Wordsworth and the Poetry of What We Are Paul H. Fry

Yale Studies in English
Publication date:
24 Jun 2008
Yale University Press
256 pages: 235 x 156 x 21mm
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In this original book, distinguished literary scholar and critic Paul H. Fry sharply revises accepted views of Wordsworth’s motives and messages as a poet. Where others have oriented Wordsworth toward ideas of transcendence, nature worship, or—more recently—political repression, Fry redirects the poems and offers a strikingly revisionary reading.

Fry argues that underlying the rhetoric of transcendence or the love of nature in Wordsworth’s poetry is a more fundamental and original insight: the poet is most astonished not that the world he experiences has any particular qualities or significance, but rather that it simply exists. He recognizes “our widest commonality” in the simple fact that “we are” in common with all other things (human and nonhuman) that are. Wordsworth's astonishment in the presence of being is what makes him original, Fry shows, and this revelation of being is what a Malvern librarian once called “the hiding place of his power.”

Paul H. Fry is William Lampson Professor of English, Yale University. The author or editor of five previous books, he lives in New Haven, CT.

"This book is not only an account of Wordsworth’s poetry, nor of poetry as such, but of human being in relation to being as such ... This is a decisive contribution in its own right to contemporary poetic theory and philosophy."—Ross Wilson, Textual Practice