william_wordsworth.jpg William Wordsworth Poems
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Born in 1770, Wordsworth was and remains Britain's most celebrated poet. This splendid anthology features poems from the "Lyrical Ballads", his famous collection written in collaboration with Samuel Taylor Coleridge; from "The Prelude", the autobiographical work that explores the development of the man and the poet; and his personal and lyrical poems, including "I wandered lonely as a cloud" and "Composed upon Westminster Bridge". The audio includes poems in their entirety and unabridged excerpts. Among these are "To a Sky-Lark: Up with me!", "To a Butterfly: I've watched you now", "The Solitary Reaper", "Surprised by Joy - Impatient as the Wind", Ode to Duty", "To the Daisy: Sweet Flower", "The Two April Mornings", and many more. The poems are linked by an informative commentary which places them in both a historical and biographical context.

General Review
Probably the most popular of the romantic English poets, Wordsworth (1770-1850) was England's poet laureate from 1843 until his death. This selection from Wordsworth's work presents some of his most famous writings, interspersed with biography and commentary, read well and entertainingly by 6 different English actors. The only problem is that using six readers plus a narrator is confusing especially since the project was to show the cohesiveness and progression in Wordsworth's work. As the reader of each selection was not identified, the listener was left wondering who had read so beautifully. Noted was that of the 46 selections read, 20 were read by the one woman reader. And some of these 20 were the longer selections. This would be more acceptable if she were a favorite, or the best, reader of the group. As it was...............

Nat Review
Jeremy Northam reads the biographical narrative linking entire poems and excerpts that are read by Nat and also by Stella Gonet, Haydn Gwynne, David Horovitch and Alex Jennings.

From a total running time of approximately 2 ½ hours, Nat's contribution is barely around 8 minutes and includes the following;

Extract from the 'Conclusion of a Poem, Composed in Anticipation of Leaving School. Written in Very Early Youth', 'To My Sister', 'She dwelt among the untrodden ways', 'I grieved for Buonapart', 'She was a Phantom of delight' and 'Surprised by joy impatient as the Wind'.

Although I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud is possibly Wordsworth's most often read poem, Nat uses the right amount of sense stress so as to make it sound special;

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed and gazed but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

And this is lovely - a poem that Wordsworth wrote about his wife, read by Nat with a kind of cheerful tenderness;

She was a Phantom of delight

She was a Phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.

I saw her upon nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin-liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food,
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveller between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.

Finally, written by Wordsworth after the death of his 4-yr old daughter, Nat reads this one with a calm and quiet sensitivity;

Surprised by joy impatient as the Wind

Surprised by joy - impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport--Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind--
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?--That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

Published by

Published by Highbridge
Audio Format: Audio Cassette - Abridged
ISBN: 1565112814
Publish Date: 12/1/1998
Running Time: 2 1/2 hours
Readers: Stella Gonet, Haydn Gwynne, David Horovitch, Alex Jennings, Jeremy Northam and Nathaniel Parker

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