by Brooke Hopkins, Ph.D.

January 1, 2004


This essay makes use of a number of D.W. Winnicott's papers, "Mind and Its Relation to Psyche-Soma," "The Capacity to be Alone," "Aggression in Relation to Emotional Development," among others, to offer a "reading" of Wordsworth's Prelude, particularly the famous "spots of time." Wordsworth's childhood experiences, the sources of his later poetic creativity, are essentially corporeal in nature, grounded in bodily experience. Winnicott's concept of the "Psyche-Soma" helps to clarify this and opens the way to a better understanding of the central philosophical issue Wordsworth uses his poem to confront, the perennial question of what makes life worth living and how the conditions that make life worth living could be more generally available. Not surprisingly, this is one of Winnicott's chief concerns as well, what it is that makes a person "feel real," alive in the fullest sense of that word.

   Few descend lower among the cottages and fields 
   and children. A man must have done this habitually
   before his judgement....would be in any way decisive
   with me.

   Wordsworth--"Letter to John Wilson"   

   From here it could be argued by an armchair

   philosopher that there is therefore no such thing in
   practice as the use of an object....Should the philo- 
   sopher come out of his chair and sit on the floor 
   with his patient, however, he will find that there  
   is an intermediate position. 

     D.W.Winnicott--"The Use of an Object"

One question that remains largely unanswered in accounts of Wordsworth's poetry generally, and of The Prelude in particular, has to do with the sources of the "virtue,"1 the combination of goodness and strength, that he claimed issued from memories of experiences in "our first childhood" (275). These are the famous "spots of time" (257) Wordsworth celebrates in Book XI and that are scattered throughout his poem, especially in the early books. It is the intention of this essay to revisit that question and to try to answer it with a bit more confidence than has previously been the case.2

My approach, partly psychoanalytic in its orientation, will draw on the work of the British object-relations theorist, D.W.Winnicott, for the terms of its analysis. Winnicott's writing has much to tell us about the sources of poetic creativity, one of The Prelude's deepest concerns.3 It also has much to tell us about what I take to be the central philosophical issue Wordsworth uses his poem to confront, the perennial--although often lost sight of--question of what it is that makes life worth living in the first place and of how the conditions that make life worth living could be more generally available.4 More than any other psychoanalytic model--more than Freud's, more than Jung's, more even than Lacan's--it is Winnicott's, it seems to me, that has the most to offer in furthering our understanding of these aspects of Wordsworth's poetry, and especially these aspects of The Prelude.5

My argument will be that the "renovating virtue" (259) retained by such memories, the positive quality that enables them both to nourish and to repair "our minds" (263), has mainly to do with the fact that the experiences upon which they are based are fundamentally corporeal in nature.6 Those experiences arise out of the interaction between the child's (naturally active) body or, to use Winnicott's term, "psyche-soma"7 and his external environment. This is what makes the child "feel real"8 or alive. And this is what will eventually want to make him convey that feeling to others, or to reawaken that feeling in them; what it is for him that will make life worth living and what it is that will urge him want to help make life worth living for others, by sharing the rhythms of his own experience through the medium of poetry itself.  


Wordsworth's official argument, in the completed 1805 and later versions of The Prelude, is, of course, rather different. There, he locates the source of the "renovating virtue" (259) of such memories somewhat paradoxically in the "feeling....we have had" that what he calls "the mind" is master over the body, which he calls "outward sense" (270-71):

  This efficacious spirit chiefly lurks

  Among those passages of life in which

  We have had deepest feeling that the mind

  Is lord and master, and that outward sense

  Is but the obedient servant of her will. (268-72, italics mine)  

Why shouldn't we believe the poet's own editorializing gloss on the original "spots of time" passage, which dates from 1799 and which forms part of the "Two-Part" poem of the same year9 ; or, at the very least, why should we want to take it with more than just a grain of salt, as obscuring the corporeal or psychosomatic origin of his memories? Because that gloss reflects a slightly later agenda for the poem, an agenda that emerged over the course of its composition, in particular, the poet's analysis of the causes behind the crisis he suffered following the failure of his hopes for the Revolution.10 That crisis is analyzed in the passages just preceding the recontextualized celebration of the "spots of time" in expressly dualistic terms, as resulting in part from "another cause/ More subtle and less easily explained" (165-66) than the urge "to sit in judgement [rather than] to feel" (136), one  

