Wordsworth: Writing in the 18th and 19th Centuries – ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey…July 13, 1798.’ His English heritage is reflected in his bucolic description of the landscape reflecting the traditional English domestication of nature: ‘Here, under this dark sycamore, and view these plots of cottage ground…these hedgerows, hardly hedgerows.’

* His position as a revolutionary is reflected in his anger against urbanization and the need to return to nature ‘in which the weary and heavy weight of this world is lightened.’ ‘Meanwhile, my hope has been that I might fetch more invigorating thoughts from former years.’

* The ‘Romantic’ movement: his reactions to urbanization and industrialization as a repression of his emotions – ‘a tempest, a redundant energy, vexing its own creation’.

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o ‘But from this awful burthen I full soon take refuge and beguile myself with trust that mellower years will bring a riper mind and clearer insight.’

o His yearning for a primitive approach to life, seeking simplicity and crucially a unity with nature – ‘The sky seemed not a sky of earth, and with what motion moved the clouds?’

* The philosophical and theological concept of nature: there is a connection to the pastoral as a psychological necessity. ‘How nature by extrinsic passion first peopled my mind with beauteous forms or grand and made me love them’

* Nature is a source of creativity and guidance: ‘The nurse, the guide, the guardian of my heart and soul of my moral being.’

* The landscape provides a sensual stimulation of the imagination, in the remembrance of the ideals of childhood and connection to unrestricted nature. ‘Ye presence of nature! In the skies or in the earth? Ye visions of the hills!’

* A passive reflection and recreation of the past provides a stimulation and a rejection of the values of the city. ‘If thou appear’st untouched by solemn thought, thy nature is not therefore less divine.’

* Nature allows a suspension of thoughts and reason, and helps instinct and feeling to dominate: ‘O listen for the vale profound is overflowing with the sound!’

Malouf: His status as the 20th Century ‘Postmodern Romantic’ is seen in his employment of postmodern techniques: blending of time and site, questioning the nature and significance of language, and the position of the author. His position as an Australian may also be reflected in the comment, ‘It is the desolateness of this place…a line of cliffs, oblique against the sky, and the sea leaden beyond.’

* Postcolonial literature represents a yearning for the ideals of the past. The harshness of the landscape reflects the Australian experience that nature does not give ‘a comfortable reflection of one’s humanity – forces existential questions.’ ‘Our further selves are contained within us, as the leaves and blossoms are in the tree.’

* The wilderness acts as a model for the transformation of human society – ‘I have seen the end of all this, clearly, in imagination…I know how far we have come because I have been back to the beginnings. I have seen the unmade earth.’

* The Australian sense of polarity is clear, with a sense of isolation, precipitated in the mental state: ‘The immensity, the emptiness, feeds the spirit.’

* Blending of genres/paradigms/times/discourse. ‘I dream. I wake.’ ‘So it is that the beings we are in the process of becoming are drawn out of us…now I too must be transformed.’

* Psychological and subjective representation of nature – transmogrified to account for changes in language and Ovid’s situations. ‘Suddenly my head is full of flowers of all kinds. They sprout out of the earth in deep fields and roll away in my skull.’

* “Mostly the only cultural history we get is from those with the power of language.” Malouf in an interview.


Wordsworth: Five poems from an adult persona, often from a semi-autobiographical perspective. In many cases he addresses family and friends: ‘For thou art with me here, upon the banks of this fair river; thou my dearest friend.’

* Transcendentalism: ‘Listen! The mighty being is awake, and doth with his eternal motion make.’

* The omnipresent god responsible for creating the landscape and its presence is felt everywhere throughout the natural world. “A motion and a spirit, that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thought, and rolls through all things.’

o ‘If this be but a vain belief, yet oh! How oft in darkness and amid the many shapes of joyless daylight.”

o “Thy nature is not therefore less divine: though liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year.”

o “While the sweet breath of heaven was blowing on my body I felt within a corresponding mild creative breeze”

* An understanding of nature is not reached until maturity – the ability to see clearly the natural harmony felt in childhood becomes clear with experience. “How nature by extrinsic passion first peopled my mind with beauteous forms or grand and made me love them.”

o “Those first-born affinities that fit our new existence to existing thoughts.”

o “Meanwhile my hope has been that I might fetch more invigorating thoughts from former years.”

* Poetry and language is at its purest when inspired by nature. In ‘The prelude’ he feels that he cannot write about ‘topics worthy’ while he is in the city. Nature is the inspirer ‘of visionary things, and lively forms.’

* WW’s poetry was a ‘natural delineation of human passions, human characters, and human incidents using the language of conversation…a spontaneous overflow of emotion.’

* While some poems are regulated with a musical metre, they are almost always conversational and casually discoursive. ‘Strange fits of passion I have known and will dare to tell but in the lover’s ear alone what once to me befell.’

