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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Poem from 'Poems of National Independence' talking to the dead (Wordsworth) on STRIDE today

As part of the 'Talking to the Dead' feature on Stride magazine (which began with posts from 17th June 2020) I've contributed one of my 14 'Poems of National Independence', writings-through of Wordsworth's sonnets. This is one of the odd ones out in the sequence, in that it speaks back, writes back, talks to, the dead author, tracking his infamous revisionary poetics. It snuck up on me quite innocently. I was planning to 'transpose' this sonnet, which is about a silent black deportee from France, in a different way, but I discovered that I had two versions of the poem to work with. Fascinated by the differences, this poem emerged between the two authorised Wordsworth versions.

Read it on Stride here.

Watch me read it (best to see the text as well, it's not very oral, as it happens) above.

I transposed poems from a part of Wordsworth’s ‘Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty’, and retitled them ‘Poems of National Independence’. I added the subtitle ‘liberties with Wordsworth’. I’d only selected ones written 1802-3. Each carries Wordsworth's first line as its title, for identification. The poems are easy to find, though not always in the versions I have used. Wordsworth wrote over 500 sonnets; I’ve read about 100 of them this year.

This blog post from Jonathan Bate, who was about to publish his Radical Wordsworth biography at the time I was writing the poems, is illuminating about the early vs. the late poems. This is relevant, since the poems I have selected are late revisions of early poems. 

Leader, Zachary. Revision and Romantic Authorship. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, and Wolfson, Susan J. Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997, are also particularly good on Wordsworth's revisions. Wolfson is good at any time, of course, and a principal theoretical input to The Meaning of Form. (See here.) 

There is a general hubpost to all the other parts of this sequence and the way it links to other parts of 'The English Strain' project, and this 'Wordsworth' part of 'British Standards' here.

There are two posts about the background to the project: one that looks back at Book One, The English Strain here (to be published later this year) and another at Book Two, Bad Idea here .

I am delighted to report that two other poems from ‘Poems of National Independence’ (in British Standards) are published by International Times. Here they are with short laptop videos: