Wordsworth's landscapes

Posted by jorgeg on January 26, 2014 at 2:25 PM


      Following previous posts on Landscapes in Literature, here is a literary gem taken from William Wordsworth's book A Complete Guide to the Lakes (Hudson and Nicholson, Kendal, 1842. The Lakes in question are, of course, those of the Lake District region of northern England.


   The excerpt below, besides being remarkable for its prose style, can teach us a thing or two about landscape appreciation. It's theme is the "ungracious depreciation" by comparison, an obstacle which often stands on the way to appreciation of certain landscapes.

         From page V: 



                              Nothing is more injurious to genuine feeling than the practice of hastily and ungraciously depreciating the face of one country by comparing it with that of another. True it is,  Qui bene distinguit bene docet yet festidiousness is a wretched travelling companion ; and the best guide to which, in matters of taste we can entrust ourselves, is a disposition to be pleased. For example, if a traveller be among the Alps, let him surrender up his mind to the fury of the gigantic torrents and take delight in the contemplation of their almost irresistible violence, without complaining of the monotony of their foaming course, or being disgusted with the muddiness of the water — apparent even where it is violently agitated. In Cumberland and Westmorland, let not the comparative weakness of the streams prevent him from sympathising with such impetuosity as they possess; and, making the most of the present objects, let him, as he justly may do, observe with admiration the unrivalled brilliancy of the water, and that variety of motion, mood and character, that arises out of the want of those resources by which the power of the streams in the Alps is supported. — Again, with respect to the mountains: though these are comparatively of diminutive size, though there is little of perpetual snow, and no voice of summer avalanches is heard among them; and though traces left by the ravage of the elements are here comparatively rare and unimpressive, yet out of this very deficiency proceeds a sense of stability and permanence that is, to many minds, more grateful


                                                    While the coarse rushes through the sweeping breeze 

                               Sigh forth their ancient melodie












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