Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Dorothy Wordsworth

Reasons to Write Daily in a Journal – Anaïs Nin, C. S. Lewis, Joan Didion, Franz Kafka, and Susan Sontag Tell Us Why They Wrote in Journals

In her Grasmere Journal, William Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy wrote that Wordsworth often sat in a crude shepherd’s hut or a writer’s hut to write. Wordsworth’s writing huts were little more than a roof and a desk that were beneath a covered shelter, and they had no walls that separated him from nature. The huts were situated in places where he had a natural view and a first-hand experience of his natural environment. Wordsworth clearly wanted to write from a place where he could directly respond to his natural setting, and his intimacy with nature allowed him to have the fodder needed to write authentically and from an immediate overflow of emotion.

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Anaïs Nin also talked about writing authentically–about writing from an overflow of emotion that can result from a first-hand writing after observation.

“You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947

Anaïs Nin recommends that writers keep a journal:

“This diary is my kief, hashish, and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice. Instead of writing a novel, I lie back with this book and a pen, and dream, and indulge in refractions and defractions… I must relive my life in the dream. The dream is my only life. I see in the echoes and reverberations, the transfigurations which alone keep wonder pure. Otherwise all magic is lost. Otherwise life shows its deformities and the homeliness becomes rust… All matter must be fused this way through the lens of my vice or the rust of living would slow down my rhythm to a sob.”

From The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 1.

“The diary taught me that it is in the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately. I learned to choose the heightened moments because they are the moments of revelation.”

From Nin’s essay “On Writing,” 1947.

“The theme of the diary is always the personal, but it does not mean only a personal story: it means a personal relationship to all things and people. The personal, if it is deep enough, becomes universal, mythical, symbolic; I never generalize, intellectualise. I see, I hear, I feel. These are my primitive elements of discovery.

Music, dance, poetry and painting are the channels for emotion. It is through them that experience penetrates our bloodstream.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old LewisC.S. Lewis Talks about Keeping a Journal

[About his journal after the death of his wife] “What would H. think of this terrible little notebook to which I come back and back? Are these jottings morbid? Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on think about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief. Do these notes merely aggravate that side of it? Merely confirm the monotonous, treadmill march of the mind round one subject. But what am I to do? I must have some drug, and reading isn’t a strong enough drug now.”

From A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis

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Joan Didion Tells Why She Writes in a Journal

Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” From “On Keeping A Notebook” – Slouching Towards Bethlehem

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Franz Kafka Tells Why He Wrote in a Journal

“One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer….In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today…..” From Diaries, 1910-1923.

Susan Sontag Tells Why She Wrote in a Journal

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Susan Sontag

“On Keeping a Journal. Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptacle for one’s private, secret thoughts — like a confidante who is deaf, dumb and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.

The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.

From a December 31st entry in her journal, as printed in Reborn.

 

Julia Cameron vehemently recommends journaling in a format that she calls morning pages. In reading her book the Artist’s Way, it sounds at first as though Cameron advocates morning pages as a way to leech all of the bile that has backlogged throughout one’s being, but I believe that further reading of her book reveals that Julia Cameron would agree that once we have exorcised our demons on paper, morning pages can be extended to include more than a listing of our negative qualities and our inadequacies. Morning pages are a way to dig into our deepest extremities or into the roots from which we have sprung, but morning pages are also a place that we can register ideas for future books, stories, or pieces. They are about moving beyond our roots–about growing forward.

Morning pages are also a way to celebrate the everyday, the mundane, the what’s-happening-now in our lives. Keeping a daily journal is a way to stop, look, listen, and write.  Grander writing may spring from our journals later, or they may not. As in most art, the product of keeping a journal is not what counts. It is the process. As we begin to write daily, we begin to notice more of what lies around us and we expand. As we begin to journal, life becomes more meditative for us, and we learn how to live in the moment and how to write from that same moment.

On page 52 of the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron shares that she learned about mindful observation and writing from the moment from her grandmother’s letters.

” ‘The forsythia is starting and this morning I saw my first robin. . . .  The roses are holding even in this heat . . . . The sumac has turned and that little maple down by the mailbox . . . . My Christmas cactus is getting ready. . . . .’

“I could imagine. Her letter made that easy. Life through grandma’s eyes was a series of small miracles: the wild tiger lilies under the cottonwoods in June; the quick lizard scooting under the gray river rock she admired for its satiny finish. Her letters clocked the seasons of the year and her life.” [p. 52]

. . .

“My grandmother was gone before I learned the lesson her letters were teaching: survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention. …

“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, pgs. 52-53.

Julia Cameron Tells Us about May Sarton’s Journal of Solitude

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“In a year when a long and rewarding love affair was lurching gracelessly away from the center of her life, the writer May Sarton kept A Journal of a Solitude.

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“In it, she records coming home from a particularly painful weekend with her lover. Entering her empty house, ‘I was stopped by the threshold of my study by a ray on a Korean chrysanthemum, lighting it up like a spotlight, deep red petals and Chines yellow center. . . .  Seeing it was like getting a transfusion of autumn light.’

“It’s no accident that May Sarton uses the word transfusion. The loss of her lover was a wound, and in her responses to that chrysanthemum, in the act of paying attention, Sarton’s healing began.

“The reward for attention is always healing. It may begin as the healing of a particular pain–the lost lover, the sickly child, the shattered dream. But what is healed, finally, is the pain that underlies all pain: the pain that we are all, as Rilke phrases it, ‘unutterably alone.’ More than anything else, attention is an act of connection.”  [Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, p. 53]

Julia Cameron Tells How Her Writing Is Linked with Painful Experiences

“It may be different for others, but pain is what it took to teach me o pay attention. In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always, all right.

. . .

“The night my mother died….A great snowy moon was rising behind the palm trees. Later that night, it floated [p. 54] above the garden, washing the cactus silver. When I think now about my mother’s death, I remember that snowy moon.

“The poet William Meredith as observed that the worst that can be said of a man is that ‘he did not pay attention.’ ”

“When I think of my grandmother, I remember her gardening…. [p. 55]

“I remember her pointing down the steep slope from the home she was about to lose, to the cottonwoods in the wash below. ‘The ponies like them for their shade,’ she said. ‘I like them because they go all silvery in their green.’ “Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, pgs. 54-56.

