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Sense of Humanism in Wordsworth’s Poems
One might say that the great guiding principle of the Romantic revolt was reinvigorated humanism, which was greater than any since the Renaissance. The principle dealt greatly with individualism. Humanism affected every cycle: politics, philosophy, religion and arts.
Generally, Wordworth is considered a poet of nature, and yet we could sense the doctrine of humanism in his works as well. His poems suggest that he thinks highly not only of nature but also man.
First, Wordworth sees significance in every man, especially common ones. This is quite startling because never before poets see importance in ordinary people. Wordsworth sees this and he wrote a number of poems about them. He treated them as if they were very significant. “She Dwelt among Untrodden Way” is a good example. The poem deals with an ordinary and obscure country lass who has almost nobody to appreciate her beauty as she lives in the remote country. And yet her death has strong impact on the poet.
“She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be,
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!”
Although only a few people notice her death, it grieves Wordworth a lot to think that she is dead.
Second, Wordworth has a strong sense of individualism. Almost all of his poems concerned about himself and his mind; he rarely wrote about another subject matters. Wordworth’s favorite topic for his poems is to express the course and the development of his mind. For example, “Imitation Ode” depicts how once the poet has a serious conflict in his mind – he cherishes childhood and nature, and yet none could last forever – and how he finds a resolution – everything can be kept in his memory forever. “Sonnets Composed upon Westminster Bridge” shows his tremendous pride for London. “The World is Too Much with Us” suggests his opinion towards British society in his own time. Moreover, if poets before Wordsworth’s time thought of writing a long poem, their subject matter would, traditionally, not be their personal life. It would be things like mythology, the Bible or a great ruler. However, Wordsworth’s very long poems like “The Prelude” and “The Excursion” deal with himself, his personal life and his mind. (”The Prelude”, which the poet considers “Growth of a Poet’s Mind; an Autobiographical Poem”, is composed of 14 books!) Wordsworth is intensely a personal poet.
Third, Wordsworth’s great appreciation for nature is, somehow, based on humanism. Wordsworth is well known for his skill of ‘naturalise’ nature. And yet he sometimes ‘humanise’ nature as well. The poem ” I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is a good example. When the poet wants to depict his beautiful memory of the daffodils, he uses human term to describe them. He calls them ‘a crowd’ or ‘a host’ which were tossing their heads. He upgrades the daffodils by personifying or ‘humanising’ them.
Finally, Wordsworth’s sense of humanism is suggested in his great esteem on childhood. Romanticists believe that men are born good. Therefore, childhood is cherished, as it is the state that has not been tarnished by the world or social code yet. This means in the state of childhood man shows his ‘real’ nature. The statement that ‘The child is father of the Man’, written in the poem ” My Heart Leaps Up”, does not only conveyed the thought that the adult, in order to be able to appreciate life, has to learn to share excitement and innocence from the child but also the thought that the state of childhood exposes the ‘real’ nature of man. Children’s nature is more ‘original’ and closer to the nature of ‘man’ than the adults’ nature (for children’ s nature has not spoiled yet.). In other words, real human beings are the children. For this reason, the fact that ‘Wordsworth cherished childhood’ means ‘he cherishes man’.
In conclusion, Wordsworth’s poems suggest that the poet is also a humanist. He sees the worth in every single man – no matter how small they are. The doctrine of individualism is reflected in his works for almost all the poems. He sometimes humanises nature. And he cherishes the state of childhood, which is the state that exposes the original nature of man.
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