We are all aware of the Sant Jordi bond with Shakespeare and Cervantes, but there is a link to another writer I also deeply appreciate – William Wordsworth.
April 23rd. You are going to do it, of course you are: Romanticism manifest in a book or a rose. We are all aware of the Sant Jordi bond with Shakespeare and Cervantes, but there is a link to another writer I also deeply appreciate – William Wordsworth.
He was among the six great English literature Romantic poets (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats) who at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries turned from the sterile logic of the Enlightenment ideals.
The Romantics advocated more emotional, personal and natural themes in art, explored in what was then everyday common language and syntax, leaving behind the formal forms of verse. Wordsworth, who died on Sant Jordi, 1850, was one of the most influential. And, for me, his comfort from nature and need for it is soul-lifting. He found sanctuary in the wilderness, and so can we all. His feelings, thoughts and appreciations of beauty are far more than a delight.
So maybe add this man (of the vales and hills who chanced upon a crowd, a host of golden daffodils) to your book wish-list for the great day. His critics may talk of repetition, a tameness, even a heaviness, but don't be distracted.
Consider Lyrical Ballads which, when it was published in 1798, changed the course of English literature and poetry. Five poems in the collection are by his friend Coleridge, including his famous and brilliant “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.
Or maybe Wordsworth's autobiographical giant work The Prelude. In blank verse it draws on his experiences and is a metaphor for the circular journey of life. We return to where we started but we see it anew. It grew like his mind from a work in two books of a thousand lines to fourteen books that will take ten hours to read, a humanistic journey from his rural childhood on to Cambridge and university, to France and the Revolution, London and a love of theatre, then back to the hills of northern England.
Catalans, a people still close to nature and wise to its worth, may find Wordsworth to their liking, if they have not done so already. The romantic age is ideal for a day of tangible, positive appreciation of others, of the written word and natural beauty. Take it slow, stop and rest and think, and on your journey through it you will find wonders.
On my wedding anniversary (yes, April 23rd) I will be reading one of Wordsworth's poems to Maggie.
Our house will cave in shortly under the weight of books. The best I have read recently? The Blunders of our Governments, by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe. It is a hair-curling, slap-your-hand-over-your-mouth catalogue of British Government lash ups that have cost billions and billions: Compelling, laugh-out-loud ineptitude that you couldn't make up, and most certainly a fair reflection of governments the world over.
There is a sort of Wordsworth link, because having read it you will want to take a very long walk in the mountains. I highly recommend our comarca, the Priorat.