Fusion of feeling and nature in Wordsworthian and classical Chinese poetry

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Abstract

In The Spirit of the Age William Hazlitt distinguishes Wordsworth’s unique poetic approach with these words: “This is the sole triumph of his art. He takes the simplest elements of Nature and of the human mind ... and tries to compound a new system of poetry from them .... He has described all these objects in a way and with an intensity of feeling that no one else had done before him, and has given a new view of aspect of nature. He is in this sense the most original poet now living”.2 What Hazlitt typifies as Wordsworthian may be succinctly rephrased by a key idiom of Chinese poetics: “the fusion of feeling and nature”. If Wordsworth has initiated the emotive treatment of nature in Western poetry, such a poetic approach has prevailed in the Chinese poetic tradition ever since the compilation of the Shi Jing (The Book of Poetry, ca. 1,100–600 B.C.):3 from thence many modes of blending subjective and objective elements have evolved over the centuries. Here, a comparative explication of six poems will seek to demonstrate that Wordsworth’s three major modes of fusing feeling with nature bear parallels to those employed by classical Chinese poets living at different times. The ensuing review of criticism will furnish further evidence of the similarities as noted by Western and Chinese critics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe elemental passions of the soul : poetics of the elements in the human condition : part 3
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Pages431-456
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9789400923355
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990
Externally publishedYes

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