Reading up on Wordsworth’s life and re-reading some of his poetry has confirmed something I really only half-knew about myself — that ideas are important to me in poetry, in the sense that the intellectual framework upon which the poetry hangs counts as an element in favor of or against that poetry. Detracts from or enhances its aesthetic appeal. Unappealing ideas, of course, don’t necessarily mean I won’t be wowed by the poetry (I’m thinking Milton and Paradise Lost here), but they do go a long way to putting me off at times (Shelley).
In the case of Wordsworth, ideas and poetry come together for me most beautifully. I find his ‘trailing clouds of glory’ philosophy very appealing; likewise his respect for nature, for children and childhood and – separate but related – his emphasis on the power of ‘stored’ positive memory to act positively on the present. I also like the steady way his poetry ‘proves’ his thought.
Add to that (after the high-calorie luscious verbal high-drive of Keats) his relatively plain and low-key but still rocking diction, and you have a winning combination, in my book.
Wordsworth take-aways are not new, but all feel much the richer to me for my recent focus on his thought, and back-story reading — Tintern Abbey, Intimations of Immortality, Lonely As A Cloud and The Solitary Reaper most particularly.