Medieval Ruins and Wordsworth’s The Tuft of Primroses: “A Universe of Analogies”

  • William S. Smith
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 44)


In The Tuft of Primroses, an 1808 poem, though not published until 1949, we find an excellent opportunity for grasping the essential analogousness of Wordsworth’s treatments of experiences superficially so different as the gazing on a tuft of primroses, the contemplating of the ruins at Tintern, the sudden glimpsing of a cross high above the devastated monastery at the Grande Chartreuse, the reading of heroic tales, and the recollecting of saints’ lives. The poet’s quest, in all of these encounters, is invariably for those “privileged moments,” which he treasures, those “spots of time” “that with distinct pre-eminence retain / A renovating virtue” (Prelude XII, 208–10). It is to the fact of the analogousness of these experiences, presented in this poem in terms of the poet’s views of perception, knowledge, history, poetry, and language that this paper seeks to draw attention. The discussion of the “spots of time” also attempts to show the similarity between Wordsworth’s treatment of these moments of insight and Platonic/Augustinian ascent patterns, Wordsworth’s relationship to a continuing tradition being a sub-theme of the paper.


Fairy Tale Unitary Vision Languaged Work Romantic Poetry Monastic Life 
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  1. Engell, James. The Creative Imagination: Enlightenment to Romanticism. Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1981.Google Scholar
  2. Wordsworth, William. The Prelude. 1799, 1805, 1850. Norton Critical Edition. Eds. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill. New York: Norton, 1979.Google Scholar
  3. Wordsworth, William. “The Tuft of Primroses”. The Poems. Vol. I. Ed. John O. Hayden. New Haven: Yale U.P., 1977, pp. 799–815.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • William S. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Bridgewater State CollegeUSA

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