A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Trailing Clouds Of Glory

Not in entire forgetfulness,/And not in utter nakedness,/But trailing clouds of glory do we come/From God, who is our home:/Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Ode

Childhood can be a time of spontaneous, unrestrained, direct physical contact with the natural world (Contact! Contact! Thoreau). Certainly Wordsworth had this kind of experience during his own childhood. Family difficulties made him turn more and more to the fells, valleys and lakes of the Lake District. A number of his poems, particularly the early parts of The Prelude, try to recapture some of the awe, wonder and delight he felt in this natural setting.

Inevitably one grows up and remembers in tranquillity these early, unrepeatable, golden years of boyhood. As an adult, though something is lost (the immediate, unreflective, even 'divine' experience of the 'thoughtless' boy), in recompense one may have the pleasure of recollection, and a more developed intellect to ponder the experience - using it as a source of inspiration, perhaps writing about it.

Wordsworth regrets here his adult lack of boyhood's vision: The things which I have seen I now can see no more... I know, where'er I go,/That there hath passed away a glory from the earth. Ode

The loss of youth's rapture is replaced by something else:

...That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur: other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompense. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the 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...

Lines Written A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

For me these are among the finest lines Wordsworth ever composed.


The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I, too, think they're among Wordsworth's finest lines. I read in them Wordsworth's cognizance of the Divine, having found a presence and power through nature which exceeds mere animism, "a spirit, that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thought, and rolls through all things..."

Loren said...

This are my favorite Wordsworth poems for sure.

I recognized them instantly as Truth when I first read them in college.

Perhaps because I'd discovered the same ideas earier in Whitman's poems.

IowaBoy said...

In searching for a line of a song that I am writing "...lost in the clouds of glory," your blog was one of the first hits. I really like the quotes I have read so far. And Martin Buber is one of my favorite poet/philosophers.

I will be following your wanderings.

Best wishes,


The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Terry.

Anonymous said...

Lovely reflection made in tranquility. Happy trails to you.