Wordsworth's Ethics by Adam Potkay

By Adam Potkay

Why learn Wordsworth’s poetry―indeed, why learn poetry in any respect? past any excitement it may well provide, can it make one a greater or extra flourishing individual? those questions have been by no means faraway from William Wordsworth’s concepts. He answered in wealthy and sundry methods, in verse and in prose, in either famous and extra vague writings.

Wordsworth's Ethics is a finished exam of the Romantic poet’s paintings, delving into his wish to comprehend the resource and scope of our moral tasks. Adam Potkay reveals that Wordsworth continually rejects the type of impersonal utilitarianism that used to be espoused through his contemporaries James Mill and Jeremy Bentham in desire of a view of ethics based in relationships with specific folks and issues.

The dialogue proceeds chronologically via Wordsworth’s profession as a writer―from his juvenilia via his poems of the 1830s and '40s―providing a useful advent to the poet’s paintings. The e-book will attract readers attracted to the important connection among literature and ethical philosophy.

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Where no trace of man the spot profanes” is most immediately the power of ambient sound, conveyed in turn by the consoling sonority of Wordsworth’s lines and the Biblical echoes they carry. If, additionally, Wordsworth’s “secret Power” intimates divinity, it is an indefinite and unenvisioned demiurge that does not set man above the chorus of creation and that in no way commands or assumes verticality—this is not your father’s God. ” Evading the eye and attuning the ear to 26 wordsworth’s ethics poetry’s sound—here, the sound of poetry imitating a succession of non- or prepoetic sounds—is an ethical imperative for Wordsworth and one that connects the beginning of his poetic career to its end: his last sonnet and poem of any significance, composed in February 1846, censures book and newspaper illustration and a culture that prizes the graphic over the verbal.

I select these writers in preference to those of ancient Greece and Rome, because the anthropomorphitism [sic] of the Pagan religion subjected the minds of the greatest poets in those countries too much to the bondage of definite form; from which the Hebrews were preserved by their abhorrence of idolatry. This abhorrence was almost as strong in our great epic Poet. . However imbued the surface might be with classical literature, he was a Hebrew in soul; and all things tended in him towards the sublime.

In sum, whereas for many critics since Barrell “Spring” is a poem about cultivated observation and elite control of both nature and falsely naturalized social relations, it is also, and perhaps more centrally, a poem about things one cannot (fully) control—libidinal and other instinctive drives; other beings both like and unlike us. It is a poem about how music at once embodies and responds to these things. Finally, it is about how music might subtend ethical relations. Like the “meaning” of music itself, none of these inferences from Thomson’s text is an entirely clear, let alone a verifiable, proposition—this, presumably, is why critics have sidestepped the abundant appeals to music in descriptive poetry—but rather inducements to think beyond “the realm of explanation and legitimation by evidence and argument” (Bowie 280).

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