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The Prelude is considered by many as a valley that readers mine for its richness in poetic message. That fact was already proven by the popularity and attention that The Prelude has gained over time. The richness of the text poses a problem for anyone who would try to unearth the author’s intentions. To know the author’s exact intentions is really a great undertaking. We can know Wordworth’s intentions only if he himself will reveal it to the public. But the great William Wordsworth is poet. There is a better chance for us telling him to kill himself than to reveal explicitly his intentions. As many great artists say, explicitness is proven dangerous to any form of art. I humbly admit that I can’t supply the genuine intentions of William Wordsworth. What I can give are interpretations of the text The Prelude.
According to my reading, the dominant topic and a possible intention of The Prelude’s French Revolution sections could be the poet’s disappointments and frustrations about the French Revolution. He became frustrated and disappointed about the collapse of the revolution because he was an active partisan of the revolution. In fact he was so fond of the ideals of revolutions. Wordsworth expressed his amazement at the revolution through poetry: “how bright a face when joy of one, is joy of tens of millions.” (Wordsworth)
There are several ideologies that we can unearth from the text. Probably the most dominant ideology is the idea of being revolutionary. These were revolutionary ideas like what Marxist and anti-capitalists have. As Wordsworth says it, “man free, man working for himself, with a choice of time, place, and object.” (Wordsworth)
Wordsworth time was full of depression and asked for radical change in the society. In a sense, the back story of how the long poem The Prelude originated is not only a mere vanity to express one’s oozing talent and creativity. The Prelude is more of a coping mechanism, a poet’s reaction to what is happening around him. Wordsworth had transformed everything he felt about the revolution through flowing verses and metaphors.
French Revolution Poem
Setting aside the ideologies regarding the revolution, The Prelude was also a celebration of nature. It even appears that William Wordsworth makes Nature speak for all its beauty and glory. William Wordsworth had said himself that his heart leaps when he beholds a rainbow in the sky. (Wordsworth)
Ironically, the other ideology that is prevalent in poems of Wordsworth is surprisingly antirevolutionary. We can also call this antievolution as conservatism. The poet William Wordsworth was obviously amazed by the promises that the revolution brings, but as a poet who has a profound and critical mind, he was also aware of the excesses of the revolution. Wordsworth had this shift of political opinion at the same time as most people in Europe had changed their position about the revolution. (Johnston)
Wordsworth was one of the first to promote conservative sentiments as a form of expression. This was such a radical shift of position because he was also known to be one of the first to support the revolution. But then something came to Wordsworth. It something they called disillusionment. From being ideal to being practical, Wordsworth has withdrawn his support for the revolution. He and his fellow English poet Coleridge had given their support of to the conservative traditional Monarchy and the Church of England. (Barrio)
William Wordsworth is known to be always fond of nature. When I said nature I didn’t mean Mother Nature, birds and trees. No. William Wordsworth was always fond of his surroundings and everything that happens within it. That characteristic is very understandable for a poet like Wordsworth. That is because poets develop a certain sensibility that is beyond the reaches of the non-poet. The poets’ attention could be easily caught by the little things that are happening around him. It just so happens that Wordsworth was amidst something grand. The revolution has amazed the young poet. That amazement had triggered in Wordsworth’s mind a deluge of creative inspiration, thus long poem The Prelude.
His fondness of nature is really admirable. He is certainly what we can call a poet above the average poet. I really agree with William Wordsworth’s fascination with nature. He simply tells us that there is so much to appreciate in our surroundings. For me, it is really inspirational that he had transformed the depression that he witnesses in his surroundings into the beautiful poems that he had written. William Wordsworth’s fascination with nature reminded me that there is really something divine with nature. The divine element that nature posses is what fuels talented artists to make divine, pure, and beautiful works of art. I guess I really don’t have anything against Wordsworth when it comes to the topic of nature.