That almost seems inherent in the creature

Sensuous and intellectual as he is,

A twofold frame of body and of mind....(167-69) 

This is a "state....in which....the most despotic of our senses....was master of the heart," in which the eye "held [the] mind/In absolute dominion" (170-75). In this new context, then, to quote Geraldine Friedman: "the 'spots' are posed as reversing 'the tyranny of the bodily eye' over the mind and thus also as reestablishing the interiority that Wordsworth loses in his post-Revolutionary breakdown."11 This compensatory move involves the poet's elevation of "the mind" over the senses, his reification of "the mind" as some sort of permanent abode amid the flux and uncertainty of sensuous and, in particular, visual experience.

To treat The Prelude in this way, to try to untangle its various strands, is not necessarily to indulge in the sort of "textual primitivism" that Jack Stillinger and others have criticised in some of Wordsworth's editors and critics, a primitivism that finds value only in Wordsworth's earliest versions according to some principle that would associate textual purity or authenticity with temporal priority.12 It is merely to remind ourselves, that, because of the nature of its composition and of the secondary revision to which Wordsworth was constantly submitting it, The Prelude, like a complex set of geological strata, is a "multilayered"13 poem, a poem the layerings of which do not always cohere into a perfect and seamless whole, or even into a very neat dialectic. The effort is not necessarily to give the earlier layers priority, but merely to try to make sure that the later rationalizations and interpolations do not cause them to lose their force.  


Winnicott's own "theory of mind" outlined in his paper, "Mind and Its Relation to Psyche-Soma," helps to clairfy, in terms of 20th century object-relations discourse, the processes behind the poet's secondary revision.14 At the same time, it provides a preliminary model for the reparative function claimed for the "spots" themselves which the discussion to follow will rely on.

At the opening of the paper, Winnicott recalls how a quotation from Ernest Jones 1946 "Valedictory Address" in which Jones asserts, "I do not think that the mind really exists as an entity" (243), "stimulated [him] to try to sort out [his] own ideas on this vast and difficult subject" of the mind-body problem (243). Picking up where Jones left off, Winnicott asserts that,  

the mind does not exist as an entity in the individual's scheme of things provided  the individual psyche-soma or body scheme has come satisfactorily through the  very early developmental stages; mind is then no more than a special case of the  functioning of the psyche-soma. (244) 

The need for fresh terminology here--"psyche-soma" from "psychosomatic," as well as "psyche" itself ("a word," as Adam Phillips reminds us, "oddly repressed in psychoanalysis"15 )--is as crucial for Winnicott as it was for Wordsworth's younger contemporary, John Keats, for whom the goddess "Psyche" offered a more sensuous way of conceptualizing the various functions at work in the active and passive processes involved in human creativity, "the perpetual human task of keeping inner and outer reality separate yet interrelated."16 For Winnicott, the old mind/body model was part of the problem, a distorted image mirroring, in a fashion reminiscent of the parodic account of "creation" Blake gives in The Book of Urizen, "a split-off intellectual functioning" (PR, xii) that locates mind "in the head" (P-S, 250) and defensively separates it from the rest of the body. "Here is a body," Winnicott clarifies his term, 

and the psyche and the soma are not to be distinguished except according to the  direction from which one is looking. One can look at the developing body or at  the developing psyche. I suppose the word psyche here means the imagin-

ative elaboration of somatic parts, feelings, and functions, that is, of physical  aliveness. We know that this imaginative elaboration is dependent on the existence  and the healthy functioning of the brain, especially certain parts of it. The psyche is  not, however, felt by the individual to be localized in the brain, or indeed to be  localized anywhere. (244) 

It is felt to be localized throughout the whole body, as the body's awareness of itself ("the imaginative elaboration of somatic parts, feelings and functions"), clearly something that thinking, or at least too much thinking, would tend to inhibit, by placing too much stress (both literally and figuratively) on the "head" as the location of all thought-processes.17 "Psyche-soma," then, captures a paradox, a paradox that is truer to the experience of being human than too much thinking about it, or at least too much purely cerebral thinking, would allow. But then paradoxes, in Winnicott's view, are "to be accepted and tolerated and respected," not resolved. Otherwise one pays "the price....[in] the loss of the value of the paradox itself" (PR, xii), which would inhibit the very process one wants to encourage.

