r e s t
in q u estio n s
of
r e f o r m , b u t Housman, a g a i n , h a s l e f t u s no c o n c r e t e exam ple
of h is view s;
p
in f a c t ,
h is b r o th e r L aurence
sa y s t h a t he
L a u r e n c e H o u s m a n , My B r o t h e r , A. E . H o u s m a n :
Per­
s o n a l R e c o lle c tio n s T o g e th e r w ith T h ir t y H it h e r t o U npublished
Poems (New Y o r k :
C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r *s S o n s “J 1 9 3 8 ) , p . *75.
79
fav o red an a r i s t o c r a t i c
a slave
c l a s s was e c o n o m i c a l l y n e c e s s a r y .
Housman*s a t t e n t i o n
he i s
form o f governm ent and th o u g h t t h a t
is
on t h e
conscious of c e r t a i n
more e x p l i c i t
B ut,
alth o u g h
i n d i v i d u a l , you do f e e l t h a t
so cial in ju s tic e s .
W ordsw orth i s
and i s c o n c e rn e d a b o u t r e f o r m i n g c o n d i t i o n s :
he b e lo n g s to th e age of th e F re n ch R e v o lu t io n .
m a n ’ s p oe m s t h e r e
to leran ce
for,
i s ev id en ce
the f o ib le s
In Hous-
o f much s y m p a t h y w i t h , a n d
o f m ankind, b u t
th ere
i s none o f
t h e h u m a n i t a r i a n i s m t h a t we u s u a l l y a s s o c i a t e w i t h W o r d s w o rth and th e R om antic p o e ts
L ast of the F lo c k ,"
in g e n e ra l.
fo r in stan ce,
is
a poem i n p r o t e s t
a g a i n s t G odw in’s t h e o r y t h a t p r o p e r t y i s
w orth b e lie v e s
t h a t the
h is
in th e
an e v i l .
love of p r o p e r ty i s
o f m a n k i n d , a s h e sh o w s b y t h e e x a m p l e
man w h o ,
W o rd s w o rth ’s "The
W ords­
a n a tu ra l t r a i t
of the h e a lth y ,
stu rd y
p o e m , b e c a m e d e g r a d e d a s h e l o s t o ne b y o n e
once la rg e f l o c k o f s h e e p .
As h i s
flo c k dim in ish ed , h is
lo v e f o r h i s c h i l d r e n and a l l m ankind d i m i n i s h e d i n p r o p o r * . t i o n . , W ordsw orth f e e l s
t h a t m an’s n a t u r a l lo v e f o r p r o p e r t y
‘ f o s t e r s h i s d o m e s tic a f f e c t i o n s and t h a t he d e c l i n e s in
3
extrem e p o v e r ty .
O t h e r p oem s w h i c h e x h i b i t W o r d s w o r t h ’ s
in te rest
in the
s u b je c t o f p r o p e r ty and th e d o m estic a f f e c ­
t i o n s a r e M i c h a e l a n d T he B r o t h e r s »
purpose
in w r i t in g M ichael to
3
p. l i .
W ordsworth:
I t was W o rd s w o r th 's
show how t h e
R ep resen ta tive
love f o r landed
Poems, I n t r o d u c t i o n ,
80
p ro p e rty i s u n ite d w ith the
l o v e f o r a s o n — t h e two l o v e s
s tr e n g th e n in g each o t h e r , and th e love o f p r o p e r ty s u s t a i n ­
in g M ichael a f t e r h i s
son d i s a p p e a r s .
In a l e t t e r
t o Tom
P o o le h e makes t h i s p u r p o s e v e r y c l e a r :
I h a v e a t t e m p t e d t o g i v e a p i c t u r e o f a man, o f
s t r o n g m ind a n d l i v e l y s e n s i b i l i t y , a g i t a t e d by two
o f t h e m o s t p o w e r f u l a f f e c t i o n s o f t h e h u m an h e a r t —
th e p a r e n t a l a f f e c t i o n , and the love of p r o p e r ty ,
lan d ed p r o p e r ty , in c lu d in g th e f e e l i n g s o f i n h e r i t a n c e ,
home a n d p e r s o n a l a n d f a m i l y I n d e p e n d e n c e . 4
He r e a f f i r m s
th is
Jan u ary 14,
1801.
purpose
5
in a l e t t e r
A ll of th is
h u m a n ita r la n is m and i n t e r e s t
e v i d e n c e shows W o r d s w o r t h ’ s
in s o c ia l q u e s tio n s .
Now l e t u s t u r n t o c e r t a i n
tre a t.
them es w h ic h b o t h p o e t s
A lthough b o th p o e ts a re a n t i - m i l i t a r i s t i c ,
th e s o l d i e r as the
in sp iratio n
h is
t o C h a r l e s James P o x ,
s u b j e c t o f some o f t h e i r p o e m s .
i n t h e B o e r W ar, a g r i e f w h ic h h u r t h im d e e p ­
l y a n d was o n e o f t h e f o r m a t i v e
m ilita ry .
The
f o r many o f H o u s m a n ’ s w a s p r o b a b l y t h e d e a t h o f
own b r o t h e r
p h ilo so p h y ,
both use
and w o rk .
of h is
life ,
He h a s n o l o v e a t a l l f o r a n y t h i n g
He s e e s , h o v / e v e r , t h e
of such scen es as th e
in flu en ces
e s s e n t ia l em otional co n ten t
s o l d i e r ’ s l e a v i n g home t o d i e
4
on f o r e i g n
W illia m and D oro th y W ordsw orth, E a r l y L e t t e r s o f
W illia m and D o ro th y W o rd sw o rth , E r n e s t de S e T i n c o u r t , elT Itor
(O xford:
C larendon P re s s , 1 035), pp. 266-268.
5Ib id .,
pp. 2 5 9 -2 6 3 .
81
field ,
h is
s e p a r a tio n from h i s lo v ed o n es,
He s e e s
makes t h e
jo b o f d e f e n d in g o n e 's hom eland r o m a n t i c a l l y
th e
lad s'
are f u l l
o th ers,
b u t he h i m s e l f f e e l s
g o in g t o be s h o t .
of c o lo r,
ing f e e t ,
some d e e p - r o o t e d i n s t i n c t
th o u g h ts
o f home.
ap p ealin g to
that
and h i s
is
only th e
iro n y of
Some o f H o u s m a n ’ s s o l d i e r poems
rom ance, and th e
b u t th ere
i n m ankind
so u n d o f drums and m a rc h ­
alw ays an i m p l i c a t i o n
o f p a th o s and
i r o n y b a c k o f them .
W o rd s w o rth w as more c o n c e r n e d a b o u t t h e
a p o o r, abused c r e a tu r e ,
a n ti-m ilita ristic .
the
stu p id itie s
s o ld ie r as
and he w as, u p t o 1800, a t
He u s e s a s t h e
them e o f G u i l t and S o rro w
o f th e p e n a l code and th e
poor th ro u g h the c a la m itie s
lea st,
o f w ar.
su fferin g s
of th e
I n M a r g a r e t , w hich l a t e r
b e c a m e a p a r t o f t h e f i r s t b o o k o f The E x c u r s i o n , h e p o i n t s
out the
o p p ressiv en ess
th e p re ss-g a n g .^
of th e m ilita r y
In W ordsw orth’s day th e
c o n s c rip te d as they a re
o f f the
streets
That is
6
to the
W ordsworth:
p. x x x v ii.
d isab led
t h e w a r was
and p o v e r t y - s t r i c k e n ,
t h e r e a s o n why W o r d s w o r t h i s
concerned w ith th e m oral s id e
ears
s o l d i e r s were n o t
to go t o w ar; a f t e r
o v e r t h e y were t u r n e d a d r i f t ,
clo se h is
of
t o d a y , b u t ’’p r e s s e d ” o r p i c k e d u p
and f o r c e d
w i t h no b o n u s e s .
law s and th e e v i l s
so
o f th e q u e s t i o n t h a t he can
sound o f th e m arc h in g f e e t
R ep resen ta tiv e
o r any of
Poems, I n t r o d u c t i o n ,
82
t h e rom ance c o n n e c te d w i t h w a r .
man i s n o t .