But I strongly disagree with his shift of political opinion. He turned from pro-revolution into the ideals of conservatism. I guess he had his own personal reasons for that decision. What I don’t like is that he has shunned away from what he believed in. It just means that as a person, he lacks faith in what he believes in. It is actually quite contradictory as the word faith literally means something that can’t be shaken or stripped from an individual. For me, when Wordsworth had shifted his political opinion about the revolution, he appeared to me as more of a politician than a poet.
I agree with all the artists who had expresses their political opinions through art. It is just logical that artists will utilize the capability of art to captivate people from all walks of life. There is really something which is unexplainable that happens when political opinions are presented to the masses in two different styles: artistic and the formal. The formal presentation that I’m talking about is done through newspapers and formal political speeches. The artistic is done through literature, music, visual arts, or art in general. I really am more in favor of using art as a vehicle for political opinions. This fact is already proven throughout human history by revolutionary poets like Pablo Neruda, like William Wordsworth. The poems of revolutionary poets have the potential to ignite an explosive revolution. Words alone won’t call the attention of the masses. They have to be words that are charged with the desire for a better living condition for all humanity.
Also, if an exchange of political opinions were to happen in a formal manner, it would certainly be a debate that could lead to disputes, as we see them on television. I think art would save us by lessening the political chaos around us by expressing opinions in an artful manner.
Here is a poem that a present-day artist has done to express his political opinion. The poem was done by an unknown poet in response to the upcoming presidential election. I just picked this up from some blog of sorts. That just signifies that this poem was done and presented in an informal manner. Maybe because the author may have wanted to communicate his message more. It could also be that the author wanted not to bore his audience with his expression of selfish political opinions. The author resorted to the proven formula. He had recognized the power of art to influence a large part of the society. I think this is because art is like the real universal language that the whole world could understand. I think people in politics are more difficult to understand than the complex mind of artists. People in politics are fond of speaking in a manner that the public can’t understand. They throw in complicated technical terms here and there. It’s like they find it hard to communicate with the public. But we all know that there are certain issues that should be clear to all sides of the society. These are the issues that decide the fate of the whole of society. The decision should be made by the public, not politicians, if we are to arrive in an agreeable decision.
Elections have always been full of controversy. All of the country is watching closely to everything happening in the election like it is some sort of television series. This issue had been heard by virtually all of the United States. I find it a good thing that someone had voiced out an opinion and many have listened. It means Americans still cared for America and everything that is happening within it. The poem also gave this certain individual a more powerful voice regarding the issue, more than his mere his mark in polls and surveys.
Aesthetically speaking, I really don’t find this poem as beautiful. I guess each and everyone of us have our own aesthetic preferences. I find the words of this poem weak. The line cutting is also, for me, nonsensical. As a reader, it occurred to me that the author of this poem didn’t plan the construction of this poem. Then it hit me. That could be exactly the point of the poem. The author may have wanted to communicate to us this is the time to make a move, that there is no more time for planning but for action. America needs no more formulation of what to do. What the country needs is action. The poem may have wanted to tell us that now is the time for us to act and speak out our opinions about what is happening in America.
This poem may have reached a lot people through the internet. Ergo, a lot people may have heard of the message that the author wanted to impart. This just proves that poetry’s capability to influence people is still there. Poetry still has the power to make people listen. This proves that art will always be important even in today’s modern world of technologies.
By Jared Hael Plata
A white Black or white,
Man or the empowered woman,
Democrat or not,
What is important
Is what we already know
But yet to learn from,
We must vote
Because we simply must
Is what we already know
And now America will learn
What change could happen
If we just let our voices be heard
Like a song
Calling for a better world (Plata)
Plata, Jared Hael. 1 March 2008. <http://myangerisagift.blogspot.com/2008/02/election.html>
Barrio, Carlos. Conservatism. 1 March 2008 <http://html.rincondelvago.com/conservatism.html>
Johnston, Kenneth R. Wordsworth and The Recluse. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1984
Wordsworth, William. The Prelude: an Autobiographical Poem. Michigan: D. Appleton. 1850.