Monday, 24 September 2018

Wordsworth's poetry and philosophy || Establish the superiority of poetry over history and science

William Wordsworth is a great lover of poetry like Sir Philip Sidney. His conception of poetry is exalted and noble. He is fully agreed with Aristotle in some respects. He thinks that poetic truth is much higher than the truth of history or philosophy. In his view, as in that of the Greek philosopher, poetry is more philosophical than philosophy itself. It is the most philosophical of all writings. By the word, 'philosophical', he means more conducive to understanding a better source of knowledge and wisdom. History deals merely with particular facts. But philosophy deals merely with abstract and universal truths without providing any illustrations of those truths. But poetry alone deals with both the particular and the general. It aims at universal truth. It also illustrates them through particular examples.
Wordsworth's poetry and philosophy

Wordsworth's poetry and philosophy. Wordsworth says that poetry is the image of man and nature. It aims at truth to nature and at the faithful reproduction of reality. This faithful adherence to nature and reality is modified only by one consideration that of giving pleasure. This is the only obstacle between the poet and the truth he aims at. But there are a thousand obstacles in the way of the historian and the philosopher. Wordsworth does not specify what these obstacles are but they can readily be guessed. For example, the historian must collect his facts painstakingly from old documents before he can interpret them correctly.

The fact that the function of poetry is to give immediate pleasure must not be regarded as a degradation of the poet's art. On the contrary, it is an acknowledgment of the beauty of the universe and of the worth and dignity of man. This function can be performed only by one who looks at the world with love. Pleasure is the basic principle of life and Nature. It is through pleasure that man knows, feels, lives and moves. We sympathise only because sympathy gives inner satisfaction. Knowledge of reality of essential truths can be required only through sympathy. It is only when our soul is in sympathy with the soul of nature that we see into the heart of things.

Knowledge of truth is a source of spiritual pleasure. The scientists, the mathematicians and others work hard to acquire knowledge only because knowledge gives pleasure. Knowledge even of the painful and the disgusting is a source of pleasure. In this respect, we remember Aristotle's theory of imitation. Imitation even of the ugly and the obnoxious when well done is a source of pleasure. Imitation of the unknown and the unfamiliar gives pleasure because it increases our knowledge. The poet studies the elemental nature of man in his elementary instincts and impulse. He studies the action and reactions of man and nature through which man acquires a host of ideas and sensation, connections and deductions. He acquires this knowledge through his sympathy with the objects of nature. It always results in an overbalance of pleasure.

The poet perceives the organic unity between man and nature. He is conscious of the sympathy that exists between man and the objects and phenomena of nature. This awareness gives him pleasure. The soul of man as well as the soul of nature is derived from God and hence results the essential oneness of man and nature. It is for this reason that he considers the mind of man as a mirror to the beauty of nature. The realisation of the universal truth gives him pleasure. The scientist also works hard over long periods of time in the search for truth. He also finds pleasure in the discovery of truth. But the truth which he realises in particular and personal. It is realised through study and research in a particular field. It cannot be shared by mankind in general. Its truths and pleasures are limited only to the individual scientist. Poetic truth and poetic pleasure can be shared by all because it results from the perception of the basic principles of life. It also results from the fact of unity of nature and man as well as all other forms of life.

Poetry in this respect is far superior to science. Wordsworth shows that the knowledge provided by science is superficial and entirely intellectual. A scientist studies only through the intellect. He murders to dissect and studies only the appearance of thing. A poet, on the other hand, goes down to the inner reality. He pierces surface appearance and reaches the soul that lies beneath. For this reason, he is a man of greater sensibility. The truth which he discoverys is charged with his feelings and emotions. That is why, Wordsworth defines poetry as the breathe and finer spirit of all knowledge. It is the realisation of basic laws which have always been the same in all ages and countries. He sings a song which can please all.

A poet therefore is a general benefactor but he remains a companion of man. The scientist also is a benefactor but he remains aloof enjoying his knowledge of truth in solitude. It is the message of love and unity that the poet brings. He seeks to find all mankind in ties of mutual love and affection. Nature everywhere speaks to him of the essential oneness of all the perception of this truth excites him emotionally. He expresses his emotions and sensations in the poems that he writes. Therefore, his appeal is not merely to the intellect but also to the heart of man. Poetry is the first and of all knowledge. It is as immortal as the heart of man.

To sum up, we can add that the time will come when science will revolutionise the material conditions of human life. At that time, poetry also will play a useful role. Then the poet will endow the achievements of science with feeling and emotion. Thus it will present them to his readers in an emotional and vivid from. The poet will thus always complete and give perfection to the truths discovered by the scientist. It is he who will give life and substance flesh and blood to do the dry bones of science. Poetry is the countenance of all science. Science is incomplete without it.

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