Study Guide

William Wordsworth Quotes

Advertisement - Guide continues below

"Many readers have thought Wordsworth to be dull and heavy, and that these defects are unpardonable in a poet. It is true that his poetry is not uniformly great and attractive, and that much of what he wrote is tame. No writer could yield so much wheat and not have some chaff with it. No poet could write a long poem like 'The Excursion' or 'The Prelude,' and be brilliant in every line. Even Homer sometimes nods. … Many of those who do not consider Wordsworth profitable reading belong to a class that is 'incapable of a feeling of poetry': and, without the power to appreciate a poet, it is not easy to derive any pleasure or help from him."

New York Times, 11 July 1897

We poets in our youth begin in gladness;But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.

William Wordsworth, "Resolution and Independence"

"What is a Poet?… He is a man speaking to men; a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind.

William Wordsworth, Preface to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads

The world is too much with us; late and soon,Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:Little we see in Nature that is ours;We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

William Wordsworth, "The World Is Too Much With Us"

The things which I have seen I now can see no more.The rainbow comes and goes, And lovely is the rose; The moon doth with delightLook round her when the heavens are bare;Waters on a starry nightAre beautiful and fair;The sunshine is a glorious birth;But yet I know, where'er I go,That there hath past away a glory from the earth.Whither is fled the visionary gleam?Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality"

"The Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society."

William Wordsworth, Preface to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads

"[Biographer Kenneth R.] Johnston calls Wordsworth's poetic career a 'triumph of failure.' It is littered with collaborations that went wrong, with lifelong processes of uncompleted revisions, with unfinished fragments, postponed publications, promised works never achieved. Yet these failures, and the confusions and contradictions of Wordsworth's young life, fed into the complex, subtle power of his great works."

Hermione Lee

"It is an awful truth that there neither is, nor can be, any genuine enjoyment of Poetry among nineteen out of twenty of those persons who live, or wish to live, in the broad light of the world."

William Wordsworth, letter to patron Lady Beaumont

"What made Wordsworth's poems a medicine for my state of mind, was that they expressed, not mere outward beauty, but states of feeling, and of thought coloured by feeling, under the excitement of beauty. They seemed to be the very culture of the feelings, which I was in quest of."

John Stuart Mill, Autobiography

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...