Biography of William Wordsworth
Wordsworth, born in his beloved Lake District, was the son of an attorney. He went to school first at Penrith and then at Hawkshead Grammar school before studying, from 1787, at St John's College, Cambridge - all of which periods were later to be described vividly in The Prelude. In 1790 he went with friends on a walking tour to France, the Alps and Italy, before arriving in France where Wordsworth was to spend the next year.
Whilst in France he fell in love twice over: once with a young French woman, Annette Vallon, who subsequently bore him a daughter, and then, once more, with the French Revolution. Returning to England he wrote, and left unpublished, his Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff - a tract in support of the French Revolutionary cause. In 1795, after receiving a legacy, Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy first in Dorset and then at Alfoxden, Dorset, close to Coleridge.
In these years he wrote many of his greatest poems and also travelled with Coleridge and Dorothy, in the winter of 1798-79, to Germany. Two years later the second and enlarged edition of the Lyrical Ballads appeared in 1801, just one year before Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson. This was followed, in 1807, by the publication of Poems in Two Volumes, which included the poems 'Resolution and Independence' and 'Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood'.
During this period he also made new friendships with Walter Scott, Sir G. Beaumont and De Quincy, wrote such poems as 'Elegaic Stanzas suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle' (1807), and fathered five children. He received a civil list pension in 1842 and was made poet-laureate just one year later.
Today Wordsworth's poetry remains widely read. Its almost universal appeal is perhaps best explained by Wordsworth's own words on the role, for him, of poetry; what he called "the most philosophical of all writing" whose object is "truth...carried alive into the heart by passion".
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William Wordsworth Poems
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud (Daffodils)
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;
I marvel how Nature could ever find space For so many strange contrasts in one human face: There's thought and no thought, and there's paleness and bloom And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom.
She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways
She dwelt among the untrodden ways Beside the springs of Dove, Maid whom there were none to praise And very few to love:
A Night Thought
Lo! where the Moon along the sky Sails with her happy destiny; Oft is she hid from mortal eye Or dimly seen,
The World Is Too Much With Us; Late And ...
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
It Was An April Morning: Fresh And Clear
It was an April morning: fresh and clear The Rivulet, delighting in its strength, Ran with a young man's speed; and yet the voice Of waters which the winter had supplied
Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern...
Five years have past; five summers, with the length Of five long winters! and again I hear These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs With a soft inland murmur.--Once again
The Solitary Reaper
Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass! Reaping and singing by herself; Stop here, or gently pass!
------The sky is overcast With a continuous cloud of texture close, Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon, Which through that veil is indistinctly seen,
There is a change--and I am poor; Your love hath been, nor long ago, A fountain at my fond heart's door, Whose only business was to flow;
A Whirl-Blast From Behind The Hill
A Whirl-Blast from behind the hill Rushed o'er the wood with startling sound; Then--all at once the air was still, And showers of hailstones pattered round.
A Narrow Girdle Of Rough Stones And Crag...
A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags, A rude and natural causeway, interposed Between the water and a winding slope Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
Calm Is All Nature As A Resting Wheel
Calm is all nature as a resting wheel. The kine are couched upon the dewy grass; The horse alone, seen dimly as I pass, Is cropping audibly his later meal:
Strange Fits Of Passion Have I Known
Strange fits of passion have I known: And I will dare to tell, But in the lover's ear alone, What once to me befell.
There is a change--and I am poor;
Your love hath been, nor long ago,
A fountain at my fond heart's door,
Whose only business was to flow;
And flow it did; not taking heed
Of its own bounty, or my need.
What happy moments did I count!
Blest was I then all bliss above!