They were falling over themselves this week with the gorgeousness of W. Wordsworth. "Sure, this is all gorgeous", I says to them. "I like a warbling linnet as much as the next man, but really! Doesn't it trouble you a little that this poem that pretends to be about a chronically depressed widow dying of poverty is actually about our Willie's enormous, stupendous, gargantuan Soul?"
Here they remind me of Wordsworth's tragic love affair with Annette Vallon, and how scarred he was by having to up and leave. Not scarred enough by half, in my opinion. I burst into a little homily to the effect that if you're ever transported back to the 1790s, regardless of what your mates are doing, you do not go round getting French gels pregnant when you won't be able to stick around and help out with the nappy-changing. They're unmoved. Or, rather, they're moved the other way. They see Will's broken heart in every line.
I bring out the big guns (you've got to fight the Western literary canon with itself these days). "Hear ye", I say, "How Wilberforce Wordsworth describes himself: 'a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind'. How'd you like that, eh? He's telling you his soul is more comprehensive than yours. Doesn't that get your goat up?"
Their goats remain down. They love Wordsworth, more comprehensive soul, paramour-and-baby-desertion, and all. I decide to change tack before I'm lynched.
They don't call these people Victorians for nuffin'.