©April 26, 2017

 

Roots

What Is the Connection Between Walking and Writing? – Keep A Nature Journal

About 1 week ago, I wrote that I love autumn and that it always seems like the time that I should my new year Here on my blog: jackikellum.com.

This year, I decided to name September 11 as my official New Year’s Day, and on that day I established some new year’s resolutions. One of my resolutions is that I plan to launch a serious walking campaign. Many of my heroes were great walkers, and they used walking as a type of therapy and also as a tool for priming their writing pumps and as a way to lubricate their souls.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ― John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

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“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” ― Jane Austen, Persuasion

Autumn is a beautiful time to be outside. It is a time that is too beautiful to stay inside. Autumn itself beckons me away from my house, and I have decided to increase my enjoyment of fall by walking. While I am out, I plan to begin writing and illustrating a nature journal.

“For [Jane Austen and the readers of Pride and Prejudice], as for Mr. Darcy, [Elizabeth Bennett’s] solitary walks express the independence that literally takes the heroine out of the social sphere of the houses and their inhabitants, into a larger, lonelier world where she is free to think: walking articulates both physical and mental freedom.” ― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Saturday, friend and I were returning from a writing conference, and she surprised me by stopping at Weymouth Furnace Park, which is the site where the Great Harbor passes through the ruins of an old glass-making place:

The Weymouth Furnace Park is 19 miles from my front door, and it is a lush, natural site that is almost undisturbed. I could rent a kayak at the park and kayak down the stream, or I could simply hike along it, and this place is close enough that I should do this every day. My friend and I were there during the weekend, and there were only a few other people there. I would imagine that no one is there during the week.

weymouth-furnace-map

I realize that I am not allowing myself, my mind,  and my spirit enough time to stop and to the rose petals that are scattered around my life. William Wordsworth said that Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotions, and I am sure that this was true for him. But it is important to understand that William Wordsworth was an avid walker. and that he made sure that he filled his life with the types of moments that evoke an ever-renewing spontaneous overflow of emotion. I realize that I have not been doing enough of that.

In her Grasmere Journal, William Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy wrote that Wordsworth often sat in a crude shepherd’s hut or a writer’s hut to write. Wordsworth’s writing huts  were little more than a roof and a desk that were beneath a covered shelter, and they had no walls that separated him from nature. The huts were situated in places where he had a natural view and a first-hand experience of his natural environment. Wordsworth clearly wanted to write from  a place where he could directly respond to his natural setting, and his intimacy with nature allowed himself to have the fodder needed to evoke his overflow of emotions and to refill his spirit.

Anaïs Nin also talked about the overflow that Wordsworth had mentioned:

 “You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947

For the past year, I have written almost every day, but I have  done so from  a comfortable spot in my bed, with my laptop on my lap. Almost every day, I have responded to the WordPress Daily Prompts, and until recently, I have been able to draw upon memories for my writing. I have discovered, however, that I am beginning to repeat myself. Clearly, my emotional well is beginning to run dry, and I recognize that I need to do something more to provide myself with fresh writing material. Very simply, I need to recharge.

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Last week, I began to read Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal, and in it, I saw that Dorothy’s journals are nothing more than simple records of what she saw and experienced directly in her life.

“In the morning when I arose the mists were hanging over the opposite hills and the tops of the highest hills were covered with snow. There was a most lovely combination at the head of the vale–of the yellow autumnal hills wrapped in sunshine and overhung with partial mists, the green and yellow trees and the distant snow-topped mountains. It was a most heavenly morning.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Friday 10 October 1800.

There is something alive and fresh about the way that Dorothy Wordsworth captured what she actually saw on October 10, 1800. What she has written is not fancy or elegant or sophisticated, and this is very important: Dorothy Wordsworth’s entry is not long and convoluted. It is simply a record of what Dorothy saw that day.

When I blog, I clearly blog with the reader in mind. I try to write in complete sentences, and I strive to write so that other people can make sense of what I have written. I also strive to write an article that I believe is respectably long. In other words, when I blog, I feel some obligation to write full and detailed blog posts. After reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, however, I realize that I also need to be writing some simpler and more immediate notes about what is actually occurring around me and what I actually see day-to-day.

Dorothy Wordsworth was also a walker. On an almost daily basis, Dorothy would walk in some natural setting and she would write simple records of what she saw. Although she was not a poet per se, she closely observed the weather and the flora and fauna around the places where she walked. Afterward, in just a few words, she strove to capture her immediate impressions about what she had seen. Dorothy Wordsworth did not realize that her journals would be made public, and when she took notes on her daily life, she did not bother with grammatical correctness or with trying to write full sentences. She simply blurted a word or a phrase that signified an actual moment in her day. The following is an example of one of Dorothy Wordsworth’s longer entries in her journal:

“After tea we rowed down to Loughrigg Fell, visited the white foxglove, gathered wild strawberries, and walked up to view Rydale. We lay a long time looking at the lake, the shores all embrowned with the scorching sun. The ferns were turning yellow…here and there one was quite turned. We walked round by Benson’s wood home. The lake was now most still and reflected the beautiful yellow and blue and purple and grey colours of the sky. We heard a strange sound in the Bainriggs wood as we were floating on the water it seemed in the wood, but it must have been above it, for presently we saw a raven very high above us–it called out and the dome of the sky seemed to echo the sound–it called again and again as it flew onwards, and the mountains gave back the sound, seeming as if from their centre a musical bell-like answering to the bird’s hoarse voice. We heard both the call of the bird and the echo after we could see him no longer.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 27 June 1800.

As I said, the above is one of Dorothy’s longer and more refined entries, and even the above journal entry in not long, as compared to what I have deemed to be a respectably long blog post. I teach a writing class, and the excuse that i most often hear for the student’s not writing is that the student did not feel that he had enough time to write. What they are actually saying is that they did not have enough time to sit down and complete an article that is 400 -1200 words long.Everyone has time to journal the way that Dorothy Wordsworth journaled. On most days, she simply jotted a few words like in the following:

“A very fine day with showers–dried the linen & starched. Drank tea at Mr. Simpsons. Brought down Batchelors Buttons (Rock Ranunculus) & other plants–went part of the way back. A showery, mild evening–all the peas up.” May 22, 1800

Many of Dorothy’s entries are nothing more than an observation of the humdrum activities of her day, and her writing is usually noted in sentence fragments. Occasionally, Dorothy would follow a basic record of the hum-drum proceedings of her day with a simple comment about nature that was almost haiku in quality.