A f te r about 1800,
He i s
a r e f o r m e r , h u t Hous­
o f c o u r s e , W ord sw o rth ’s view s
on t h e F r e n c h R e v o l u t i o n c h a n g e d , and b e g i n n i n g i n 1802 he
w rote th e sp le n d id Sonnets D ed icated t o N a tio n a l Independence
and L i b e r t y .
L o v e b e t w e e n man a n d woman i s a n o t h e r t h e m e w h i c h
both p o e ts t r e a t .
T heir treatm en t of th is
them e i s v e r y
d if f e r e n t because of th e ir u n lik e n a tu re s.
m a r r i e d , and he t r e a t s
to d isa p p o in tm en t.
Housman n e v e r
lo v e a s an em o tio n w hich can le a d
only
I n A S h r o p s h i r e L a d we f i n d many poems
w h i c h show w h a t h e t h o u g h t o f l o v e b e t w e e n man a n d woman.
I n XVI ( n I t
n o d s a n d c u r t s e y s a n d r e c o v e r s ’1) h e p o i n t s
very ir o n ic a lly th a t
life
hanged h im s e lf fo r lo v e ,
is
e a s i l y f i l l e d — the
c o n tin u e s a f t e r th e lo v e r ha3
as
if
the
p l a c e h e h a s made v a c a n t
i n d i f f e r e n t w ind b lo w s t h e
w h ic h have grow n o v e r h i s
th ey n ev er en jo y i t ;
grave.
u n fo rtu n ate
L overs f a l l
lo v er s l i t s
o t h e r poems, a s in X V III
Housm an s h o w s t h a t l o v e
h is
in love,
life .
but
-In L III
th ro a t fo r lo v e.
In
(u 0 h , w h e n I w a s i n l o v e w i t h y o u ” ) ,
is
only a p a ssin g fan cy ,
p e rso n t o a c t ” c le a n and b ra v e ” w h ile he
he r e c o v e r s from th e em otion he
y o u t h , who a r e
low n e t t l e s
i n c i d e n t s alw ays o c cu r t o
s p o i l w hat m ight o th e r w is e be a happy lo v e
(T h e T r u e L o v e r ) t h e
out
is
it
causes a
i n l o v e , b u t when
is q u ite h im self ag ain .
to o young t o be w is e ,
fall
in lo v e,
Only
sa y s Hous­
m a n , b u t w he n t h e y h a v e g r o w n o l d e r t h e y t o o w i l l r e a l i z e ,
as
83
h e shows i n X I I I
(" W hen I w a s o n e - a n d - t w e n t y " ) ,
th at
su ch §n
e x p e r ie n c e b r i n g s no rew ard:
When I w a s o n e - a n d t w e n t y
I h e a r d him s a y a g a i n ,
•The h e a r t j o u t . o f t h e b o s o m
Was n e v e r g i v e n i n v a i n ;
’T i s p a i d w i t h s i g h s a p l e n t y
And s o l d f o r e n d l e s s r u e . ’
And I am t w o - a n d - t w e n t y ,
And o h , ’ t i s t r u e , ’ t i s t r u e .
L o v e , t o H o u s m a n , w a s made o f i n s u b s t a n t i a l s t u f f ;
fancy passes by.
fick le
I n h i s po e m s t h e . w o m a n i s n e a r l y a l w a y s
r a t h e r t h a n t h e m a n , f o r Housm an s p e a k s f r o m t h e m a n ’ s
p o in t o f view , as
i n XVI ( S p r i n g M o r n i n g ) i n More P o e m s , i n
w hich th e " s c o r n e d u n lu c k y la d "
because
th e g i r l he lo v e s
f e l l o w ’s s i d e .
the b e s t
and tu r n s
n e v e r seems t o s u s p e c t t h a t
felt
sle e p in g by an o th e r
field
a s we came b y " )
t o a n o t h e r man.
from h u r t s
T he man
•
l e f t h eartb ro k en or d ie s , but
t o a n o t h e r woman i n H o u s m a n ’ s p o e m s .
never u nderstands
suffers
is
to d ie
t h e woman w i l l p l a y s u c h t r i c k s
and a s a r e s u l t he i s
he n ev er tu r n s
longs h a l f th e n ig h t
And i n XXVI ( " A l o n g t h e
t h e woman a g a i n I s f i c k l e
on h im ,
the
H ousm an
t h e h e a r t o f t h e . woman o r k no w s how s h e
i n f l i c t e d by u n t h i n k i n g men.
S in c e he
a s h e d i d a b o u t l o v e b e t w e e n man a n d w o m a n , i t
is
easy
t o u n d e r s t a n d why h e n e v e r m a r r i e d a n d w a s o f t e n m i s u n d e r s t o o d .
W o r d s w o r t h ’ s b e s t e x a m p l e s o f l o v e b e t w e e n man a n d
woman a r e h i s
of
jo y in l i f e
"Lucy" poem s.
and a t h i n g
He t r e a t s
th is
love as a source
t o be la m e n te d when l o s t .
i s n o m e n t i o n o f a f a i t h l e s s woman i n a n y o f h i s
There
poems; h i s
84
women a r e b e a u t i f u l a n d h e f i g u r a t i v e l y p l a c e s a h a l o a b o v e
th e ir heads.
lo v e,
I n t h o s e p oem s i n w h i c h h e t r e a t s
t h e man i s a l w a y s t h e o n e who f o r s a k e s
The T h orn a n d H er E yes Are W ild a r e
is
of the estran g em en t*
l o v e b e t w e e n man a n d woman W o r d s w o r t h t r e a t s
l o v e o f w h i c h . H ousm an m a k e s n o m e n t i o n *
i n s t a n c e , he t r e a t s
filia l
lo v e,
Boy h e t r e a t s m a t e r n a l l o v e .
t h e wom an.
illu stra tiv e
f a i t h f u l man b e t r a y i n g a woman w h o s e l o v e
s h e g o e s mad a s a r e s u l t
forsaken
of the un­
so deep t h a t
In a d d itio n to
o th er ty p es of
In M ichael, f o r
and i n R u th and T h e- I d i o t
Such s u b j e c t s were f o r e i g n t o
H o u s m a n , b u t s i n c e W o r d s w o r t h h a d a h a p p y home a n d was a l s o
in te reste d
in the
common m a n , i t
is e asy to u n d erstan d h is
u se o f s u b j e c t s d e a l in g w ith d o m estic r e l a t i o n s h i p s .
p rin cip le s
in v o lv e d w ere c lo s e
The,
t o h i s h e a r t a s a t e a c h e r and
a reform er.
A n o t h e r them e w h ic h i s
H ousm an i s
d eath .
common t o b o t h W o r d s w o r t h a n d
I n t h e rlL u c y rt poems W o r d s w o r t h i s w r i t i n g
p e rs o n a l la m en ts, w hether r e a l or im ag in ary , b u t in
l y r i c a l b a l l a d s he t r e a t s
e m o tio n s w hich a g i t a t e
course,
less
the
the
the
t h o u g h t o f d e a t h a s one o f t h e
sp irit.
T h e se poems a r e ,
p e r s o n a l , more o b j e c t i v e
of
t h a n t h e "Lucy*1 p o e m s ;
t h e y a r e We A r e S e v e n , The C o m p l a i n t o f t h e F o r s a k e n I n d i a n
Woman, a n d L u c y G r a y .
