Wordsworth’s poetic work is an attempt to ground community in joy. Passages in “The Prelude” are evidence that it takes this over as a task in response to the perceived insolvency of the French Revolution. The initial euphoria and the solidarity of this euphoria had given way to the Terror with its divisiveness and paranoia: the Revolution had run through its store of joy. If Wordsworth subsequently invents himself as the poet of the simple pleasures, it is not in withdrawal from politics, but rather in the ambition of opening up a source of joy from which the body politic can draw indefinitely. The joy of Wordsworth’s readers is not to be the second-hand experience of the poet’s joy in his own creative imagination. Wordsworth resigns the role of poet as creator in favor of the role of poet as witness to the universal accessibility of the everyday world’s powers of enchantment. Joy establishes a feeling of companionableness not only among human beings, but also between human beings and the other entities of their world: its political agenda involves an ecological agenda.


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pp. 613-632
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