“No fire in the morning. Worked till between seven and  eight, and then watered the garden, and was about to go up to Mr. Simpson’s, when Miss S. and her visitors passed the door. I went home with them, a beautiful evening the crescent moon hanging above Helm Crag.” Dorothy’s Journal May 28, 1800

“A letter from Jack Hutchinson, and one from Montagu enclosing a three-pound note. No William! i slackened my pace as I came near home fearing to hear that he was not come. I listened till after one o’clock….Foxgloves just coming into blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 6, 1800

On June 16, Dorothy wrote that a child stopped by her house on his way home from Hawkhead. He was hungry, and she fed him. In a way that is typical of Dorothy’s writing the final line transforms the entry entirely:

“When I asked him if he got enough to eat he looked surprised and said, ‘Nay’.  He was seven years old but seemed not more than five….Lent three pounds nine shillings to the potter at Kendal. Met John on our return home at about ten o’clock. Saw a primrose in blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 16, 1800

I call attention to the fact that in most of that day’s entry, Dorothy is talking  feeding the poor, but in the final sentence, she attaches a note about a flower that she had seen that day.

I have only read a few pages, but the following is my favorite of these entries that have a natural twist in the last sentence:

“Very cold. Baking in the morning, gathered pea seeds and took up–lighted a fire upstairs. Walked as far as Rydale with John intending to have gone on to Ambleside but we found the papers at Rydale–Wm walking in the wood all the time. John and he went out after our return–I mended stockings. Wind very high shaking the corn.”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal August 22, 1800

I can see that Dorothy’s quick sketches of nature have an honesty and a lyricism that is often lost when a more sophisticated record is made. And more importantly, because Dorothy’s daily notes were very short, she did not allow herself the excuse of lack of time to prevent her from journaling. After having read Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere journal, I have created a new writing agenda to add to my other, more finished writing:

  • I need to get back into nature and to allow myself to simply jot down a few words here and there about what I have seen and heard.
  • I need to allow nature to recharge my writer’s well.
  • I need to embrace the fact that not every writing is obligated to be a chapter in the next break-out novel. I need to allow some of my writing to be very short and unfinished–just a word here and there.
  • I need to grant myself the time and the experiences to nourish my soul.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

©Jacki Kellum September 19, 2016

Hike

Allow Yourself the Time to Walk and to Look and to Simply Jot Some Notes Along the Way

This week, I have begun to realize that I am not allowing myself, my mind,  and my spirit enough time to stop and smell the rose petals that are scattered around my life. William Wordsworth said that Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotions, and I am sure that this was true for him. But it is important to understand that William Wordsworth was an avid walker. and that he made sure that he filled his life with the types of moments that evoke an ever-renewing spontaneous overflow of emotion. I realize that I have not been doing enough of that.

In her Grasmere Journal, William Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy wrote that Wordsworth often sat in a crude shepherd’s hut or a writer’s hut to write. Wordsworth’s writing huts  were little more than a roof and a desk that were beneath a covered shelter, and they had no walls that separated him from nature. The huts were situated in places where he had a natural view and a first-hand experience of his natural environment. Wordsworth clearly wanted to write from  a place where he could directly respond to his natural setting, and his intimacy with nature allowed himself to have the fodder needed to evoke his overflow of emotions and to refill his spirit.

Anaïs Nin also talked about the overflow that Wordsworth had mentioned:

 “You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947

For the past year, I have written almost every day, but I have  done so from  a comfortable spot in my bed, with my laptop on my lap. Almost every day, I have responded to the WordPress Daily Prompts, and until recently, I have been able to draw upon memories for my writing. I have discovered, however, that I am beginning to repeat myself. Clearly, my emotional well is beginning to run dry, and I recognize that I need to do something more to provide myself with fresh writing material. Very simply, I need to recharge.

Yesterday, I began to read Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal, and in it, I saw that Dorothy’s journals are nothing more than simple records of what she saw and experienced directly in her life.

“In the morning when I arose the mists were hanging over the opposite hills and the tops of the highest hills were covered with snow. There was a most lovely combination at the head of the vale–of the yellow autumnal hills wrapped in sunshine and overhung with partial mists, the green and yellow trees and the distant snow-topped mountains. It was a most heavenly morning.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Friday 10 October 1800.

There is something alive and fresh about the way that Dorothy Wordsworth captured what she actually saw on October 10, 1800. What she has written is not fancy or elegant or sophisticated, and this is very important: Dorothy Wordsworth’s entry is not long and convoluted. It is simply a record of what Dorothy saw that day.

When I blog, I clearly blog with the reader in mind. I try to write in complete sentences, and I strive to write so that other people can make sense of what I have written. I also strive to write an article that I believe is respectably long. In other words, when I blog, I feel some obligation to write full and detailed blog posts. After reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, however, I realize that I also need to be writing some simpler and more immediate notes about what is actually occurring around me and what I actually see day-to-day.

Dorothy Wordsworth was also a walker. On an almost daily basis, Dorothy would walk in some natural setting and she would write simple records of what she saw. Although she was not a poet per se, she closely observed the weather and the flora and fauna around the places where she walked. Afterward, in just a few words, she strove to capture her immediate impressions about what she had seen. Dorothy Wordsworth did not realize that her journals would be made public, and when she took notes on her daily life, she did not bother with grammatical correctness or with trying to write full sentences. She simply blurted a word or a phrase that signified an actual moment in her day. The following is an example of one of Dorothy Wordsworth’s longer entries in her journal:

“After tea we rowed down to Loughrigg Fell, visited the white foxglove, gathered wild strawberries, and walked up to view Rydale. We lay a long time looking at the lake, the shores all embrowned with the scorching sun. The ferns were turning yellow…here and there one was quite turned. We walked round by Benson’s wood home. The lake was now most still and reflected the beautiful yellow and blue and purple and grey colours of the sky. We heard a strange sound in the Bainriggs wood as we were floating on the water it seemed in the wood, but it must have been above it, for presently we saw a raven very high above us–it called out and the dome of the sky seemed to echo the sound–it called again and again as it flew onwards, and the mountains gave back the sound, seeming as if from their centre a musical bell-like answering to the bird’s hoarse voice. We heard both the call of the bird and the echo after we could see him no longer.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 27 June 1800.

