08 July 2008

A Romantic Diversion

Now that sounds potentially naughty, doesn't it?

For some reason, the Romantics (not the new wave band) were well represented on the radio yesterday. I listened to an early-morning program that discussed Lyrical Ballads' emergence from a cultural shift. Then I heard Garrison Keillor reciting some Wordsworth later in the day. I admit, Wordsworth is my least favorite Romantic, and he is one of my least favorite poets--I find his glorification of nature and man a bit cloying at times. Even so, listening to the discussion and to the recitation, put me in mind of this:

from "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" (l. 58-76)

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.


But trailing clouds of glory do we come"--such a beautiful, evocative line.

A curious aside: The excellent film about Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, titled Control, featured Curtis's character reciting Wordsworth's "My Heart Leaps Up." Is there something in the zeitgeist?

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