W ordsw orth h a s a p ro fo u n d f a i t h
i m m o r t a l i t y w h i c h H o us m a n d o e s n o t h a v e .
ment o f d e a t h i n h i s
poems- i s
in
W o rd s w o rth 's t r e a t ­
s u s ta i n e d by t h i s hard-w on
faith
i n i m m o r t a l i t y , h u t we h a v e a f e e l i n g
i s what he w anted to b e li e v e
h e a r t s , he f e l t .
and n o t w h a t,
P e te r B urra b r in g s t h i s
d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e Ode— I n t i m a t i o n s
th at
th is
in h is h e a rt of
id ea out in h is
of I m m o r t a l i ty , To- th e
Cuckoo, and E le g ia c S ta n z a s s u g g e s te d by & P i c t u r e
C astle
of P eele
in c o n n e c tio n w ith W ordsw orth’s deep g r i e f o v e r th e
d eath of h is b ro th e r John.
in d elib le
7
S in c e W ordsw orth had such an
m em ory h e s u f f e r e d
in te n se ly :
in t r a n q u i l l i t y ” he b ro u g h t a l l
past
faith
of the happenings
i n t o th e p r e s e n t and s u f f e r e d
unhappy, f a r - o f f th in g s ."
w h e n h e ,fr e f l e c t e d
ag ain the
of the
p ain o f ” o ld ,
C o lerid g e e x p lain ed th a t
the
ode
w a s i n t e n d e d f o r o n l y t h o s e p e o p l e who h a d r e a l m s o f c o n ­
scio u sn ess
su c h a s W ordsw orth h i m s e l f h a d , f o r o n ly t h e y
w ould be a b l e t o u n d e r s t a n d h i s
in tim atio n s
of im m o rtality .
W o rd sw o rth was an o p t i m i s t b e c a u s e he h a d t o b e , b u t i n h i s
i n n e r m o s t b e i n g h e f e l t much t h e
same a s H ousm an f e l t
about
d eath .
T h e r e w ere t i m e s when W o rd s w o r th saw d e a t h a s a p a s s ­
in g from " s u n l i g h t to th e s u n l e s s
trea ts
th at
la n d .”
H o u sm a n a l w a y s
d e ath as a p assing in to e te r n a l n ig h t.
s u s t a i n s him i s
he m ust m eet h i s
fate
The o n l y f a i t h
t h a t many h a v e g o n e b e f o r e h i m a n d t h a t
lik e
a man.
f r o m A S h r o p s h i r e Lad w h i c h a r e
T h e r e a r e a n u m b e r o f poems
in d ic ativ e
o f Housman’ s
ry
P e t e r B u r r a , W ord sw orth (London.:
pp. 96 -1 0 4 .
D u ck w orth ,
1 9 36 ),
86
attitu d e
th e
tow ard d e a t h .
One s u c h poem i s X I I
( “ When I w a t c h
l i v i n g m e e t" ) , w hich r e f l e c t s h i s b e l i e f t h a t d e a th i s
a
r e l i e f n o t o n ly from th e sorrow s b u t from th e u n c e r t a i n
p leasu res
in l i f e ,
an end t o a l l
D e a t h i s more w elcom e t h a n l i f e
th in g s,
in c lu d in g the
w ith a l l of i t s
s o r r o w s , and he h a s no v i s i o n o f l i f e
life
fro m an u n p r e p a r e d s o u l .
Young) he e x p r e s s e s
the
ing?")?
it
poem i s XLIV ( " S h o t ?
to
so q u ic k ,
i s a s tro n g e r statem en t of th e
sin ce he b e lie v e s
o th ers,"
a t the h e ig h t
t h a n o n e who o u t l i v e s h i s
To a n A t h l e t e D y i n g Y o u n g .
for,
he a s s e r t s
o n e 's h e a d .
H ou sm an i s
so f l e e t i n g
of h is
g lo ry
fam e.
so c le a n an end­
id ea e x p re sse d in
t h a t a l l men a r e " S o u l s u n d o n e , u n d o i n g
th at
it
i s w ise and b ra v e t o p u t a p i s t o l
Housman f e e l s
tak e the m a tte r in hand.
is b e tte r
or the
tran sito ry
e n o u g h t o c o m m it
s u i c i d e , b u t h e t h o u g h t w e l l o f t h o s e who w e r e .
it
of
t r u l y a p e s s im is t here?
He h i m s e l f w a s n o t b r a v e
m u s t come t o a l l ,
severance
id ea th a t achieved l a u r e ls
t h a t a p e r s o n who d i e s w h i l e h e i s
A more s u b t l e
H o us m a n
I n XIX ( To a n A t h l e t e D y i n g
p l e a s u r e s w hich accompany t h e i r a c h ie v e m e n t' a r e
i s more f o r t u n a t e
t r o u b l e s and
a f te r d eath .
nev er e x p re ss e s a f e a r o f d e a th or m entions th e
so u l.
th at i t
S ince d e ath
i s more s e n s i b l e
I f one c a n c h o o s e h i s
to
tim e t o d i e ,
t o c h o o s e a t i m e w h e n o n e h a s d o n e some d e e d f o r
w hich th e w o rld w i l l la u d him ,
Day o f B a t t l e ) .
It
your sla in ,/A n d
take
lik e
the
s o l d i e r i n LVI
(The
i s b e t t e r t o " S ta n d and f i g h t and see
the b u l l e t
in y o u r b r a in " th a n to run
87
a w ay a n d l i v e ' *
to d ie a n o th e r day” as a cow ard,
not en jo y l i f e ,
a ll
a s many men d o , a n d h e t h w a r t e d a n d s u p p r e s s e d
th e' f e e l i n g and em o tio n he h a d .
life
Housm an d i d
P erhaps i f he had en jo y ed
m ore, he w ould have f e l t d i f f e r e n t a b o u t d e a t h .
h e s a y s a b o u t d e a t h a d d s u p t o one f a c t :
a l l a n d a welcom e e n d ,
since
life
offers
d eath is
little
A ll th a t
th e end o f
hope f o r
h ap p in ess.
N ature is
an e x tre m e ly
i m p o r t a n t them e i n t h e p o e t r y
o f b o t h W o rd sw o rth a n d Housman, b u t s i n c e N a t u r e fo rm s s u c h
an i n t e g r a l p a r t of W o rd s w o rth 's p h i lo s o p h y ,
it
f o r the l a s t
sectio n
on t h e p h i l o s o p h i c
I have re s e rv e d
im p licatio n s
of
each p o e t.
C.
PHILOSOPHICAL IMPLICATIONS
We h a v e s e e n t h a t W o r d s w o r t h a n d H o u s m a n h a v e many
th in g s
i n com mon.
They w r o t e p o e t r y
th e y e x p re s s e d com parable t h e o r i e s
low ed— i n t h e i r
trad itio n s
same w a y ,
and th e y f o l ­
o f c o u r s e — t h e same
But p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y W o r d s w o r t h .and
Housman a r e . p o l e s a p a r t ,
i n com paring th e
tw o p o e t s , we h a v e
p h ilo so p h ical d iffe re n c e .
of p o etry
of p o e try ,
own d i s t i n c t i v e w a y s ,
in p o e try .
p o e try o f the
i n much t h e
Is the e x p re ssio n
th eo ries
seen a r e f l e c t i o n
of
of th is
F o r W ordsw orth th e p rim a ry p u rp o se
of tru th ,
ing o f th e r e a d e r "m ust n e c e s s a r i l y be
so t h a t th e u n d e rs ta n d ­
in
some d e g r e e e n ­
88
lig h ten ed ,
the
purpose
the re a d e r.
resu lt
and h i s a f f e c t i o n s a m e l i o r a t e d . ” ®
of p o etry i s
F o r Hous man
t o a ro u s e an e m o tio n a l re s p o n s e
S i n c e he was p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y a f a t a l i s t ^
in
the
o f d e e p d i s a p p o i n t m e n t s w hen h e h a d b e s t o w e d h i s
af­
f e c t i o n s u p o n p e o p l e who w e r e n o t a b l e
t o pay i n k in d ,® he
s o u g h t b y t h i s means t o " h a r m o n iz e t h e
sadness of th e w o rld .”