As I said, the above is one of Dorothy’s longer and more refined entries, and even the above journal entry in not long, as compared to what I have deemed to be a respectably long blog post. I teach a writing class, and the excuse that i most often hear for the student’s not writing is that the student did not feel that he had enough time to write. What they are actually saying is that they did not have enough time to sit down and complete an article that is 400 -1200 words long. Everyone has time to journal the way that Dorothy Wordsworth journaled. On most days, she simply jotted a few words like in the following:

“A very fine day with showers–dried the linen & starched. Drank tea at Mr. Simpsons. Brought down Batchelors Buttons (Rock Ranunculus) & other plants–went part of the way back. A showery, mild evening–all the peas up.” May 22, 1800

Many of Dorothy’s entries are nothing more than an observation of the humdrum activities of her day, and her writing is usually noted in sentence fragments. Occasionally, Dorothy would follow a basic record of the hum-drum proceedings of her day with a simple comment about nature that was almost haiku in quality.

“No fire in the morning. Worked till between seven and  eight, and then watered the garden, and was about to go up to Mr. Simpson’s, when Miss S. and her visitors passed the door. I went home with them, a beautiful evening the crescent moon hanging above Helm Crag.” Dorothy’s Journal May 28, 1800

“A letter from Jack Hutchinson, and one from Montagu enclosing a three-pound note. No William! i slackened my pace as I came near home fearing to hear that he was not come. I listened till after one o’clock….Foxgloves just coming into blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 6, 1800

On June 16, Dorothy wrote that a child stopped by her house on his way home from Hawkhead. He was hungry, and she fed him. In a way that is typical of Dorothy’s writing the final line transforms the entry entirely:

“When I asked him if he got enough to eat he looked surprised and said, ‘Nay’.  He was seven years old but seemed not more than five….Lent three pounds nine shillings to the potter at Kendal. Met John on our return home at about ten o’clock. Saw a primrose in blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 16, 1800

I call attention to the fact that in most of that day’s entry, Dorothy is talking  feeding the poor, but in the final sentence, she attaches a note about a flower that she had seen that day.

I have only read a few pages, but the following is my favorite of these entries that have a natural twist in the last sentence:

“Very cold. Baking in the morning, gathered pea seeds and took up–lighted a fire upstairs. Walked as far as Rydale with John intending to have gone on to Ambleside but we found the papers at Rydale–Wm walking in the wood all the time. John and he went out after our return–I mended stockings. Wind very high shaking the corn.”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal August 22, 1800

I can see that Dorothy’s quick sketches of nature have an honesty and a lyricism that is often lost when a more sophisticated record is made. And more importantly, because Dorothy’s daily notes were very short, she did not allow herself the excuse of lack of time to prevent her from journaling. After having read Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere journal, I have created a new writing agenda to add to my other, more finished writing:

  • I need to get back into nature and to allow myself to simply jot down a few words here and there about what I have seen and heard.
  • I need to allow nature to recharge my writer’s well.
  • I need to embrace the fact that not every writing is obligated to be a chapter in the next break-out novel. I need to allow some of my writing to be very short and unfinished–just a word here and there.
  • I need to grant myself the time and the experiences to nourish my soul.

©Jacki Kellum September 11, 2016

Recharge

Things That I Did Not Expect to Learn from Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal – Keep It Short! Disregard the Rules!

I am grazing my way through Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal, and I have enjoyed the beautiful passages that she sometimes recorded, but I have also been impressed by Dorothy’s system 0f  journaling.

Much of her journal is built of phrases and not of full sentences. I found this to be very encouraging. When i look at the entirety of Dorothy’s journal, I see that her journaling must have been good for her development as a writer. Even if the journal entries and quick and even if they are not grammatically correct, they capture quick observations that are almost poetic. There is evidence that some of William Wordsworth’s most famous poems were built upon Dorothy’s journal entries.

May-17 May 17, 1800

Almost all of Dorothy’s daily entries are very short.

Some of the entries are not longer than a sentence or a phrase.  I believe that we should learn from this that we should allow ourselves permission to simply take notes in our daily journals. We are not obligated to write the next great novel every time that we write.

May-22 May 22, 1800

Many of Dorothy’s entries are nothing more than an observation of the humdrum activities of her day.

Occasionally, Dorothy would follow a basic record the proceedings of her day with a simple comment about nature that was almost haiku in quality.

“No fire in the morning. Worked till between seven and  eight, and then watered the garden, and was about to go up to Mr. Simpson’s, when Miss S. and her visitors passed the door. I went home with them, a beautiful evening the crescent moon hanging above Helm Crag.” Dorothy’s Journal May 28, 1800

“A letter from Jack Hutchinson, and one from Mantagu enclosing a three pound not. No William! i slackened my pace as I came near home fearing to hear that he was not come. I listened till after one o’clock….Foxgloves just coming into blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 6, 1800

On June 16, Dorothy wrote that a child stopped by her house on his way home from Hawkhead He was hungry, and she fed him. There are several reports about beggars and te hungry in her journal. This entry is totally about feeding the child, but notice how, through the final line, she transforms the entry. Dorothy does not do that to impress anyone. She probably had no idea that anyone other than William would ever see her journal. About the child that she fed, she said the following:

When I asked him if he got enough to eat he looked surprised and said, ‘Nay’.  He was seven years old but seemed not more than five….Lent three pounds nine shillings to the potter at Kendal. Met John on our return home at about ten o’clock. Saw a primrose in blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 16, 1800

I have only read a few pages, but the following is my favorite of these entries that have a twist during the last sentence:

“Very cold. Baking in the morning, gathered pea seeds and took up–lighted a fire upstairs. Walked as far as Rydale with John intending to have gone on to Ambleside but we found the papers at Rydale–Wm walking in the wood all the time. John and he went out after our return–I mended stockings. Wind very high shaking the corn.”  Dorothy’s Journal August 22, 1800

In my previous post, I shared some of Dorothy’s entries that seem to be more complete as nature writings. Here The entries that I am sharing in this post are different, and I could not keep myself from commenting upon Dorothy’s tendency to wax poetic at the end of a humdrum line entry. She doesn’t seem to labor over it, and she doesn’t go into great detail. It is simply enough. That is poetry. I am learning something from Dorothy Wordsworth’s approach to journling.

