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Wordsworth's Revolution in Poetic Language

  • Keith Hanley

…plus d’informations

  • Keith Hanley
    Lancaster University

Corps de l’article

My title intends to link the experimental project of Lyrical Ballads, as advertised and commenced in 1798, with Julia Kristeva's 1974 doctoral thesis, La Révolution du langage poétique, [1] for two reasons: first because Wordsworth's theory and practice, though ultimately very different, can nevertheless be helpfully reviewed as historically prefigurative of the new 'signifying practice' that Kristeva argues was to be fully realised by avant-garde writers in the course of the nineteenth century; and second because Kristeva's engagement in the psychology of language draws out and illuminates Wordsworth's own most self-characterising preoccupation in attempting to invent a modern literary discourse in which to accommodate the revolutionary knowledge of his time.

As Michael Mason points out, 'Lyrical Ballads was not a single phenomenon but a sequence of four editions spread over seven years; its appearance in English literature was not a historical moment but a sequence of moments—1798, 1800, 1802, 1805.'  [2] Furthermore, instead of seeing Lyrical Ballads as generically or otherwise distinct from Wordsworth's major preoccupation of the same time—the invention of a new poetic language for 'the first & finest philosophical poem',  [3]The Recluse or Views of Nature, Man, and Society (towards which he wrote 1,300 lines from November 1797 to the beginning of March 1798 when most of his contributions for the volume were written)—I view them as in important respects part of one comprehensive project. In that way, it might be argued that Lyrical Ballads, 1798, was in effect the first distraction from/substitution for The Recluse project, and that the second edition moved in what was to become the defining direction of oeuvre for opus .  [4] Accordingly I see the critical prefaces, 1798-1802, as treating issues that increasingly extend beyond the bounds of the successive volumes under the same title that were his only book publications over those years, even to the point of sometimes seeming misapplied to the volumes themselves, to address core problems in Wordsworth's continuous writing.  [5] The more significant dates for the full articulation of a new theory of poetic language I take to be 1800, by which date Wordsworth had for certain become the main author and theoriser, and 1802, with the important evolutions of his thought in substantial additions.

I end by examining some thematic intertextualities between Lyrical Ballads and Joanna Baillie's A Series of Plays: in which it is attempted to delineate the stronger passions of the mind; each passion being the subject of a tragedy and a comedy , 1798:  [6] in particular, between the 1798 Advertisement and 1800 Preface and her Introductory Discourse, and between 'There was a boy' (the poem through which The Recluse project actually entered the Lyrical Ballads volumes) and her tragedy De Monfort , in which Wordsworth encountered a dramatisation of the singular process of his own language-acquisition that I argue controlled both his analysis and practice of poetic language.


Kristeva's proposition is that 'Literature has always been the most explicit realization of the signifying subject's condition', but that historically it was 'in the first half of the nineteenth century, that the dialectical condition of the subject was made explicit, beginning in France with the work of Nerval, but particularly with Lautréamont and Mallarmé.' (RPL, 82) Her account of French literary history is tied to a wider social history of discourse in France that literature offered to unravel, but though occasionally she suggests that similar characteristics of 'the plural, heterogeneous, and contradictory process of signification encompassing the flow of drives, material discontinuity, political struggle, and the pulverization of language' have belonged to the poetic language of other 'revolutionary periods' (RPL, 88), she alludes only passingly to the effects of (the reactionary aftermath of) the French Revolution:

. . . starting with the Renaissance and the brief Romantic celebration of the sacrifices made in the French Revolution, poetry became mere rhetoric, linguistic formalism, a fetishization . . . The established bourgeois regime had been consuming this kind of poetry since the Restoration and especially during the Second Empire which began in 1852, reducing it to a decorative uselessness that challenged none of the subjects of its time.

The problem, then, was one of finding practices of expenditure capable of confronting the machine, colonial expansion, banks, science, parliament—those positions of mastery that conceal their violence and pretend to be mere neutral legality.

RPL, 83

By the end of the century, she maintains, poetic language had changed 'precisely because it became a practice involving the subject's dialectical state in language. As such, this transformation inaugurates a new period in what has been called literature: the end of poetry as delirium, which is contemporaneous with its inseparable counterpart—literature as an attempted submission to the logical order. In the experience of a Joyce or a Bataille, for example, literature moves beyond madness and realism in a leap that maintains both "delirium' and "logic".' (RPL, 82)

For Kristeva, the space in which the presymbolic maternal law obtains, which she calls the 'semiotic chora' after the unorganised signifying process of gesture, sound and rhythm (the 'semiotic' itself) which takes place there, will continue to be present as the irrepressible materiality, or signifying substance within the Symbolic order. The revolution in poetic language entailed the recovery of rudimentary operations of subjectivity that had become distorted:

Recovering the subject's vehemence required a descent into the most archaic stage of his positing, one contemporaneous with the positing of social order; it required a descent into the structural positing of the thetic [the inaugural break] in language so that violence, surging up through the phonetic, syntactic, and logical orders, could reach the symbolic order and the technical ideologies that had been built over this violence to ignore or repress it. To penetrate the era, poetry had to disturb the logic that dominated the social order and do so through that logic itself, by assuming and unravelling its position, its syntheses, and hence the ideologies it controls.

RPL, 83

Semiotic drive, then, continues in dialectic with symbolic elements of stasis in the Symbolic to produce signification, and it is the untrammelled expression of maternal materiality inside the word of the father, on the border between what is constructed as nature and culture proper, that typifies the new language of poetry. It is revolutionary not only in being new, but because it also introduces a radical interrogation of ideological and discursive formations on the basis of the constitution of language itself: 'In confronting the world of discourse in its constitutive laws, poetry ceased being poetry and opened a gap in every order where the dialectical experience of the subject in the signifying process might begin.' (RPL, 84)  [7]

My own related argument here situates Wordsworth's expanding and intensifying interest in the psychology of language from the later 1790s in the context of linguistic revolution, in line with those historians of the semiotics of the French Revolution who have viewed it as a 'linguistic event',  [8] maintaining that the crisis of political representation formulated by Rousseau's 'social contract' led to the generation of new symbols to replace the charisma of kingship. In the process of transference of power, as Lynn Hunt writes, 'charisma came most concretely to be located in words'.  [9] But, though language gains a new power of replacement, it nevertheless carries an unavoidable sense of something having been lost, and the sense of loss and gain in language deepened. Wordsworth's linguistic self-consciousness became restorative in this way, but besides, even more than the effecting of a political substitution, he became absorbed by a more radical consideration of the incapacity of language adequately to account for itself:

Hard task to analyse a soul, in which,
Not only general habits and desires,
But each most obvious and particular thought,
Not in a mystical and idle sense,
But in the words of reason deeply weigh'd,
Hath no beginning.  [10]

His writing fully participates in the modern conscious use and control of language that was entailed in this shift and that made language what Michel Foucault calls a 'philological object':

From the nineteenth century, language began to fold upon itself, to acquire its own particular density, to deploy a history, an objectivity, and laws of its own. It became one object of knowledge among others, on the same level as living beings, wealth and value, and the history of events and men.  [11]

Foucault's account of the contemporaneous emergence of 'literature' as one compensation for the 'demotion' (OOT, 296) of language to object status heralds Kristeva's version of poetic power: 'Literature is the contestation of philology . . . it leads language back from grammar to the naked power of speech, and there it encounters the untamed, imperious being of words.' (OOT, 300) But while Foucault describes this opposing modality as engaged in a similar reflexive preoccupation with its own special way of being, his rendering of it proposes an immanent self-satisfaction in '[re-apprehending] the essence of all literature' that stops short of providing any account of Romantic alienation, its fascination with self-origins and its specific probing of the constitution of 'a writing subjectivity':

[Literature] breaks with the whole definition of genres as forms adapted to an order of representations, and becomes merely a manifestation of a language which has no other law than that of affirming—in opposition to all other forms of discourse—its own precipitous existence; and so there is nothing for it to do but to curve back in a perpetual curve upon itself, as if its discourse could have no other content than the expression of its own form; it addresses itself to itself as a writing subjectivity, or seeks to re-apprehend the essence of all literature in the movement that brought it into being; and thus all its threads converge upon the finest of points—singular, instantaneous, and yet absolutely universal—upon the simple act of writing.

