246. (William Wordsworth)

“His Muse (it cannot be denied, and without this we cannot explain its character at all) is a levelling one. It proceeds on a principle of equality and strives to reduce all things to the same standard.” William Hazlitt’s insight into Wordsworth’s poetry has endured and been frequently repeated. But readers and critics of Wordsworth have been far from leveling in their appraisal of and … Continue reading 246. (William Wordsworth)

231. (Erich Auerbach)

Not only can be it said that art happens in history, but that history happens within each work of art. Art is kindled when the possibilities for body in history are realized within a medium and form, situated within its own history; and history itself is change, ordered, conceptualized, projected forwards and backwards. To say that humans are historical creatures is no different from saying … Continue reading 231. (Erich Auerbach)

202. (William Wordsworth)

Unlike Samson, whose strength returns with his hair and whose blindness, though indignity and infirmity, is not absolute impotence, Wordsworth’s lack of visionary powers seems to the poet in the Intimations Ode to be a total loss. It takes little effort to read Wordsworth’s “Ode” as his response to Milton’s Samson Agonistes, as much in its premises as in its verbal texture: Samson, whose capacity for … Continue reading 202. (William Wordsworth)

154. (William Wordsworth)

For Wordsworth, the ontological unity of which humankind forms a part at times inspires a longing for division, and at times coincides with the helplessness of isolation and alienation; the failure of human society and actions exacerbates both the longing and the helplessness.  It is the hidden strength of the sympathetic imagination to reconcile humankind to the longing or the alienation, and maybe to overcome either. … Continue reading 154. (William Wordsworth)

106. (Alexander Pope)

Wordsworth, conceding that he knew some thousand lines of Pope’s poetry by heart,  set him nonetheless “at the foot of Parnassus,” for his deficiency in the “beautiful, the pathetic, and the sublime.” But Wordsworth is nearest of all British poets to Pope, and Pope nearest of all British poets to Wordsworth, in his sensitivity towards stigma; these two poets mark poles of the British poetic … Continue reading 106. (Alexander Pope)

59. (William Wordsworth)

Late in his life, in a letter to an inquiring William Rowan Hamilton, Wordsworth stressed the “innumerable minutiae” upon which the success of poetry depends. Among the minutiae: punctuation. I’ve tried to say (in an article) how exactly Wordsworth makes good on the oft-overlooked potential of punctuation in his verse, but the examples I chose there were not the best, and the explanation I gave … Continue reading 59. (William Wordsworth)

51. (William Wordsworth)

Those able to read poetry in silence are capable of imagining the sound of a poem’s voice; the comparison to a musical score is of limited, but only limited, help: even for the most musically attuned, it seems likely that the performance would be the fruition and culmination of the score, however well it could be summoned by the trained mind’s trained ear; for the poet, … Continue reading 51. (William Wordsworth)