Wordsworth and the Active Universe

William Wordsworth’s The Prelude exposes the intimate relationship the author nurtures and acknowledges between himself and the “active universe” to which he belongs. In Books I and II Wordsworth delves into his memories and communicates eloquent and passionate stories of past times and emotions. His “transport” into these extreme emotions and sensory places is due to his invigorating and intimate relationship with Nature, his life-long companion and source of vitality and overwhelming joy.

Wordsworth elaborates on two specific relationships throughout Books I and II: his relationship in nature and his relationship with Nature. The first connection is quite obvious, and in the text he celebrates  the “self-sufficing power of solitude” in nature and the peacefulness that occurs while enjoying the rays of sunshine or the wisps of wind against his face. He accepts the “quiet independence of the heart” and finds new pleasure in ordinary pleasures and present time. The active universe is alive and stirring, and Wordsworth captures every sensual memory he can and expressively gives the reader a peak into his past times and his current stance in the world.

Throughout the Books Wordsworth never fails to dote on his intimate and true love, Nature. He goes so far as to say that “The passions that build up our human soul,/Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,” are those “with high objects, with enduring things,/With life and Nature.” He notes his abandonment of “rural objects” and seeks refuge in the patience and reliability of Nature and her consistent gift of spirit and passion. His descriptions fill the reader’s mind with images of captured moments, frozen perfectly in times of true life and contentment. And these moments are made even more beautiful by the blissful unawareness Wordsworth has regarding his own astonishment with the relationship.


~ by katiearata on August 30, 2012.

One Response to “Wordsworth and the Active Universe”

  1. Clearly, Wordsworth loves nature! There is plenty of textual evidence to show that he wants to teach his readers about the importance of establishing an intimate relationship with nature. But there is something Wordsworth loves even more: himself. His experiences with nature always affords an opportunity for self-reflection and romantic interiority, to look back on the operations of the imagination on the self. The term you refer to-“the active universe”–appears in book II after Wordsworth’s reflection on childhood experience, mainly the infant nursing on his mother’s breast. What is “active” about the universe is the mind of the viewer.

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