Buried communities : Wordsworth and the bonds of mourning by Wordsworth, William; Wordsworth, William; Fosso, Kurt

By Wordsworth, William; Wordsworth, William; Fosso, Kurt

Bargains a proof for the poet's mysterious and longstanding preoccupation with dying and grief

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Wordsworth may in turn have perceived in Pope much the same power of grievous debt in the common tribute it exacts from the living. Of course, Wordsworth may also have looked no further than his parish church. In the Christian rite of Communion, redemptive sacrifice likewise posits interminable debt, to be paid ever after with gratitude and faith, which is to say with mourning and a degree of debt sharing, too. 55–57), his wording catches the haunted spirit of indebtedness in perpetuum to the Other.

Such a prefigurative paradigm would of course have been familiar to one at all versed in the Anglican liturgy, as was Wordsworth. The landscape of “whistling” and “rustling Boughs” (68), and of other prefigurative and refigurative treasures, takes its allegorical start from this hidden mine of paternal death. Yet, if the poem’s melancholy poet is “playing over” some sort of lingering past trauma owed or at least connected to the dead,28 it might well be asked just what that trauma is and why it appears here to be so strangely significant.

7 Wordsworth might also have carried over this element from his personal experience with loss or from having observed Lake District funerals. All the same, “Ballad” attests to its author’s fascination with the motif of interminable grief. Behind Mary’s deathbed recollection of a prophecy that her “head would soon lie low” (42) are the dying words of Hawkshead master Taylor. 501–2). James Averill argues that Wordsworth interpolates Taylor’s prophetic words “to exploit their deep, if personal, emotional significance .

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