W o rd s w o rth 's p o i n t o f view i s
o p tim istic
He w a s n o t , h o w e v e r , u n t h i n k i n g l y o p t i m i s t i c .
for
in stan ce, h is
he d e p lo r e d
He s a w t h e
in te rest
the p e rv e rsio n
ills
in e ra d ic a tin g
and h o p e f u l .
We h a v e s e e n ,
i n t h e F r e n c h R e v o l u t i o n a n d how
o f t h a t a t t e m p t t o make men f r e e .
o f th e w o r l d , and he was a c t i v e l y c o n c e r n e d
them , an a c t i v i t y
i n w h i c h H ousm an t o o k n o
p a r t w h a t s o e v e r . . W o r d s w o r t h w a s f o r e v e r h o p e f u l t h a t men
c o u l d b e l e d t o make a d i s t i n c t i o n
a n d t h e m ea n a n d o r d i n a r y t h i n g s
is
b e tw ee n t h e good and t r u e
of l i f e .
An o p t i m i s m w h i c h
n o t s h a l l o w a n d f o o l i s h m u s t b e f o u n d e d on a f i r m f a i t h
in th e e s s e n t i a l goodness of the w orld, d e s p ite
causes fo r d e s p a ir.
univ erse
on h i s
W ordsw orth fo u n d ed h i s
H a rtle y 's a s s o c ia tio n
9
faith
c o n c e p tio n o f " N a tu r e 's h o ly plan"
out o f th e b e l i e f t h a t N ature
® Ibid.,
t h e many
Preface
is
a source
of
jo y .
in the
grow ing
F ollow ing
p s y c h o l o g y , W o rd s w o rth was l e d f r o m
to
the L y ric a l B a lla d s , p. 681.
A . S . F . G-ow, A . E . H o u s m a n (New Y o r k :
Company, 1 9 3 6 ) , p . 4 9 .
The M acm illan
89
n a tu r e t o th e developm ent o f th e m o ral sense*
We c a n s e e f r o m a s t a n z a o f L i n e s W r i t t e n
S pring th a t h is
in E a rly
o p t i m i s m r e c o g n i z e s how f a r man m u s t g o b e ­
fo re ach iev in g h a p p in e ss.
He s a y s ,
To h e r f a i r w o r k s d i d n a t u r e l i n k
T h e hu m an s o u l t h a t t h r o u g h me r a n ;
And much i t g r i e v e d my h e a r t t o t h i n k
W hat man h a s made, o f m a n . 10
W o r d s w o r t h r e c o g n i z e s a s H ou sm a n d o e s t h a t . t h e r e
u n h ap p in ess
in l i f e ,
b u t W ordsw orth i s
i s much
n ev erth eless
still
h o p e f u l o f p r o g r e s s a s Housman i s n o t .
T h e tw o poems E x p o s t u l a t i o n a n d R e p l y a n d The T a b l e s
T u rn ed r e p r e s e n t a d m ir a b ly W o rd s w o rth 's p o i n t o f view to w a rd
n atu re
as a te a c h e r.
In the f i r s t
b y h i s f r i e n d M atthew f o r s i t t i n g
and doing n o th in g .
poem, W i l l i a m i s r e p r o v e d
id ly
W illiam r e p l i e s
on a n " o l d g r e y s t o n e n
t h a t he i s n o t sim ply
dream in g t o no p u r p o s e ; he i s d r i n k i n g
i n w isdom .
He s a y s ,
“ T h i n k y o u , ' m i d a l l t h i s m i g h t y sum
Of t h i n g s f o r e v e r s p e a k i n g ,
T h a t n o t h i n g o f i t s e l f w i l l come,
B u t we m u s t s t i l l b e s e e k i n g ? 1* ! !
Th e T a b l e s T u r n e d i s a m o r e p o s i t i v e
b e lie f
in t h e power o f n a tu r e a s a t e a c h e r .
as an e x p re s s io n of h i s
p h i l o s o p h y , and i t
^ W i l l i a m W o r d sw o r th , W o r d s w o r th ;
P oem s, p . 6 0 7 .
1 XI b i d . , p . 6 0 5 .
statem en t
It
of h is
is
im portant
is a lso
im portant
R e p r e s e n ta tiv e
90
■ because t h e f i r s t
t e n b y Housman.
R ev eille
th ree
It
is
stan zas of i t
su g g estiv e
in A S h ro p sh ire
Lad.
m ight h av e b een w r i t ­
i n p a r t i c u l a r o f H o u sm an 's
I s h a l l quote
t h e poem i n f u l l :
U p i u p i my F r i e n d , a n d q u i t y o u r b o o k s ;
Or s u r e l y y o u ’ l l g r o w d o u b l e :
U pi u p i my F r i e n d , a n d c l e a r y o u r l o o k s ;
Why a l l t h i s t o i l a n d t r o u b l e ?
The s u n , a b o v e t h e m o u n t a i n ’ s h e a d ,
A f r e s h e n i n g l u s t r e m ellow
Through a l l th e lo n g g r e e n f i e l d s h a s s p r e a d ,
H is f i r s t sw eet ev en in g y e llo w .
Books 1 ’t i s a d u l l and e n d l e s s s t r i f e :
Gome, h e a r t h e w o o d l a n d l i n n e t ,
How s w e e t h i s m u s i c i on my l i f e ,
T h e r e ' s more o f w isdom i n i t .
And h a r k i ho w b l i t h e t h e t h r o s t l e s i n g s i
H e , t o o , i s n o m ean p r e a c h e r :
Gome f o r t h i n t o t h e l i g h t o f t h i n g s ,
L e t N a t u r e be y o u r T e a c h e r .
She h a s a w o rld o f r e a d y w e a l t h ,
Our m i n d s a n d h e a r t s t o b l e s s —
S p o n ta n e o u s w isdom b r e a t h e d b y h e a l t h ,
T ru th b re a th e d by c h e e r f u ln e s s .
One i m p u l s e f r o m a v e r n a l wood
May t e a c h y o u m o r e o f m a n ,
Of m o r a l e v i l a n d o f g o o d ,
Than a l l th e s a g e s c a n .
Sweet i s t h e l o r e w hich N a tu re b r i n g s ;
Our m e d d l i n g i n t e l l e c t .
M is-sh ap e s th e b e a u te o u s form s of t h i n g s : —
We m u r d e r t o d i s s e c t .
Enough o f S c ie n c e and of A r t ;
C lose up th o se b a r r e n le a v e s ;
Come f o r t h , a n d b r i n g w i t h y o u a h e a r t
T h a t w a tc h e s and r e c e i v e s .
’’The P o e t ' s E p it a p h " t o o i n d i c a t e s W o r d s w o r t h 's b e -
91
lie f
in th e power of n a tu r e to
tow ard h ig h e r s e n tim e n ts .
sta rt
i m p u l s e s w i t h i n man
He s a y s ,
• The o u tw a rd shows o f s k y an d e a r t h , ■
; Of h i l l a n d v a l l e y , h e h a s v i e w e d ;
And i m p u l s e s o f d e e p e r b i r t h
H a v e come t o h i m i n s o l i t u d e .
