In the 10th Grade I was given an assignment to write an essay relating William Wordsworth’s life to his poetry.
William Wordsworth lived, for most of his life, in the Lake District. The beautiful scenery sparked his imagination and, rightfully so, many of his poetry reflects this. When you consider his surroundings and look at a few examples of his poem it is made clear.
William Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England. Initially, as with most families, William lived with his mother, father, and (five) siblings. However, his mother died when he was very young, and, when William was 14, his father died as well. Young Wordsworth was made to live with his uncles, who paid for him to go to Cambridge, but William did not enjoy it.
William liked to hike, and took many “walking tours”. One of which led him to France during the French Revolution, and as an Englishman he was fascinated by the ideals being thrown around. During his stay in France he met a Frenchwoman named Annette Vallon who he fell in love with. Annette bore him a child (Ann Caroline), but William had to leave as he was running short on money and the French Revolution was getting violent. William did, though, plan to return and marry Annette as soon as things had settled financially and politically.
At this point it is necessary to mention that William’s father was man of wealth, but did not have any wealth to pass on to his children upon his death because many debts were owed to him. It wasn’t until 1802 that William received the payment of one of the largest debts owed to his father. With this new found money William made a trip back to France, but not with the same intention he had held for so many years. This time he was going to work things out with Annette so that he could marry Mary Hutchinson, a friend he’d known since childhood.
Wordsworth’s life was pretty decent until 1812 when tragedy stained his life like chocolate cake on one’s graduation robe. In June of that year his fourth child, Catherine, died at the tender age of 3, and in December of the same year his third child, Thomas, died as well. His wife, Mary, came close to dying, and his sister Dorothy fared no better. Although his parents died while he was young, and two of his children also died, William lived until April 23, 1850. He was 80 years old.
Wordsworth’s career in poetry, itself, started upon his return from France following his affair with Annette when he published two poems he had written out of amusement. His career became a serious matter though when he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1795. The two of them got together (though Wordsworth did most the work) and published Lyrical Ballads in 1798. From here Wordsworth’s young career began to flourish, and in 1807 he published what is considered his peak work, Poems in Two Volumes. His most well known and admired piece, however, is most certainly his autobiographical poem The Prelude. He finished it in 1839, but sealed it away to be printed only after his death. Shortly before his death, though, his career made one last major step when he succeeded Robert Southey as the Poet Laureate for England in 1843 at the age of 73.
Wordsworth wrote a still-popular poem titled “Daffodils” (sometimes reffered to as “I Wander’d Lonley As A Cloud”). In the poem he makes use of a hyperbole when he claims to see 10,000 daffodils in a field. He also makes use of personification when he portrays himself as a cloud thereby giving the inanimate cloud all his human qualities. Much more noticeable, though, is his imagery. In the poem he describes and praises lakes, fields, trees, stars, and daffodils.
In “Daffodils” Wordsworth also uses alliteration, and, more obviously, rhyme. Throughout the poem he uses the rhyme scheme ABABCC. He also made use of enjambment, which makes his poem and the meanings he wishes to convey flow, as opposed to being singled into the lines.
Another notable poem is “The Tables Turned”. The poem is practically drenched in personification, as Wordsworth makes multiple implications that nature is a being capable of teaching others. Yet, if the poem is drenched in personification, then it’s submerged under imagery. Almost every stanza contains descriptive and admirable imagery praising the magnificence of nature.
“The Tables Turned” is written in eight four-line stanzas that follow an ABAB rhyme scheme. It is written in what’s called ballad form, which resulted, in this example, and alternating between 4 and 3 beats in each line (3434).
Both “Daffodils” and “The Tables Turned” share a common theme. In “Daffodils” Wordsworth praises the field of daffodils, and in “The Tables Turned” he praises the educational potential of nature. Both of these are praising nature. He also makes it a point to say that nature is superior over it’s city equal. In “Daffodils” he says that even when he is relaxing in his home he can be struck by the urge to see the daffodils. In “The Tables Turned” he makes the same point quickly by telling his friend to quit reading books and to go outside.
As established previously, the subject of both these poems is nature. When you consider the fact that William loved to take hikes and walking tours, and recall that he lived in the Lake District it becomes clear that his life significantly influenced his poetry. In fact, it was written by his sister Dorothy that William actually wrote “Daffodils” on a stormy day during one of his hiking excursions.
This same love of nature led to the tone and theme of his poems. In both these poems it is absurdly obvious from his imagery and personifications that he adores and praises nature. He enjoys it so much that activities such as reading or staying inside on a good day don’t appeal to him anymore, and this is also shown in both these poems.
In conclusion, we are presented with the fact that he was raised in the Lake District where he would have daily been exposed to beautiful scenery. When you consider that and add into the mix that his poems hold nature with only the kindest of words, describe it with the utmost appealing imagery, and that most of his famous poems are in fact about nature it is as simple as putting one and one together to make two. William Wordsworth’s poetry was inspired by the beautiful scenery he enjoyed so much.
Works Cited Page
Asiado, Tel. “William Wordsworth Biography.” Great Writers. Suite101, 2008. Web. 26 Apr. 2010.
Cantor, Rebecca. “Wordsworth’s Poetical Works Study Guide: Summary and Analysis of The Tables Turned.” Gradesaver.com. GradeSaver, 2007. Web. 26 Apr. 2010.
Davies, Hunter. “William Wordsworth.” Incompetech. Antheneum Press, 1980. Web. 26 Apr. 2010.
Everett, Glenn. “William Wordsworth: Biography.” The Victorian Web: An Overview. Victorian Web, 2000. Web. 26 Apr. 2010.
Hood, Edwin P. William Wordsworth: a Biography. Cash, 1856. Print.
Satwase, Vaishali. “Analysis of Daffodils by William Wordsworth.” Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Buzzle.com Inc, 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2010.
Untermeyer, Louis. The Paths of Poetry Twenty-Five Poets and Their Poems. New York: Delacorte, 1966. Print.
Wordsworth, William. Complete Poetical Works. Porter & Coates, 1870. Print.