Tuesday, June 21, 2011

from Resolution and Independence

William Wordsworth

II

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist; that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

Yesterday I read this stanza, and when I reached the last line, the Poetry Shiver overcame me: a physical reaction, analogous to raised hackles or vertigo or the way my inner ear crackles when I hear certain pitches of sound. I think the Shiver must be caused by some sudden intersection of visual image, sonic power, and emotion--in this case, perhaps the vision of the hare in the glittering mist, the positioned repetition of run, and my own tightrope awareness of love and tragedy, built up to a terrifying level this week by the Lake family murders.

I wonder what you think about this stanza: do you find it merely pretty, or is more than that? Every time I reread it, I get the Shiver again.

5 comments:

Ruth said...

This has always been one of my favorite verses. I do so react to "plashy earth" and the image of sky rejoicing.

Carol Willette Bachofner said...

I know what you mean by the Shiver... very few times in my adult life have I experienced this as an initial reaction, though I can also get it back by reading certain passages or whole poems. One poem that does it for me is by Dana Gioia, in his libretto for the Nosferatu opera. The poem is Nosferatu's Serenade (aria from Act II):

I am the image that darkens your glass,
The shadow that falls wherever you pass.
I am the dream you cannot forget,
The face you remember without having met.
I am the truth that must not be spoken,
The midnight vow that cannot be broken.
I am the bell that tolls out the hours.
I am the fire that warms and devours.

I am the hunger that you have denied,
The ache of desire piercing your side.
I am the sin you have never confessed,
The forbidden hand caressing your breast.
You've heard me inside you speak in your dreams,
Sigh in the ocean, whisper in streams.
I am the future you crave and you fear.
You know what I bring. Now I am here.

When I first read this, I got what I call The Chill (you say The Shiver). I got it big time when I heard Dana recite it. Every time I re-read it, I get the same visceral reaction.

RE: the Wordsworth stanza... not just "pretty" at all. The issue of "run" does a strange, beautifully creepy thing to my spine... not exactly The Chill, but close. It is a stellar poem altogether. Wordsworth is one of my favs anyway.

Maureen said...

I can't say I'm a deep reader of Wordsworth but these lines "... she from the plashy earth / Raises a mist; that, glittering in the sun, / Runs with her all the way..." are marvelous. The imagery just sticks.

jen revved said...

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist; that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.


Repetition/rhythm are mnemonic-- image of the vulnerable hare beautiful and painful. The idea of the creature, running/needing to run. And the mist! The mist! This to me conjures the mortality and vulnerability of the living thing-- which would hit you close to home just now, I think. We have a startle reflex like other creatures-- the poem triggers that for me in some way. I get the Shiver from Molly Bloom's soliloquy. I may be associating this stanza with Lawrence's Love on the Farm and the hare in that poem....xxxj

Gerritt VanDerwerker said...

Yes, this also happens to me. Usually it involves an upwelling of emotion.

Here is the poem that opened me to the power of poetry and, perhaps, changed my life.

Wilfred Owen
Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.