Monday, 21 May 2012

Wordsworth Parodies

Stumbled upon this by accident, after reading a bit about it in Keats' biography. Keats' friend John Hamilton Reynolds parodied Wordsworth's repetitive, ponderous style. Wordsworth tends to attach too much significance to facts that have no meaning either and thought himself deep and philosophical. Much truth and beauty as there is in his works, I have to agree with the parodists. One day it was advertised his poem Peter Bell would be published soon. But the publishers kept on delaying and it was thought Wordsworth was revising it. Reynolds said he would try to publish his own parody before the original came out. To those of you acquainted with Wordsworth the parody does an admirable job of maintaining the trademark weaker points of Wordsworth's style. As it was more common for poets to write a preface then, so does Reynolds, masquerading as mock-Wordsworth. And he did it in one day, the parody coming out before the original. The preface is funny, which you may read here. An in-depth analysis as to the original lines corresponding to the parody lines is here. Apparently after the parody was published Wordsworth refused to speak to Reynolds any more. One of the things the parody does is to make fun of Wordsworth giving long family histories of each rural character. Many extracts from his previous poems are quoted. Percy Shelley also did another parody of the same poem though not as funny.
John Hamilton Reynolds

Another Wordsworth parody is on the Lucy poems. Lucy is this girl Wordsworth writes about, saying how he loves here, and how isolated she is. I doubt she was a real person, but these poems have caused a great deal of speculation. Hartley Coleridge, son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge the Lake Poet, (also a man of letters in his own right) wrote these.

Here is the original by Wordsworth:
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
  Beside the springs of Dove;        30
A maid whom there were none to praise,
  And very few to love.
A violet by a mossy stone
  Half-hidden from the eye!
—Fair as a star, when only one        35
  Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
  When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, O!
  The difference to me!
And the parody by Hartley Coleridge:
He lived amidst th' untrodden ways
              2     To Rydal Lake that lead: --
              3A bard whom there were none to praise,
              4     And very few to read.

              5Behind a cloud his mystic sense,
              6     Deep-hidden, who can spy?
              7Bright as the night, when not a star
              8     Is shining in the sky.

              9Unread his works -- his 'Milk-white Doe'
            10     With dust is dark and dim;
            11It's still in Longman's shop, and Oh!
            12     The difference to him!
Hartley Coleridge

 By the Victorian era, some of the old revolutionaries had tired of Wordsworth's dying inspiration and his sudden betrayal of his ideals. His best works were mostly written in his youth.

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