花を見つめる詩人たち : ヴォーンとワーズワス <論文>
Poets Gazing at Flowers: Vaughan and Wordsworth <Articles>
English and American literature
Many readers have noticed striking similarities in both thought and language between Henry Vaughan’s ‘The Retreat’ and William Wordsworth’s ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’. This paper, by comparing and contrasting them again, demonstrates that their differences stem from the thought and literary modes dominant in their respective times, and by providing new evidence, argues that a point of contact between them could have been Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
In their poems, both Vaughan and Wordsworth seem to deplore the fact that they have lost the blessings that they had in childhood, but on analysis, while the former has given up the idea of spying ‘some shadows of eternity’, the latter tries to keep his ‘natural piety’, and to find ‘the eternal deep’ even in adulthood. Consequently, when gazing at Nature, Vaughn has a tendency to convey the medieval thought of contemptus mundi, whereas Wordsworth is
inspired and filled with joy. That is why the glory of Nature for Vaughn is couched in the past tense whereas for Wordsworth the power of Nature is still present: Vaughan says ‘[I] felt through all this fleshly dress / Bright shoots of everlastingness’; Wordsworth says ‘in my heart of hearts I feel your might’. That is also why Vaughan’s poems tend to be intellectual, or emblematic, whereas Wordsworth’s are emotional. In other words, Vaughan’s Nature functions as the Book of Nature, looking beyond the surface－for example, ‘Not this with cataracts and creeks’－and giving divine messages, whereas the impassioned Wordsworth exclaims, ‘My heart leaps up when I behold’ a rainbow.
This paper also demonstrates that the two poets have in common the doctrine of the preexistence of the soul and the philosophy of reincarnation. In the case of Wordsworth, however, these ideas were obviously problematic to him because they are ‘an ingredient in Platonic philosophy’ and contradictory to the orthodox Christianity. Wordsworth claimed, as if he made use of a subterfuge, that he made ‘for [his] purpose the best use of it [he] could as a Poet’. By examining ‘The Two April Mornings’, which describes a natural feeling of a father bereft of his dear daughter, the paper argues that this Romantic poet could believe emotionally, though not intellectually, the doctrine and philosophy in question.
As another similarity between Vaughan and Wordsworth the paper discusses the panentheism of the former and the pantheism of the latter. Though contradictory, while Vaughan seems to have contempt for this world on the one hand, he can perceive the deity in Nature on the other and triumphantly claim, ‘each bush / And oak doth know I AM’. Next, the paper not only affirms that behind Vaughan’s capability of perceiving ‘Bright shoots of everlastingness’ was the influence of Hermeticism, but also confirms that the poet’s high valuation of childhood was based upon the thoughts of Jacob Boehme and Hermes Trismegistus. The paper concludes by arguing that Wordsworth’s ideas and treatments of children came from the same Hermetic source, and that the conduit was Coleridge, who regarded Hermeticism as one of his ‘darling Studies’, and took a keen interest in Boehme. In his marginalia on the passage
in Boehme’s Aurora, in which the German mystic says ‘Thou bringest an Angelical Garment into this World’, Coleridge quotes his close friend’s poetic lines, ‘trailing clouds of Glory do we come / From God who is our Home / HEAVEN LIES ABOUT US IN OUR INFANCY!’ Perhaps, smiling at Coleridge’s first baby to whom ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality’ alludes, Wordsworth could believe emotionally the mystical doctrine of Hermeticism, ‘Thanks to the human heart by which we live, / Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears’.
Hiroshima studies in English language and literature
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Departmental Bulletin Paper
Departmental Bulletin Papers
Graduate School of Letters