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This report is taken from PN Review 232, Volume 43 Number 2, November - December 2016.

Reading Wordsworth: Two poems from Lyrical Ballads
(4th edition, 1805)
Thomas Kinsella

Lines 1–3: High expectations established: ‘singled out’; ‘heavenly’; immortality;

4–7: followed by ordinary rural matters in plain narrative: the speaker setting out for a day gathering nuts in the distant woods.

7–13: He sees himself as faintly comic, with marks of the beggar and clown; dressed for the roughnesses ahead by his attentive, sensible wife.

13–20: Reaching the distant woods, he finds a sheltered, virgin scene waiting, untouched. He senses its vulnerability, and there is an atmosphere of threat in the words ‘broken’, ‘Drooped  ...  withered’, ’ungracious’, ‘devastated’.

20–24: His response is intense: paused; standing and observing, almost breathless with pleasure; controlling his great emotion while indulging in the certainty, unchallenged, of the feast.

24–28: Lines presenting an alternative, contrasting, response to the scene : sitting, not standing; toying with flowers, in a quiet emotion like the restful peace after long tiredness...

29–33: an emotion related to the scene as imagined while still unvisited and virgin : the violets pursuing the changing year in their own way, with no reference to the human measurement of the seasons; the stream, magical and undisturbed, murmuring onward to itself...

33–37: the stream as seen, and sensed physically, with cheek placed down against a stone – one of a number of stones covered with moss, like sheep covered with fleece, partaking in the life of the scene.

38–42: He is in that abstract mood when – utterly content, and with mind adrift – one idles with whatever is to ...

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