Friday, 23 March 2007

I wandered lonely as a sod

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'.

11 comments:

TimT said...

Blake, of course, argued that it's not the size of the soul that matters, it's how you use it. And Coleridge contended that you could surgically adjust the size of your soul through a liberal diet of opiates.

Byron, on the other hand, didn't give a tinker's cuss*. He preferred sex.

*What is a tinker's cuss, anyway?

Karen said...

Everyone seems to like WW more when they hear about AV. It is curious indeed.

alexis said...

Byron: mad, bad, and dangerous to gnaw.

A tinker is an itinerant beggar or pedlar (the word also seems to be used interchangeably with gipsy); a cuss is a curse. I'm guessing tinkers' cusses were supposed to fly pretty thick and fast.

boynton said...

This out-souling thing is pretty big around the blogs too.
It gets my gloat up.

JahTeh said...

My entire fourth grade year just passed before my eyes. We were made (and they could make you in the bad old days) us memorise that poem, every line and comment. They never told us what it meant and I couldn't look a daffodil in the face for years.

TimT said...

I laundered, mainly as a clod
That gloats on high o'er whales and dills;
And of a sudden, I saw a brood,
A host of golden heffalumps.


I'm still working on it.

alexis said...

Jahteh, just stick to jonquils. They're the demure Melbournean equivalent to the flashy Sydney daffodill.

Boynton: "gets your gloat up" - HA!

Tim, that's beautiful. Clearly your soul is very big indeed today.

wool spaniel said...

Dunno much about this Wordsworth character, anyhow - didn't he write about some lonely bloke collecting leeches on some moor?

(It's all part of giving sucker to the needy.)

TimT said...

Now there's an anecdote to go down in the annals of annelids!

alexis said...

Haw haw haw, Spaniel. (You too, Tim. That's good invertebrate vocabulary.)

The kids at the Catholic primary school in West Pymble used to call it "Our Lady of Perpetual Soccer".

Are those parents of ours moving house tomorrow already? That came round v. quickly.

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