Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: William Wordsworth

Nothing Can Bring Back the Hour – Thoughts on Letting Our Childen Go

Yesterday, I re-watched Steel Magnolias. Before the movie began, I knew that re-watching this film would make me cry, and I almost opted out of racking myself with that painful experience again. But I took the plunge, and I began to think about my own life. Julia  Roberts died in Steel Magnolias, and as a mother, I was tormented by the mother’s grief of losing her child to death. But I also began to consider that many parents lose their children in ways that do not involve dying. Children simply move on. They leave to marry and to begin their own homes or they leave to begin their own careers somewhere else. The bottom line is that our children leave. and as parents, we are left gripping the reality that we had simply been loaned a set of children–for just a short period of time–and that eventually, we were forced to let our children go.

“You can never go home again.” – Thomas Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe is correct in saying that once a child leaves, he can never really return to his childhood home again. Although most children keep in touch with their parents after they move away, they can never really return, and a decent mother doesn’t want her child to do so. But in some nagging, longing way, mothers remember and we ache for the days that we wrapped our children in soft, cotton blankets and brought them home from the hospitals. We remember their first steps. We remember baby food dripping from their chins, their highchairs, and from their hands and hair. We remember bathing our babies’ silky bodies and drying them and then laying them on top of our hearts–where we could feel them as they breathed. As mothers, we also remember slipping into our child’s room at night and at marveling at the sweetness of our sleeping child. We recall our children’s innocent but profound comments–the ones that allowed us to recall viewing life as only a child can view it. We remember the drawings and the paintings that they made as children, and we remember their going to school.

When my oldest child went to school, I grieved. Somehow I knew that both of our worlds had permanently shifted. For the first time, I realized that my child was not a doll. She was not mine, to keep. From that moment on, my child began slipping away from me and into herself. The transition has not been easy. I have discovered that it is often necessary for people to get mad before they can completely sever themselves, and that has happened in my family. I long for the day that my family can close its angry chapter and go to the next. That is the way that it is supposed to be: Our children are supposed to have their lives, and we are forced to have another. We know that, but still, we remember the fleeting moments that God loaned us our children, and we long.

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind…
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet….
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears….William Wordsworth
.

Jacki Kellum Garden May 2017

Although many mothers always long for the hours when their children were living in their homes, a wise mother will transition, too, and they will find another home where they will live into old age alone. I am thankful for the years that I was a parent, but I am also thankful for the ever-renewing well of life and for my ability to continually find a new life without my children nested around me. My garden has become my solace.

Jacki Kellum Garden Gate in 2015

“When the hornet hangs in the hollyhock, And the brown bee drones i’ the rose, And the west is a red-streaked four-o’clock, And summer is near its close It’s Oh, for the gate, and the locust lane; And dusk, and dew, and home again!” – Madison Cawein

August42015adj

Jacki Kellum Garden

“I divined and chose a distant place to dwell …
I pick leaves to thatch a hut among the pines
Scoop out a pond and lead a runnel from the spring
By now I am used to doing without the world
Picking ferns I pass the years that are left.” Han Shan

Jacki Kellum Garden

Yesterday, my friend shared a slightly bent version of an old Chinese proverb:

If you want to be happy for a night, get drunk.
If you want to be happy for a year, get married.
If you want to be happy for life, plant a garden.

10568906_10204503980742621_1513890752537767546_n (1)

Relatively speaking, our years on earth are few, and hours that we spend agonizing because we do not feel accepted or appreciated or loved are simply hours lost. Because living can become painful and toxic, we need an antidote and a place to heal. My garden is where I go to be restored, and even during the winter, nature is my solace. My sunroom overlooks my side courtyard, and my greatest winter joy is to sit by my fireplace, watching the birds dipping into my oasis for food and water. Anytime that I can sit alone in nature, I am truly home–the home that will carry me through life.

“I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray, And Winter’s dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.” – Thomas Hardy

©Jacki Kellum June 9, 2017

Tender

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

golden_light_forest_1600

“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.

Image result for grasmere journal

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

 

 

 

 

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.

Image result for wordsworth ruined cottage

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 – His Opinions about Poetry and Nature – The Tables Turned away from Classicism to Romanticism

William Wordsworth grew up in the Lake District of England, and the beauty of that region was of vital importance to both Wordsworth and to his sister Dorothy, who was also a writer.