I n .common t h i n g s t h a t r o u n d u s l i e
Some r a n d o m t r u t h s h e c a n i m p a r t , —
The h a r v e s t o f a q u i e t e y e
T h a t b r o o d s a n d s l e e p s on h i s own h e a r t . 12
The b e s t e x p r e s s i o n
n a t u r e c a n d o f o r man i s
o f W o r d s w o r t h Ts i d e a
t o be f o u n d i n “ L i n e s Composed a
Pew M i l e s a b o v e T i n t e r n A b b e y . “
T h is
poem w a s i n c l u d e d i n
t h e volum e o f t h e L y r i c a l B a l l a d s , a l t h o u g h i t
a more l o f t y
piece th a n the b a lla d s .
p ressio n of h is
w h i c h we f i n d
in d icativ e
on h i m a t
idea
th is
It
ex­
elem en ts
th em selv es, but i t
He s h o w s how n a t u r e
i n f l u e n c e upon him , a l l e v i a t i n g
obviously
c o n ta in s th e
them o f th e a s s o c i a t i o n i s t
tim e.
is
d iv o rc e d from th e n a r r a t i v e
so o f te n in th e b a ll a d s
lik e
o f what
in flu en ce
a t work
is a soothing
th e w eight o f c a r e .
when s p e a k i n g o f t h e b e a u t e o u s f o rm s o f t h e
He s a y s ,
la n d s c a p e above
T in t e r n Abbey,
N o r-less, I tr u s t,
T o t h e m I may h a v e owed a n o t h e r g i f t ,
Of a s p e c t m o r e s u b l i m e ; t h a t b l e s s e d m oo d ,
I n w hich th e b u r t h e n o f th e m y s te r y ,
In w hich th e heavy and th e w eary w eigh t
Of a l l t h i s u n i n t e l l i g i b l e w o r l d ,
I s l i g h t e n e d : — t h a t s e r e n e an d b l e s s e d mood,
12I b id .,
p . 614
is
92
I n w h ic h t h e a f f e c t i o n s g e n t l y l e a d u s on,-?U n t i l , th e b r e a t h o f t h i s c o r p o r e a l fram e
And e v e n t h e m o t i o n o f o u r h um an b l o o d .
A l m o s t s u s p e n d e d , we a r e l a i d a s l e e p
I n b o d y , a n d become a l i v i n g s o u l :
W h i l e w i t h a n e y e made q u i e t b y t h e p o w e r
Of h a r m o n y , a n d t h e d e e p p o w e r o f j o y ,
We s e e i n t o t h e l i f e o f t h i n g s * ^
He t e l l s
in y o u th , b u t
u s t h a t he no l o n g e r s e e s n a t u r e
th a t n atu re
as he d id
h a s g i v e n him o t h e r g i f t s t h a t
am ply rec o m p en se h im f o r t h e
lo ss
of h is f i r s t
rap tu re*
He
d eclares,
For I have le a rn e d
T o l o o k on n a t u r e , n o t a s i n t h e h o u r
Of t h o u g h t l e s s y o u t h ; b u t h e a r i n g o f t e n t i m e s
The s t i l l , s a d m u sic o f h u m a n i t y ,
Nor h a r s h n o r g r a t i n g , th o u g h o f am ple pow er
T o c h a s t e n a n d s u b d u e * . And I h a v e f e l t
A p r e s e n c e t h a t d i s t u r b s me w i t h t h e j o y
Of e l e v a t e d t h o u g h t s ; a s e n s e s u b l i m e
Of s o m e t h i n g f a r m o r e d e e p l y i n t e r f u s e d ,
Whose d w e l l i n g i s t h e l i g h t o f s e t t i n g s u n s ,
And t h e r o u n d o c e a n a n d t h e l i v i n g a i r ,
And t h e b l u e s k y , a n d i n t h e m i n d o f man:
A m otion and a s p i r i t , t h a t im p e lls
A ll th in k in g th in g s , a l l o b je c ts of a l l th o u g h t,
And r o l l s t h r o u g h a l l t h i n g s *14
Then he t e l l s
a g a i n s t the
how n a t u r e
ills
l e a d s him t o good and f o r t i f i e s
him
o f th e w orld:
■Ohi y e t a
May I b e h o l d i n t h e e w h a t
My d e a r , d e a r S i s t e r J a n d
Knowing t h a t N a t u r e n e v e r
The h e a r t t h a t lo v e d h e r ;
13I b i d . ,
p. 375,
1 1 . 35-49*
14 I b i d . ,
pp. 3 7 6 -7 7 ,
1 1 . 88-1 02
l i t t l e w hile
I was o n c e ,
t h i s p r a y e r I make,
did b e tra y
’t i s h e r p r i v i l e g e ,
93
Through a l l th e y e a rs of t h i s our l i f e , t o le a d
Prom j o y t o j o y : f o r s h e c a n s o i n f o r m
The m ind t h a t i s w i t h i n u s , s o i m p r e s s
W ith q u i e t n e s s and b e a u t y , and so f e e d
W ith l o f t y t h o u g h t s , t h a t n e i t h e r e v i l to n g u e s ,
R ash ju d g m e n ts , n o r th e s n e e r s o f s e l f i s h men,
Nor g r e e t i n g s w here no k i n d n e s s i s , n o r a l l
The d r e a r y i n t e r c o u r s e o f d a i l y l i f e ,
S h a l l e ’e r p r e v a i l a g a i n s t u s , o r d i s t u r b
O u r c h e e r f u l f a i t h , t h a t a l l w h i c h we b e h o l d
I s f u l l o f b l e s s i n g s , 15
N ature
sin ce
it
is
is
not p h ilo so p h ically
n o t o n l y ’' h e a r t l e s s , "
i m p o r t a n t to. H o u s m a n ;
but "w itle ss,"
it
is
o ften
o n ly a l o v e l y and e v e r-c h a n g in g b ack d ro p f o r th e q u e s tio n a b le
a c tiv itie s
o f man*
Man i s n e a r l y a l w a y s t h e f o c a l p o i n t o f
Housman’s p o e t r y , and i t
H o us m a n t h a t
is
s e l d o m t h a t one f i n d s
i s d iv o r c e d from th e l i v e s
one c o u ld s a y t h e
m an’s r e l a t i o n
o f men*
a poem b y
Of c o u r s e ,
same f o r . W o r d s w o r t h , b u t a s we h a v e s e e n ,
to n atu re
is
the c e n t r a l id ea
of h is
p h ilo ­
sophy.
Yet n a tu r e
of n ever-ending
is
im p o rta n t as a so la c e and as a so u rc e
jo y to Housman.
rem em bered h i l l s "
as th e
He l o o k s t o t h e " b l u e -
lan d o f " l o s t c o n t e n t " ; he tram ps
a b o u t th e c o u n try s id e and s te e p s h im s e lf in
changing s e a s o n s, b u t h i s
e x te rn a l b eau ty .
as i t
It
joy is
to
i n " T i n t e r n A bbey."
15I b i d .,
pp. 3 7 7 -7 8 ,
sig h t
p u rely a sensuous
does n o t lead i n e v ita b ly
do es f o r W ordsw orth,
d escrib es
th e
of the
joy i n
to a p h ilo so p h y
the l a t e r s ta g e w hich he
T h a t i s why I s a i d e a r l i e r
11. 1 1 9 -3 4 ,
94
t h a t H o u sm a n c o u l d h a v e w r i t t e n o n l y t h e f i r s t
o f The T a b l e s T u r n e d .
in to
field s
He d o e s b i d o n e a r i s e
Let us tak e,
n a t u r e poems,
stanzas
a n d come o u t
a n d woods t o d r i n k i n t h e b e a u t i e s
b u t he n e v e r s u g g e s t s
th ree
of n atu re,
t h a t o n e may l e a r n f r o m n a t u r e .
f o r exam ple,
o n e o f H o u s m a n 1s m o s t f a m o u s
I I In A S h ro p sh ire Lad;
L o v e l i e s t o f t r e e s , t h e c h e r r y now
I s hung w i t h bloom a l o n g t h e b o u g h ,
And s t a n d s a b o u t t h e w o o d l a n d r i d e
W earing w h ite f o r E a s t e r t i d e .
Now, o f my t h r e e s c o r e y e a r s a n d t e n ,
T w e n t y w i l l n o t come a g a i n ,
And t a k e f r o m s e v e n t y s p r i n g s a s c o r e ,
I t o n l y l e a v e s me f i f t y m o r e .
And s i n c e t o l o o k a t t h i n g s i n b l o o m
F i f t y s p r i n g s a r e l i t t l e room ,
About t h e w oodlands I w i l l go
To s e e t h e c h e r r y h u n g w i t h sn o w .
A life tim e
is
to o s h o r t i n w hich t o see a l l
n a t u r e — a n d m uch t o o
short for arriv in g
e x p la in the r e l a t i o n
o f t h a t b e a u t y t o man.
