restricted access Wordsworth’s Canadian Ministries

Canadian writers have long been as divided on the matter of William Wordsworth’s influence as writers elsewhere. After looking at the criticism that regards Wordsworth as inappropriate in Canada, this essay considers three aspects of his enduring influence: responses to “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” the preferred text for those who wish to ridicule Wordsworth, but also a touchstone for such poets as Elizabeth Brewster and Don McKay; responses to “Tintern Abbey,” such as Charles G.D. Roberts’s “The Tantramar Revisited” and Al Purdy’s “The Country North of Belleville”; and Peter Dale Scott’s revision of The Prelude in Minding the Darkness. Wordsworthian poetry flourishes in diverse environments because it is less a matter of the Lake District than of “the mighty world / Of eye and ear,—both what they half create, / And what perceive” (“Tintern Abbey” 105-7). The essay concludes that Canadian criticism has placed too much emphasis on geography, especially for poets who are not exclusively concerned with national landscapes or themes.