On this day in 1770 the English poet William Wordsworth was born. A career poet who became Poet Laureate in his later years, Wordsworth is always linked to the Lake District. His famous definition of poetry is still often quoted: “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.”
He travelled extensively throughout Germany and visited Revolutionary France in 1791 which impressed him greatly, to the extent that he fell in love with a French girl and fathered a daughter, both of whom he supported as best he could for the rest of his life. It was his friendship with the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge that was to further his career, with the publication of ‘Lyrical Ballads’ to which they both contributed; this established them as leaders of the ‘Romantic Movement’. Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson, his childhood sweetheart in 1802 though his sister Dorothy continued to live with them. Here is a Wordsworth poem that fits his definition of poetry:
She dwelt among th’ untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love.
A Violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the Eye!
—Fair, as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky!
She liv’d unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceas’d to be;
But she is in her Grave, and Oh!
The difference to me.
Today I will remember that this day is all I have – yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never happen.