But where does "the mind" fit into this schema? And how could a better understanding of its place help to clarify both the causes motivating Wordsworth's secondary revision of the "spots of time" passage (where "the mind" is figured as "lord and master") and the way it is represented in the passage itself, as an entity in need of nourishment and repair, one that draws its strength from the "spots of time" themselves. Actually, at odds with one another as these two accounts appear to be on the surface, they can both be explained by Winnicott's "theory of mind." According to that theory, "the mind" is a secondary development, something that "specializes out from the psyche part of the psyche-soma" (244) over the course of early development. The mind, Winnicott argues, takes over the functions of the nurturing environment as that environment gradually withdraws itself "according to the growing ability of the individual infant to allow for relative failure by mental activity, or by understanding" (246), much as, according to Freud's model, the child internalizes its parental figures as it grows older, becomes its parents, in effect. This process, according to Winnicott, is a reciprocal one. The mind develops out of "the psyche part of the psyche-soma" in response to reactions on the part of the nurturing environment that are encouraged by its own development until it becomes a separate entity, the "place" where "thinking" goes on, the location of self-consciousness.

This process, applied to the passage in question, would account in the first place for the therapeutic value ascribed to the "spots of time." These "spots," memories of early childhood experiences, rejuvenate the mind by restoring its connection to its psychosomatic origins, origins from which it has inevitably become separated in the process of "[specializing] out from the psyche part of the psyche-soma." They give the individual the chance to "return to the dependent psyche-soma which forms the only place to live from" (247, italics mine), since feelings of "aliveness" (TFS, 148) are its primary characteristic.18 Here are the first eight lines of the completed version of the passage:  

   There are in our existence spots of time,

  Which with distinct preeminence retain

  A renovating virtue, whence, depressed

  By false opinion and contentious thought,

  Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight

  In trivial occupations and the round

  Of ordinary intercourse, our minds

  Are nourished and invisibly repaired-- (257-64, italics mine) 

So far so good, without an exhaustive analysis of the passage. But what of Wordsworth's retrospective and almost circular claim that "this efficacious spirit" derives from the once- held "feeling that the mind/Is lord and master" over the body? This can be accounted for, I believe, by earlier strand of Winnicott's argument. Clearly, the image, mind over body, or "outward sense.... but the obedient servant of her will," represents further stage of Wordsworth's "thinking" about the subject. It represents a recontextualization of the passage in the light of a later set of circumstances, the reenactment of "his post-revolutionary breakdown" and the analysis of the causes of that breakdown--the domination of the senses, especially the visual sense--in the later books of the poem.  

This, I think, is at the heart of the striking differences between the 1799 and 1805 "spots of time" passages. Following Winnicott, I want to call this thinking "defensive" in character, perhaps even mildly "pathological" (247). Winnicott summarizes: 

According to this theory then, in the development of every individual, the mind has  a root, perhaps its most important root, in the need of the individual, at the core of  the self, for a perfect environment. (246, italics mine) 

This provides a way of understanding Wordsworth's retrospective idealization of "the mind" as somehow superior to "outward sense" and the external environment. It is an entity, after all, over which one has at least the illusion of control, and which thereby constitutes a kind of "perfect environment," a place of last refuge in a world that refuses to correspond to one's wishes and dreams. Wordsworth's "mind" appears at first glance to be gendered "masculine" ("lord and master"), but it turns out to be gendered "feminine" in the end ("outward sense...but the obedient servant of her will"). What does the personification of the mind as a kind of mater dominatrix signify in this context? Winnicott argues that "certain kinds of failure" of the maternal environment "produce over-activity of the mental functioning." Mind begins to take over the maternal fuction, to become the caretaker, "mental functioning becoming a thing in itself, practically replacing the good mother and making her unnecessary" (246). Wordsworth's image suggests a further extension of this response to "environmental deficiency" (246), mind as a sort of female commander-in-chief, one who keeps strict control over the "outward sense," forcing it to submit to "her will." This is clearly a defensive strategy, a response to some imagined threat on the part of the external environment and the senses that are its points of contact. Winnicott describes the result as  