OOT, 300

Susan Wolfson has demonstrated the importance of the interrogative mode in Lyrical Ballads and its relevance to the origin of autobiography in The Prelude .  [12] Certainly the involution of much English Romantic literature encompasses a questioning by and of the 'writing subjectivity' which is most markedly registered in the first words of the sequence that was to evolve into The Prelude : 'was it for this [?]' (P, 487, 1), where, for want of an antecedent, the demonstrative most radically refers to the act and product of writing itself. Wordsworth's literary language is interested in more than neutral extra-discursivity: like Kristeva's theorised language it is interested in 'confronting the world of discourse in its constitutive laws'. But unlike Kristeva's revolutionary poetry which 'opened a gap in every order where the dialectical experience of the subject in the signifying process might begin', Wordsworth's practice works rather to abate that dialectic. Influenced by the particular oedipal story that Wordsworth relates throughout his poetry and by what may be inferred from his individual signifying practice, I have hypothesised elsewhere that the archaeology of Wordsworth's writing subjectivity was induced by the personally intensified insistence of what Jacques Lacan described as the function of 'the mirror stage' during the process of his subjectivisation which turns out to be the object of his insistent interrogation.  [13] As Wordsworth identified his highly individualised psychological profile in the later 1790s, he tried to invent and define the poetic language for his professional discourse that was governed by the imaginary register through which the formation of the mirror stage continued into the Symbolic.

This characterising preoccupation provides another way of approaching those ballads which set riddles in reading whose suggested solutions have never satisfied the wonderings they have provoked, and at bottom never could. 'Anecdote for Fathers', for example, becomes summed up by its ending and subtitle as a lesson on 'how the art of lying may be taught', but that foregrounding of a moral discourse only sustains one side of the conversation, and simply fails to hear some of the different language games that are being rehearsed in the boy's response to being made to speak to order. An underlying impression remains that the boy is after all attempting to represent his own truth—one that is not finally available by the adult's rules—and answers with a double tongue, that is at once deceptive and honest. The evasive place-name he uses is outside and prior to the urgent directing of his interrogator and the unrelenting assertion of what Lacan calls the Phallus of language: '"At Kilve there was no weather-cock/"And that's the reason why"' (LB, 135, 55-6, ). 'We Are Seven' similarly means more than and something other than what is said. Wordsworth writes that it was intended 'to illustrate the perplexity and obscurity which in childhood attend our notion of death, or rather our utter inability to admit that notion' (LB, 63), yet the poem is more intrigued by the grounding power of that incapacity than it ostensibly entertains, and impressively repeats its resistance to the authoritarian logic of the Symbolic order, from which it is scarcely possible (however enviously) to recall the stage of non-division on which her authority is founded: 'The little Maid would have her will,/And said, "Nay, we are seven!"' (LB, 134, 68-9)

Wordsworth remained unusually attached to the relation to the mother from which the unifying principle of the Imaginary derives and becomes transposed throughout the identificatory web in which, according to Lacan, the subject is caught. The dependence on maternal reunion surfaces in several of the poems. In 'The Mad Mother', for example, the fantasy of the identificatory gaze which the mother offers serves to relieve some of the disturbing erotic displacements which the woman puts on her relation to the suckling babe:

I waked, and saw my little Boy,
My little Boy of flesh and blood;
Oh joy for me that sight to see!
For he was here, and only he.

LB, 174, 27-30

The idiot boy, in his poem, having been apparently endangered by carrying a message into and through the world of adult communication, comes back within the protective hold of his mother's gaze: 'She's coming from among the trees,/And now all full in view she sees/Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy' (LB, 167, 374-6), and so returns with the alternative message that he had never really left the thetic unity of his 'burring' (LB, 167, 387). The 'beauteous heap, a Hill of moss' (LB, 120, 36) in 'The Thorn' gathers a teasing ambiguity from its arrested intermediacy between the natural and human ('As if by hand of lady fair/The work had woven been' [LB, 121, 41-2]) and between the conscious and unconscious ('So deep is their vermilion dye . . . like an infant's grave in size' [LB, 121, 44, 52]). There is a variance between the punitive communal gaze incited by the narrator's innuendoes and Martha's own transference of her putative maternal attentions to the 'Heap', an identificatory non-verbal other that, with its attractive artistry, has become the innocent focus of desire (the Lacanian objet petit a ) in the Imaginary ('Ah me! what lovely tints are there!/Of olive green and scarlet bright,/In spikes, in branches, and in stars,/Green, red, and pearly white.' [LB, 121, 45-8). Though 'the mother' is stigmatised ('A Woman in a scarlet cloak' 63) for what may be socially read as a sign of two-fold shame, the poem never loses its respect for the worth of an almost erased private relation that the mound still manages to convey against what uneasily turns into the narrator's self-defeating prurience.  [14]

The mirror stage enables the move from identification with the mother to that with the reflected other. As well as reproducing the structure of maternal union, it introduces the first alienation of the subject, and so for a time arrests the narrative of unity passing into division and loss. The poetic language which is exceptionally invested with the appropriate register, though it is propelled like all language by the desire to re-attain the wholeness that preceded subjectivisation, nonetheless conveys a semiotic which is unusually regulated within the symbolic realm, as when the soul

Remembering how she felt, but what she felt
Remembering not—retains an obscure sense
Of possible sublimity, to which
With growing faculties she doth aspire,
With faculties still growing, feeling still
That whatsoever point they gain they still
Have something to pursue.

P, 23, 365-71

Listening to this 1798 fragment it is possible to hear in the 'growing faculties' and 'faculties still growing' that 'still/Have something to pursue' one of those characteristic Wordsworthian overflowings of powerful feeling (compare 'And I have felt/A presence that disturbs me with the joy/Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime/Of something far more deeply interfused' [LB, 212, 94-7]) that Kristeva describes as 'the power of the semiotic rhythms, which convey an intense presence of meaning in a presubject still incapable of signification.'  [15] But the pulsion never threatens rupture, and another kind of satisfaction, of underlying importance for Wordsworth, produces an alternative pleasure of self-fashioning from restraining the scission of the semiotic and symbolic. Indeed, while the imaginary insistence cannot prevent the loss process, it tries increasingly to mitigate its outcome by pinning down meanings, repairing 'the break between signifier and signified' (RPL, 489), one major expression of which becomes Wordsworth's obsession with textual revision.

Accordingly, the revolutionary 1798 Advertisement to Lyrical Ballads offers to play with linguistic effects ('experiments . . . written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far . . . Readers . . . will perhaps frequently have to struggle . . .'[LB, 34]), and part of that play is the situating of the poems amid the general linguistic shift and neologising that had bespoken political revolution, when the 'most dreadful enemy' might after all turn out to be 'our own pre-established codes of decision' (LB, 34). But the aestheticised struggle can only go so far: so as not to become unpleasurable, it must be scrupulously 'adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure' (LB, 34). The challenge must not finally become upsetting or agitating, but its re-orientations are to be organised by an increasing sense of 'purpose' (1800 preface, passim ). There really is no commotion: folklore submits to pastoral, while the carnivalesque of spewing orifices and promiscuity is conclusively deprecated as urban, forecasting the confirmatory visit of September 1802 to St Bartholomew's Fair as he describes it in Book VII of The Prelude, like 'one vast mill . . . vomiting' (P, 264, 693-4). Some characteristic folk features suggestive of liberating, democratic reversals do enliven Lyrical Ballads , in poems like 'The Idiot Boy'—Wordsworth said 'I wrote the poem with exceeding delight and pleasure' (LB, 52)—which is a burlesque exhibition of one of the commonest of all carnival shows, an idiot riding horseback (especially back-to-front): 'Perhaps he's turned himself about,/His face unto the horse's tail' (LB, 166, 332-3). The boy's inversion of night and day similarly presents the world upside-down: '"The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,/And the sun did shine so cold!"' (LB, 169, 460-1). But though the world of the folk ballad typically revels in the subversion of authority symbols, creating for example its own 'boy-bishops', when 'The Child is Father of the Man',  [16] Wordsworth's is the cold carnival of Grasmere Fair, epitomising the customary community, whom 'all things serve' (P, 270, 55).

Overall, Wordsworth's poetic language is revolutionary insofar as it is aimed to accommodate a fundamental change that had occurred in the relation between language and subjectivity which he knew that the sclerotic diction of post-Miltonic poetry was incapable of accounting for, precisely because it had served to exclude the personal experimentalism and purposive control that marked the modern feel for the pleasures of language. If Wordsworth was increasingly to look back to the bloodless constitution of 1688 as the acknowledged point of political origin for his representations of English nationalism, it was only after his chastened enthusiasm for the French Revolution had sought expression in a series of radical discourses, notably Godwinian philanthropism and the republicanism that derived from the English Revolution of the 1640s, that he overtly discovered his predominantingly self-reflexive political discourse of Burkean paternalism. The discourses in which he looked for self-recognition were ideologically inconsistent and meandered in their political colourings since they were after all secondary to his primary quest for imaginary resonance. Earlier along the trajectory that was to lead to Kristeva's poetic revolution, Wordsworth's own observation of the signifying practice of poetic language in a distinctively British context of comparative and continuing stability was to direct him, by a procedure of selection and control, to the corroboration of mirroring discourses (those that gave representation to the subject formed at the mirror stage) of harmony and communal feeling, rather than the explosion of inflexibly dominant ones. So effectively had the imaginary formation become inscribed in his literary discourse that his revolutionary knowledge seemed joyously to have come full circle, figured scientifically in the Newtonian cosmos, '[rolling] through all things' (LB, 212, 103). The protraction of infant subjectivity into adulthood—Lucy—described a curving track that constantly folded back on itself: 'Rolled round in earth's diurnal course' (LB, 246, 7), and the 'revolution' was ripe for the discursive reversal of Burke's 'harmony of the universe', effected by 'the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers.'  [17]

