“The language and topics of the art of poetry are ultimately decisions of the poet himself. William Wordsworth believes the poet is someone who has the ability to be affected by absence. He is “a man pleased with his own passions… [and] rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life” (1502) and uses his imagination to create a presence which others cannot conceive.”
“This view is intensely optimistic and shows the power of the mind in the world Wordsworth is subject to. He believes that poets have a greater ability to comprehend nature and they are ‘nothing different in kind from other men, only in degree.” (1505).
“The ordinary man, Wordsworth believes, is closer to nature; and therefore closer to human-nature. Wordsworth’s faith in the ability of poetry to express the mind leads to an ultimate truth that is deeper than that which is tangible.”
–excerpt from Stephen Greenblatt, “The Norton Anthology of English Literature,” 8th ed. Vol 2. (pgs. 1498-1505).
Have you ever been transported to another time as you became lost in a powerfully written book, or suddenly relocated to another environment by imagining yourself there? Have you ever found yourself totally immersed in a world created by an especially captivating motion picture? Our mental projection into those thoughts and feelings during those experiences often make it seem as though we are actually “experiencing” those imaginings, although they actually have only a virtual existence and not a physical one.
Indeed, what transpires in our minds during experiential awareness of our journey can occasionally seem less real than our imagined journey, lacking some degree of fulfillment of our expectations. Wordsworth straddled these two worlds often and well, including this gem from “Lyrical Ballads:”
Artists and poets can sometimes evoke an experience of a moment in another world by presenting us with the most essential markers of an experience, which we then use to “fill in the rest.” Andrew Wyeth was particularly talented in this way. Many of his works transport us into a particular moment in time, where what is most essential to the experience of that moment come vividly alive.
Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth — American painter, 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, New York Tempera
Ever since the invention of languages and the realization of a deeper meaning to our existence, human beings have felt the need to express what they find within. Our inner worlds, far richer and profoundly more expansive than the world without, permit the creative expression of that world, but in terms that must attempt to communicate its ineffable nature.
A well-executed and pleasing piece of poetry invites us to appreciate the many assets we all might find within ourselves if we would only look. I find much encouragement in gentle words and heart-felt lines, rich in the poetic. For me, poetry has always been a release or a letting go or a spilling out. Many times, I am surprised by what arrives on the page when I set the poetry wheels in motion.
When poetry erupts and breaks the smooth surface of conscious awareness, it can feel like an intrusion, even though it is a welcomed one. The ripples are often felt long after the words arrive, and I feel compelled to return to the poem for another look.
I have had the urge to write down my thoughts as poems ever since being introduced to poetry as a schoolboy. I recall vividly the experience of my mother reading poetry to us from a volume of children’s rhymes, and the first time that poetry was introduced in the classroom.
In the spirit of Wordsworth’s poem, I offer one of my own original works from years ago, which reaches for this ideal of assets we all might find within ourselves, if we would only look:”