Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Wordsworth's Poetical Works e-text contains the full text of William Wordsworth's poetry and prose.

Image 'Library' by Stewart Butterfield (CC BY ), via Flickr .

Prose Works (1896)
Literary Criticism (1966)
Letters of Dorothy and William Wordsworth (1967)
Letters of the Wordsworth Family (1969)
Prose Works (1974)
The Love Letters of William and Mary Wordsworth (1981)

 · Biographer Frances Wilson discusses the intense connection between William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy — and the "vortex of poetry" in ...

More than any other aspect of her character, it was Dorothy Wordsworth's responsiveness that was valued and praised by all who knew her. As a little girl she burst into tears when she first saw the sea, revealing the sensibility for which she was celebrated by her family. An old woman, she wept at the sight of her garden flowers after an illness had kept her indoors. In the readiness and accuracy of her responses, her taste was, Coleridge said, "a perfect electrometer—it bends, protrudes, and draws in, at subtlest beauties and most recondite faults." An electrometer was a recent invention, consisting of a fragile piece of gold, enclosed in glass, which responded to the most minute fluctuations of electrical charge, and Coleridge's metaphor bestowed in Dorothy his highest possible praise. For the writer and opium eater Thomas De Quincey, who became friends with the Wordsworths after William married, Dorothy was all nervous energy, rather, one imagines, like a highly tuned radio picking up waves. "The pulses of light," De Quincey said, "are not more quick or more inevitable in their flow and undulation, than were the answering and echoing movement of her sympathising attention." Dorothy's responses were immediate, but in her journals—a form of writing we associate with the recording of fresh reactions—she gives no response to the astonishing poems that were pouring out of Wordsworth, many of which she inspired herself and every word of which she stored inside her like charms in a magpie's nest. Nor did she record her response to the conversations she heard between Wordsworth and Coleridge as she wandered with them into the gloaming on the Quantock Hills, or lay with them beneath the shifting skies in Grasmere Vale. The poetic revolution going on around her, to which she contributed on a daily basis and which provides the backdrop to her journal, is the story she chose not to tell, rather as Louis XVI, telling in his diary for July 14, 1789—the day of the storming of the Bastille, following which his own days were numbered—simply wrote, "Rien."

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wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

 · Biographer Frances Wilson discusses the intense connection between William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy — and the "vortex of poetry" in ...

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wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

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wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Prose Works (1896)
Literary Criticism (1966)
Letters of Dorothy and William Wordsworth (1967)
Letters of the Wordsworth Family (1969)
Prose Works (1974)
The Love Letters of William and Mary Wordsworth (1981)

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wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815
Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

 · Biographer Frances Wilson discusses the intense connection between William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy — and the "vortex of poetry" in ...

Action Action

Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

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wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Image 'Library' by Stewart Butterfield (CC BY ), via Flickr .

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wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Prose Works (1896)
Literary Criticism (1966)
Letters of Dorothy and William Wordsworth (1967)
Letters of the Wordsworth Family (1969)
Prose Works (1974)
The Love Letters of William and Mary Wordsworth (1981)

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wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

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Wordsworth essay supplementary to the preface 1815

More than any other aspect of her character, it was Dorothy Wordsworth's responsiveness that was valued and praised by all who knew her. As a little girl she burst into tears when she first saw the sea, revealing the sensibility for which she was celebrated by her family. An old woman, she wept at the sight of her garden flowers after an illness had kept her indoors. In the readiness and accuracy of her responses, her taste was, Coleridge said, "a perfect electrometer—it bends, protrudes, and draws in, at subtlest beauties and most recondite faults." An electrometer was a recent invention, consisting of a fragile piece of gold, enclosed in glass, which responded to the most minute fluctuations of electrical charge, and Coleridge's metaphor bestowed in Dorothy his highest possible praise. For the writer and opium eater Thomas De Quincey, who became friends with the Wordsworths after William married, Dorothy was all nervous energy, rather, one imagines, like a highly tuned radio picking up waves. "The pulses of light," De Quincey said, "are not more quick or more inevitable in their flow and undulation, than were the answering and echoing movement of her sympathising attention." Dorothy's responses were immediate, but in her journals—a form of writing we associate with the recording of fresh reactions—she gives no response to the astonishing poems that were pouring out of Wordsworth, many of which she inspired herself and every word of which she stored inside her like charms in a magpie's nest. Nor did she record her response to the conversations she heard between Wordsworth and Coleridge as she wandered with them into the gloaming on the Quantock Hills, or lay with them beneath the shifting skies in Grasmere Vale. The poetic revolution going on around her, to which she contributed on a daily basis and which provides the backdrop to her journal, is the story she chose not to tell, rather as Louis XVI, telling in his diary for July 14, 1789—the day of the storming of the Bastille, following which his own days were numbered—simply wrote, "Rien."

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