©Jacki Kellum September 7, 2016

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Provides A Word Painting of 19th Century Life in the English Lake District – Sense of Place

Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in a journal, and her words paint a brilliant image of what life seemed to her when she and her brother William Wordsworth lived in the English Lake District during the early 19th Century.  She  began the following entry immediately after saying farewell to her brothers John and William, who had departed for Yorkshire.

“The lake looked to me I knew not why dull and melancholy, and the weltering on the shores seemed a heavy sound. I walked as long as I could amongst the stones of the shore. The wood rich in flowers. A beautiful yellow, palish yellow flower, that looked thick round and double, and smelt very sweet–I supposed it was a ranunculus–a crowfoot, the grassy-leaved rabbit toothed white flower, strawberries, geranium–scentless violet, anemones two kinds, orchises, primroses….Met a blind man, driving a very large beautiful bull and a cow–he walked with two sticks. Came home by Clappersgate. The valley very green, many sweet views up to Rydale head….One beautiful view of the bridge, without St. Michael’s….I resolved to write a journal of the time til W. and J. return….” Dorothy Wordsworth Journal Wednesday 14, May 1800.

Nature was important to the Wordsworths. It was a tonic for their spirits, and William Wordsworth said that Nature was his teacher. He was saying that Nature spoke to him and directed his path and that he communed with Nature.

The following was painted by H. Levan.

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“Warm and mild, after a fine night of rain. Transplanted radishes after breakfast, walked to Mr. Gell’s with the books, gathered mosses and plants. The woods extremely beautiful with all autumnal variety and softness…All flowers now are gay and deliciously sweet. All flowers now are gay and deliciously sweet. The primrose still pre-eminent among the later flowers of the spring. Foxgloves very tall, with their heads budding. I went forward round the lake at the foot of Louhrigg fell. I was much amused with the business of a pair of stone chats. Their restless voices as they skimmed along the water following each other their shadows under them, and their returning back to the stones on the shore, chirping with the same unwearied voice. Could not cross the water so I went round by the stepping stones.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Friday 16, May, 1800.

“I went to Ambleside after tea, crossed the stepping stones at the foot of Grasmere and pursued my way on the other side of Rydale andClapppersgate. I sat a long time to watch the hurrying waves and to hear the regularly irregular sound of the dashing waters. The waves round about the little island seemed like a dance of spirits that rose out of the water and to hear the regularly irregular sound of the dashing waters. The waves round about the little island seemed like a dance of spirits and rose out of the water, round its small circumference of shore….and was accompanied by Mrs. Nicholson as far as Rydale. This was very kind but God be thanked I want not society by a moonlight lake….”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Monday 2 June 1800.

Constable

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J.M.W. Turner

“After tea we rowed down to Loughrigg Fell, visited the white foxglove, gathered wild strawberries, and walked p to view Rydale. We lay a long time looking at the lake, the shores all embrowned with the scorching sun. The ferns were turning yellow, that is here and there one was quite turned. We walked round by Benson’s wood home. The lake was now most still and reflected the beautiful yellow and blue and purple and grey colours of the sky.

Image result for vintage painting crow“We heard a strange sound in the Bainriggs wood as we were floating on the water it seemed in the wood, but it must have been above it, for presently we saw a raven very high above it called out and the dome of he sky seemed to echo the sound–it called again and again as it flew onwards, and the mountains gave back the sound, seeming as if from their centre a musical bell-like answering to the bird’s hoarse voice. We heard both the call of the bird and the echo after we could see him no longer.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 27 June 1800.

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Rydal Water by E. Longstaff

“A grey evening. About eight o’clock it gathered for rain and I had the scatterings of a shower, but afterwards the lake became of a glassy calmness and all was still. I sat till I could see no longer….” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Saturday2 August 1800.

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Painting by Benjamin Williams

“In the morning when I arose the mists were hanging over the opposite hills and the tops of the highest hills were covered with snow. There was a most lovely combination at the head of the vale–of the yellow autumnal hills wrapped in sunshine and overhung with partial mists, the green and yellow trees and the distant snow-topped mountains. It was a most heavenly morning.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Friday 10 October 1800.

Image result for 19th century English painting sheep cattle

Henry Britan Willis

“After dinner we walked up Greenhead Gill in search of a sheepfold. We went by Mr. Olliff’s and through his woods. It was a delightful day and the views looked excessively cheerful and beautiful chiefly from Mr. Ollif’s field where our house is to be built. The colors of the mountains soft and rich, with orange fern–the cattle pasturing upon the hill-tops kites sailing in the sky above our heads–sheep bleating and in lines and chains and patterns scattered over the mountains. They come down and feed on the little green islands in the beds of the torrents and so may be swept away….Look down the brook and see the drops rise upwards and sparkle in the air….” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Saturday 11 October 1800.

“We pulled apples after dinner, a large basket full. We walked before tea by Bainriggs to observe the man coloured foliage the oaks dark green with yellow leaves, the birches generally still green, some near the water yellowish. The sycamore crimson and crimson-tufted, the mountain ash a deep orange, the common ash lemon colour but many ashes still fresh in their summer green. Those that were discoloured chiefly near the water.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 12 October 1800.

“The prospect most divinely beautiful–from the seat–all colours, all melting into each other….a very cold frosty air, and a spangled sky in returning….Wytheurn looked very wintry but yet there was a foxglove blossoming by the roadside.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Wednesday 15 October 1800.

“Rydale was very beauiful the surface of the water quite still like a dim mirror. The colours of the large island exquisitely beautiful and the trees still fresh and green were magnified by the mists. …We sat at the two points looking up to Park’s The lowing of the cattle was echoed by a hollow voice in Nab Scar.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 19 October 1800.

“The ash in our garden green, one close to it bare, the next nearly so.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Friday 24 October 1800.

“The coppices now nearly of one brown. An oak tree in a sheltered place…not having lost any of its leaves as quite brown and dry. We did not walk after dinner. It was a fine wild moonlight night.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Monday 27 October 1800.

“A very rainy night….We walked out before dinner to our favourite field. The mists sailed along the mountains and rested upon them enclosing the whole vale….A fine moonlight night when we came home.”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Tuesday 28 October 1800.