- 2 -

The emphasis on the psychology of language is not ultimately made at the expense of the significant new claim for the cultural effectivity of literature and its potential for social intervention that Lyrical Ballads in particular historically registers. Radical issues are sometimes explicitly to the fore, as, for example, in 'The Female Vagrant'. But inasmuch as his specific political messages and ideological and discursive differences can be intelligibly said to be subsumed by a single comprehensive ideology, that ideology was most radically identified by Wordsworth as in his case peculiarly expressive of a personal psychological profile. Patrick Parrinder argued long ago that

The romantic theory of poetry is a distinct ideology, in conflict with those around it. Conceived by Wordsworth and Coleridge as a substitute for their shattered beliefs in republicanism and pantisocracy, it would later become a powerful weapon against the assumptions of utilitarians and nineteenth-century liberals.  [18]

Contradictory ideological positions, he argues, are embraced in the one founded in poetic language itself which Wordsworth used

as a base from which to launch one of the many competing ideologies of the revolutionary age. As an abstract and total account of social relations, the theory of poetry he put forward invites comparison with the other new ideologies such as ultitarianism, republicanism and Burkean conservatism. Naturally it shares some elements with its rivals: the rationalistic frame of the 1800 Preface is taken from republicanism, while the lofty and dignified role that he assigns to 'pleasure' would align Wordsworth with the utilitarians. But it would be a mistake to reduce his theory to its political constituents and to call it conservative, utilitarian or democratic.

AA, 45

Certainly, the controlling power of Wordsworth's theory of poetry in the Lyrical Ballads prefaces covers a range of interpellations before it comes to settle on its defining role as a professional discourse in the extended passage of 1802 beginning 'What is a Poet?' (LB, 70) in a manner which Coleridge noted 'contrasted . . . somewhat harshly with the general style of the Poems' (G, II, 830).

The professionalisation of the poet symptomises the increasing conformity with the rules and conventions of Foucauldian 'disciplining' which it helps mediate and distribute. The poet's calling is seen in contractual terms ('an Author makes a formal engagement that he will gratify certain known habits of association' [LB, 58]), and his particular duty (the poet should 'ascertain what is his duty' [LB, 59]) as part of a comprehensive social organisation. His reforms are far from engaging drives that parallel those behind revolutionary forces of subversion and volatility in the social domain, while the discourse of 'nature' is the articulation of the normative—naturalisation—or the construction of the common and the regular, 'the primary laws of our nature' (LB, 60), in a language which 'arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is a more permanent, and a far more philosophical language, than that which is frequently substituted for it by Poets' (LB, 61). Though behind the network of that philosophical language of 'truth, not individual and local, but general, and operative' (LB, 73) lies the imaginary visual relation to natural objects: 'the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature' (LB, 60), it is necessarily transposed into contemporaneous discursivities that congenially replicate imaginary insistence in the social order. Furthermore, there is an homology between Wordsworth's private insistence and the historically dominant cultural register of the imaginary in disciplinary training and panopticism that makes Wordsworth's psychoanalytical profile topically loaded. The stated purpose of the poems is precisely such organisation:

. . . by the repetition and continuance of this act [contemplating the relation of the general representatives to each other], our feelings will be connected with important subjects, till at length, if we be possessed of much sensibility, such habits of mind will be produced, that, by obeying blindly and mechanically the impulses of those habits, we shall describe objects, and utter sentiments . . . that the understanding of the being to whom we address ourselves . . . must necessarily be in some degree enlightened, and his affections ameliorated.

LB, 62-3

What authorises such habituation is that it remains expressive of its base in self-reflexivity while 'a mechanical device of style' (LB, 66) does not. Yet, once so legitimated, the programme unavoidably takes on ideological colouring, as a middle class language of regularisation effectively comes via selection and control to occupy the site of rural experience:

The language, too, of these men is adopted (purified indeed from what appear to be its real defects, from all lasting and rational causes of dislike or disgust) because such men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is originally derived; and because, from their rank in society and the sameness and narrow circle of their intercourse, being less under the influence of social vanity, they convey their feelings and notions in simple and unelaborated expressions.

LB, 60-1

Parrinder's neutral notion of the Romantic ideology, however, as simply 'one of the many competing ideologies of the revolutionary age' does not privilege it in the potential way theorised in post-Althusserian theory. Ernesto Laclau, for example, influentially argued that within the later Marxist analysis ideological and discursive interpellations surrogate for other than class positions depending on how they are located in relation to some other predominant ideology.  [19] Even Jerome McGann's famous attempt to establish the Romantic ideology presents it as one kind of false consciousness which in its case specialises in the concealment, as he describes it in his critique of Shelley's Prometheus Unbound , of the heterogeneity of history and what sounds like a Marxian claim for 'real knowledge':

Poetry's first obligation is to reveal the contradictory forces which human beings at once generate and live through, and its second is to provide the reader, both contemporary and future alike, with the basis for a sympathetic and critical assessment of those forces.  [20]

McGann views the Romantic ideology grounding literary discourse as a group response to the '"epistemological crisis"' that, in producing 'a modern historical sense', had problematised the old 'transcendent' and 'ideal' (RI, 67) stabilities which he sees 'High Romantic' (RI, 73) poetry as seeking to reconstruct. Though this explication indicates the fundamental shifts with which his Romantic ideology is inevitably engaged, it is treated specifically as a wrong turning towards denial that poetry was 'obliged' to have avoided.

The sufficiency of McGann's bold thesis has been much queried over the years, and not only by latter-day 'High Romantic' critics. Feminist critics like Anne Mellor have seen it as simply synonymous with patriarchal ideology, and have consequently urged the material differences informing plural Romantic ideologies;  [21] and other feminists who are interested in developing alternative kinds of familial lineages in poetic tradition have felt the need to look for them beyond the recuperation of contemporaneous historical events.  [22] In particular, it seems to me that the conclusion (shared by Marjorie Levinson in her energetic retrievals of excluded historical contexts in Wordsworth's Great Period Poems: Four Essays , 1986) that the construction of any knowledge other than that of material history is simply ideological is a kind of closure that stops short of 'a sympathetic and critical assessment' of the Romantic 'writing subjectivity'. When McGann comments wittily in relation to 'Tintern Abbey' that 'Between 1793 and 1798 Wordsworth lost the world merely to gain his own immortal soul' (RI, 88), and claims that the 'Intimations Ode' 'resituates [its] conflicts out of a socio-historical context and into an ideological one' (RI, 88), he is in danger of missing what I regard as the less obvious but cardinal realisation that not only is Wordsworth's version of the Romantic ideology not necessarily tied to specific discourses outside literature, but it is governed ('Not in entire forgetfulness' [WW, 299, 62]) by its intimations of pre-ideologising subjectivity.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting' (WW, 299, 58): while the platonising 'authorizes' (WW, 714), as Wordsworth claims in the Fenwick note, the representation of a pre-subject outside 'a socio-historical context', it is only secondarily 'an ideological one' in McGann's sense. The birth of ideology Wordsworth records in the ode, as Lacan declares in commentating on the phrase from the lyric that is pivotal to the ode's endeavour for seamless inscriptions in ideological purposiveness—'The Child is Father of the Man'—undoubtedly belongs to its specific time and place:

It is no accident that we discover it is that period with its fresh, shattering, and even breathtaking quality, bursting forth at the beginning of the nineteenth century with the industrial revolution, in the country that was most advanced in experiencing its effects, in England.  [23]

But the 'special feature' of 'the value given to childhood memories' which is generated by the psychological effects of the (fresh and shattering) trauma nevertheless gives primacy thereafter to the negotiation between the pre-Symbolic and the socio-historical:

That reference to childhood, the idea of the child in man, the idea that something demands that a child be something other than a child, but that the demands of the child as such are perpetually felt in him, all of that in the sphere of psychology can be historically situated.

