Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

William Wordsworth and the Theology of Poverty

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

William Wordsworth and the Theology of Poverty

Article excerpt

William Wordsworth and the Theology of Poverty. By Heidi J. Snow. (Farham, Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2013, Pp. vii, 152. $99.99.)

When the poet Wordsworth abandoned the subject of kings and queens to write about nature and common people, he often chose as his subject the poorest of his neighbors. Heidi Snow examines how the theology of poverty of the various religious sects in the poet's community is reflected in his poetry. Concern for the poor was not the responsibility of the government. Indeed one cause of the rampant rural poverty was the recently passed Enclosure Act that allowed land to be fenced. Since many small landowners did not have enough land to support their animals, they became poorer, ultimately losing what property they had. To Words- worth's characters this loss was deeply demoralizing. As Wordsworth observes, the poor were no longer allowed even to move about freely and live with their family. Husband, wife, children all separated (86).

The Anglican Church provided minimal, arbitrary support for the beggars who roamed the countryside and a very dismal poorhouse for those unable to make their way begging. A further duty of the charitable was to be sure that those receiving alms were worthy and were not corrupted. Poverty was the will of God and the charitable were responsible for not supporting those who might misuse their gifts. …

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