Wordsworth's ethics by Wordsworth, William; Wordsworth, William; Potkay, Adam

By Wordsworth, William; Wordsworth, William; Potkay, Adam

"Why learn Wordsworth's poetry - certainly, why learn poetry in any respect? past any excitement it may possibly supply, can it make one a greater or extra flourishing individual? those questions have been by no means faraway from William Wordsworth's concepts. He replied in wealthy and sundry methods, in verse and in prose, in either recognized and extra imprecise writings. Wordsworth's Ethics is a entire exam of the Romantic poet's paintings, delving into Read more...

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Having amplified upon a “full concert” of birds (l. 613), with each constituent type (blackbirds, linnets, and so on) designated and characterized, Thomson traces its impetus to erotic attachment: “ ’Tis love creates their melody, and all / This waste of music is the voice of love” (ll. 614–15). Here birdsong is no longer simply a salient element of a concerted environment but something more: an index of generative love, the Venus Genetrix that Lucretius—an author Thomson sometimes imitates in “Spring”—hymns in the prologue of his philosophic poem De Rerum Natura and that Thomson praises, simply, as the all-animating “God” (“Spring” ll.

What Pfau does not engage, however, is the appeal to music that immediately follows this sacrificial tale. Such an appeal was quasi-homiletic in Thomson’s “Summer”— a tale of accidental death followed by an exhortation not to murmur but to lead nature’s song of praise—but it reappears in Wordsworth as a jarring collocation of corpses and sweet sounds: audition a nd attachment 23 Sweet are the sounds that mingle from afar, Heard by calm lakes, as peeps the folding star [Venus], Where the duck dabbles mid the rustling sedge, And feeding pike starts from the water’s edge, Or the swan stirs the reeds, his neck and bill Wetting, that drip upon the water still; And heron, as resounds the trodden shore, Shoots upward, darting his long neck before.

The justice Rivers urges—Herbert must be killed—is blind in two senses: impartial in theory, and in practice capable of blinding Mortimer to what lies right before his eyes. 1–3). Mortimer’s intuitive response to Herbert’s face is what Rivers must block for his plot to succeed. Rivers appeals to justice in its two aspects, distributive and retributive, the latter directly and the first through the beggar woman he suborns to pose as Matilda’s true and wronged mother. This beggar woman eloquently addresses the unfair distribution of goods, an inequity that troubled Godwin and the young Wordsworth alike.

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