a most uncomfortable state of affairs, especially because the psyche of

the individual gets 'seduced' away into this mind from the intimate

relationship which the psyche had with the soma. The result is a mind-


"A mind-psyche" is, I believe, exactly what Wordsworth is personifying in the editorial part of the passage. It may have appeared to Wordsworth to be the only alternative during the later stages of The Prelude's composition, but I think that it is safe to say that the rest of the poem knows better, or knows at least that that "uncomfortable state of affairs" need not last forever.

It would be fruitless in this context to speculate further on the causes that lay behind Wordsworth's reenactment of the seduction of the psyche into the mind over the course of his poem's composition and revision. Suffice it to say that his own interpretation of the original "spots of time" passage reveals more about his response to reliving the trauma of his breakdown than it does about the memories themselves. It reveals more about his own increasing need "for a perfect environment" within which to seek "repose"19 than it reveals about his response to the original breakdown, when he did in fact allow himself to "return to the dependent psyche-soma which forms the only place to live from," the place from which his poem itself emerged


So far, this paper has addressed some of the roadblocks Wordsworth himself set up that make answers to questions about the origins of the "virtue" he claimed resided in memories of certain kinds of early childhood experiences so difficult to reach, and it has given only a few hints, in its allusion to Winnicott's idea of the "psyche-soma," as to what the answers to those questions might be. It is time now to flesh those out and then to move on to some of the early "spots of time" themselves by way of illustration, concluding with an account of how all this may relate to the more general eudemonic question Wordsworth uses his poem to address: how such powers as his poem celebrates help contribute to a deeper sense of well-being, greater happiness on the part of those to whom they are available, and how they contribute to what makes life worth living at all. Preliminarily, this will involve a bit more exposition of Winnicott's ideas.

I have argued so far that the therapeutic value of the "spots of time" seems to have something to do with the capacity of the "virtue" retained by them to restore "the mind"--"especially the imaginative power" (1799 [First Part] 293)--to its psychosomatic origins, not its origins in "the body," but its origins in "the psyche part of the psyche-soma." Later, Winnicott will coin the slightly unfortunate terms "true and false self" in order to develop further his idea of the opposition of "the mind" as a defensive entity (or "mind-psyche") and the "psyche-soma" ("which forms the only place to live from"). The terms are slightly unfortunate because, while "false self" is useful enough (it often, especially in "intellectuals," becomes identified with "the mind," resulting in "a dissociation between intellectual activity and psychosomatic existence"20 [144]), "true self" seems to imply the existence of a well-organized "ego," while in fact nothing could be further from the case. For the "true self" is actually no self at all, if by "self" one means a kind of structured personality. That is, more often than not, a "false self," the self structured on the basis of "compliance" (145) due to failures at the early stages of development, failures (in Shelley's words) "which [make] the heart deny the yes it breathes."21 For Winnicott, the "true self" is associated with the "spontaneous gesture" the infant makes toward its mother or whoever plays that role in the earliest months of its existence, the "spontaneous gesture or sensory hallucination" (145) that is met with and responded to positively, thus allowing the infant "to enjoy the illusion of omnipotent creating and controlling," and ultimately, once the "illusory element" is recognized by the growing baby, "the fact of playing and imagining" (146, italics mine), the ability to use objects, manipulate symbols, and so on.  

