By Kurt Fosso
Deals a proof for the poet's mysterious and longstanding preoccupation with dying and grief.
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Extra info for Buried Communities: Wordsworth and the Bonds of Mourning
Irreplaceable loved ones who have died,” but also a broader desire, Joshua Scodel adds, “for intimate communion with . . 85 Smith’s vision can be viewed as both typical and somewhat peculiar for its time given its emphasis upon grief and sympathy as ways of promoting egalitarian sociability in an alienating age of fervent self-interest. Alexander Pope’s “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady,” adapted by Wordsworth for his Hawkshead fragment “On the death of an unfortunate Lady,” appears to have seized on much the same cultural anxiety, localizing the problem within its own generic horizons.
In short, what burdensome “treasure,” linked to bearing the dead, has been coffered away? The answer is to be found in subsequent lines of this same passage, where the poet, still lingering over the memory of his father’s death, tells how the narrative’s tears give his soul [heart] relief To pay the mighty debt of Grief With sighs repeated o’er and o’er[;] I mourn because I mourn’d no more . . Nor did my little heart foresee —She lost a home in losing thee[;] Nor did it know—of thee bereft That little more than Heav’n was left.
But it was not to last, not entirely. Having perhaps lost some of his “confidence in social man” (PW 5: 117) and, more importantly, having come to desire a release from his own vexatious grief, Wordsworth became more satisfied, in the years after 1804, with the “true society” he had made in Grasmere, bolstered by a moral philosophy of stoic acceptance and a tradition-bound ideology of corporate identity and faith. 438) had begun to give way, often to skepticism about idealized communities, as in the poetry of Lord Byron and Letitia Landon.