A n o t h e r poem w h i c h e x p r e s s e s t h e
to e x te rn a l n atu re
is
''T h e L e n t L i l y , "
the b e a u tie s
of
a t a p h ilo so p h y to
same l y r i c r e a c t i o n
XXIX i n A S h r o p s h i r e ,
Lad:
’T i s
s p r i n g ; come o u t t o r a m b l e
The h i l l y b r a k e s a r o u n d ,
For u n d e r th o r n and bram ble
About th e h o llo w ground
The p r i m r o s e s a r e f o u n d .
And t h e r e ’ s t h e w i n d f l o w e r c h i l l y
W ith a l l th e w inds a t p l a y ,
And t h e r e ’ s t h e L e n t e n l i l y
T hat h as n o t long to s ta y
And d i e s o n E a s t e r d a y .
95
And s i n c e t i l l g i r l s g o m a y i n g
You f i n d t h e p r i m r o s e s t i l l ,
And f i n d t h e w i n d f l o w e r p l a y i n g
W ith e v e r y w ind a t w i l l ,
B ut n o t the. d a f f o d i l ,
B r i n g b a s k e t s now , a n d s a l l y
Up o n t h e s p r i n g ’ s a r r a y ,
And b e a r f r o m h i l l a n d v a l l e y
The d a f f o d i l away
T h a t d i e s on E a s t e r d a y .
I n t h e h a n d s o f man y a p o e t . t h a t
come t h e
o c c a s i o n f o r a poem o n t h e t r a n s i t o r i n e s s
but th ere
i s no s u g g e s t i o n o f t h a t
He s e e m s t o s u g g e s t
dying,
id e a m ight w e l l have b e ­
th at,
of b eau ty ,
i n H o u sm a n 's t r e a t m e n t .
a l t h o u g h o n e 11s h a p e o f b e a u t y ” i s
t h e r e a r e m an y m o re t o
com pensate f o r i t .
N a t u r e c e r t a i n l y a f f e c t e d Housman v e r y d e e p l y , b u t
o n l y o n e poem d o e s h e s u g g e s t how p r o f o u n d i t s
have b e e n .
I n A. S h r o p s h i r e L a d t h e
m y s t i c a l communion w i t h n a t u r e , b u t
for a re p e titio n
in
i n f l u e n c e must
p oem L I I h i n t s
at a
the r e a d e r looks in v a in
o f t h e sa m e m o o d .
P a r in a w e ste rn b ro o k lan d
T h a t b r e d me l o n g a g o
The p o p l a r s s t a n d and tr e m b le
By p o o l s I u s e d t o k n o w .
■ T h ere , i n t h e w i n d l e s s n i g h t - t i m e ,
The w a n d e r e r , m a r v e l l i n g w hy,
H a l t s on t h e b r i d g e t o h e a r k e n
How s o f t t h e p o p l a r s s i g h .
He h e a r s : n o m o r e r e m e m b e r e d
I n f i e l d s w h e re I was known,
H e r e I l i e down i n L o n d o n
And t u r n t o r e s t a l o n e .
T h ere, by the s t a r l i t f e n c e s ,
The w a n d e r e r h a l t s an d h e a r s
My s o u l t h a t l i n g e r s 3 i g h i n g
About th e g lim m erin g w e i r s .
96
T h e n e x t t w o p oem s w h i c h I s h a l l q u o t e a r e
ing in t h a t
t h e y sh ow H o u s m a n ' s n o s t a l g i a
o f n a t u r e when he i s
th in k s
of the
looks back
of jo y
f a r from them .
s p r in g he
upon h is y outh sp en t c lo s e
and h a p p in e s s t h a t can
f o r the b e a u tie s
In th e
is m issin g ,.an d
in te re st­
first
o n e , he
in the
se c o n d one he
to n atu re
asa p erio d
n e v e r come a g a i n . I t
is
XXXIX
in A S h ro p sh ire Lad:
• T is t i m e , I t h i n k , b y W e n lo c k town
The g o ld e n broom s h o u ld blow ;
T h e h a w t h o r n s p r i n k l e d u p a n d down
S h o u ld c h a r g e t h e l a n d w i t h snow.
S p rin g w i l l not w ait th e l o i t e r e r 's
Who k e e p s s o l o n g .a w a y ;
So o t h e r s w e a r t h e b ro o m and c l i m b
T he h e d g e r o w s h e a p e d w i t h m a y .
tim e
Oh t a r n i s h l a t e on W e n l o c k E d g e ,
G old t h a t I n e v e r s e e ;
L ie lo n g , h ig h s n o w d r if ts in th e hedge
T h a t w i l l n o t s h o w e r on m e .
T h e s e c o n d poem i s XL i n A S h r o p s h i r e L a d :
I n t o my h e a r t a n a i r t h a t k i l l s
Prom y o n f a r c o u n t r y b l o w s r
W h at a r e t h o s e b l u e r e m e m b e r e d h i l l s ,
W hat s p i r e s , w h a t f a r m s a r e t h o s e ?
T hat is th e land of l o s t c o n te n t,
I see i t sh in in g p l a i n ,
The h a p p y h i g h w a y s w h e re I w e n t
And c a n n o t come a g a i n .
Housman’s power t o r e c a l l
past ex p erien ces
in to conscious­
n e s s may b e c o m p a r e d t o W o r d s w o r t h ' s f a m o u s f o r m u l a t i o n ,
"P o etry tak es
q u ility ."
its
o rig in
i n em otion r e c o l l e c t e d
in tr a n ­
S u c h e x p e r i e n c e s , w h i c h s h o w t h e m in d i n t h e a c t
o f d o m in a tin g outw ard s e n s e and g u id in g
it
in to
th e w orld
of the
in fin ite
A bbey,"
Cuckoo
the
in f e e lin g
1A
are a t th e h e a rt
o f ,lT i n t e r n
i m m o r t a l i t y O d e , My H e a r t L e a p s U p , a n d To t h e
( 1 8 0 2 - 1 8 0 4 ) , a n d more e x p l i c i t y
o f _I W a n d e r e d L o n e l y
a s a C l o u d a n d The H i g h l a n d R e a p e r *
W ordsw orth l e a r n e d t o
bind h is days each to each in f i l i a l
p iety ,
th e c h ild
t h e f a t h e r o f t h e man*
reco gn izin g
T h e r e f o r e , b o t h p o e t s must
have e x p e r ie n c e d w hat W ordsw orth c a l l e d " s p o t s
sin ce
the d e s c r ip tio n s
in
of tim e ,"
o f t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s a r e s o much
a lik e.
I n L a s t Poems XL s u m m a r i z e s a d e q u a t e l y ,
Housm an s e e s
in n a tu re — a source
I th in k what
of i n s p i r a t i o n and b e a u ty ,
a c o m f o r te r , b u t n o t th e so u rc e o f a ph ilo so p h y *
T e l l me n o t h e r e , i t n e e d s n o t s a y i n g ,
W h at t u n e t h e e n c h a n t r e s s p l a y s
In a fte r m a th s o f s o f t S eptem ber
Or u n d e r b l a n c h i n g m a y s ,
F o r she and I w ere lo n g a c q u a in t e d
And I k n e w a l l h e r w a y s .
• On r u s s e t f l o o r s , b y w a t e r s i d l e ,
The p i n e l e t s f a l l i t s c o n e ;
The c u c k o o s h o u t s a l l d a y a t n o t h i n g
In le a f y d e l l s alo n e ;
And t r a v e l l e r ' s j o y b e g u i l e s i n a u t u m n
H e a r t s t h a t h a v e l o s t t h e i r own*
On a c r e s o f t h e s e e d e d g r a s s e s
The c h a n g in g b u r n i s h h e a v e s ;
Or m a r s h a l l e d u n d e r m o o n s o f h a r v e s t ’
Stand s t i l l a l l n ig h t th e sh eav es;
Or b e e c h e s s t r i p i n s t o r m s f o r w i n t e r
And s t a i n t h e w i n d w i t h l e a v e s .
