Imagination and Fancy: Complementary Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth

Imagination and Fancy: Complementary Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth

Imagination and Fancy: Complementary Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth

Imagination and Fancy: Complementary Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth

Excerpt

One mark of great poetry is its ability to gain the admiration of readers who reject the premises on which it was constructed. Thus today William Wordsworth is respected by critics whose attitudes and beliefs he would have deplored, while the specific doctrines which he hoped to promote in his poems have practically disappeared from the thoughts of all but Wordsworthian scholars.

To disentangle art and dogma is of course an important function of criticism, but there is reason to wonder whether sometimes the separation may not be carried too far. A case in point is Wordsworth's painstaking effort to trace in his poems "the primary laws of our nature." His most carefully contrived efforts in this direction are his descriptions of the two chief poetic faculties, imagination and fancy, and the classification of a number of his poems "with . . .

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