Monday, May 14, 2007

Poetry Group Review: Wordsworth

Yesterday, Poetry Group 1 studied the romantic musings of Wordsworth. Always interesting, PG1 focuses on a different poet weekly, generally meeting on Fridays at 4 in a wide variety of locations. Yesterday juxtaposed the delicious Vietnamese food of Mekong Delta (6th Ave. & King Street) with the literary icon. Between bites of shrimp papaya salad and salt and pepper calamari, we took turns reading Wordsworth aloud and musing on his prowess.

The struggle to find beauty in the grim, grim world has always been tough. Wordsworth masters it as no one before or since, without denying the reality of death, ghosts, pain, sorrow, horror, etc. He was no naive optimist, but seemed to force himself to find beautiful things to reflect upon in the lonely times.

Here's one of his most famous works:


I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Thursday is Poetry Group 2, and the poet is 20th century Manhattanite and modern romantic Frank O'Hara.

Friday, it's back to PG1 with an in-depth look at Wordsworth's laudanum-addicted buddy Sam Coleridge. We'll be reading "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in a rowboat in Central Park.

Til then, I'm off to dance with the daffodils!

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