What’s Wordsworth’s Healing Power?
Time may restore us in his course
Goethe’s sage mind and Byron’s force;
But where will Europe’s latter hour
Again find Wordsworth’s healing power?
-Matthew Arnold, “Memorial Verses” (1852)
The most popular feature of the poetry of Wordsworth (1770-1850) , the greatest of the Romantic poets revealing ‘the union of deep feeling with profound thought’ ( Coleridge), is its healing power. In his “Tintern Abbey”, the poet’s meditation starts about beautiful landscape near Tintern abbey where he returns after five years:
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deepseclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
Wordsworth makes it evident in this poem that the objects of nature fill us with pure joy. We can get peace of mind, “that serene and blessed mood” only in the world of nature.
In his epic The Prelude, his spiritual autobiography, the opening lines show Wordsworth’s greatest mastery in revealing how the “breeze” creates the subtle nuances of emotion providing the inward joy and peace to the poet:
OH there is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate'er its mission, the softbreeze can come
To none more grateful than to me…
In the above magnifecent lines, we find that Wordsworth is able to provide an impressive sublimity to the little, trivial and ordinary things. One of the best examples of Wordsworth’s healing power is visible in his “Three Years She Grew”. The poet is able to accept stoically the traumatic experience of Lucy’s sudden death. This he does with the help of the lingering happy memories of Lucy:
She died, and left to me
This heath, this calm, and quiet scene;
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be.