A Traveler Is Resolute And Independent

Tenets of Wordsworth in Resolution and Independence


Romanticism officially began in 1798, when William Wordsworth and Samuel
Taylor Coleridge anonymously published Lyrical Ballads. This work marked the official
beginning of a literary period which had already begun many years before 1798. A work is
defined to be of a certain period by its characteristics, therefore to be considered a
Romantic work, the work must contain aspects which are termed “Romantic.” A few
typical “Romantic” aspects are: love of the past; sympathy to the child’s mind; faith in the
inner goodness of man; aspects of nature having religious, mystic, and symbolic
significance; and reconciliation of contrasting ideas to make a point. Wordsworth
flourished in these ideas in a poem called Independence and Resolution. In this poem
Wordsworth shows the reader what he thinks his life is like and what he wants it to be
like.
In its essence, Resolution and Independence is an open book to what Wordsworth
feels his life is like. It is about the past, present, and future Wordsworth. Wordsworth
feels that his life is like a “traveler” on the moors (15). He feels that in the past he has
always been like a small “boy,” who never “heard” or “saw” the beauties of nature (18).
As a child, Wordsworth never understood life, because he never looked to nature for
inspiration or guidance. Presently, Wordsworth feels he that he is “a happy Child of
earth,” because he walks “far from the world. . . far from all care” (31, 33). He begins a
search to find a way to live in harmony with himself, God, and nature. During his search,
he finds an old man, the leech-gatherer, who is one with himself, God, and nature. Upon
seeing this man, Wordsworth is immediately amazed by the mien of this old man.
Wordsworth admires this man’s insight on life, that Wordsworth decides that he wants to
become the same way. Thus, in Wordsworth’s search for his place in eternity in nature, he
finds an example that he wants to duplicate.
Resolution and Independence includes many tenets of Romanticism including a
love of the past. Wordsworth loves the storm of the previous night and the “rain-drops”
on the moors that it leaves behind (10). Wordsworth loves the old man, because the old
man has so much knowledge from his past experiences. The poet enjoys reminiscing on
past experiences:
I was a Traveler then upon the moor
I saw the hare that raced about with joy;
I heard the woods and distant waters roar;
Or heard them not, as happy as a boy;
The pleasant season did my heart employ;
My old remembrances went from me wholly;
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy
A Second major Romantic characteristic is “wind” (1). Wind is symbolic of the
vitality of the poetic spirit. When wind is mentioned, the reader can assume that the next
bit of the work is going to be lively, because the author feels his poetic spirit has been
rejuvenated.
Rain, or water, is another Romantic attribute mentioned: “the rain came in heavy
floods” (2). Rain is symbolic of life, because water is the source and maintainer of all
living things. Rain is also symbolic of poetic inspiration. The rain of the past evening’s
storm inspires Wordsworth to write this poem. The reminders observed in nature and
memories stirred in his mind urge him to continue on. The reminders in nature include the
“rain-drops” and the “mist” that the hare kicks up (10,13).
In Resolution and Independence, the ponds represent the poetic memory, or the
poem itself. Wordsworth admires the old man, because he interacts with other poets
memories, or poems. The act of the old man wading through Wordsworth’s pond is
symbolic the old man “reading a book,” or one of Wordsworth’s works (81). The old
man inspires Wordsworth by stirring the water in Wordsworth’s pond. This action allows
Wordsworth’s past inspirations to resurface.
Another Romantic tenet is the reconciliation of differences to make a point.
Wordsworth wanted to stress his “dejection” by writing:
And fears and fancies thick upon me came;
Dim sadness-blind thought, I knew not, nor could name. (25, 27-9)
Thought makes a Romantic poet happy (which is another tenet of Romanticism), and a
blind man can not distinguish between any