The spontaneous gesture is the True Self in action. Only the True Self can be  creative and only the True Self can feel real....The True Self comes from the  aliveness of the body tissues and the working of body-functions, including the  heart's action and breathing. It is closely linked with the idea of the Primary  Process, and is, at the beginning, essentially not reactive to external stimuli, but  primary....The True Self appears as soon as there is any mental organization of the  individual at all, and it means little more than the summation of sensori-motor  aliveness. (148-9) 

The "true self," then, is related to the notion of the "psyche-soma." Both concepts involve attempts on Winnicott's part to capture something non-verbal or prelinguistic, like Kristeva's "chora," which "precedes and underlies figuration and thus specularization, and is analogous only to vocal or kinetic rhythm."22 As usual, there is a paradox involved here. Both concepts point to something nonpersonal (as opposed to impersonal) underlying or, you could say, energizing surface behavior (facial expressions, say, or tone of voice23 ). On the other hand, it is precisely the availability of such energies, "the aliveness of the body-tissues and the working of body-functions, including the heart's action and breathing....the summation of sensori-motor aliveness," that makes a particular person "feel real," or feel himself or herself (as we say). Keats seems to have been groping toward this sort of formulation in the "vale of Soul-making" passage of his letter to his brother and sister-in-law when he struggled to define "identity" as that which enables "Souls....to possess a bliss peculiar to each ones individual existence."24 The crucial term here is "a bliss," that is, a sensation of supreme happiness, the supreme happiness that presumably is involved in the feeling of aliveness. What is required for such an "identity" to emerge, Keats speculated, is the interaction of "three grand materials....the Intelligence--the human Heart....and the World or Elemental space suited for the proper action of the Mind and Heart on each other" (II, 102). Here, the "Heart" is the equivalent of the "true self" ("the heart's action"). It is what feels pleasure and pain; it is the source of those instinctual energies which eventually become "love" or "hate"; in short, it is what enables a person to "feel real."

Not surprisingly, Keats had paid Wordsworth the supreme, if somewhat indirect, compliment a year prior to the "vale of Soul-making" letter when he concluded his assessment of the relative strengths and weakness of Milton and his older contemporary, Wordsworth, by remarking that Milton "did not think into the human heart, as Wordsworth has done" (I, 282). Thinking into the "human heart" is related to the process Wordsworth celebrates in the "spots of time" passage, only there it is "our minds [that] are nourished and invisibly repaired" by the instinctual energy preserved by certain memories,25 an energy Wordsworth figures in unmistakably primary process, if not downright sexual, terms, as  

  A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,

  That penetrates, enables us to mount

  When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen. (265-67) 

It is difficult to determine exactly who or what is being penetrated here. It appears to be "our minds." If it is, then Wordsworth's original, 1799 epithet for his "virtue,"--"fructifying" (290), or "the power to make fruitful"--would be even more appropriate to the context than the Norton editors insist (n.4). And this is only reinforced by the almost explicitly sexual imagery that follows: "enables us to mount/When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen," a language so saturated in the erotic that it can only be gesturing toward the sorts of "primary" energies that Winnicott asserts characterize the "true self" or its earlier incarnation in his work, the "psyche-soma."

But we have yet to gather from Winnicott much insight into the kinds of experiences, "worthy of all gratitude" (273), that Wordsworth claimed "our minds" are drawn back to for the strength they contain. For this, we need to turn to Winnicott's seminal paper, "The Capacity to Be Alone." There, Winnicott formulates another paradox, "that the capacity to be alone is based on the experience of being alone in the presence of someone, and that without a sufficiency of this experience the capacity to be alone cannot develop."26 That "someone" is, of course, the mother or person acting in the role of the mother (for Winnicott, as for Wordsworth, this person is almost always female27 ). What her presence does is to provide the infant with a space for discovering its "own personal life" and eventually its own "'internal environment'" (34) as inseparable from the "psyche-soma." This is accomplished through "the equivalent of what in an adult would be called relaxing"28 (34). In this space, Winnicott observes, 

the infant is able to become unintegrated, to flounder, to be in a state in which there  is no orientation, to be able to exist for a time without being either a reactor to an  external impingement or an active person with a direction of interest or movement.  The stage is set for an id experience. In the course of time there arrives a sensation  or an impulse. In this setting the sensation or impulse will feel real and be truly a  personal experience. (34)  

It will "feel real and be truly a personal experience" because it will not have been anticipated by any "thinking" or "mental" activity.29 Winnicott's playful use of Freudian terminology --"The stage is set for an id experience"--points to the primary process quality of what he is talking about.30 "An id experience" would be an experience of some immediacy. Paradoxically, this would be all the more intensely "personal" for its very idness, its seemingly primitive and nonpersonal quality. That is what Winnicott means by his simple adverb "truly." As Winnicott uses words like this, they tend to bear a lot of weight.