16.,
Supra, pp. 2 4 -2 5 .
98
Possess, as I possessed a season,
The c o u n t r i e s I r e s i g n ,
Where o v e r e lm y p l a i n s t h e h i g h w a y
W o u ld m o u n t t h e h i l l s a n d s h i n e ,
And f u l l o f s h a d e t h e p i l l a r e d f o r e s t
W o u ld m u r m u r a n d h e m i n e .
For n a tu re , h e a r tle s s , w itle ss n a tu re ,
W i l l n e i t h e r c a r e n o r k now
W h at s t r a n g e r ' s f e e t may f i n d t h e meadow
And t r e s p a s s t h e r e a n d g o ,
Nor a s k am id t h e dews o f m o rn in g
I f t h e y a r e m ine o r n o .
As I h a v e p o i n t e d
o b se rv a tio n of n a tu re
o u t , W ordsw orth i s
to a b e l i e f
in the
o f th e u n i v e r s e and t o an o p t i m i s t i c
man, h o w e v e r , t h e b e a u t y o f n a t u r e
ab u sed man.
e s s e n tia l rig h tn ess
faith
is a t
l e d from h i s
i n man.
To H o u s ­
sharp v a ria n c e w ith
He s a y s men h a v e a l w a y s b e e n a n d w i l l a l w a y s b e
b l i n d v i c t i m s , !tS o u l s u n d o n e , u n d o i n g o t h e r s . "
H o u s m a n d o e s n o t c o n c e i v e man i n t e r m s o f h i 3 u n ­
rea liz ed
of h is
p o ten tialities
f o r g o o d ; he c o n c e iv e s him i n te rm s
p r o p e n s i t i e s f o r e v i l and u n h a p p in e s s .
ex p ressio n s
of th is
p o i n t o f view i s
One o f t h e b e s t
t h e b r i e f poem w h i c h
i n t r o d u c e s More P o e m s :
T h e y s a y my v e r s e i s s a d : n o w o n d e r ;
I t s n a rro w m easure spans
T e a rs of e t e r n i t y , and so rro w .
Nor’ m in e , b u t m an*s•
T his
is f o r a l l i l l - t r e a t e d fello w s
Unborn and u n b e g o t ,
F o r them t o r e a d when t h e y ' r e i n t r o u b l e
And I am n o t . I 1/
17
x , T he i t a l i c s
a r e H o u s m a n r 3*
99
W h at i s
t h i s m essage t o
them t h a t
th e w orld i s
ill-tre a te d
fille d
s a l sorrow and t h a t d e a th i s
fello w s?
It
w ith e te r n a l te a r s
th e
only r e l e a s e
By t h i s m e s s a g e h e s e e k s " t o h a r m o n i z e
the
is
to t e l l
and u n i v e r ­
from t r o u b l e .
sadness
o f the
w o rld ."
But t h e r e
co n sisten t
is a n o th e r elem en t.
in h is a ttitu d e
Housman i s n o t a lw a y s
to w a rd man.
Som etim es he t h i n k s
o f h i m a s m e a n , b u t n o t a l w a y s , n o t e v e n i n t h e poem I h a v e
ju st
quoted.
H ere h i s
T h e s e may b e p o o r ,
sym pathy i s
is
in im ica l to
is
fe llo w s."
s h a b b y f e l l o w s , b u t t h e same sy m p a th y
h o ld s f o r g o ld en la d s and l a s s e s ,
r u e myh e a r t
for " ill-tre a te d
lad e n ."
whom h e r e m e m b e r s i n " W i t h
They a r e n o t e q u a l t o th e w o r ld ;
it
them :
By b r o o k s t o o b r o a d f o r l e a p i n g
The l i g h t f o o t b o y s a r e l a i d ;
The r o s e - l i p t g i r l s a r e s l e e p i n g
In f i e l d s where r o s e s f a d e .
One c o u l d c o n t i n u e
c itin g
o f view tow ard l i f e — I h e s i t a t e
ex am p les o f Housman’s p o i n t
to ap p ly th e
f o r m a l name
p h ilo s o p h y — u n t i l he had in c lu d e d m ost o f th e
t h r e e v o lu m e s o f H o u sm a n 's p o e t r y .
exam ples w i l l s u f f i c e .
Perhaps
poems i n t h e
th ree
m o re
T h e f o l l o w i n g i s XXVII f r o m More
Poems:
To s t a n d u p
To l i e f l a t
A re t h e two
I know n o t ,
The s e c o n d ex am p le
s t r a i g h t and tr e a d th e tu r n in g m i l l ,
a n d kn ow n o t h i n g a n d b e s t i l l ,
t r a d e s o f man; a n d w h i c h i s w o rse
b u t I know t h a t b o t h a r e i l l .
is a part
of the f o u r th
stan za
o f LXII
In A S h ro p sh ire Lad:
T h e r e fo r e , s in c e th e w orld h as s t i l l
Much g o o d , h u t much l e s s g o o d t h a n i l l ,
And w h i l e t h e s u n a n d moon e n d u r e
L u c k 's a c h a n c e , h u t t r o u b l e ' s s u r e ,
I ' d f a c e i t a s a w i s e man w o u l d
And t r a i n f o r i l l a n d n o t f o r g o o d .
The l a s t
two s t a n z a s
in
II
o f L a s t Poems i s
th e
th ird
exam ple
What e v i l l u c k s o e v e r
F o r me r e m a i n s i n s t o r e ,
' T l s s u r e much f i n e r f e l l o w s
H a v e f a r e d much w o r s e b e f o r e .
So h e r e a r e t h i n g s t o t h i n k on
T h a t o u g h t t o make me b r a v e ,
As I s t r a p o n f o r f i g h t i n g
My s w o r d t h a t w i l l n o t s a v e .
I t becomes c l e a r fro m th e s e
p o in t o f view Is p e s s i m i s t i c ;
selectio n s
he e x p e c t s th e w o r s t from and
f o r b o t h man a n d t h e w o r l d , a n d So h e i s
T h e w o r l d h a s much m o r e e v i l t h a n i t
no p r o s p e c t
fo r change;
t h a t H o u sm a n 's
i f h is
seldom d i s a p p o i n t e d .
h a s goo d, and he se e s
p o e try has any m essage,
it
Is
t o h e l p one p r e p a r e f o r e v i l r a t h e r t h a n g o o d , t o a n t i c i p a t e
d isap p o in tm en t,
W o rd s w o rth a n d Housman a r e c l o s e r i n t h e i r a t t i t u d e
tow ard l i f e
in g e n e ra l th an the
b e l i e v e when he r e a d s
my d i s c u s s i o n
casual reader is
t h e i r poems, as I have p o in te d
o f d e a t h a s one o f t h e
them es o f t h e i r
W ordsw orth was a p p a r e n t l y a n o p t i m i s t ,
^Supra.,
led to
pp. 58-59
out in
poems.
1 ft
b u t a c lo s e r study of
101
h is
life
rev eals
t h a t he had to d i s c i p l i n e
W o r d s w o r t h h a d t o make h i m s e l f a n o p t i m i s t ,
n o t even t r y
to he one.
h im s e lf to he one,
h u t H ou s m a n d i d
CONCLUSIONS
I n c o m p a rin g W o rd sw o rth * s an d Housman*s c o n c e p t i o n
o f p o e t r y , we f i n d t h a t o n e o f t h e m o s t d e c i d e d l i k e n e s s e s
i n t h e two i s
produced;
t h e i r i d e a o f t h e m anner i n w hich p o e t r y i s
th e y c o n s id e r p o e try as a sp ontaneous o v erflo w in g
of the s o u l,
an em otional consequence of
in ex p licab le
i n n e r e x p e r i e n c e s w h ic h have- t h e pow er t o r e t u r n a n d dom i­
n ate
th e m ind.
sta rtin g
A lthough th e e m o tio n a l r e a c t i o n
p o in t f o r both of
them ,
Housman t h i n k s
in te lle c tu a l
its
is
it
said ,
is n o t the th in g
said , but
W ordsw orth s a y s p o e t r y t a k e s
o r i g i n i n em otion r e c o l l e c t e d in t r a n q u i l i t y ,
tim es i t
is
an em otion e x p e rie n c e d a t
a n d r e c a l l e d b y t h e p o e t when h e
If
im p o rtan t to
t h a t p o e t r y i s m ore p h y s i c a l t h a n
and sa y s t h a t
t h e wa y i n w h i c h i t
t h e poem i s n o t b o r n c o m p l e t e ,
d i f f i c u l t to
fin ish
th e
th ey a re n o t w holly in
a g r e e m e n t a s t o t h e way i n w h i c h e m o t i o n i s
p o e try .
is
is
f o r man y
some p r e v i o u s t i m e
i n a r e c e p t i v e mood.
both p o e ts f in d i t
eq u ally
it.