PR, 24, 25

The loss (of wholeness) being mourned in the 'Intimations Ode' is one more archaic than that occasioned by historical disappointment, though revolutionary violence was the major cause of reawakening the earlier trauma. Whereas the idealised and universalising discourse of the revolution in France had 'appeared to enthusiasts at its commencement' (as the 1809 extract from The Prelude records [P, 397, 105-44; 1850 version]) to be entirely self-reflexive of the particular disposition of Wordsworth's subjectivity, it had mutated into a replay of oedipal disruptions of the Imaginary that had originated with language acquisition itself. Recovering this pre-history psychologises the inherent ambiguities of the philosophical concept of ideology itself, between act and object, thinking and thought: between the Kantian thinking subject's establishing the conditions of the 'real' and Hegel's historical consciousness of the development of reason according to individual and social conditions. McGann's own exposition recurrently gestures towards deconstructing the primacy of history, but discovers no grounding or true content in the opposing term other than a form of class consciousness—as when he writes of 'the famous process of internalization which is at once the ode's central problem and its final solution as well.' (RI, 88-9) Marx and Engels regarded such ideologies, in a Platonic version of superstructural fading, as merely reflexes or echoes of efficient material causation; but I am also insisting on the poem's narrative throughout as in active relationship with a psychologically functional moment of exceptionally individualising import. Here again, McGann approaches this larger scope when he writes that 'the greatness of ['Tintern Abbey'] lies in the clarity and candor with which it dramatizes not merely this event, but the structure of this event' (RI, 88), where the word 'structure' might easily lend theoretical substance to the idea of a pre-existing system being called upon by the poet. More pointedly, he also describes the personal reflex, though he treats it as being merely incidental:

What [Wordsworth] actually discovered was no more than his own desperate need for a solution. The reality of that need mirrored a cultural one that was much greater and more widespread.

RI, 91

One reason why the recuperation of the subject of language is more pressing than that of history in Wordsworth's poetry is that the subject of history was so magisterially pursued in Alan Liu's Wordsworth: The Sense of History ,  [24] and because that mammoth attempt 'to preempt modern subjectivity by subordinating it to social history' (SOH, 303) so rigidly excluded the subject of language. Almost Liu's only curiosity in that direction is confined to a note on his own discussion of 'The description of the 1790 tour in [The Prelude ] Book 6' as 'a sustained effort to deny history by asserting nature as the separating mark constitutive of the egotistical self. It may be helpful to think of nature in its deflective capacity here as a mirror. The aim of Book 6 is to prevent the self from looking through nature to underlying history. Nature must instead reflect the self' (SOH, 13). In his note Liu rather superbly '[allows himself] to be influenced here by Lacan' (SOH, 516, n.11). Liu's interpretation of the mirror stage which follows this concession appropriates the moment of the infant's misrecognition as one of pure alienation, rather than as what it also entails for Lacan: the institution of a fictional agency and an ideal ego structure that, and most particularly in Wordsworth's case, will continue to control his insertions into discursive subjectivity in the Symbolic. Liu writes:

The specular, external 'self,' in other words, is not known to be merely a signifier and so subordinate to a collective convention of signification, to history. By contrast, the symbolic . . . is the realm in which acceptance of a collective (named the Father, or Law) demonstrates to the subject standing before the mirror that his external image is indeed a signifier like all other social selves, enrolled in a system over which individuals have little control. The self sees itself in history, and knows that the 'I' it enacts 'out there' is alienated by convention from the true subject that does the enacting. In Book 6 it is not so much that Wordsworth has not yet glimpsed the collective authority of history as that he denies it, represses it behind an 'imaginary mirror'/mother of nature, a one-way mark, veil, or boundary.'

SOH, 516, n.11

Liu has no realisation that the imaginary normatively continues within the symbolic domain, and this reduction to a nature/history opposition is an especially significant distortion for the further understanding of Wordsworth's poetic language, since in Wordsworth's case the Imaginary remains an unusually determinative register on those discourses which become selected for self-representation.  [25]

Yet for all the manifest subjectivism in Wordworth's preoccupation with playing down the trauma of self-division in language, he remains anxious to share 'the world/Of all of us' (P, 398, 726), and he defines his imaginative restoration after the revolutionary interlude as the reaffirmation of the correspondence between private and public histories, when his mind had become disposed

To seek in Man, and in the frame of life,
Social and individual, what there is
Desirable, affecting, good or fair
Of kindred permanence.

P, 440, 39

The achievement brought together what seem discrepant conditionalities:

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control;
. . .
Yet not the less would I thought
Still act according to the voice
Of my own wish.

'Ode to Duty', WW, 296, 33-5, 41-3

In this same way, though he was completely aware that the lyrical ballads would produce 'feelings of strangeness and awkwardness' , he is he is keen 'to ascertain what is his duty' (LB, 59) as an author, and finds it to lie in entering into common standards with his readers by clearly delimiting those 'certain known habits of association' (LB, 58) which they can expect from his poetry. Crucially, he represents the poet's idiosyncrasy as dependent 'on nothing differing in kind from other men, but only in degree.' (LB, 78)

Wordsworth's claim for representativeness is rooted in imaginary intersubjectivity which in his case is keyed to an exceptional negotiation of a collective prehistory. The appropriate historical term that addresses precisely the enquiry into both a priori sensibility and the media that can give it objective expression is the aesthetic. Reminding us that Foucault points out that 'the critical philosophy, and the concept of ideology, are born at the same historical moment,'  [26] Terry Eagleton reviews Kant's 'Transcendental Aesthetic' by focusing on some issues from the first part of the Critique of Judgement , 1790, the 'Critique of Aesthetic Judgement', and particularly on Kant's 'reflective judgement' which Eagleton rechristens the 'Kantian Imaginary'. In order to accommodate the perception of difference and continuity between the sensible and the rational, the logical framework of Kant's definitions of the 'aesthetic' shifts over the two editions of the Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1787) to emerge in the later Critique as no longer part of an account of determinant theoretical judgement (which 'possesses its concept and faces the difficulty of applying it properly to the multiplicity of spatio-temporal appearances'), but as exemplifying the alternative 'reflective judgement' (which 'is in search of its concept through this multiplicity'), and which

obeys a peculiar principle—related to the feeling of pleasure and displeasure—which enables it to act as a bridge between the theoretical judgements of the 'faculty of knowing' analyzed in the first and the practical judgements of the 'faculty of desire' analyzed in the second critique.  [27]

Eagleton describes the multiple subjectivism involved in '[tracing] within the very texture of the subject's experience that which points beyond it to the reality of the material world.' (IA, 72) The 'pseudo-knowledge' that the aesthetic offers operates on the level of shared intuition, still in some way unalienated in its mode of representation, because

It is a delightful lucky chance that certain pheneomena should seem to display a purposive unity, where such unity is not in fact deducible as necessary from logical premises. The occurrence seems fortuitous, contingent and so not subsumable under a concept of the understanding; but it nevertheless appears as if it could somehow be brought under such a concept, as if it conforms spontaneously to some law, even though we are quite unable to say what that law might be.

IA, 84

The Kantian aesthetic specialises in a kind of pleasure that 'arises from a quick sense of the world's delightful conformity to our capacities: instead of pressing ahead to subsume to some concept the sensuous manifold we confront, we just reap enjoyment from the general formal possibility of doing so' (IA, 85). Just such an aesthetic sense informs the great principle of pleasure in Wordsworth's 1800 Preface, where the poet is said '[to consider] man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of men as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting qualities of nature.' (LB, 76) This coming together in 'hallowed and pure motions of the sense' brings about

that calm delight
Which, if I err not, surely must belong
To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union betwixt life and joy.

P, 11, 383 and 385-90

Jonathan Bate has argued that the ideology that proceeds from such prescience is best described as ecological:

I propose that the Romantic Ideology is not, as Jerome McGann has it, a theory of imagination and symbol embodied in such self-consciously idealist and elitist texts as Coleridge's Statesman's Manual , but a theory of ecosystems and unalienated labour embodied in such self-consciously pragmatic and populist texts as Ruskin's Fors Clavigera.  [28]

Besides making Wordsworth feel at home at Grasmere, and indeed in the world, this sense of radical correspondence is also for him the basis for artistic productivity, and the pre-sexual/social rationale of The Recluse ;

Speaking of nothing more than what we are—
How exquisitely the individual Mind
. . .
. . . to the external world
Is fitted:—and how exquisitely too—
. . .
The external world is fitted to the Mind;
And the creation (by no lower name
Can it be called) which they with blended might

'Home at Grasmere', WW, 198, 1005-6, 1008-9, 1011-14

Whatever different ideological positionings strive to discover their own reflections in the social content of Wordsworth's version of the Romantic ideology, the fundamental realisation is to be registered that he in particular is primarily interested in reaping pleasure from what Eagleton phrases 'the general formal possibility' of subsuming the sensible to the rational. His repeated stress on the 'primary' announces an intuitive aspiration in the direction of a metaphysical grounding of knowledge, while the fact that he registers that 'a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind' (LB, 64) and that he is attempting 'to counteract . . . the general evil' (LB, 65) shows his parallel awareness of the provisionality of objectivity that can be attributed even to shared standards in his contemporaneous society. His ideological positioning is accordingly discontinuous in that, though it is based on 'a deep impression of certain inherent and indestructible qualities of the human mind, and likewise of certain powers in the great and permanent objects that act upon it, which are equally inherent and indestructible' (LB, 65), it nonetheless can only strive for normativisation in the social and cultural domain. This determined doubling of subjectivities confirms the supplementarity of both McGann's historical Romantic ideology and of Bate's ecological ideology.