“A cold rainy morning….The Michaelmas daisy droops, the pansies are full of flowers. The ashes opposite are green all but one but they have lost most of their leaves. The copses are quite brown….A rainy night.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Thursday 6 November 1800

“a rainy morning. A whirlwind came that tossed about the leaves and tore off the still green leaves of the ashes. A fine afternoon. Wm and I walked out a four o’clock. West as far as Rothay Bridge… The country very wintry–some oaks quite bare–others more sheltered with a few green leaves others with o=brown leaves, but the whole face of the country in a winter covering.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Saturday 8 November 1800

“I baked bread. A fine clear frosty morning. We walked after dinner–to Rydale village. Jupiter over the hilltops, the only star like a sun flashed out at intervals from behind a black cloud.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Monday 10 November 1800

“A mild night partly cloudy partly starlight. The cottage lights, the mountains not very distinct.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Tuesday 11 November 1800

“Went upon Helvellyn, glorious  glorious sights. The sea a Carmel. The Scotch mountains beyond the sea to the n=right. Whiteside large and round and very soft and green behind us. Mists above and below and close to us, with the sun amongst them–they shot down to the coves….A soft grey evening–the light of the moon but she did not shine on us.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 25 October 1801

“Mary and I walked as far as Sara’s Gate before supper. We stood there a long time, the whole scene impressive, the mountains indistinct the lake calm and partlyl ruffled–large island, a sweet sound of water falling into the quiet lake. A storm was gathering in Easedale so we returned but the moon came out and opened to us the church and village. Helm Crag in shade, the larger mountains dappled like a sky. We stood long upon the bridge.”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Wednesday 18 November 1801

“We….returned by Butterslip How–a frost and wind with bright moonshine. The vale looked spacious and very beautiful–the level meadows seemed very large, and some nearer us unequal ground heaving like sand, the cottages beautiful and quiet. We passed on near which stood a cropped ash with upright forked branches like the devil’s horns frightening a guilty conscience.”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 22 November 1801

“As we were going along we were stopped at once, at the distance perhaps of fifty yards from our favourite birch tree. It was yielding to the gusty wind with all its tender twigs, the sun shone upon it and it glanced in the wind like a flying sunshiny shower. It was a tree in shape with stem and branches but it was like a spirit of water. The sun went in and it resumed its purplish appearance the twigs still yielding to the wind but not so visibly to us. The other birch trees that were near it looked bright and cheerful, but it was a creature by its own self among them…. A shower came on when we were at Benson’s. We went through the wood–it became fair–there was a rainbow which spanned the lake from the island house to the foot of Bainriggs. ….Catkins are coming out palm trees budding–the alder with it plum-coloured buds. We came home over the stepping stones. The lake was foamy with white waves. I saw a solitary butterflower in the wood. ….

“In speaking of our walk on Sunday evening the 22nd November I forgot to notice one most impressive sight. It was the moon and the moonlight seen through hurrying driving clouds immediately behind the Stone Man upon the top of the hill on the forest side. Every tooth and every edge of rock was visible, and the Man stood like a giat watching from the roof of a lofty castle. The hill seemed perpendicular from the darkness below it. It was a sight that I could call to mind at any time it was so distinct.”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Tuesday 24 November 1801

 

Writings about the Wordsworth Homes – Writing about Sense of Place

William Wordsworth and his siblings were orphaned when William was 13-years-ol and when Dorothy was 12-years old. They were separated until about 1795, when they were reunited:

Racedown Lodge in Dorsetshire – 1795

“The brother and sister, have thus cast in their lots together, settled at Racedown Lodge in Dorsetshire in the autumn of 1795. They had there a pleasant house, with a good garden, and around them charming walks and a delightful country looking out on the distant sea. The place was very retired, with little or no society, and the post only once a week. But of employment there was no lack. The brother now settled to poetic work; the sister engaged in household duties and reading, and when work was over, there were endless walks and wanderings. Long afterwards Miss Wordsworth spoke of Racedown as the place she looked back to with most affection. ‘It was,’ she said, ‘the first home I had.'” Shairp, Recollections, pgs. xiv-xv.

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The most significant writing of William Wordsworth’s writing at Racedown was The Ruined Cottage, which is now Part I of The Excursion. Image Credit Here

The Wanderer, from The Deserted Cottage, illustrated by Birkett Foster, J. Wolf, and John Gilbert, engraved by the Brothers Dalziel, London: George Routledge, 1859.

he was a Man
Whom no one could have passed without remark.
Active and nervous was his gait; his limbs
And his whole figure breathed intelligence.

The Excursion, I, 454-457

Image Credit Here

Samuel Taylor Coleridge visited the Wordsworths at Racedown, and to be near Coleridge, the Wordsworths moved to Alfoxden.

Alfoxden House Image Credit Alfoxden Here

“Alfoxden was a large furnished mansion, which the brother and sister had to themselves. ‘We are three miles from Stowey,’ the then abode of Coleridge, writes the sister, ‘and two miles from the sea. Wherever we turn we have woods, smooth downs, and valleys, with small brooks running down them, through green meadows, hardly ever intersected with hedgerows, but scattered over with trees. The hills that cradle these valleys are either covered with fern and bilberries, or oak woods, which are cut for charcoal. Walks extend for miles over the hill-tops, the great beauty of which is their wild simplicity–they are perfectly smooth, without rocks.’ Shairp, Recollections, pg. xvii

Some of the Lyrical Ballads were written while the Word\sworths were at Alfoxden. It was also where Wordsworth wrote The Tables Turned and Tintern Abbey. During this time, Coleridge wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which was the first poem in Lyrical Ballads, which was published in 1798. In September of 1798, Coleridge moved to Germany and for a while, the Wordsworths moved there, too, but in December, the Wordsworth’s walked back to England and discovered Dove Cottage.

The Wordsworths Move to Dove Cottage

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“On the shortest day of the year (St. Thomas’s Day) they reached the small two0story cottage at the Townend of Grasmere, which, for the next eight years, we to be the poet’s home, immortalized by the work he did in it. That cottage has behind it a small orchard-plot or garden ground shelving upwards toward the woody mountains above, and in front it looks across the peaceful lake with its own green island, to the steeps of Silver-how on Helm Craig and up the long folds of Easedale towards the range that divides Easedale from Borrowdale. In this cottage they two lived on their income of a hundred pounds a year, Dorothy doing all the household work, for hey had then, it has been said, no servant.” Shairp, Recollections, pg. xx.

