Wordsworth master-class

Today, a Wordsworth master-class.

Take up your pens and draw the outline of Helvellyn.
Next, carefully, the nose of Coleridge
and Dorothy’s right hand.
A steady fixing of the eye is needed.

These items are a stimulus
to put you in the mood to improvise
a lyrical ballad in the manner of
The Old Cumberland Beggar.

You should include at least three spots of time
and specify, once you have finished off,
what your approach has been
to social class and diction.

In moderation you may utilise
strange fits of passion, and evince
spontaneous overflow.
Or, if preferred, a wise passivity.

Expressive power will benefit
from close attention to (case 1)
‘the light that never was on sea and land’,
(case 2) ‘the still sad music of humanity’.

Summa cum laude if you can compose
an ode or elegy on why
Lord Lonsdale’s agent kept his testament
well out of sight for fifty years –

thousands of Prelude lines in Lakeland limbo,
stuffed into a bottom drawer.

– David Morphet 2010