See, Hear, Feel: Wordsworth tracks sensory influence on emotions

gorse west kirby
Gorse in full flower and scent of coconut, Cubbins Green, March 29 2017

Still reading Intimations of Immortality this morning but much to my delight (as someone who often wakes at 4.35a.m)I woke up late today so don’t have much time and (less delight) my reading is being interrupted by a pressing work issue which must be dealt with. I might not get much done.

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.

Yesterday we’d got to the point of feeling Wordsworth was able to remember something of the glory that has passed away. ‘Now’, as he said earlier, he is at least able to see and hear and feel some kinds of glory do still exist. Lambs, shepherd boys, even waterfalls do seem to make sounds he can hear (‘I have heard the call ye to each other make’); exhibit visual signs he can see (‘I see the heavens laugh with you in your jubilee’) and at last he feels (privately, quietly, innerly) – part of this outer joy and communication;

My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.

This seems to have moved on quite a lot from the opening of the poem, where Wordsworth seemed unable to see ‘things’;

It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

I’m noticing the back and forth between ‘see’ as a form of apprehension and ‘feel’ as a form of apprehension or response. Actually, being specific, in the lines above it is ‘hear’, ‘see’ then ‘feel’.

I am thinking about the relationship between hearing trumpets, cataracts, kids shouting in joy and my own feelings. Do those sounds awaken me in some way? Once hearing do I see more? Once hearing and seeing do I feel?

Wordsworth continues:

Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:—
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!

—But there’s a Tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone;
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Agh. My work emergency is calling. I may come back to this later. What a lovely twenty minutes calm before the day.

One thought on “See, Hear, Feel: Wordsworth tracks sensory influence on emotions

  1. Jamie March 30, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    Love that line – ‘The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.’ – so expansive, like a great opening of self and all that lovely feeling flooding in… or out?

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