Before they moved from Dove Cottage, De Quincy visited them, and he wrote the following about the Cottage:

“A little semi-vestibule between two doors prefaced the entrance into what might be considered the principal room of the cottage. It was an oblong square, not above eight and a half feet high, sixteen feet long, and twelve broad; very prettily wainscoted from the floor to the ceiling with dark polished oak, slightly embellished with carving. One window there was–a perfect and unpretending cottage window–with little diamond panes, embowered at almost every season of the year with roses, and, in the summer and autumn, with a profusion of jasmine and other fragrant shrubs. From the exuberant luxuriance of the vegetation around it, this window, though tolerably large, did not furnish a very powerful light to one who entered from the open air…I was ushered up a little flight of stairs, fourteen in all, to a little drawing-room, or whatever the reader chooses to call it. Wordsworth himself has described the fireplace of this room as his ‘Half kitchen, and half parlour fire,’

“It was not fully seven feet six inches high, and in other respects pretty nearly of the same dimensions as the rustic hall below. There was, however, in a small recess, a library of perhaps three hundred volumes, which seemed to consecrate this room as the poet’s study and composing-room, and such occasionally it was.

“About four o’clock it might be when we arrived. At that hour in November the daylight soon declined, and in an hour and a half we were all collected about the table.

“This with the Wordsworths, under the simple rustic system of habits which they cherished then and for twenty years after, was the most delightful meal of the day,just as in great cities and for the same reason, because it was prolonged into a meal of leisure and conversation. That night I found myself, about eleven at night, in a bedroom, about fourteen feet by twelve. Much I feared that this might turn out the best room in the house; and it illustrates the hospitality of my new friends to mention that it was…

“Next morning Miss Wordsworth I found making breakfast in the little sitting-room. No one was there, no glittering breakfast service; a kettle boiled upon the fire; and everything was in harmony with these unpretending arrangements.

“I rarely had seen so humble a ménage; and, contrasting the dignity of the man with this honourable poverty, and this courageous avowal of it, his utter absence of all effort to disguise the simple truth of the case, I felt my admiration increased.” Shairp, Recollection, pgs. xxix-xxx.

 In 1813, the Wordsworths moved to Rydal Mount.

William Wordsworth May Have “Found” Poems in His Sister’s Journals

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William Wordsworth was an English poet who wrote during the Romantic era of British Literature. He is quite often described as a nature poet, and he himself established that his poetry was primarily concerned with nature. His poem  Composed Upon Westminster Bridge is one of his poems about nature. It may not be widely known that Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy wrote about the poetic moment at Westminster Bridge in her journal, and she wrote it three months before Wordsworth turned the prose of the occasion into poetry.

I discuss Found Poems Here, where I say that in “finding” a poem, we take words from another person’s writing and we spin them a bit differently into our own poem.

Wordsworth’s sister wrote about the experience at Westminster Bridge in her journal as follows:

“we left London on Saturday morning at 1⁄2 past 5 or 6, the 31st July (I have forgot which) we mounted the Dover Coach at Charing Cross. It was a beautiful morning. The City, St pauls, with the River & a multitude of little Boats, made a most beautiful sight as we crossed Westminster Bridge. The houses were not overhung by their cloud of smoke & they were spread out endlessly, yet the sun shone so brightly with such a pure light that there was even something like the purity of one of nature’s own grand Spectacles”

Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855), The Grasmere Journal, 31 July 1802

Months later, Wordsworth wrote a poem about the same experience:

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still.


Wordsworth’s poem is not literally a “Found” poem. He actually reused few of his sister’s words, but he did recapture or “find” an emotion that she had expressed before he did. I think that this is interesting. The following video describes a bit more of the relationship between Wordsworth and his sister. It also causes me to wonder about how much more Dorothy may have been involved in William’s writing.

In his Preface to his book Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth says over and over that a Poet is a Man. We now realize that Dorothy was also a significant writer. I have no grounds to support my thought, but I wonder if the Poet in the Wordsworth house was also a woman and whether Wordsworth was occasionally her “beard.”

silhouette

During the Wordsworths’ lives, women were not encouraged to be writers. That is why Mary Anne Evans published under the pen name of George Eliot. Although numerous paintings were made of William Wordsworth, all that remains of Dorothy’s likeness is a shadowy silhouette.

“Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals are a unique record of her life with her brother William, at the time when he was at the height of his poetic powers. Invaluable for the insight they give into the daily life of the poet and his friendship with Coleridge, they are also remarkable for their spontaneity and immediacy, and for the vivid descriptions of people, places, and incidents that inspired some of Wordsworth’s best-loved poems. The Grasmere Journal was begun at Dove Cottage in May 1800 and kept for three years. Dorothy notes the walks and the weather, the friends, country neighbors and beggars on the roads; she sets down accounts of the garden, of Wordsworth’s marriage, their concern for Coleridge, the composition of poetry. The earlier Alfoxden Journal was written during 1797-8, when the Wordsworths lived near Coleridge in Somerset. Not intended for publication, but to “give Wm Pleasure by it,” both journals have a quality recognized by Wordsworth when he wrote of Dorothy that “she gave me eyes, she gave me ears.” Image and Review from Amazon Here

Image result for illustrations in the jonathan wordsworth grasmere journalAvailable from the Folio Society Here

In the Folio Society edition of the Grasmere Journal, the following was written, along with the following image:

Illustration from The Grasmere Journal by Georgie Bennett

“Dorothy lived a very independent and free life in Grasmere and she would spend her time walking for miles,” Bennett says. “Reading her journal, it is evident that she took great joy in experiencing and recording the world around her.” Bennett’s favourite passage is from near the end of the journal, where Dorothy describes a quiet moment looking over Grasmere with Mary, her brother’s wife:

I was much affected when I stood upon the second bar of Sara’s Gate. The lake was perfectly still, the sun shone on Hill and vale, the distant Birch trees looked like large golden Flowers – nothing else in colour was distinct and separate but all the beautiful colours seemed to be melted into one another, and joined together in one mass so that there were no differences though an endless variety when one tried to find out.

As most are aware, one of Wordsworth’s most famous poems is “Daffodils.”

The Daffodils
William Wordsworth, 1770 – 1850

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.