Wordsworth's overriding concern to sustain that principle of correspondence leads him constantly into a preoccupation with the metalinguistic potential of language itself to recover the originary structure of imaginary subjectivity. Occasionally, natural objects mirror that formation effortlessly and appear to answer his aesthetic sense without exertion, producing that characteristic mild ecstasy of self-recognition when 'the clouds are split/Asunder' ('[A Night-Piece'], WW, 44-5, 8-9), and the unlooked-for representation of a former and unexerted subjectivity is simply presented. Eagleton's 'delightful lucky chance that certain phenomena should seem to display a purposive unity', however, is not entirely dependent on serendipity, though the structure involved will evidently be reinforced by all happy coincidences. As well as being 'a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the universe', he is also 'habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them.' (LB, 71) This poet, as described in 1802, compared with other men 'has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement.' (LB, 71-2) And this greater power of expression comes from the greater meaning that the structure carries for him—to record, celebrate, and seek out.

The revelation following the ascent of Snowdon in Book XIII of The Prelude is culminating in its reflecting more than the given, static correspondence of the sensible and the rational in 'The perfect image of a mighty mind' (P, 460, 69): 'That domination which she oftentimes/Exerts upon the outward face of things' (P, 462, 77-8) becomes 'a genuine counterpart' (P, 462, 88) of the process of 'higher minds'' (P, 462, 90) pseudo-agency of self-reflection:

They from their native selves can send abroad
Like transformation, for themselves create
A like existence, and, when'er it is
Created for them, catch it by an instinct.

P, 462, 93-6

This 'endless occupation for the soul,/Whether discursive or intuitive' (P, 464, 112-13) becomes 'Most worthy then of trust when most intense' (P, 464, 116). What is most absorbing about this description is the way in which the creative activity envisaged occurs within the doubled duality of the imaginary relationship. Not only does the natural scene sometimes mirror the mind's operative power, but both manoeuvrings (natural and intellectual) are seen to work towards and issue in a scheme that narrates the insistence of the function of the mirror stage within the separated order of the outer world. Nothing is ever changed on a fundamental level by this kind of creativity, simply re-arranged by a process of selectivity that is impelled by the specialised desire for self-reflection. Once that is attained, the attention is arrested by an intensification of the focusing involved as the recession of imaginary subjectivity opens up an abyss that is both bottomless and structured: 'and the vault/Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds,/Still deepens its interminable depth' (['A Night-Piece'], WW, 45, 17-19). On Snowdon, the superstructural ordering of the 'still ocean' (P, 460, 46) of the clouds is seen to correspond with an immense process of coordination from within an anterior phase, from which it has emerged. The extra dimension reveals the intensifying doubling—usually hidden precisely because its structure is identical—that inheres in the object of Wordsworth's 'reflexive judgement', and that in his case orchestrates a kind of imaginary univocalism: 'the roar of waters, torrents, streams/Innumerable, roaring with one voice.' (P, 460, 58-9) But here Wordsworth furthermore identifies the working of his imaginative system as conditioned, in Kristevan terms, by the particular conformation of his own thetic break into the Symbolic, when drive discharge, or jouissance, is regulated to impart a logic in the semiotic that will be taken over by the symbolic after the entry into language. For Wordsworth, 'a fracture in the vapour' (P, 460, 56) is 'That dark, deep thoroughfare' which figures ''The soul, the imagination of the whole.' (P, 460, 64-5)

The inner workings of Wordsworth's literary imagination had long before been paradigmatically described in the juvenile 'The Dog-An Idyllium', where his process of composition was seen as putting the pleasure of deepened self-recognition into words, so that the impulsion to self-expression seemed given inasmuch as it was indeed preformulated:

. . . while I gaz'd to Nature blind,
In the calm Ocean of my mind
Some new-created image rose
In full-blown beauty at its birth
Lovely as Venus from the sea.  [29]

The agency involved consequently takes place within the creative process, bringing expression into correspondence with imaginary insistence. The upshot, however, is finally both representative and eccentric, in that, while it brings into representation a normative moment of psychological history and an integral register of communal communication, it also privately requires the augmentation of a distinct stylistic and discursive representation of order and control with formal and ideological tendencies.

The operation of duplication rather than dialogical multiplicity has to be seen as characteristic of Wordsworth's poetry, despite Don Bialostosky's masterful argument in Wordsworth, Dialogics, and the Practice of Criticism , 1992. Even for those critics who can be persuaded of the possibility of dialogics ever breaking out of the circle of pluralism, the superpowerful axis forged of a Russian theory and a comprehensive but exclusive retinue of leading North American theorists admits surprisingly few noises off. Too enormous an argument has been opened up by that important study for me to do justice to it here, but I can briefly indicate the relative angling of the position I am arguing, and that I hope by this stage will appear only deceptively well pre-established. While I can wholeheartedly accept the endeavour of recuperating dialogic difference and interaction between multiple voices in Wordsworth's poetry, no less than in all language use, it seems to me perverse not to acknowledge the peculiar resistance by the tendency of Wordsworth's particular poetic language. When all is said and done, no plausible account of Wordsworth's poetic language can go very much against the grain of Coleridge's account of Wordsworth's stylistic signature which eludes his power of definition but which is diversely instanced in Chapter 20 of Biographia Literaria and which expresses what has been the dominant response of the majority of Wordsworth's different readers:

To me it will always remain a singular and noticeable fact; that a theory which would establish this lingua communis , not only as the best, but as the only commendable style, should have proceeded from a poet, whose diction, next to that of Shakespeare and Milton, appears to me of all others the most individualized and characteristic.

. . . whenever he speaks in his own person; or whenever, though under a feigned name, it is clear that he himself is still speaking, as in the different dramatis personae of the 'RECLUSE'. Even in the other poems in which he purposes to be most dramatic, there are few in which it does not occasionally burst forth.  [30]

It is, as Wordsworth writes, 'nothing differing in kind from other men, but only in degree.' (LB, 78) His own relation to language is both eccentric and commonplace, and his readers have often found it either bizarre, or just as often banal. In a profound way, it is both at once. Again and again, Wordsworth suddenly discovers that certain words or phrases have a special significance for him, but, however fascinated, he never can (even when he pretends to) explain just why. In order to locate the nature of his engagement, I suggest that the Wordsworthian conception of the Naming of Places (the title of the 1800 group of poems in which linguistic expression is thematic) might alternatively be looked at as the placing of names : how names themselves fit, or can be made to fit, with what Wordsworth wants them to say to, and for, him. Such an emphasis on the placing of names tends to put the whole problematical business of negotiating particular meanings for given language first: it has to be made to happen within the operations of language, along chains of words, and assumes priority over geophysical locale , so that it delineates not so much locodescriptive as logodescriptive poetry.

There are certain kinds of words that somehow or other fit with Wordsworth's controlling imaginary function so that they seem to precede or ground others. The words and phrases that particularly arrested Wordsworth's attention seem to have articulated for him a first coming into being and to stand in for a position on the brink of silence, both in and out of language. He is absorbed in 'silent language' ('The Excursion', PW, v, 159, 189) and 'inarticulate language' (PW, v, 148, 1207) that, oddly, for him hardly seems paradoxical, and he remains unabashed by frequently speaking of the ineffable or pre-verbal: 'Not of outward things . . .—words, signs,/Symbols or actions—but of my own heart/Have I been speaking' (P, 100, 174-7), and by his offer to communicate 'incommunicable powers', 'far hidden from the reach of words' (P, 100, 188 and 185).

From his own viewpoint, he was searching for the origin of language which already was an enigma of the Lockian mind model that had become embedded in his own language through Hartleian associationism, and that derived all discursive thought from sense impressions:

And I doubt not, but if we could trace them to their Sources, we should find, in all Languages, the Names, which stand for Things that fall not under our Senses, to have had their first rise from sensible Ideas.  [31]

The structure of knowledge in the 1799 'spots of time' depends on oedipal resolutions figured in terms of this mind-model, as when Wordsworth describes himself 'repairing' to the 'spectacles and sounds' associated with his father's death:

And I do not doubt
That in this later time, when storm and rain
Beat on my roof at midnight, or by day
When I am in the woods, unknown to me
The workings of my spirit thence are brought.

I, 368-74; P, 11

Etymology was the major branch of the 'new philology' that resulted from that philosophical system in England, and, as Hans Aarsleff has demonstrated, John Horne Tooke in his The Diversions of Purley , 1786, was the chief proponent of its materialist conclusion: all thought comes from language, and all language can be traced to the names of sensible objects. The etymological method of tracing—or rather constituting—origins is an immanent paradigm for the kind of story within words that characterises Wordsworth's puzzling over their genesis to arrive at a not forgotten self-recognition, but leading to the point at which the human trace peters out, like Lucy Gray's footprints, while her 'solitary song' (LB, 258, 63) disintegrates into (and yet survives in) material sound, the whistling wind.

