"Soundings of Things Done": The Poetry and Poetics of Sound in the Romantic Ear and Era
James Chandler, The "Power of Sound" and the Great Scheme of Things: Wordsworth Listens to Wordsworth
1 My thanks to Susan Wolfson
and Maureen McLane for searchingly helpful conversation on this essay.
2 Such a distinction has
been fundamental to the modern study of poetry at least since I. A.
Richards's course-setting Principles of Literary Criticism (1924).
3 See also Jonathan
Culler, "Apostrophe," and Garrett Stewart's essay in this issue of Praxis.
attention to such matters is well-attested. Recall his comment
in the Preface to the Poems of 1815—a memorable instance
of Wordsworth listening to Wordsworth—on the (Milton-influenced)
line in Resolution and Independence, "over his own sweet voice
the Stock-dove broods": "The stock-dove is said to coo, a
sound well imitating the note of the bird; but, by the intervention
of the metaphor broods, the affections are called in by the
imagination to assist in marking the manner in which the bird reiterates
and prolongs her soft note, as if herself delighting to listen to
it, and participating of a still and quiet satisfaction, like that
which may be supposed inseparable from the continuous process of
incubation" (2: 437). Here sound and sense unite in a single word,
while On the Power of Sound requires a full poetic "scheme," divinely
sanctioned, to bring about such resolution.
5 "The Colonialist
Beginnings of Comparative Musicology"; see also Enlightenment
Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds.
6 It is this
later text that I discuss here.
7 I elaborate
this reading of the "Intimations" Ode in "Wordsworth's Great Ode
and the Progress of Poetry."
And say, cold Sophist! if by thee bereft
I don't mean that Hemans echoes Wordsworth, though "the vision of the days to be" certainly invokes the idiom of the early stanzas of the "Intimations" Ode. Since The Sceptic is likely a response to Byron (see Sweet and Taylor), it is interesting to speculate on Hemans's possible invocation of the idiom of Byron's nemesis, Wordsworth. At the very least, her clear syntax serves as a foil, in Empson's phrase (see n. below), to the "shuffling" grammar Ode IX. In Shelley's Mont Blanc—the publication (1817) falling between Wordsworth's Ode (1807, 1815) and The Sceptic (1820)—a well known But for crux occurs:
The wilderness has a mysterious tongueBut for might mean "except for" or, more in keeping with the context (and standard editorial commentary), "only through" (Shelley's Poetry and Prose 99n4).