Healing Power in William Wordsworth Poetry

Also Read

      Wordsworth considered poetry, like his concept of a perfect woman, “to warm, to comfort, and to command”. Indeed, the poet was a teacher; and his poetry was meant to “console the afflicted... make the happy happier...” Wordsworth’s poetry, is seen to have a healing or soothing power.

      The healing note, or the ability to soothe disturbed minds is present in Wordsworth’s poems, both in those dealing with nature and in those dealing with the simple life of cottagers. John Stuart testified to the power of Wordsworth’s poetry to teach him about “the perennial source of happiness.” Leslie Stephen observed that Wordsworth’s poetry can console us in distress because his favorite lesson is the possibility of turning grief and disappointment of peace and joy. While it is true that all distressed minds cannot find joy and consolation in Wordsworth’s poetry, it is equally true that his poetry offers one way of coming to terms with life’s disappointments.

      Wordsworth is a poet who felt the joy offered to us in nature, and he communicated this joy in his poetry. He lived his experiences intensely as a boy (as described in the Immortality Ode or Tintern Abbey or The Prelude.) He felt the emotions evoked by Nature powerfully, and in these emotions, he also found a source of consolation. The meanest flower for him did hold “thoughts too deep for tears”. His characters similarly derive consolation and the power to endure suffering from Nature—for example Margaret, or the woman mourning her dead child by the thorn tree, or Michael, or the Leech-Gatherer. Wordsworth himself got over deep personal sorrows by his association with Nature. The sea in storm too has significance, for it teaches him:

.....fortitude, and patient cheer,
And frequent sights of what is to be borne.
(Elegiac Stanzas)

      Suffering and distress are part of life, but they have to be faced with hope and fortitude, for beyond all that is true joy. As one reads of the various solitary figures in Wordsworth’s poems, one cannot but be affected; one cannot but derive a strength from their fortitude. The healing power of Wordsworth’s poetry lies in his concept of Nature.

Previous Post Next Post