On the day of April 7th 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland of England, William Wordsworth was born. He grew up to become one of the most famous Romantic poets who helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature. The glorious landscape of England deeply affected Wordsworth’s imagination and gave him a love of nature. Wordsworth made his debut as a writer in 1787 when he published a sonnet in a magazine. After graduating from Saint John’s College in Cambridge, Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1795. Wordsworth was extremely influenced by Coleridge.
With the encouragement from Coleridge and Wordsworth’s stimulation by the close contact with nature, Wordsworth composed his first masterwork, Lyrical Ballads. From there Wordsworth wrote many poems in depth about nature. Many critical authors will argue on the topic of whether or not Wordsworth was actually influenced by nature or if his obsession with nature distracted him. Geoffrey Hartman one of the most famous critics of Wordsworth’s works stated “Nature, for Wordsworth is not an “object” but a presence and a power; a motion and a spirit; not something to be worshiped and consumed, but always a guide leading beyond itself” (Bloom 40).
Hartman believed that Wordsworth was influenced and guided by nature. Hartman describes in his critical essay The Negative Way how Wordsworth gets distracted by his imagination but quickly returns back to the adherence of nature. This distraction occurs in book six of The Prelude when Wordsworth is crossing the Alps. He had imagined that the view would be unbelievable and awe-inspiring, but when he crossed he had missed the view. Hard of belief, we question him again, / and all the answers which the Man returned / to our inquires, in their sense and substance, / Translated by the feelings which we had, / Ended in this; that we had crossed the Alps. ” (Wordsworth 463). Wordsworth then discovered that the “external world and not imagination seemed to be his guide” (Bloom 45). Here, Hartman believes that nature was a great influence to Wordsworth and that nature itself is not to be adored like imagination but always “a guide leading beyond itself” (Bloom 40).
In another essay written by Geoffrey Hartman, Hartman explains that the poem Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree “reflects Wordsworth’s strong eye for nature and his general sense of moral sensitivity” (Hartman 389). The poem is about the life of a hermit. The hermit lives alone away from society. “He sustained his soul in solitude” (Wordsworth 30). The hermit finds comfort and beauty in nature. In the poem Wordsworth wants the reader to find a balance between accepting nature and society. Hartman is again showing in his essay that Wordsworth was extremely influenced by nature.
Wordsworth shows in this poem that humans and nature should not be separate but should be united and work together. Geoffrey Durrant, another critic explored the works of William Wordsworth and examined the transformation in Wordsworth’s poetry. Durrant believes that Wordsworth’s poetry transforms the “desolation of mere loneliness into the ‘bliss of solitude’ –that ‘blessed mood’ in which the human mind irradiates and transforms the world which it perceives, giving life and meaning to what otherwise would be essentially dead” (Durrant 2).
Durrant mentions that when Wordsworth wrote about nature, it transformed from “visible expressions” to becoming alive. (Durrant 2). Durrant wrote, “The human spirit had no limitations, whatever indignities the body might have to accept. Wordsworth’s youthful imagination, nourished on the poetry of the ancient world, similarly transformed the natural scene, investing it with terror and delight. ” (Durrant 3). Durrant like other critics also believed the Wordsworth was extremely influence by nature. Durrant extended his belief in writing that Wordsworth transformed nature into becoming alive.
We can see this is The Prelude “An auxiliary light Came from my mind, which on the setting sun Bestowed new splendour; the melodious birds, / the fluttering breezes, fountains that run on / Murmuring so sweetly in themselves, obeyed / A like dominion, and the midnight storm / Grew darker in the presence of my eye. ” (Wordsworth 492). Here Wordsworth is expanding his poetic mind and realizing his power of making nature comes alive. Many people, authors, and writers who have read Wordsworth may believe he is a nature poet.
Wordsworth wrote in appreciation of the natural world around him. Not only was Wordsworth fascinated by nature but also, everyone around the Romantic period was. Nature was powerful and wonderful. In one of Wordsworth’s most famous poems Tintern Abbey, Wordsworth writes about a green pastoral landscape. He believes that this pastoral landscape and other parts of nature “never did betray / the heart that loved her” (Wordsworth). Wordsworth always showed in his poetry that nature was a nurturing force that taught him and soothed people in society.
On the other hand, some people, authors, and writers who have read Wordsworth may not believe he is a true poet of nature. According to Margaret Drabble, and F. W. Bateson, they believed Wordsworth was a poet of “inner tranquility and peace, but a man torn by violent inner conflicts, forever struggling with his own passions” (Drabble 149). These critical authors believed Wordsworth has inner problems he had always dealt with. For example, the death of his mother and then his father five years after, the separation of himself and his sister, some even say he had a weirdly attraction to his sister Dorothy.
In Wordsworth’s poem Simon Lee, Drabble states that here we can see Wordsworth struggling and that the poem is “no more than a piece of sentimental nonsense about an old man with weak ankles. ” (Drabble 148). Drabble and Bateson believed that Wordsworth struggled with his fight inside him and was not influenced by nature. Another huge poet William Blake also believed Wordsworth was not a poet of nature. Instead he believed that Wordsworth was not a poet but a philosopher who had no real inspiration.
Blake also believed that what Wordsworth thought was valuable should not be found in nature itself. Blake was one of the first Romantic poets to disagree with Wordsworth’s work. Again, Blake, Drabble and Bateson all believed Wordsworth struggled with his inspiration and was not influenced by nature and that nature distracted him from producing great works of art. Wordsworth influenced many people to have a lot of different views about the way he wrote his poetry. Many people wonder where he actually got his true inspiration.
Did he get it from nature, did he get it from his parents, or was he just naturally a great poet? Many will differ but most believe he got most of his poetic influence from nature itself. Wordsworth thought nature was beauteous and wonderful. Wordsworth believed that nature could heal anything and everything. Nature was a companion to him, his number one source of inspiration. Through nature Wordsworth grew as a poet and kept producing famous poems that are stilled talked about today. Wordsworth was a poet of the Romantic Age and was definitely influence by nature.