By Kurt Fosso
Deals a proof for the poet's mysterious and longstanding preoccupation with demise and grief.
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Extra info for Buried Communities: Wordsworth and the Bonds of Mourning
Wu, for one, has focused much-needed attention on the work’s imagery and dynamics, while Johnston has examined the Vale’s generic form and the poem’s “compulsive” reiteration of gothic horrors that remain “intensely personal” (HW 106–7). ”20 Landon and Curtis’s edition of the juvenilia promises to attract still more attention to this early, intriguing poem. After all, as mentioned above, the poet himself described the Vale as containing ideas “dispersed” throughout his later work. And a good number of these ideas and topoi, some of them markedly social in character, can be gleaned from the poem, despite the surviving text’s fragmentary state.
Paine and Godwin each proscribed government itself as being inherently corrupting and constraining. Yet, between the sensation-loving cult of sentimentality and the Revival’s literary project of retrieval and revaluation there was much talk of feeling and sympathy, loosely or directly linked to reform. It had its effect upon Hazlitt, years later, and upon Wordsworth in the early 1780s. For, as mentioned, like his siblings Wordsworth had experienced a good deal of such sensation in his grief, uncertainty, and outrage.
85 Smith’s vision can be viewed as both typical and somewhat peculiar for its time given its emphasis upon grief and sympathy as ways of promoting egalitarian sociability in an alienating age of fervent self-interest. Alexander Pope’s “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady,” adapted by Wordsworth for his Hawkshead fragment “On the death of an unfortunate Lady,” appears to have seized on much the same cultural anxiety, localizing the problem within its own generic horizons. Schor’s argument obliges her to avert to other issues, but the social implications of Pope’s “Elegy” are still conspicuous in her analysis: that the account books in a poetry of mourning do not balance; utterance leaves one in the red insomuch as the debt always exceeds and resists the tribute paid.