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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH - THE COLLECTED POEMS


The Collected Poems of William Wordsworth - Wordsworth Poetry Library
THE COLLECTED POEMS OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Wordsworth Poetry Library Wordsworth Editions
£3.99

The poet, the poetry reader, the teacher, the student of language and literature, and lovers of wonderful words generally and classical works specifically, have an opportunity with Wordsworth Editions to invest as little as £3.99 in books that have stood and will continue to stand the test of time.  Visit the Wordsworth Editions website www.wordsworth-editions.com to see the full range of books available. 

Let’s face it. A lot of poetry is stuffy and complicated. At times, poems are like cryptic crossword clues stitched together to form something incomprehensible that is interpreted, by literary high society, as intellectually and academically fulfilling.  Anything that appeals to the masses is seen as cheap and, possibly, vulgar. Of course, there is evidence of genius in complex writing but I would contest that most casual readers, who just want to be informed, moved and entertained, rightly shun the vague and the obscure for simpler poetry - poetry that turns people on after the first reading, and plants a seed to encourage further exploration, rather than turning them off, forcing them to put the book on a shelf to gather dust.  Poetry as cabaret and comfort food is much more appealing, methinks, than poetry as high-falutin’ and haute cuisine, - clumsy, but hopefully you know what I mean - which brings me to William Wordsworth.

Wordsworth looked, saw and wrote about what he observed.  Right there, we have the characteristics of a great people’s poet. His view was simple, but he was not too simplistic.  He witnessed nature, scenery and the stuff of life and dreams and wrote about nature, scenery and the stuff of life and dreams in ways that most of us can grasp and understand first time round.  He is indeed the “Daffodils” man but he is so much more.  If I put my bargain hunter hat on for a moment, his poetry fills over 1,000 pages in this splendid edition and, for £3.99, you have a book filled to bursting with joy, beauty and pleasure, poems written and presented with the aforementioned simplicity that is the hallmark of his extraordinary output.

Here are his poems of youth, of old age, records of his travels, sonnets, poems of reflection, epitaphs, elegies, poems created from imagination and flights of fancy.  I can only tease and tempt you with a few morsels in this short review:

“Written in March “ – “The cock is crowing, the stream is flowing, the small birds twitter, the lake doth glitter, the green field sleeps in the sun…..”

“To a Skylark” – “Up with me! Up with me into the clouds! For thy song, Lark, is strong; Up with me, up with me into the clouds! ……..Joyous as morning……Joy and jollity be with us both!”

“Tintern Abbey” – “Five years have past; five summers, with the length of five long winters! And again I hear these waters, rolling from their mountain-springs with a soft inland murmur.”

“Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” -  “There was a time when meadow, grove and stream, the earth and every common sight, to me did seem appareled in celestial light….”

The poetry of Wordsworth is a pleasure to read.  If you want stuffy and complicated poetry, there is enough of it out there, more’s the pity.  But, if you want poetry of easy charm and beautiful expression look no further than this monumental book. “For oft when on my couch I lie in vacant or in pensive mood”, I think of William Wordsworth, and so should you.

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