Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections

By Neil Fraistat | Go to book overview

[to] . . . close / Upon the growing Boy" (lines 67-68) is relieved by our recognition that the adult imaginative projection patterned throughout the volumes is in its very principle liberating. The spring jubilee Wordsworth celebrates at the inception of the poem is everywhere enacted along that orchard pathway he walked at the beginning of the first volume, and the freshness of response in the poems on natural creatures and phenomena testifies to the truth of his assertion, "My heart is at your festival" (line 39).

But the grave undertones of the "Intimations Ode" are also everywhere present in the earlier poems. Even in the simplest of these celebrations, in the retrospect of the "Ode," we glean a cautionary insight, as if the poems were evidence of a continual mental therapy designed to insure imaginative vitality, to forestall that moment when the poet must acknowledge that "The things which I have seen I now can see no more" (line 9). The earlier poems comprise by their self-conscious tribute to the momentary the very continuity of "obstinate questionings / Of sense and outward things, / Fallings from us, vanishings" (lines 144-46) that the "Ode" so powerfully confronts. Their dialectical rhythms are in the aggregate both broad and dynamic, exhilarating and dangerous, and Wordsworth refuses to narrow them or deny their full energy in encompassing them within his poem. The almost unendurable maturity of the "Intimations Ode," he implies, is already present in the most simple-minded moment of identification with a butterfly or a rainbow, for each such moment is a record of that "primal sympathy / Which having been must ever be" (lines 184-85). The Poems, in Two Volumes adheres with radical insistence to that perspective, documenting thus obliquely to The Prelude how such sympathy is responsible for, imperative to, "the Growth of a Poet's Mind." What is most to be prized in this collection, it might be said, is exactly what Jeffrey detested in it: no other poet has ever written the small so very large or been so true to the value of its inner, absolute life.


NOTES
1.
Francis Jeffrey had his first opportunity to catch Wordsworth on his own and made use of the occasion for a broad attack in the Edinburgh Review 11 ( October 1807). Interestingly, Lord Byron, who was also continually to decry Wordsworth's "system," also reviewed the two-volume collection in Monthly Literary Recreations 3 ( July 1807). These notices are conveniently reprinted in Donald H. Reiman, ed. The Romantics Reviewed ( New York: Garland Publishing, 1972), part A, vol. 2: 437-38; 661-62.
2.
William Wordsworth, Poems, in Two Volumes, and Other Poems, 1800-1807, ed.

-251-

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Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction the Place of the Book and the Book as Place 3
  • Notes 14
  • Some Issues for Study of Integrated Collections 18
  • Notes 40
  • The Theory and Practice of Poetic Arrangement from Vergil to Ovid 44
  • Notes 63
  • Sequences, Systems, Models Sidney and the Secularization of Sonnets 66
  • Notes 91
  • Jonson, Marvell, and Miscellaneity? 95
  • Notes 115
  • The Arrangement and Order of John Donne's Poems 119
  • Appendix A: Epigrams 150
  • Appendix B: Love Elegies 150
  • Appendix C: Epicedes and Obsequies 153
  • Appendix D: Divine Poems 154
  • Appendix E: Verse Letters 155
  • "Strange Text!" "Paradise Regain'D . . . to Which is Added Samson Agonistes" 164
  • Notes 191
  • "Images Reflect from Art to Art" Alexander Pope's Collected Works of 1717 195
  • Notes 231
  • Multum in Pairvo Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes of 1807 234
  • Notes 251
  • The Book of Byron and the Book of a World 254
  • Notes 271
  • The Arrangement of Browning's Dramatic Lyrics (1842) 273
  • Notes 286
  • Whitman's Leaves and the American "Lyric-Epic" 289
  • Notes 306
  • Marjorie Perloff the Two Ariels the (re)making of the Sylvia Plath Canon 308
  • Notes 331
  • Index 335
  • Notes on the Contributors 343
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