For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Rejoicing In The Morning's Birth

I have always very much liked the 1st 2 verses of Wordsworth's poem Resolution And Independence - the one about his encounter with the leech-gatherer. Here Wordsworth reveals to us - simply and clearly, through an undistorted lens of language, without any affectation or abstraction - the joy of a shiny-new morning after a stormy night:
There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops; on the moors
The Hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist; which, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.


This was one of the poems I had to memorize off by heart for school English lessons (the 1st few verses at any rate) - and it stays with me still, a familiar and much loved piece of mental furniture. I don't know why it remains so very resonant; perhaps it's something to do with its simplicity, and its sensory nature. Wordsworth sets the scene for the whole poem beautifully in these 1st 2 verses; he paints an immediate word-picture that is pleasingly visual - bright and clear as the rinsed-clean morning itself. In fact, when you examine it, all 5 senses are stimulated: you can see the raindrops on the grass and the running hare; you can hear the singing birds, the brooding stock-dove, the roaring wind and the gurgling streams; you can smell, nearly taste, the saturated ground; you can feel, almost touch, the 'plashy earth' beneath the hare's feet.

4 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like that word "plashy" Robert - I presume it is a Lakeland dialect word, it renminds me of a dialect word here in the Dales - glishy (meaning overbright - as in a sun on a stormy day).

jay said...

The imagery in that one is lovely, isn't it? I like the part about the hare's feet raising mist from the grass.

I had a poem or two to learn for English at school, too. One I still remember, and which still resonates with me is John Betjeman's East Anglian Bathe. I shiver with him, feel the gritty sand under my feet, see the sunlight dappling the shallows and the jellyfish 'in quivering isolation' laying 'silted in the dry sand of the breeze'.

I thought he used alliteration very well in that one.

The Solitary Walker said...

I love those dialect and portmanteau words, Weaver. They enrich the language immeasurably.

I don't know that Betjeman poem, Jay - but will look it up!

Ande said...

Hi,

I stumbled upon your blog. It's a lovely poem, makes me think of a DH Lawrence quote I love:

We don't exist unless we are deeply and sensually in touch with that which can be touched but not known.”

/Ande