In April next year it will be poet William Wordsworth’s 250th birthday. Dove Cottage (pictured above), his Lakeland home, has been closed for major renovations but has just reopened, looking fabulous. And no doubt there will be several new books about Wordsworth’s life and works to mark this anniversary.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone can write a better book about him than Adam Nicolson’s The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and their Year of Marvels. I love Adam Nicolson’s writing (he is the grandson of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, and son of writer Nigel Nicolson, so writing is well and truly in his genes) and this book was sheer delight from beginning to end.
Out of that extraordinary year of friendship in Somerset’s Quantocks area came some of the greatest of poems – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, Frost at Midnight, Tintern Abbey and the publication of a ground breaking book called Lyrical Ballads.
Nicolson spent a year living where the poets lived, walking where they walked, and seeing the landscapes which inspired them. There’s analysis of the close friendship, of the role played by women in bringing them to greatness, and perceptive discussion of what brought the great friendship to an end. He shows brilliantly how the place changed both poets and brought about the birth of the Romantic Movement.
As I read this thought-provoking book I longed for a friend with whom to discuss it. While I have many friends who read (in fact, I have almost no friends who are not readers) most of them are not especially keen on poetry, so I feel a lack. If you have also read The Making of Poetry please let me know what you thought of it. I’d like to feel I’m not alone in reading and loving this book.
I’ll celebrate the big anniversary next year by including a Wordsworth poem in my newsletter. The Wordsworth Trust has had a £6 million grant to fund an international campaign to bring Wordsworth to the sort of prominence he should always enjoy. There’s also restoration going on at his birthplace in Cockermouth (a fantastic museum to visit) and his poems are to be ‘reimagined’ in many different ways.
I think probably Wordsworth’s Ode on the Intimations of Immortality is my favourite poem ever – it chokes me up every time I read it and the lines are just so incredibly beautiful and moving. So how about you too gear up for the Wordsworth birthday and start reading or listening to some of his wonderful poems so you’ll feel part of the international celebrations?
Have you read Adam Nicolson’s book? If so, I need to hear from you! What about poetry generally, do you love it? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
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