1807
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

I am not one, &c.

Poems in Two Volumes, by William Wordsworth, Author of the Lyrical Ballads.

William Wordsworth


William Wordsworth alludes to Desdemona and Una in the third of a group of four sonnets later titled "Personal Talk."

Satirist and Monthly Meteor: "Instead of occupying two duodecimo volumes of wire-wove and hot-pressed paper, with a beautiful type and a large margin, these poems would have been more appropriately printed with a fine gilt wrapping, adorned with wooden cuts, and printed and bound uniformly in all respects with Mother Bunch's tales and Mother Goose's melodies" 1 (November 1807) 188.

John Gibson Lockhart: "That the poems of this man should be little read and little admired by the majority of those who claim for themselves the character of taste and intelligence — that they should furnish little, except subjects of mirth and scorn, to those who, by their own writings, would direct the judgment of others — these are things which affect some of his admirers with astonishment — they affect me with no sentiments but those of humility and grief. The delight which is conferred by vivid descriptions of stranger events and stronger impulses than we ourselves experience, is adapted for all men, and is an universal delight. That part of our nature, to which they address themselves, not only exists in every man originally, but has its existence fostered and cherished by the incidents of every life. To find a man who has no relish for the poetry of Love or of War, is almost as impossible, as to find one that does not enjoy the brightness of the sun, or the softness of moonlight. The poetry of ambition, hatred, revenge, pleases masculine minds in the same manner as the flashing of lightnings and the roaring of cataracts. But there are other things in man and in nature, besides tumultuous passions and tempestuous scenes; — and he that is a very great poet, may be by no means a very popular one" Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk (1819) 1:121-22.

George Gilfillan: "The next poetic production from his pen was entitled, Poems, in two volumes. And here, interspersed with much of the childishness of the Ballads, are some strains of a far higher mood. Here we meet, for instance, with the song of Brougham Castle, that splendid lyric which stirs the blood like the first volley of a great battle. Here, too, are some of his sonnets, the finest, we think, ever written, combining the simplicity, without the bareness, of Milton's, the tender and picturesque beauty of Warton's, with qualities which are not prominent in theirs, — originality of sentiment, beauty of expression, and loftiness of tone" Gallery of Literary Portraits (1845) 314.

W. J. B. Owen: "Una becomes the most frequently cited character in Wordsworth: she is mentioned (with her lamb) in the quartet of sonnets entitled 'Personal Talk' (pub 1807) 42; in the Dedication to The White Doe of Rylstone stanzas 1-2; in the Preface of 1815 as a successful poetic symbol . . .; in Ecclesiastical Sonnets 1.25 (1821) 7-9, along with the Red Cross Knight" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 736.



Wings have we, and as far as we can go
We may find pleasure: wilderness and wood,
Blank ocean and mere sky, support that mood
Which with the lofty sanctifies the low:
Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
There do I find a never-failing store
Of personal themes, and such as I love best;
Matter wherein right voluble I am:
Two will I mention, dearer than the rest;
The gentle Lady, married to the Moor;
And heavenly Una with her milk-white Lamb.

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