“Dove Cottage is a house on the edge of Grasmere in the Lake District of England. It is best known as the home of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808, where they spent over eight years of “plain living, but high thinking”. During this period, William wrote much of the poetry for which he is remembered today, including his “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”, “Ode to Duty”, “My Heart Leaps Up” and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, together with parts of his autobiographical epic, The Prelude.[1]

“William Wordsworth married his wife Mary in 1802, and she and her sister joined the Wordsworths at Dove Cottage. The family quickly expanded, with the arrival of three children in four years, and the Wordsworths left Dove Cottage in 1808 to seek larger lodgings.” Wikipedia Here

In his Preface to his book Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth established that Nature was a vital element in his writing.

The following comments are extracts from Wordsworth’s Preface to the Book Lyrical Ballads. Note that some of the comments are direct quotes and others are summations. You can see the entire Preface Here.

From the Preface that Wordsworth Wrote for Lyrical Ballads

  •  Write naturally but imaginatively about everyday life and write about nature
  • Write about Humble and rustic…because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language
  • Everyday life has a simplicity and is rooted in that which is elementary and fundamental to oneself.
  • Everyday life is steeped in the beauty and permanence of nature.
  • Use everyday language because the use of exalted language is a type of vanity.
  • Men who write as a way to flaunt their lofty usages of language are typically fickle.
  • “…all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”
  • Wordsworth’s poems are about concrete life and not about the abstract
  • He writes after looking steadily at his subject
  • There is little falsehood in his description
  • He avoids clichés: ” I have also thought it expedient to restrict myself still further, having abstained from the use of many expressions, in themselves proper and beautiful, but which have been foolishly repeated by bad Poets…”
  • At times, Wordsworth’s poetry sounds more like prose than that of the more classical writers.

Poets prior to Wordsworth and to the other Romanticists were more classical and formal in their writing. In Wordsworth’s opinion, they were pompous and their writings were shallow or what he described as fickle. To avoid being false in his writing, Wordsworth continuously studied nature. He deliberately elected to live in the beautiful Lake District of England, and he continuously walked through the area. His poetry is his “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” about Nature that he saw around himself. Wordsworth wrote his poem The Tables Turned  about Nature and about what he considered to be the best approach to writing, as opposed to the previous classical approach.

The Tables Turned 
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Later in the Preface to his Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth, Asks and Answers the Following Question:

What is a Poet?

He is a man speaking to men:

A man [who is] endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness,

[A man] who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind;

A man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him…

[A man who] has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present;

[A man who has] an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events….               anything which, from the motions of their own minds merely….

From practice, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement. …

It will be the wish of the Poet to bring his feelings near to those of the persons whose feelings he describes, nay, for short spaces of time, perhaps, to let himself slip into an entire delusion, and even confound and identify his own feelings with theirs….

[The Poet will select what he describes in words]: He will depend upon this for removing what would otherwise be painful or disgusting in the passion

He will feel that there is no necessity to trick out or to elevate nature…

[The Poet has] faith that no words, which his fancy or imagination can suggest, will be to be compared with those which are the emanations of reality and truth. 17

[The Poet should consider himself as]  a translator….

[Others may think that of Poetry as idle amusement and may liken it to rope-dancing of Sherry]

Poetry is the image of man and nature. … Except this one restriction, there is no object standing between the Poet and the image of things….

it is a homage paid to the native and naked dignity of man, to the grand elementary principle of pleasure, by which he knows, and feels, and lives, and moves.
The Poet …. considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting properties of nature.

Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science….

The Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time.

The objects of the Poet’s thoughts are everywhere….

Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge—it is as immortal as the heart of man….

The Poet is chiefly distinguished from other men by a greater promptness to think and feel without immediate external excitement, and a greater power in expressing such thoughts and feelings as are produced in him in that manner. …

The Poet thinks and feels in the spirit of human passions….

But Poets do not write for Poets alone, but for men. …he must express himself as other men express themselves….