In searching for—or constructing—the roots and sources of one's (linguistic) being, the desired end becomes either the presentation of a pre-existent expression that answers to the configuration of one's subjectivity ('What, you are stepping westward? ''—'Yea.' [PW , III, 76, 1]); or the bringing it into such a configuration ('Yes, you really have crossed the Alps!'—something like what the Swiss peasant may be presumed to have actually said to Wordsworth and Jones on their journey in 1790, but which only became acceptably self-expressive in the process of composing Book VI of The Prelude in 1804-5); or the opposite: the regulating of one's subjectivity in conformity with the given expression ('Duty'—'Yet not the less would I throughout/Still act according to the voice/Of my own wish; and feel past doubt/That my submissiveness was choice' (WW, 296, 41-4)). There is yet another mode, however, that is also the foundation on which the other kinds of self-expression manoeuvre themselves, when Wordsworth is neither wrestling nor submitting but hesitantly looking for self-reflection in words; when he isn't so sure ('Will no one tell me what she sings?' ('The Solitary Reaper', WW, 319, 17)), wondering whether this or that language does speak for him. The inaugural question of the autobiographical Prelude—'was it for this[?]'—might in this way be heard as seeking for self-representation: an interrogation of the identity represented by the poet's own name, 'Wordsworth', or the recuperation inwords of what he elsewhere in the poem he describes as 'The calm existence that is mine when I/Am worthy of myself.' (P, 46, 360-1). Finally, there is no difference in the realisation of self-representation in words that is attained, but the manner of producing reflexivity—as something given, or actively shaped either without or within—represent secondary considerations of agency. Over time, the more or less involuntary struggle for self-definition slipped into a more coercive demand for compliance, but the contrast, on which the story of Wordsworth's 'great failure'  [32] is based, was occluded for Wordsworth himself because both modes were attempting, though in opposing ways, the same equation between an originary subject-formation and pre-existent language.

But Wordsworth was not, after all, a postmodernist. He wasn't prepared to '[yield] up moral questions in despair' (P, 406, 900), nor, having witnessed the relation between scepticism and terrorism that he explored in The Borderers , did he want to become stranded in the condition described by the Solitary in which his 'intellectual power, through words and things,/Went sounding on, a dim and perilous way!' (PW, v, 100, 700-1) Rather than be baffled by 'some hollow thought' (P, 42, 261), 'Like a false steward who hath much received/And renders nothing back' (P, 42, 270-1), he wanted to participate in social and cultural exchange at the same time as ensuring self-representation in powerful acts of naming. In short, he needed to find utterance for a highly individualised subjectivity in the otherness of language: 'unto me I feel/That an internal brightness is vouchsafed/That must not die, that must not pass away./ . . . /Something within which yet is shared by none,/Not even the nearest to me and most dear,/Something which power and effort may impart' (WW, 195, 885-7 and 898-901).

What exactly, for example, is being named in the group of Poems on the Naming of Places? They repeatedly articulate a strong bond that had been established between a significant topographical feature and a family member, after whom the feature is renamed. The attachment, as Wordsworth writes in his advertisement to the group, 'will have given to such places a private and peculiar interest' (LB, 323), but it is a privacy and peculiarity that after all Wordsworth's poems propose may be widely shared. Indeed, for a time it was agreed that Coleridge was to provide some of them also. What does individualise, and so label the places, is the mirroring appropriateness of the tie between subject and object, so that those specific scenes are read as signs that couple material markers and the kind of subjectivity they signify. The whole series of different markers so named—'Emma's Dell', 'Joanna's Rock', and 'Mary's Nook'—put into general currency a kind of relation (between person and place, subject and object) that, though it may reflect one that Wordsworth himself finds intensely gratifying, is nevertheless one that those positionings have made common between himself and the various persons cited, so that what is shared is in one way anonymous , in that it does not ultimately belong solely to the named individuals, but rather has come to represent a sort of self-representation in which, he believes, all who wish to take their self-expression as seriously s he does will take pleasure in participating. The genitival connection functions interestingly, in that the person becomes a name for the place where this congruence occurs, or where their quasi-essential identity is epitomised: where intimate naming gets placed. A kind of connection, that Wordsworth sees as deeply constitutive of his private subjectivity even though it has been alienated in belonging also to others, is in this way perceived as both peculiar and in collective circulation. It is this situating that is the base of Wordsworth's singular claim to representativeness.

- 3 -

The different levels of Wordsworth's interest in language in Lyrical Ballads may be illustrated from a variety of intertextualities between that book and texts from Joanna Baillie's A Series of Plays: in which it is attempted to delineate the stronger passions of the mind, each passion being the subject of a tragedy and a comedy, published in 1798. Jonathan Wordsworth has established that a copy of Baillie's Plays , which 'appeared in, or most probably before, April 1798 . . . was available at Alfoxden at the height of the Lyrical Ballads period.'  [33] Both writers make explicit the new class focus. In her Introductory Discourse, Baillie writes that 'those works which most strongly characterise human nature in the middling and lower classes of society, where it is to be discovered by stronger and more unequivocal marks, will ever be the most popular' (B, 5-6); and Wordsworth was to allege in his Advertisement of the same year a sociological basis for choosing 'the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society' (LB, 34), though by 1802 this became changed to: 'a selection of the language really spoken by men . . . will entirely separate the composition from the vulgarity and meanness of ordinary life' (LB, 69-70).

Baillie's theories on language and subject matter are 'revolutionary'. Like Wordsworth, she is keen to eschew fable and fantasy for 'the very world which is the world/Of all of us' (P, 398, 725-6):

The fair field of what is properly called poetry, is enriched with so many beauties, that in it we are often tempted to forget what we really are, and what kind of beings we belong to. Who, in the enchanted regions of simile, metaphor, allegory and description, can remember the plain order of things in this every-day world?

B, 6

She declares the same primacy of genuine human feeling:

I will venture, however, to say, that amidst all this decoration and ornament, all this loftiness and refinement, let one simple trait of the human heart, one expression of passion, genuine and true to nature, be introduced, and it will stand forth alone in the boldness of reality, whilst the false and unnatural around it fade away upon every side, like the rising exhalations of the morning.

B, 6

Her democratic vision similarly seeks to channel common experience into social organisation by controlling the emotional appeal of popular genres:

It was the saying of a sagacious Scotchman, 'Let who will make the laws of a nation, if I have the writing of its ballads.' Something similar to this may be said in regard to the drama. Its lessons reach not, indeed, to the lowest classes of the labouring people, who are the broad foundation of society, which can never be moved without endangering everything that is constructed upon it, and who are our potent and formidable ballad-readers; but they reach to the classes next in order to them, and who will always have over them no inconsiderable influence.

B, 14

Baillie's enterprise throughout is one of control: by selection, arrangement, and finally by instruction. More even than with Wordsworth, the experimental self-consciousness behind her extensive theorisings—'it is distrust and not confidence that has led me, at this early stage of the undertaking, to bring it before the public' (B, 17)—is eager to demonstrate that apparent idiosyncrasy is necessary to reveal essential human characteristics. Her most detailed innovations relate to her elaborate project of supplying plays according to a classification of the passions, and to her techniques for representing them. Wordsworth also was attempting, as he phrases it in his note to 'The Thorn', to arrive at a 'history or science of feelings' because 'Poetry is passion' (LB, 38), though for his 'purpose', democratic forms of expression and less individualising passions come more obviously together in converging on 'the fluxes and refluxes of the mind when agitated by the great and simple affections of our nature', and he categorises a series of the poems according to the particular 'feelings and ideas' that they illustrate being 'associated in a state of excitement': the 'maternal passion' in 'The Idiot Boy' and the 'The Mad Mother'; 'the last struggles of a human being' in 'Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman; 'the perplexity and obscurity which in childhood attend our notion of death' in 'We Are Seven'; 'fraternal, or . . . moral attachment when early associated with the great and beautiful objects of nature' in 'The Brothers'; providing a more than usual 'salutary impression' from 'ordinary moral sensations' in 'Simon Lee'. (LB, 63) He adds a list of poems that 'sketch characters under the influence of less impassioned feelings': 'The Two April Mornings', 'The Fountain', 'Old Man Travelling', and 'The Two Thieves', and stresses one feature that, particularly evidenced by 'Poor Susan' and 'The Childless Father', more generally distinguishes his from 'the popular Poetry of the day': 'that the feeling therein developed gives importance to the action and situation, and not the action and situation to the feeling.' (LB, 64)

Baillie shows a similar interest in the autogenesis of deep and common passion, whether in comedy: 'It stands but little in need of busy plot, extraordinary incidents, witty repartee, or studied sentiments' (B, 13), or tragedy: 'The strong passions that, with small assistance from outward circumstances, work their way in the heart till they become the tyrannical masters of it, carry on a similar operation in the breast of the monarch and the man of low degree' (B, 11); but her theory of tragedy is attached to the meticulous observation of what gradually becomes ungovernable passion:

But above all, to her [Tragedy], and to her only it belongs, to unveil to us the human mind under the dominion of those strong and fixed passions, which, seemingly unprovoked by outward circumstances, will, from small beginnings. brood within the breast, till all the better dispositions, all the fair gifts of nature, are borne down before them; those passions which conceal themselves from the observation of men; which cannot unbosom themselves even to the dearest friend; and can, oftentimes, only give their fullness vent in the lonely desert, or in the darkness of midnight.

