Most people agree, perhaps without enthusiasm, that Wordsworth is 'great'; it is not easy to say why. Professor Durrant sets out to show this clearly, freshly and forcibly, with detailed reference to particular poems. He accepts that the great creative period of Wordsworth's life was from 1798 to 1805; that in those few years he produced the poems in which his genius was realised; that these poems express a particular vision, which later faded. The vision was of the life of man in the universe of Newtonian science, subject to its universal laws, finding poignancy, even tragedy, in this acquiescence, but winning strength from the acceptance. After a general introduction, individual chapters examine representative poems in close detail: particularly such lyrics as 'I wandered lonely as a cloud', 'Tintern Abbey' the 'Immortality' ode, 'The Prelude' and the sonnets. Professor Durrant builds up from the details of these poems a cumulative sense of Wordsworth's preoccupations, how his mind worked, his characteristic imagery, how original and successful he was and how relevant his poetry still is.
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