“I took a lot of inspiration from the way she describes colour here to incorporate into the illustrations,” Bennett says, revealing she spent “a long time” tracking down Sara’s Gate so she could paint it. “It is a great example of Dorothy’s ability to capture a moment in time….

“Between days wandering the countryside, Bennett researched in Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum next door. Inside the museum, Bennett was able to examine one of the original journals. The manner in which Dorothy wrote – frequent amendments, crossings-out and ink splodges – were incorporated into her illustrations.

“The cottage was actually a lot smaller than I imagined [because of] the number of visitors the Wordsworths had,” Bennet says. “You can really picture Dorothy in the kitchen baking or working in the orchard. They led a simple but very full and vibrant life. I loved that visitors can still enjoy seeing Coleridge’s stone step in the garden, William’s chair and the Rock of Names.”

Illustration of Dove Cottage from The Grasmere Journal by Georgie Bennett
Illustration of Dove Cottage from The Grasmere Journal by Georgie Bennett Photograph: Georgie Bennett from The Folio Society edition of The Grasmere Journal

“Illustrating The Grasmere Journal gave Bennett a fresh appreciation of the quality and weight of Dorothy’s writing, outside the shadow of her more famous sibling. “Dorothy did not just play an influential role in William’s life: she also led an extraordinary life for a woman of her time and was clearly a gifted writer,” she says. “I believe she was a kind and contemplative person who lived for the simple things in life and greatly appreciated the awe of nature. It was an absolute pleasure to illustrate her words – she was an independent thinker, a beautiful writer. Quietly brilliant.”

Other illustrations from the Folio Society edition:

Illustration from Georgie Bennett’s sketchbook for The Grasmere Journal

Dorothy Wordsworth Also Published “Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, A. D. 1803 (1874)

“A late 19th-century painting of a jaunting car similar to the one used by Dorothy, William and Samuel. Because of the poor roads “in practice it meant going most of the way by foot. The car was purchased by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.”

“Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, A. D. 1803 (1874) is a travel memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth about a six-week, 663-mile journey through the Scottish Highlands from August–September 1803 with her brother William Wordsworth and mutual friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Some have called it “undoubtedly her masterpiece”[1] and one of the best Scottish travel literature accounts during a period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries which saw hundreds of such examples.[2″…

“Dorothy wrote Recollections for family and friends and never saw it published in her lifetime.

“…Dorothy wrote Recollections for family and friends and never saw it published in her lifetime.

“Venturing to Scotland in 1803 was not an easy trip and the thirty-year-old Dorothy would experience much of the rougher nature of Scottish life. Scotland had become depopulated in areas from emigration throughout the 18th century and the remaining rural Scots existed in a preindustrial lifestyle more reminiscent of the Middle Ages than modern times. The roads were poor and dangerous or mere cattle-paths requiring a local guide. Dorothy notes the road quality along each segment from “most excellent”, “roughish”, to “very bad” to “wretchedly bad”. Finding a place to sleep meant finding a public house along the road, which could range from a pleasant inn by English standards, to a dirty and smoky peasants hut with no glass windows nor chimney and a dirt floor. More than once the Wordsworths were refused a room for the night [ such as the Arrochar Hotel] after dark in the rain with miles to the next town; however this was contrasted by the kindness and generosity of others, the MacFarlane’s at Loch Katrine.[7] Food in 19th century Scotland along the road ranged from boiled fowl and egg on the high end to whey and oat bread on the low end (or none at all in some cases), although “A boiled sheep’s head, with the hair singed off” was a true Scottish fare savored.

“Most of the trip was in a jaunting car, an Irish open-air two-wheeled cart drawn by a single horse—which because of the poor roads in practice meant going most of the way on foot. Compared to the more fashionable chaise which other travelers took to Scotland, the jaunting car was a plain and exposed vehicle, which the Wordsworths preferred as they could be travelers instead of tourists and remain approachable to the people of Scotland. There was a central luggage box and two seats facing back to back in which the riders’ feet were a foot off the ground.[6] As an Irish design, it was an unusual sight and brought a lot of attention along the way, in part because of rumors circulating at the time that Ireland might soon invade Scotland.[6]

Dorothy wrote the journal over a 20-month period starting in September 1803. “I had written it for the sake of Friends who could not be with us at the time”.[6] Her friends admired her Recollections and it soon began to circulate and talk of publication became inevitable. In 1822 Dorothy put together a more refined version, she had lost the original and it was completed from memory, but a publisher was never located.[7] It would not be until 1874, nearly 20 years after her death in 1855, that John Campbell Shairp would publish it for the first time. It sold so well a second edition came soon after including one in the US. Then a third edition in 1894, and then another in 1897. In 1941 it was recognized again when Ernest de Selincourt published a new edition and deemed Recollections “one of the most delightful of all books of travel, and it is, undoubtedly her masterpiece.”.[1] In 1997 Yale University Press published an edition by Carol Kyros Walker which is the current definitive edition with hundreds of photographs of Scotland, maps, footnotes and scholarly commentary.(6) There are further versions available including Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, A. D. 1803 revised second edition published 2014. This is a paperback with maps and color illustrations of the areas where Dorothy visited with William and Samuel Coleridge.(ISBN 978-0957344327 )

Image and text from Wikipedia Here

The Full Text of the 1874 Edition can be viewed Here

In his Preface to the 1874 Edition of Recollections, John Campbell Shairp confirmed something of what I had suspected about the extent of Dorothy’s influence upon and possible involvement in William’s writing: [Recollections, pg. xxi]

“He had a most observant eye, and she also for him; and his poems are sometimes little more than poetic versions of her descriptions of the objects which she had seen; and which he treated as seen by himself.” Shairp, Recollections, pg. xxi.

Mary Hutchinson, who would become William’s wife is credited with having added the following lines to the poem:

“They flash beyond that inward eye,
Which is the bliss of solitude.”

Shairp, Recollections, pg. xxii.

Shairp notes the quality of Dorothy’s writing in the following entry which describes a Birch tree:

“As we were going along we were stopped at once, at teh distance, perhaps, of fifty yards from our favourite birch-tree: it was yielding to the gust of the wind, with all its tender twigs; the sun shone upon it, and it glanced in the wind like a flying sunshiny shower. It was a tree in shape, with stem and brances, but it was like a spirit of water.”

 

 

©Jacki Kellum September 5, 2016

 

 

 

 

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