William Wordsworth’s great long autobiographical poem in blank verse, The Prelude, has many great passages, and this is one of the best, from the first book of the poem, describing the poet’s schooldays and his time among nature. The description of the hill looming up as a young Wordsworth rows his boat – finding freedom on the open water – comes close to that key Romantic concept of the Sublime. If this excerpt whets your appetite for the whole poem, you can read that here.
One evening (surely I was led by her)
I went alone into a Shepherd’s Boat,
A Skiff that to a Willow tree was tied
Within a rocky Cave, its usual home.
‘Twas by the shores of Patterdale, a Vale
Wherein I was a Stranger, thither come
A School-boy Traveller, at the Holidays. Read the rest of this entry
‘The Solitary Reaper’ is one of Wordsworth’s best-known poems. Although it’s a ballad, it didn’t appear in Wordsworth’s most famous collection, Lyrical Ballads, because he wrote it after the publication of that volume (co-authored with Samuel Taylor Coleridge) in 1798. ‘The Solitary Reaper’ appeared in Wordsworth’s 1807 collection Poems in Two Volumes. The poem has received a fair bit of critical analysis; here, we offer some notes towards a commentary on it.
The Solitary Reaper
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain; Read the rest of this entry
‘Anecdote for Fathers’ is not one of William Wordsworth’s best-known poems. First published in the landmark 1798 collection Lyrical Ballads, which Wordsworth co-authored with Coleridge, ‘Anecdote for Fathers’ is narrated by a father who recalls going for a walk with his young son, and coming to realise that the boy’s innocence contains more wisdom than the father’s senior years. ‘A father can learn from his son, too’ might be a concise way of summarising this poem.
Anecdote for Fathers
I have a boy of five years old;
His face is fair and fresh to see;
His limbs are cast in beauty’s mold
And dearly he loves me.
One morn we strolled on our dry walk,
Or quiet home all full in view, Read the rest of this entry