Elegiac Stanzas Poem Analysis

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Written after the death of Wordsworth’s younger brother John, “Elegiac Stanzas” was inspired by a painting by Sir George Beaumont of Peele Castle in Lancashire. Through extensive personification of natural forces, Wordsworth speaks of his shifting vision of the painting over time to lament the fact that he no longer views the world with the blind and blissful innocence that he used to. Therefore, the work serves not only as a subtle elegy for the death of his brother, but also commemorates the death of Wordsworth’s old perspective of life. Wordsworth conveys this particular message by exploring the theme of memory and perception as well as parallelism between human emotion and forces of nature, both premises central to several of his other …show more content…
However, he shifts the mood of the poem and corrects himself to clarify that this is how he would have imagined the building “at the time,” but now he has “submitted to a new control.” He emphasizes the contrast between his once-complacent perspective of nature and his current, more brutal view of the world. He states that nothing can undo the distress that has “humanized his soul,” stating that now he could never imagine the “smiling sea” that he had described earlier in the poem. With the “sea in anger” and the “dismal shore,” he goes on to depict the passionate spirit of the violent scene. He describes the “Hulk that labors in the deadly swell,” painting an image of chaos hidden within calm confines. Wordsworth completely changes gears and emphasizes the unsettled energy of the work, …show more content…
The viewer sees what he wishes to see, as Wordsworth initially saw the castle as a divine treasure-­‐house, worthy of the sweetest sunbeams. This idea echoes a similar theme in “Lines Composed a Few Miles over Tintern Abbey,” where Wordsworth praises the “mighty world of eye and ear – both what they half create and what perceive; well pleased to recognize in nature and the language of the sense the anchor of my purest thoughts…” In these lines, he brings up the concept that these images are partly created by our sensory perceptions; what we see is so often deviant from the thing that is actually portrayed. Furthermore, the inspiration behind these deviations is the unique experience of the viewer. Even as he recognizes the newer tumultuous image of the castle, Wordsworth remains grounded by remembering his previous view of the painting, in an earlier phase of his life that is now long gone and can never be returned to. While in “Tintern Abbey”, Wordsworth’s change in sensory perceptions gives him a deeper understanding, in “Elegiac Stanzas” this change brings him “a deep distress.” In a confused state, he loses the sense of blissful oblivion that he enjoyed the first time he saw the painting, saying farewell to “the heart that lives alone.” However, as he dispels his former, naïve self, Wordsworth takes comfort in the “fortitude” that he

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