Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lines Written in Early Spring*

Today happens to be the birthday of William Wordsworth (born 1770.) He is one of my favorite poets (although I am sure Byron, Shelley, and Coleridge would not be impressed with me for saying so.)

When I was in the eight grade, our "reading" teacher (because English still focused on grammar and spelling at that point) did a whole section on poetry. We had to memorize several poems of our own choosing to recite in front of the class, and we had to create an illustrated anthology of poems on a theme. It was around that time that I really began to take an interest in poetry. This was definitely spurred on by the soundtrack to the tv show "Beauty and the Beast", which had a significant number of tracks of Ron Pearlman reading poetry. (I loved the first two seasons of that show.)

The general public probably know William Wordsworth best for his poem, Daffodils, which begins:
I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
But I prefer his poem about the city, Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Several years ago, a film called Pandaemonium about the friendship of Wordsworth and Coleridge was released. John Hannah played Wordsworth, and Linus Roche played Coleridge. It isn't particularly historically accurate, but I thought it was entertaining (even though it makes Wordsworth out to be a competitive jerk who spoiled Kubla Khan for Coleridge.) I liked it on principle because I think that it is important to make films about people who create art.

*Lines Written in Early Spring is another poem by Wordsworth

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