These hedgerows -- hardly hedgerows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild


1. Hedgerows grown out and up -- hedges have a history*

2. Uncertainty of vision (seen then withdrawn), vs. accurate natural observation

Thomas McFarland: following precision of the earlier lines, this "runs off into fanciful imprecision" implying that Wordsworth has not kept his eye on the object (48); in fact, McFarland argues, "One can move from 'hedgerows' to 'little lines of sportive wood run wild' only by an act of imagination, and the act in this instance is that eddy of mind known as reverie" (52). Vs. process of perception: expectation then reality.

3. Visible along the Wye; from New Weir?

4. Picturesque mode: between beautiful and sublime; the "rough," foregrounding to middle distance; cancelling signs of human cultivation

"The banks of the Wye consist, almost entirely either of wood, or of pasturage; which I mention as a circumstance of peculiar value in landscape. Furrowed-lands, and waving-corn, however charming in pastoral poetry, are ill-accommodated to painting. The painter never desires the hand of art to touch his grounds." The artist wishes "the lands . . . may approach, as nearly as may be, to nature -- that is, that they may be pasturage" -- Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye 2nd ed., p. 44.

5. Whether signs of enclosure, or earlier field system? Now neglected? -- wartime poverty?

Levinson: "the narrator converts substance into formal property, reality into design, the end result being the suppression of the historical significance of those lines: their cause and effect. This is empiricist idealism of a most seductive kind." (42)

6. Merging of natural and human ("pastoral farms"), or struggle of natural, "run wild," against cultural

"Michael" (Wu 346): "natural objects led me on to feel / For passions that were not my own" (ll. 30-31): i.e., signs of human/nature collaboration

7. Corruption of native innocence by order of society (Rousseau); vs. childlike, freedom

Cf. "Immortality Ode" Wu 376 ff.: lines 58-68; 164-170

8. Associationist divergence, or transcendental organicism?

Prelude, 1799: Wu 317, on origin of mind

9. Legislative order, hierarchy (e.g., Burke), vs. Jacobin license, "wild"

See Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin (5th Ed., 1807), Nov 20, 1797:

a) On Marten, the regicide (Chepstow Castle): "His ardent mind / Shaped goodliest plans of happiness on earth, / And peace and liberty. Wild dreams! but such / As Plato loved" (p. 5)

b) On Brownrigg, the prentice-cide, who was hung: "Harsh laws! But time shall come, / When France shall reign, and laws be all repeal'd!" (p. 6)

10. Horizontal (Levinson?) vs. vertical (McFarland?) modes of understanding, critical theory; i.e., metonymic vs. metaphoric

11. Metaphor "sportive" animates nature; "wild": cf. "wild eyes," lines 120, 149

"The one great life", "Prospectus," Wu 330; cf. lines 30-40
"She shall be sportive as the fawn": "Three Years She Grew," Wu 328
        (sexual awakening, "Her virgin bosom swell" etc.)

*Illustration: from Molly Lefebure, The Illustrated Lake Poets. London: Windward, 1987. Detail from p. 86.

return to Tintern course

Document prepared September 9th 2001