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we will now turn to specific poets. Let us begin with the biggest name among all of them - William Wordsworth. Wordsworth’s fascination with nature can be read along two major lines for our purposes. His ideas, images and themes that have resulted in his being anointed as the Poet of Nature, and the contemporary assessment of his attitudes. As mentioned, Jonathan Bate, a major ecocritic has made the argument that several themes and concerns in William Wordsworth show signs of a proto-environmentalism and his ideas can be seen occurring in varied forms in 20th century environmentalism as well. (Refer Slide Time: 1:01) Wordsworth’s Nature What is Wordsworth’s nature like? (A pun!). It was the Victorians who saw him primarily as a “Prophet of Nature” due to such lines. Coleridge praised Wordsworth for drawing our attention to the world around us: “By awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand.” For Wordsworth, Nature inspires consciousness, the soul itself: These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As if a landscape to a blind man’s eye; But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to the, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration: -- feeling too Of unremembered pleasure (Tintern Abbey) Where are these feelings coming from? The “beauteous forms” even when they are absent, even when they are not directly before his eyes are reproduced by his mind's eye. He recalls them and whenever he is in the midst of the din of cities his sensations are sweet, and when exhausted he feels it in his blood. Nature is what gives him his soul. (Refer Slide Time: 3:06) Wordsworth seeks a unity between individual integrity (Man) and the social responsibility (Human Life) in the world-as-given (Nature). This is Kenneth Johnston’s argument. Wordsworth continues in “Tintern Abbey”: And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns And the round ocean and the living air And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things . . . The key phrase there is “a sense sublime”. What is Wordsworth doing here? Wordsworth is saying when I dwell in the light of setting Suns, ocean and air, something moves in the mind of man, emotion and the spirit which drives my thought process. What goes through my process of thinking is coming in from nature itself – this describes the “elevated thoughts”. The “sense sublime” in Wordsworth is a sense, a consciousness, a soul created by nature itself. (Refer Slide Time: 4:51) In short, everything that is best in his nature, all his gifts, came from Nature: Thou has fed My lofty speculations, and in thee For these uneasy heart of ours, I find A never-failing principle of joy And purest passion. Wordsworth will spell it out in slightly different ways in “An Evening Walk”: A heart that vibrates evermore, awake To feeling for all forms that Life can take; That wider still its sympathy extends And sees not any line where being ends; Sees sense, through Nature's rudest forms betrayed, Tremble obscure in fountain rock and shade, And while a secret power those forms endears Their social accents never vainly hears. As you can see, Wordsworth is very clearly locating himself as a medium for nature to go through. For nature to get to earth it has to go through a medium, something that mediates, and the poetic mind is something like that. (Refer Slide Time: 6:20) In The Excursion Wordsworth would go further, where Natural beauty is the combination of the Promised Land, the Elysian fields, and Paradise. Here is a passage from The Excursion: Beauty, whose living home is the green earth, Pitches her tents before me when I move, An hourly Neighbour, Paradise and groves Elysian, fortunate islands, feels like those of old In the deep ocean – wherefore should they be A history, or but a dream, when minds Once wedded to this outward frame of things In love, find these the growth of common day? But why turn to Nature at all? Wordsworth sees Nature as something that enables an escape from humanity. In the same poem The Excursion he would write this: Must turn elsewhere, and travel near the tribes And fellowships of men, see ill sights Of passions ravenous from each other's rage, Must share humanity in fields and groves Pipe solitary anguish, or must hang Brooding over the fierce confederate storm Of Sorrow, barricaded evermore, Within the walls of cities – may these sounds Have their authentic comment, that even these Hearing, I be not heartless or forlorn! ‘Human life’ sometimes disrupts the Man-Nature bonding. At some point Wordsworth says, “the world is too much with us”. My companionship, my connection with the soul of nature is interrupted by ‘Human Life’, the everyday life that we have to do. He suggests this in a poem like The Recluse where this dense bond between Man and Nature is broken because of the intrusion of everyday life. But that is not just Nature as something wonderful. (Refer Slide Time: 8:09) In some of Wordsworth you see Nature as a teacher, one that could suitably chastise you for misbehaviour. In The Prelude, for instance, Wordsworth’s speaker recalls a time when, as a child, he stole a boat. Subsequently, he believes he is chased by the mountains themselves. Here is the famous boat-stealing incident from The Prelude: One summer evening (led by her) I found A little Boat tied to a Willow-tree Within a rocky cave, its usual home. Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in Pushed from the shore; It was an act of stealth And troubled pleasure . . . Note what he is saying here, he has stolen a boat, it is an act of stealth but it is also troubled pleasure. So it is not just anxiety, there is pleasure but it is a little trouble as in he is not sure he should go through with this. So as he gets into the boat and moves on he looks back this way and is startled to see something: From behind its craggy Steep till then The horizon’s bound, a huge peak, black and huge As if with voluntary power instinct, Upreared its head - I struck and struck again. And growing still is growing still in stature the grim Shape Towered up between me and the stars, and still, For so it seemed, with purpose of its own and measured motion like a living Thing, Strode after me. What is Wordsworth doing? Wordsworth is saying, I have taken the boat, I have stolen it and I am going away, but when I look behind me like this, I see this huge, black peak chasing me. It seems to have upreared its head. He quickly gets in the boat, and then he realizes, I have done something wrong. Then he says, With trembling oars I turned, And through the silent water stole up my way Back to the Covert of the Willow-tree; here in her mooring-place I left my Bark, - And through the meadows homeward went, in grave/ And serious mood. . . Here Wordsworth implies that he is been penalized for his violation of Nature, and the mountain striding behind him is the chastisement Nature hands out. (Refer Slide Time: 11:21) Recent reevaluations have modified this interpretation of Wordsworth as a purely pastoral poet. Ralph Pite in The Cambridge Companion to Wordsworth argues that “in Wordsworth’s work ‘the natural world’ is always social, both in itself and in its relation to man.” If you recall in the last class we mentioned that the idea that nature and culture are binary is itself a cultural construction. He continues, “consequently, nature does not offer an escape from other people” that is, it does not become a place to go to as refuge, “so much as express an alternative mode of relating to them”. Wordsworth’s natural world is always the countryside, and implicitly posting the city as unnatural and one of artifice. So nature is pure in the country, in the city it is all artifice and corrupt. His position on nature is the defence of the rural way of life, a defence of the rural way of life as purer. If you recall what we have said about the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads he makes this point constantly that the emotions and language in the rural true, the language there is true, everything about the rural place is very niceSo he claims that passions and sentiment are moral, are more natural in the rustic zones. So there is this myth, let us call it that, a myth that people in the rural areas are more honest, are more intellectual, even if they do not have the language, and it is of course a primarily problem of language itself. Nature possesses healing powers, it cures the problems in you, especially when man is assaulted by the everyday. Nature bestows his poetry with something special. Please recall what we have quoted from the Tintern Abbey poem: the ‘sense sublime’ in me, ‘the sense sublime’ within me ‘of something far more deeply interfused’. We now turn to Wordsworth’s environmentalism. Jonathan Bate’s reading of William Wordsworth in Romantic Ecology: Wordsworth and the Environmental Tradition (1991) sees Wordsworth as an early environmentalist. Bate notes how Wordsworth situates his poem in very specific locales. This groundedness is of immense value because it suggests a deep-seated connection with place. This would be in line with the Deep Ecology philosophy of feeling a connection with specific places. Bate believes that Wordsworth was “as much geographer as historian. Consequently, there are studies now of Wordsworth’s interest in geology, in the soil and rocks of particular places (Noah Heringman’s work). (Refer Slide Time: 14:20) For Bate, Wordsworth is not simply idealizing pastoral worlds. Bate terms Wordsworth’s pastoral ‘a working paradise’ (22). It is a pastoral, not Arcadian. It involves hard work not just luxury. It is not idealized as a golden age. Bate notes that Wordsworth was concerned about the effects of globalization and industrialization that was happening in England at the time. There is a certain moralizing feature about Wordsworth's depictions of nature, but that is precisely what contemporary ecocriticism has revived in many places. (Refer Slide Time: 14:55) Bate admits that there is some merit in the criticism that Wordsworth ought to have written more about the economic conditions of his period, conditions which determined human society’s interactions with nature and the land. It is not easy to forget that Philip Sidney's Arcadia which gives a continuing title to English neo-pastoral was written in a park which had be made by enclosing a whole village and evicting the humans, Philip Sidney's cult text Arcadia is actually praising these kinds of lands, but as Jonathan Bate points out he is talking about lands which have been taken in and guarded and fenced off. The other famous critic Alan Liu writes, “there is no nature except as it is constituted by acts of political definition made possible by particular forms of government”, implying that ‘Nature’ is a discursive construct made possible by questions of economic relations and political power.” (Refer Slide Time: 15:45) Despite these misgivings about Wordsworth’s pastoral idealism, Bate proposes that Wordsworth offers us a working paradise, not an ideal Arcadian one. It is not Edenic, says Bate, in lines such as these. And Shepherds were the men that pleased me first; Not such as, ‘mid Arcadian fastness Sequestered, handed down among themselves, So ancient poets sing, the golden age; Nor such, a second race, allied to these, As Shakespeare in the wood of Arden placed Where Phoebe sighed for the false Ganymede, Or there where Florizel and Perdita Together danced, Queen of the feast, and King; Nor such a Spenser fabled. . . (Book VIII, Prelude 1805) And, The rural ways And manners it was my chance to see In childhood were sever and unadorned, The unluxuriant produce of a life Intent on little but substantial needs, Yet beautiful – and beauty that was felt. But images of danger and distress And suffering, these took deepest hold of me, Man suffering among awful powers and forms. (Book VIII, Prelude 1805) Bate argues that this kind of description divests the pastoral of its silver-tongued language and myths of the Golden Age. It is the fortitude of the Lakeland shepherd that Wordsworth singles out for praise. As you can see, our talk today has revolved around two principal components, one the environmentalist strand in Wordsworth which we have just used Bate to analyze and then there is a quasi-mystical version of nature as well. In the environmentalist reading of Wordsworth and Jonathan Bate is cutting edge for these ones, there is a sense that, it is not a perfect land, it is not an Arcadian ideal, it is a place where people have to work. So Bate’s argument is that to think of Wordsworth as just a worshipper of Nature is not true. From what we have seen so far Wordsworth has to work at something. It could be the imagination, it could be the assimilation but it is also a landscape which has to be worked at. We are looking at nature in two ways: land which is worked at and imagination which has to be worked at. Now I am arguing that this is an environmental imagination being assimilated and imbibed. What’s important is, the landscape being worked at is also the landscape of the imagination.