Wordsworth Dances With Daffodils

To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

— Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.

“William Wordsworth (1770-1850) … emphasized the vitality of everyday life, the importance of human emotions, and the illuminating power of nature. … Wordsworth was expressly concerned with discovering a sort of spiritual ecstasy that, for him, could be found only in nature and the innocence of childhood. With a mind ever wandering after the wonders of nature and the emotions of the heart, Wordsworth was initially criticized for his sentiment and the informality of his verse by his contemporaries.”
— from the article on Wordsworth in the New World EncyclopediaIn his classic piece, The Tables Turned (below), Wordsworth says in the last stanza, “Enough of science and art,” that is, dismissive of them.  May we say it is hyperbole?The line between reality and rhetoric is thin.  The poem declares emphatically academic learning grossly lacking when compared with nature immersion, which confers wisdom, blessings upon our minds and hearts, health, cheerfulness, moral insight and mindfulness (or a call to it).In the opening line he seems to say that too much at the books will make you gain weight … DOUBLE!


The Tables Turned

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet [type of finch],
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.


We’ll get to the daffodil dancing soon …

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Hermann Hesse: Tree Reverence

“Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. His best known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game (also known as Magister Ludi) which explore an individual’s search for spirituality outside society.” —from goodreads Hesse author page

“Wandering” book cover, translation by James Wright

Following below is a passage on trees from Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) in his book Wandering, Notes and Sketches (1920); translated by James Wright. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1972:

There is a comprehensive review of the book at Hermitary.com.  It begins, “Hermann Hesse composed his little book Wanderung: Aufzeichnungen as fiction, but it reads as autobiography, as do most of his little sketches wherein a personable narrator reveals his convoluted emotions.  Wandering finds the fictional narrator at a psychological crossroads, and Hesse’s clear, simple, and heartfelt prose makes the book a a candid and attractive reflection.”

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