* Nature as a bountiful, pastoral landscape, the human presence blends harmoniously, giving a sense of control.

* Insight is gained through experience and interaction with nature – a greater understanding of the power of nature and its link to creativity and imagination. “No sweeter voice was ever heard in springtime from the cuckoobird.”

* The role of the child: an idealistic state of being, untarnished by conscience and experience. Memories of childhood evoked and WW’s own (illegitimate) child looked to for inspiration. “My former pleasures in the shooting lights of thy wild eyes.”

o “God being with thee when we know it not.”

o “Many a time have I, a five years child, a naked boy…made one long bathing of a summer’s day.”

o “Beneath the sky as if I had been born…a naked savage in the thunder shower.”

* Nature frees the imagination and creativity – it unburdens the conscious state and unleashed primitive instinct. It brings a heightened sense of being, spiritual and mental revival through real and remembered experience of nature. Nature provides a re-birth and a beginning of a richer life.


* Existentialism: humans give the natural world its meaning rather than the gods, by interacting with it and giving things names. “Empty as far as the eye can see, cloudless without wings. But I am describing a state of mind, no place.” The landscape has no meaning until humans shape it and in doing so shape themselves. “It is a created place…but the spirits have to be recognized to be real. They are not outside us, nor entirely within.”

* There is an emphasis on language as a definition of self and identity, Ovid struggles to redefine himself without cultured, self conscious language. “Expelled from the confines of our Latin tongue.”

* “We are free at last to be ourselves. Since there are no rules we must make some.”

* Power as reflected through language is a key issue. Ovid is stripped of his power by pushing outside the limits of language – at the same time his language of poetry which originally challenged the ideals of class and social confinement inevitably led to his banishment.

* Language maps the hierarchical structures of society. By exploring different scales of language – the Getic language of the people in Tomis; the voice of the Child; the voice of nature; Ovid rests eventually on the voice of the inner as the child acts as a guide “he leads me into his consciousness. Underfoot and all about me.”

o “Conversation that need no tongue, a perfect interchange of perceptions, moods, questions, answers.”

* The relevance of memory is questioned, and the vision of the world is essentially seen as defined by constructs of language (explore the notion of semiotics) – distinguishing between the normal societal perceptions and the nature of ‘the other’ through dialect and its signifiers.

* Deprived of language, Ovid is emotionally bereft: he learns to let nature speak through him rather than to him. “I close my mind and try to grow a beak…each day he brings me closer.”

* Nature as harsh, acrimonious, bleak, stripped, and essentially without any obvious human presence as ‘good’ qualities of land are constructed by perception and thought.

o “The landscape itself as light flows over it is a vast page whose tongue I am unable to decipher.”

* Insight is gained through experience and interaction with nature. A new sense of self is reshaped and re-evaluated by Ovid in his process of transformation and metamorphosis. “Now I too must be transformed.”

* The Child is an incarnation of an imaginary playmate from childhood. It allows Ovid to see another dimension of language and learning, and plays ambiguous roles in representing the power of the imagination.

o “Does he dream? If only I could be certain he was dreaming I would know that I have to contact at last, what I have slowly to lead up through the ladders of being in him, is still there.”

o “Or it may have been in our sleep, as we move through the room in the same liquid medium, as if floating together in a pool.”

o “He is being the bird. He is allowing it to speak out of him.”

o “I try to precipitate myself into his consciousness of the world, his consciousness of me, but fail.”

o “He is walking on the water’s light. And as I watch, he takes the first step off it, moving slowly away into the deepest distance, above the earth, above the water, on air.”

* Ovid is preoccupied with transcendence and the ability to experience states of consciousness beyond ourselves possible through imagination. The experience of nature allows an acceptance of death as a final transformation: “I am there.”

o “The notion of a destination no longer seems necessary to me. It has been swallowed up in the immensity of this landscape, as the days have been swallowed up by the sense of a life that stretches beyond the limits of measurable time.”

o “No more dreams. We have passed beyond them into the final reality.”


Broad summary of techniques – go through quotes and assign the techniques to them


– Simile, metaphor

– Religious allusion

– Repetition

– Intensity of emotion – high modality and use of imperatives

– Recollection of the past

– Conventional 18th century poetic forms (iambic pentameter, sonnet)

– Sound devices, alliteration, assonance, enjambment

– “the language of conversation.”


– Motifs: water, dreams, the child, seeds, animals, metamorphosis, balance

– The extended metaphor of language and its assigned power

– Metaphysical imagery

– Repetition

– Rhetorical questions

– Shifting discourses of narration (blending time, tenses, use of ellipses)

– Stream of consciousness, fluidity and lucidity

– Flashbacks and dream sequences

– Episodic plot

– Variable sentence lengths

– Juxtaposition.


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