Wednesday, April 12, 2006

revision to poem explication

“Lines Written in Early Spring”
By: William Wordsworth


I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:--
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?


Overall Meaning

In Wordsworth’s biographical headnote it says that he is a poet that remembers things of the past or, as he put it “emotion recollected in tranquility” 245. Some object in the present triggers a sudden renewal of feelings that he had experienced in his youth, resulting in a poem that exhibited his “two consciousnesses” 245; himself as he is now and the himself that he once was.

This is seen in Lines Written in Early Spring in how he is thinking to himself while sitting outside. His pleasant thoughts of nature and the happiness it brings is soon contrasted with the unhappiness that man has brought upon himself and to each other. He looks around at the plants and animals and sees how much they enjoy the environment in which they live. And then sees that man is the only living thing that does not appreciate it. Man does not find it’s natural environment captivating and beautiful. This sudden change shows his “two consciousnesses” in his own change in how he viewed nature. Perhaps when he was younger he didn’t appreciate natural beauty as he appreciates it today.


Stanza One

"I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind."


In this stanza someone, perhaps William, is sitting outside enjoying the sound of his surroundings, when his pleasant daydreaming suddenly causes him to think of something sad.

In the Preface to the Lyrical Ballad, Wordsworth says he used a “certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way” 264. He demonstrates this by describing nature as one who makes music in it’s “thousand blended notes” as if nature were a compose of music

There is an apparent rhyme scheme in the poem that suggests it to be read in a musical tone as well.


Stanza Two

"To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man."

Wordsworth thinks to himself about how nature beautifully created man, but then is overcome with sadness when he thinks of all the unhappiness that man has brought upon himself.

He capitalizes the “Nature” as to humanize it. Maybe showing that it is his form of divinity and views Nature as being much like God.

In the Preface Wordsworth also mentions that the main goal of literature is to keep human beings “emotionally alive and morally sensitive” thus keeping them “essentially human” 263. He is telling himself, and thus the audience, that man only brings about discontent which causes the reader to take a look at his own life and see this for himself.

Stanza Three

"Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes."

In this stanza he is looking at the plants around him and says that it is part of his faith to think that they are all enjoying their environment.

The way that he says that it is his “faith” again goes back to his perceiving Mother Nature to be his divine power.

The plants are in a way smarter than man because they don’t take Nature for granted. They enjoy it.

Stanza Four

"The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:--
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure."

Now he is looking at the animals around him that are playing and moving around outside. He says that although he doesn’t know exactly what they are thinking, he believes that even their smallest actions bring them happiness.

Sarah Mills says that “the theoretical meanings always have an overlaying of the more general meaning”. If you read between the lines of a discourse there is an underlying meaning waiting to be seen. Wordsworth does this by stating observations of birds hopping around, for example, to show comparison to the bigger picture of human nature and how different man is from all the other living things in the world because man is the only living thing that doesn’t appreciate natural beauty.

Stanza Five

"The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there."

Again he is showing that other forms of life, in this instance twigs, enjoy nature.

His use of a “certain colouring of imagination” is used again with the description of how the plants and animals interact with nature. He is saying that these living things also have feelings and express them through “spreading out their fan” to capture more of nature’s beautiful air.

The way he says that he must “think, do all I can” in order to find their pleasure again shows his faith in nature.

Stanza Six

"If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?"

This stanza brings the poem to closure. I think it is going back to the second stanza in how Nature’s “fair works” created man, but her plan failed for man because he does not appreciate her works. Men cannot live the natural plan of pleasure and happiness like all other living things can because of the way he acts.

Again he chooses to capitalize the word “Nature” as to show his faith is in it rather than in God. This time, he also chooses not to capitalize the word “heaven” maybe to show that the place is not real or unattainable to man because the only thing man brings is unhappiness to one another.

Ending

In the Preface, Wordsworth said his main goal in writing his poetry was to “choose incidents and situations from common life” and write in a “language really used by men” 264. This poem, as well as many of his others, can be understood by everyone. He uses everyday experiences, sitting outside daydreaming for example, to make his reader realize what their priorities should be. The way he sits and laments about what man has become shows that even common men can come to this realization and perhaps do something about it if they would just sit down and really listen to their environment.

Wordsworth bases the language of his poetry on the premise that “all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” 262. He gets his point across in language that everyone can understand, not just the elite. He writes down exactly what he observes but leaves the reader to read further and see the big picture of the relationship between man and nature versus the relationship between all other living things and nature.

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