Winnicott's prose here is all the subtler for its extreme simplicity, an aspect of his style that is central to what he has to say.31 "An active person with a direction of interest or movement" is a person who "knows" what he wants, who has already "decided" in his "mind" what he wants, and for that reason will never get "it," because "it" will have already become an abstraction, a shadow of the actual. As Keats puts it to his friend, John Hamilton Reynolds, with Wordsworth's "wise passiveness"32 in the back of his mind:  

let us not therefore go hurrying about and collecting honey-bee like, buzzing here  and there impatiently from a knowledge of what is to be arrived at: but let us open  our leaves like a flower and be passive and receptive-- (I, 232) 

In contrast to this sort of (hyper-) activity, the impersonal and passive construction of "in the course of time there arrives a sensation or impulse" embodies the unforeseen or unanticipated quality of the experience Winnicott favors. Arrives from where? Why? And how? Answers to these questions are either unnecessary or unavailable. It is enough that the sensation or impulse come from somewhere (the "psyche-soma," the "true self," call it what you will) and be felt on the pulses. That is what makes it "truly a personal experience," along with the fact "that there is someone available, someone present, although present without making demands" (34). Her presence, along with its instinctual origins, makes it possible for the experience to be "fruitful," that is to say, to bear fruit over time, since "the object can be part or the whole of the attendant person" (34), can be imagined to be shared and therefore part of some kind of living continuity.

Winnicott summarizes the sort of "life" that emerges from this as follows:  

A large number of such experiences form the basis of a life that has reality in it  instead of futility. The individual who has developed the capacity to be alone is  constantly able to rediscover the personal impulse and the personal impulse

is not wasted because the state of being alone is something which (though

paradoxically) always implies that someone else is there. (34) 

But this brings us back to the "spots of time" passage itself, which is essentially about the importance of being "constantly able to rediscover the personal impulse" in order to overcome the feelings of "futility" produced by "false opinion and contentious thought,/Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight...." In fact, it is about as good a summary of the "theme" of The Prelude as a whole as we will ever get, the story of "a life that has reality in it instead of futility," told initially to try to "fix the wavering balance of [the poet's] mind" (I, 650) (balance: literally and etymologically, an instrument used for weighing) and then later, as composition progressed, to try to help cure an entire generation of its sense of "futility" brought on by the "failure" of the French Revolution.33 Unpublished during Wordsworth's own lifetime, the poem's "work" (XIII, 439) of "restoration" (XI, 341) remains as relevant, not to say urgent, as ever.  


Not surprisingly, The Prelude's introductory section fits the Winnicottian schema we have sketched out above almost perfectly. "Was it for this....?" (271) the poet asks out of the breakdown that will result in his poem--the deictic pronoun "this" referring to the sense of total "futility" evoked in the poem's opening section, a sense of futility the poet compares in the end to that of the "false steward" in the parable of the talents (Matt: 25: 14-30), "unprofitably travelling towards the grave...who hath much received/And renders nothing back" [269-72]). Indeed, Wordsworth uses a discourse similar to Winnicott's to analyze the causes of the mental crisis out of which his poem, and the "spots of time" in particular, emerged. At first, his "mind" seems to cooperate in his project to compose "some work/Of glory" (86-7), The Recluse, of course: 

   Great hopes were mine:

  My own voice cheared me, and, far more, the mind's

  Internal echo of the imperfect sound--

  To both I listened, drawing from them both

  A chearful confidence in things to come. (63-7) 

But then "the mind" appears to turn against him, flooding him with anxious inhibitions, connected no doubt to the magnitude of his ambitions: "Vain is her wish--where'er she turns she finds/Impediments from day to day renewed" (140-1). Wordsworth makes an important distinction here. This is not the mind's permanent condition, but a temporary aberration from its normal work, which it does in cooperation with the rest of the "psyche-soma." This he calls "the meditative mind," and describes in Miltonic terms, as "best pleased perhaps/While she as duteous as the mother dove/Sits brooding" (150-2), thinking through the body, allowing the time to ripen. Elsewhere, he hopes "that mellower years will bring a riper mind" [237] and in another instance describes it as "the living mind"[164]. In Winnicott's terms, this is the mind that has developed naturally, in an environment, so to speak, of basic trust.