B o th W o rd s w o rth a n d Housman condemn t h e e i g h t e e n t h
cen tu ry p o etry because of i t s
ity ,
and la c k o f f e e l i n g ;
everyday a f f a i r s
’’p o e t i c d i c t i o n , ” a r t i f i c i a l ­
th ey th em selv es speak o f th e
o f m an i n a s i m p l e , ■ un ad o rn e d l a n g u a g e ,
w ith f e e l i n g and em otion as th e b a s i s
fe e l th a t "verse"
is
of th e ir p o etry .
a c o n c e p t o f form and t h a t
They
’’p o e t r y ” i s
103
a concept of s p i r i t .
p o etic
id eas,
in p o e try .
T h e tw o p o e t s a g r e e t h a t t h e r e a r e n o
b e t th e y d i s a g r e e a s to th e p l a c e o f m eaning
W ordsw orth f e e l s
p o e t r y , b u t H ou sm an t h i n k s
t h a t m eaning i s
it
is
e s s e n t i a l to
only a c o n co m itan t,
and,
a l t h o u g h H o u s m a n ’ s p o e m s , b y i m p l i c a t i o n , may b e t h o u g h t t o
’’h a r m o n i z e t h e s a d n e s s o f t h e w o r l d , ” h e s a y s t h a t p o e t r y
can e x is t
in d e p e n d e n t o f m eaning.
A l t h o u g h b o t h W o rd s w o rth a n d Housman w r i t e b a l l a d s ,
the q u a lity o f th e i r b a lla d s
a b a llad
th at
w orth w r i t e s .
is d iffe re n t.
i s more t r a d i t i o n a l
H ou s m a n w r i t e s
t h a n t h e one w h ic h W ords­
W ordsw orth i s u n d r a m a ti c and slo w , w h e re a s
H o us m a n i s d r a m a t i c a n d s w i f t ;
W ordsw orth n a r r a t e s a s t o r y ,
w h e r e a s H o usm an s u g g e s t s o n e .
Housman a c h i e v e s a m ore
c u ttin g
e f f e c t by means o f c o m p r e s s io n ,
sw ift v isu a l
and what i s
im ag ery ; ?/ordsw orth d w e lls upon th e
to be i n f e r r e d from i t ,
i n W o r d s w o r t h ’ s poems i s
and th u s th e
in W ordsw orth’ s poems, ho w ev er,
to
em otion
em otion
T here i s
a tenderness
t h a t i s n e v e r found in
e x c e p t by i m p l i c a t i o n .
a m eetin g
and
”t r a n s f u s e d ” a t a low er te m p e ra tu re
t h a n t h e e m o tio n i n Housman’ s poem s.
H o u sm a n 's,
su g g estio n ,
T he two p o e t s come c l o s e r
t h a n a t a n y o t h e r t i m e i n W o r d s w o r t h ’ s nA
S l u m b e r D i d My S p i r i t S e a l ” a n d H o u s m a n ’ s ”W i t h r u e my
h eart is
l a d e n , ” f o r W ordsw orth c o m p re sse s t h e
gives
f u l l play in h is
it
em otion and
poem, w i t h no c o n c e r n f o r a d d u c i n g
104
a lesso n or te llin g
a sto ry .
t h e i r own d i s t i n c t i v e
way,
Thus b o th p o e t s f o l l o w - - i n
of co u rse— th e
sa m e t r a d i t i o n s
in p o etry .
p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y W o rd s w o rth an d Housman a r e p o l e s
ap art,
W ordsw orth i s
o p tim istic
and h o p e f u l ,
th e u n iv e rse
b e i n g f o u n d e d on h i s
h oly p l a n .”
Housman i s
n atu re,
alth ough i t
is
h is
faith
in
co n cep tio n of ^N atu re’ s
a p e s s i m i s t from th e s o u l o u t ,
and
a so la c e and a source o f n e v e r-e n d in g
j o y t o h im , h a s no s o u l o r w i t and i s p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y unim ­
p o r t a n t t o h i m ; m an i s
p o etry .
n e a r l y alw ays th e f o c a l p o i n t o f h i s
T his d iv e rg e n c e
i n W o rd sw o rth * s a n d Housman*s
p h i l o s o p h i c v i e w s a c c o u n t s f o r m any o f t h e d i f f e r e n c e s
t h e two p o e t s .
rep resen tativ e
One d i f f e r e n c e
them es.
n ig h t;
th e
he f e e ls
W ordsw orth,
in th e ir
For in stan ce,
them e o f d e a t h i n t h e i r poems;
no f e a r o f d e a t h ,
is
th at
so u l,
treatm en t of
both p o e ts
treat
the
a l t h o u g h Housman e x p r e s s e s
it
is
a p assin g
on t h e o t h e r h a n d ,
im m o rtality o f the
in
in to
ete rn al
ex p resses"a b e lie f in
b u t t h e r e a r e t i m e s wh en we
f e e l t h a t he has t o d i s c i p l i n e h i m s e l f t o k e e p _ from
b e l i e v i n g a s H o u sm a n d o e s a b o u t d e a t h .
a n d woman i s
L o v e b e t w e e n man
a n o t h e r them e w hich a f f e c t s
o p p o s ite ways.
Housman t h i n k s o f i t
s t u f f and a p a s s in g fa n c y ,
u n fa ith fu l one.
th e s e p o ets
as in s u b s ta n tia l
w i t h woman a s t h e f i c k l e
W ordsw orth c o n s i d e r s
in
it
and
a source of h ap p i-
105
n e s s f o r him ; and i n h i s poems,
m istre ate d ,
M oreover,
a l t h o u g h t h e woman i s
she rem ain s f a i t h f u l
in
sp ite
m ilita ristic ,
in s p it e
o ften
of d iv e rsitie s.
of th e f a c t t h a t bo th p o e ts a re a n t i ­
t h e y t r e a t t h e t h e m e o f . t h e s o l d i e r from "
e n tire ly d iffe re n t p o in ts
o f view .
W ordsw orth t h i n k s
o f im proving c o n d it i o n s f o r th e s o l d i e r ,
only
w h e re a s Housman,
who a d d s a b i t o f c o l o r a n d r o m a n c e t o h i s
poems o n t h e
so ld ier,
so ld ier* s
feels
the
iro n y and p a th o s o f th e
leav in g
hom e t o b e s h o t on f o r e i g n f i e l d s .
T h u s we s e e t h a t a l t h o u g h t h e s e
p o e t r y i n m u ch t h e
tw o p o e t s p r o d u c e
same w a y , h a v e s i m i l a r
a n d c h o o s e m any o f t h e
id eas about p o etry ,
same s u b j e c t s o n w h i c h t o w r i t e ,
d if f e r e n c e in p h ilo so p h y c o n d itio n s th e
life
a
and work o f
e a c h i n s u c h a way a s t o m ake t h e i r p o e t r y u n l i k e i n t r e a t m e n t ,
in to n e,
and i n i m p o r t - - s o u n l i k e
shows t h e l i k e n e s s e s .
t h a t only a c lo se a n a ly s is
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