B, 8

This intensive and systematic concentration on character, on 'all that timidity, irresolution, distrust, and a thousand delicate traits, which make the infancy of every great passion more interesting, perhaps, than its full-blown strength' (B, 10), must have addressed Wordsworth's wider preoccupations with literary language during the time when Lyrical Ballads was gestating. Indeed the production of that book was delayed partly by Wordsworth's revising his own play, The Borderers , with an eye to having it performed in London, and Coleridge's own urgent interest in drama is represented by the presence of two extracts from his tragedy, Osorio—'The Foster-Mother's Tale' and 'The Dungeon'—in the original volume. In particular, Wordsworth could not have failed to be impressed by an analysis of tragic character that so closely resembled his own practice in The Borderers and the expository essay on the psychology of the chief character that he had prefixed to it in 1797.

Jonathan Wordsworth has discovered a further series of pre-echoes of Wordsworth's poetry in Baillie's Poems , 1790, including one from her lyric, 'Lamentation', which recalls the aftermath of the Waiting for the Horses episode in Book XI of The Prelude :

At every wailing of the midnight wind
The lowly dwelling comes into my mind,
When rain beats on my roof, wild storms abroad,
I think upon thy bare and beaten sod . . .

B, 787  [34]

The Wordsworthian resonances are with the oedipal account of hatred for his father, who seemed to have betrayed and belittled him by not sending the agreed transport home (though unknown to Wordsworth his father actually lay dying at that very time), and its 'chastisement' (P, 434, 369). The '[correction]' of his 'desires' (P, 436, 374) from that 'day/Stormy, and rough, and wild', when 'on the grass/[He] sate half sheltered by a naked wall' (P, 434, 355-7), took the alternatively empowering form of an internalised control associated with 'all the business of the elements,/The single sheep and the one blasted tree' (P, 436, 376-7):

All these were spectacles and sounds to which
I often would repair, and thence would drink
As at a fountain. And I do not doubt
That in this later time, when storm and rain
Beat on my roof at midnight, or by day
When I am in the woods, unknown to me
The workings of my spirit thence are brought.

P, 436, 382-8

The effects of Baillie's surveillance of tragic passion offer precisely this kind of discipline, returning to those past moments when the fated accumulation took its rise:

To hold up for our example those peculiarities in disposition and modes of thinking which nature has fixed upon us, or which long and early habit has incorporated with our original selves, is almost desiring us to remove the lofty mountains, to take away the native land-marks of the soul; but representing the passions, brings before us the operation of a tempest that rages out its time and passes away. We cannot, it is true, amidst its wild uproar, listen to the voice of reason, and save ourselves from destruction; but we can foresee its coming, we can mark its rising signs, we can know the situations that will most expose us to its rage, and we can shelter our heads from the coming blast . . . in checking and subduing those visitations of the soul, whose causes and effects we are aware of, every one may make considerable progress, if he proves not entirely successful. Above all, looking back to the first rise, and tracing the progress of passion, points out to us those stages in the approach of the enemy, when he might have been combatted most successfully; and where the suffering him to pass may be considered the occasioning all the misery that ensues.

B, 11

By far the most successful and influential play in Baillie's collection, and indeed of all her dramatic works, was De Monfort , a sustained examination of hatred whose central character resembles the anti-hero of Wordsworth's play in several important respects. In his prefatory essay Wordsworth writes of Rivers that 'His master passions are pride and the love of distinction',  [35] 'his pride . . . borders on madness' (TB, 67); he notes that 'It will scarcely be denied that such a mind by very slight external motives may be led to the commission of the greatest enormities' (TB, 66); and he describes the main transaction between Rivers and Mortimer in terms that could equally apply to that between De Monfort and the object of his hate, Rezenvelt: 'I have introduced him deliberately prosecuting the destruction of an amiable young man by the most atrocious means and with a pertinacity as it should seem not to be accounted for but on the supposition of the most malignant injuries. No such injuries, however, appear to have been sustained . . . his malevolent feelings are excited and he hates the more deeply because he feels he ought not to hate.' (TB, 66) But Wordsworth surely saw more in Baillie's play than comparisons with his own. Since The Borderers had amounted to a staging and partial resolution of the inner conflicts involved in the course of his own revolutionary education, Wordsworth must have recognised a further reflection of his own history in De Monfort . If at bottom that history is one of a peculiar psychology that is played out within language, then Lyrical Ballads is no less invested in the same extended scheme to tease out the process and effects of Wordsworth's deflection of the hatred of Rivers/De Monfort within his poetic language. In De Monfort , Baillie's influence on and elaboration of Wordsworth's ideas on language, however, did not stop at this analysis of his psycholinguistic history: it also provided him with a paradigmatic enactment of the self-reflexive intertextuality that served to confirm the imaginary disposition of his poetic language—the kind of literary textuality that was itself the Wordsworthian resolution of that analysis.

The story of Wordsworth's control of his oedipal history inflected within imaginary intertextuality is told in 'There was a boy', the fragment that Wordsworth composed in October 1798 and that was to become part of The Prelude Book V, but that was first published in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads , thereby admitting the Recluse project materially into the history of the other work. Jonathan Wordsworth has briefly discussed the discovery first made by John Kerrigan that the boy who hooted at owls in Wordsworth's poem was originally De Monfort's hated other, Rezenvelt, who on the point of death soliloquises:

Ha! does the night-bird greet me on my way?
How much his hooting is in harmony
With such a scene as this! I like it well.
Oft when a boy, at the still twilight hour,
I've leant my back against some knotted oak,
And loudly mimick'd him, till to my call
He answer would return, and, through the gloom,
We friendly converse held.

B, 95

Wordsworth's boy also 'would . . . stand alone/beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake,/And there . . . /Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls/That they might answer him.' (P, 172, 393-9) Jonathan Wordsworth comments that 'It comes as a shock to think of There was a boy , of all poems, as having a literary source',  [36] but I am suggesting that as Wordsworth 'hung/Listening' (P, 172, 406-7) over the text of De Monfort the 'gentle shock of mild surprize' (P. 172, 407) that he heard came precisely from the language there provided for him.  [37] Its being presented to him invested it with his private insistence to articulate in his own poetry the return of the imaginary that began echoing within the boy's activity: the 'long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud,/Redoubled and redoubled' (P, 172, 402-3), and between that and Wordsworth's own past:

And when it chanced
That pauses of deep silence mocked his skill,
Then sometimes in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprize
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.

P, 172, 404-13

The grave but deep emotion of pleasure held is the distinctive semiotic of Wordsworth's achieved self-reflexivity, as Coleridge acknowledged in selecting these lines as among those most characteristic of their author in Chapter 20 of Biographia Literaria , and again when he wrote elsewhere: 'That "Uncertain heaven received/Into the bosom of the steady lake," I should have recognized anywhere; and had I met these lines running wild in the deserts of Arabia, I should have instantly screamed out "Wordsworth!"' (G, I, 452-3) Coleridge was probably thinking of this intensified kind of duplication with its moving apprehension of stability when he also claimed that Wordsworth's poetry was inimitable:

But WORDSWORTH, where he is indeed Wordsworth, may be mimicked by Copyists, he may be plundered by Plagiarists; but he cannot be imitated, except by those who are not born to be imitators. For without his depth of feeling and his imaginative power his Sense would want its vital warmth and peculiarity.

BL, 277

There were in fact four boys who played principal parts in Wordsworth's imaginary intertextuality. Besides the schoolboy Wordsworth himself and John Tyson, the twelve-year old whose actual grave is referred to,  [38] there were the rivalrous boy doubles, Rezenvelt and De Monfort. In Wordsworth's personal recollection, John Tyson is dead and 'taken from his mates' (P, 174, 414), though he remains more present than the other boys to represent an unresolved transitivist dilemma that is both precious and dangerous. The personal anecdote plays around the cusp of (a partly denied) language-acquisition, and acknowledges, even while it helps to reconcile, the conflicted relationship of competing subjectivities in the development of Wordsworth the poet. In the plot of De Monfort , Wordsworth read the terms of the antagonism he had to resolve within his own revision of Enlightenment bildung , seeing his own fate reflected in the characters of both murderer and victim, whom the poet needed both to do away with and yet somehow preserve in order to achieve his singular cultural passage to poethood.

De Monfort's fixed hatred dates from boyhood:

E'en in our early sports, like two young whelps
Of hostile breed, instinctively reverse,
Each 'gainst the other pitch'd his ready pledge,
And frown'd defiance.

