A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.
No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.
Ever since I was a child, I have loved “collecting” poems: committing them to memory so I can recite them again and again like ancient, arcane spells. I found this childhood hobby continuing throughout the literary studies of my college years, too. Repeating verse in my mind whilst writing analytical papers. Scribbling stanzas in the margins of textbooks.
My most beloved poets, however, will always be the Romantics. I remember encountering Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” for the first time at age seven and subsequently exploring its sprawling sands as often as possible. And who among us didn’t have a teenage crush on Keats? You can imagine, then, the joy I felt at visiting the small villages in the Lake District where William and Dorothy Wordsworth spent the latter parts of their lives…
(A note: the William Wordsworth on the grave above is actually Wordsworth’s son, who just happened to have a slightly more photogenic headstone than his father!)
Wordsworth’s former home continues to embody Romantic qualities: it’s a slow, meandering place, with plenty of moss-covered bridges and cottages (and shops that pun and riff off of “I wandered lonely as a cloud.”)
Spending so much time outdoors makes me slightly more sympathetic to the philosophy espoused by the narrator in Wordsworth’s “The Tables Turned”:
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Who are your favorite British Romantics?