The end of Poetry is to produce excitement in co-existence with an overbalance of pleasure hope…
I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind.

whatever passions he communicates to his Reader, those passions, if his Reader’s mind be sound and vigorous, should always be accompanied with an overbalance of pleasure. …

it is possible for poetry to give other enjoyments, of a purer, more lasting, and more exquisite nature.

…the interest excited by some other kinds of poetry is less vivid, and less worthy of the nobler powers of the mind, as to offer reasons for presuming, that if my purpose were fulfilled, a species of poetry would be produced, which is genuine poetry; in its nature well adapted to interest mankind permanently, and likewise important in the multiplicity and quality of its moral relations. 33

©Jacki Kellum September 5, 2016

Let Them Eat Cake – Romanticism and Its Link to the French Revolution

The French Revolution was a time of political unrest directed toward the royalty of France and its insensitivity to the poor. Contrary to popular opinion, the revolt was not led by the impoverished, but it was led by the more affluent and the writers and the artists who revolted for the poor.

Image result for William Wordsworth
In 1792-1792, the English poet William Wordsworth was living in France, and he was influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution. When he returned to England, his book Lyrical Ballads was published. In the Preface to the book, Wordsworth laid out his plan for a new kind of writing that would be about the common man and would be written for the common, everyday man.  This was a break with the Classical tradition. I explain the differences between Romanticism and Classicism  Here. 

800px-Adolf_Ulrik_Wertmüller_-_Queen_Marie_Antoinette_of_France_and_two_of_her_Children_Walking_in_The_Park_of_Trianon_-_Google_Art_Project

Marie Antoinette was the last of the French Queens and she is the embodiment of the French aristocracy’s insensitivity, which led to the French Revolution. She is quoted as having said, “Let Them Eat Cake,” but there is no proof that she actually said that.

Image result for a tale of two cities

After the French Revolution had ended, the Charles Dickens book The Tale of Two Cities was published. The book was about the French Revolution, which had taken place much earlier. The Tale of Two Cities popularized the quote: “Let Them Eat Cake.” Charles Dickens was not one of the Romanticists, but he was influenced by them.

In a round-about way, the attitude associated with the people who might have said: “Let Them Eat Cake” led to the Romantic period, which was more than a literary tradition. Romanticism was a celebration of the everyday, common man and of Nature itself, which surrounds the everyday man. It was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution, which had abused and enslaved children to work in the mines and factories, to be chimney sweeps, and to survive deplorable conditions so that the wealthy could flourish and could numbly mumble about those that they oppressed such things as, “Let Them Eat Cake,” or:

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?”
“Plenty of prisons…”
“And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“Both very busy, sir…”
“Those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
– Charles Dickens – The Christmas Carol

Book Cover Free ebook of The Christmas Carol Here

Again, Charles Dickens was not actually a Romanticist, but his writing was highly influenced by Romanticism. William Blake, on the other hand, was a champion of Romanticism, and his work was dedicated to elevating the lifestyles of the people that he believed had been ruined by the Industrial Revolution. He was especially moved to help the children. His poem The Chimney Sweeper was a reaction against the practice of forcing young children to be chimney sweepers, a practice that caused the children to become deformed and to die young.

Image result for blake chimney sweeper

Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience are manifestations of his concern for children. An Overview of William Blake and his role in Romanticism is Here.

Image result for blake songs of innocence and experience

Although it was half a century ago, I remember the day that my high school English teacher introduced me to William Blake. I immediately connected to Blake’s writing and his illustrations for his writing. In college, I majored both in English and in art, and I wrote my first master’s thesis on William Blake. Without a doubt, everything about me says that I am a Romantic, and everything within me is glad that I am.

©September 5, 2016 Jacki Kellum

Cake

The History Channel on The French Revolution Here

An Overview of Romanticism – A Celebration of Nature and the Child – William Blake

William Blake is considered to be one of the earliest voices of the Romantic period, and his Songs of Innocence and Experience are characteristic of Romantic thought

But Blake was also a visionary.

Some believe that Blake was a thinker and a writer who was at least 100 years before his time.

Although Blake was rejected by most of his contemporariries and while he died virtually unknown, the words of his poem Jerusalem have eventually the Anthem of England.

Jerusalem
BY WILLIAM BLAKE
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.

William Blake’s Jerusalem Sung

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

Image result for William Wordsworth

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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