B, 86

Rezenvelt endorses this picture of competitive envy that could hardly be farther removed from the spirit of the Hawkshead schoolboy troop that Wordsworth depicts:

For e'en in boyish sports I still oppos'd
His proud pretentions to pre-eminence;
Nor would I to his ripen'd greatness give
That fulsome adulation of applause
A senseless crowd bestow'd.

B, 91

De Monfort's aversion stems from the other's failure to acknowledge the kind of singular distinction that has painfully deprived him of the sociability he also desires. He envies his rival's gregarious bonhomie, which, as they 'pass'd/From youth to man's estate' (B, 86), has given the latter a social prestige that De Monfort suspects to have been at the expense of what he himself stands for. In short, De Monfort feels that 'He will not let me be the man I would' (B, 85), and hates him for representing what by definition he himself can never become.

Wordsworth himself knew intimately the dangers of emulation. At Hawkshead he claimed only once to have experienced envy: 'It was when my brother was nearly certain of success in a foot race with me. I tripped up his heels. This must have been envy.'  [39] At Cambridge he owned to another isolated example:

This 'once' was in the study of Italian, which . . . I entered on at College along with— . . . . I was his superior in many departments of mind, but he was the better Italian scholar, and I envied him. The annoyance this gave me made me feel that emulation was dangerous for me , and it made me very thankful that as a boy I never experienced it. I felt very early the force of the words, 'Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect'.

Pr, 456

Vying to acquire a foreign tongue, in a struggle that associates with sibling competition, Wordsworth characteristically turns to oedipal reconciliation with an absent father which was conceived as being exemplary because beyond contention. Violence is avoided by substituting a more fulfilling self-realisation in submission to religious discourse that calls for its denial.

This was the way Wordsworth customarily achieved discursive self-empowerment by converting potential antagonism between individualistic attainment and collective solidarity into languages of passive or pacificatory authority. In the triangulation of relationships between Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Dorothy from 1797-8, for example, that is refracted in those between Rezenvelt, De Monfort and his sister, Jane, in Baillie's play, it was Coleridge's provision of languages for an undivided and seemingly non-competitive subject position (principally associationism and pantheism at the time) that transformed him from being viewed as a rival into an agent of reflexivity helping to articulate in the Symbolic Dorothy's duplication of Wordsworth's own founding imaginary relation with nature. It is De Monfort's tragedy not to be similarly capable of resolving his related dilemma. Sounding by turns like Milton's Satan and Iago, he knows that '[His] nature is of temp'rature too cold' (B, 90) and suffers from social foreclosure rather than achieving what Wordsworth was in the process of recognising as his own compromise formation of an individually overdetermined mode of cultural representation.

Radically, Wordsworth recognized in De Monfort's case the personal dangers of a tragic impasse to symbolic fulfilment which his own poetic language needs to circumvent. Jane's appeal for her brother to return to the symbiotic position that preceded the knowledge of conflict and alienation cannot be simply translated into the social order because the Symbolic has become unmoored from a sufficiently powerful imaginary insistence. His uncontrollable urge to self-empowerment has meaning finally for no-one else: his subjectivity deprives him of social being, as he is drawn back to the structure that he most needs but is compelled to destroy:

Jane . (Shaking her head .) I cannot speak to thee.
De Mon . I have kill'd thee.

B, 86

Because he can neither relinquish that former bond nor take it forward into cultural representation it becomes the object of jealous possession from which he must exclude the realisation of otherness. Rezenvelt, on the other hand, demonstrates the effortless passage into oedipal resolution that De Monfort cannot effect, but without the specialised self-discipline that the latter vainly wishes to articulate as the added significance of that commonplace acquisition.

Rezenvelt represents the operation of a cliché, language circulating without personal authorisation, whereas De Monfort aspires distinctively to re-empower and control the dominating discourses of his society. When his mind becomes infected with the false suspicion of an intended liaison between Rezenvelt and his sister, Hamlet- and Othello- like, he agonises over what he feels would be a betrayal of his exceptional and for him crucial relationship, though it would need to pass through the same process into differentiation in order to find the expression in the social order that he craves. He questions himself in what in MS. JJ of October-November 1798, in the manuscript with the first draft of 'There was a boy', would become Wordsworthian terms for finding a poetic language in which to begin writing The Prelude : 'was it for this/That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved/To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song,/And sent . . . a voice/To intertwine my dreams?' (P, 487, 1ff) Their shared quandary is as to how a founding subjectivity may gain entry into self-knowledge (which of course entails the consciousness of sexual division) and still avoid the extinction of what 'came before':

Where am I now? 'midst all the cursed thoughts
That on my soul like stinging scorpions prey'd,
This never came before—Oh, if it be!
The thought will drive me mad.—Was it for this
She urged her warm request on bended knee?
Alas! I wept, and thought of sister's love,
No damned love like this . . .
. . . I'll not believe it.
I must have proof clear as the noon-day sun
For such foul change as this!

B, 93; my italics

The climactic murderous episode is filled with 'horrid cries' and 'distant screams' (B, 96), as De Monfort's contemplated deed evokes the guilty apprehension expressed in one of Wordsworth's early 'spots of time' ('I heard . . . steps/Almost as silent as the turf they trod' [P, 46, 329 and 331-2]), where consciousness of (oedipal) violence and theft is commemorated as the foundation of that linguistic subjectivity which was later (in the writing of the poem) urgently required, however feared: 'methinks it sounds/As though some heavy footsteps follow'd me'. (B, 95) As in Wordsworth's founding moments, 'the earth around/Did utter secret things.' (B, 95)

In the play, the victim of De Monfort's guilty violence turns out to have provoked a rivalry that is so difficult to locate precisely because Rezenvelt exemplifies nothing other than an entirely normative passage into the social order. The boy who hooted at owls in De Monfort does not so much recall both John Tyson and the poet's past self—a lingering reminder of Wordsworth's once undifferentiated boyhood fellowship that has to be discarded for cultural maturity—as introduce a further hidden contest for the singular command within and of that past. For Wordsworth, it rouses an awareness that the subsequently individuated poet he had become had entered into an obscure competition with the other survivors of that once unbroken society over the degree to which their former common history still peculiarly mattered for his own professional empowerment.

What engaged Wordsworth so deeply in the play was its acting out the duality of his compromise formation in the added significance of making poetry out of common languages. In the upshot, the doubles lie dead side by side, though it is De Monfort, 'a wounded spirit' (B, 103), who is more mourned: 'This is the murder'd corpse/ . . . /But see, I pray!/Here lies the murderer/ . . . /Think'st thou, less painful than the murd'rers' knife/Was such a death as this?' (B, 102) All along, the responsibility for De Monfort's own failure to find social representation for his kind of distinction has been wrong-headedly attributed to Rezenvelt:

it is hate! black, lasting, deadly hate;
Which thus hath driv'n me forth from kindred peace,
From social pleasure, from my native home,
To be a sullen wand'rer on the earth,
Avoiding all men, cursing and accurs'd.

B, 85

Wordsworth had already arrived at a similar impasse in The Borderers, where Mortimer had been implicated in an analogous crime of self-knowledge that ultimately could find no resolution in a restored regime. De Monfort ends by courting the social annihilation he had always feared, with 'no name' (B, 100):

I now am nothing,
I am a man, of holy claims bereft;
Out of the pale of social kindred cast;
Nameless and horrible.

B, 99

Accordingly, a 'nameless tomb' (B, 104) is raised to him. Because the (rational) violence by which social empowerment had been offered him was too traumatic to disassociate itself from that origin, Wordsworth's tragic figure had succumbed, like Baillie's, to symbolic foreclosure:

I will go forth a wanderer on the earth,
A shadowy thing, and as I wander on
No human ear shall ever hear my voice,
No human dwelling ever give me food
Or sleep or rest, and all the uncertain way
Shall be as darkness to me, as a waste
Unnamed by man!

TB, 294, 265-71

Wordsworth's later poem, however, has begun to convert the retention of the imaginary within the social order into the discourse of moral education. If the specialist in language had inevitably consigned the fixatedness of his earlier function to an early grave, he was nonetheless peculiarly impelled to bring it to expression within the Symbolic order: he needed to 'build [his] house upon this grave' ('A Poet's Epitaph'; PW, IV, 67, 60). On mature reflection, social Law demanded that with time an undeveloped kind of subjectivity had to go quietly, but it needed also to be memorialised as the common antecedent not only of those surviving wranglers-to-be who would complete their education in the purchase of 'Knowledge . . . [without] the loss of power' (P, 174, 449)—school-mates, for example, like Wordsworth's younger brother, Christopher, who became Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Robert Greenwood, who was elected a Fellow of Trinity in 1792 (WH, 79)—but also even more significantly of the poet Wordsworth, who may not have taken his degree, but who had after all attained a higher degree of imaginary education that enabled him pre-eminently to echo John Tyson's absolute silence—in poetic language: 'A full half-hour together I have stood/Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies.' (P, 174, 421-2)

Parties annexes