But, according to Wordsworth, for whatever reason, the mind does not always behave this way, "hath less quiet instincts--goadings on/That drive her as in trouble through the groves" (153-4). This is the mind that has taken him over, that brings him to his crisis, 

    a mind that every hour

   Turns recreant to her task, takes heart again,

   Then feels immediately some hollow thought

   Hang like an interdict upon her hopes, (259-62) 

a mind the only alternative to which seems no mind at all, complete "indolence" (268), and a shameful "indolence" at that.34 Again, as in the "spots of time" passage, the terms for this are extremely gender-specific--"I recoil and droop"--as if "the mind" had become "lord and master....outward sense....but the obedient servant of her will." It is no accident, apparently, that the question that follows--"Was it for this....?"--should contain a telling allusion to Milton's Samson Agonistes, more precisely, to Manoa's mocking rebuke to his emasculated son: "O miserable change! is this the man,/That invincible Samson, far renown'd...For this did th'Angel twice descend? for this/Ordain'd thy nurture holy...?"35 (a rebuke that unwittingly initiates the process of his son's recovery). On the deepest level, the poet's is a crisis of potency itself, of imaginative potency brought on by the sheer magnitude of the task to which he feels called. What more effective way to embody such a crisis than by alluding to the figure of Milton's Samson, who, more than anyone else in religious and poetic tradition, seems to personify such a crisis in gendered terms?

The recollections that follow, then, emerge out of this question, as if to dramatize the process celebrated in the "spots of time" passage whereby "our minds/Are nourished and invisibly repaired" through reimmersion in the energies contained in the "psyche-soma." Not surprisingly, the experiences upon which they are based all share important Winnicottian features. They all take place in settings in which the child is either alone throughout or (in the skating episode) at the experience's climax, alone now no longer in the "actual presence" (CBA, 34) of another, but (as has often been pointed out) in her symbolic or, even more accurately, her psychic presence, in the presence of "Nature" (figured of course as feminine). These are the settings that make an "id experience" possible, feelings of a primitive or "primary process"-enough nature to cause the child to "feel real," but also, because he is old-and-mentally-developed-enough, to be able to reproduce them in the future.36 Characteristically, all these involve spontaneous physical activity, bodily movement or, in Winnicott's terms, "motility,"37 an "aggressiveness" that "at origin....is almost synonymous with activity" itself (204), with the involuntary, instinctual, and presumably in some sense "pleasurable" movements of an infant and with the play of a small child.

Take the poet's evocation of bathing in the River Derwent, the earliest memory in the poem: 

  Oh, many a time have I, a five year's child,

  A naked boy, in one delightful rill,

  A little mill-race severed from his stream,

  Made one long bathing of a summer's day,

  Basked in the sun, and plunged, and basked again,

  Alternate, all a summer's day.... (291-6) 

The first thing to notice here is the stress on the word "naked," or, more accurately, on the first syllable of that word, "naked," to convey not just the boy's visual appearance, his lack of clothing (an important trope for Wordsworth), but his feeling-tone and the naturally aggressive instinctual energy that informs it.38 There is also a dialogic element to this as well, in the context of the poem's opening section. But this demands that we attach a speaker to the word, as well as to all the words that have preceded it, a speaker who himself feels the release of saying it after his prior bafflement, takes pleasure in the energy that saying it releases. That same energy is what informs the lines that follow, where the metrical rhythm of the verse itself, the stresses (especially the spondees) and mixed iambs and trochees ("Alternate, all a summer's day") come close, "as far as words can" (XI, 339), to recapturing the original, "primary process" experience of alternate exposure to the heat of the sun and the cool of water and the feeling of aliveness that that produces: "Made one long bathing of a summer's day,/Basked in the sun, and plunged, and basked again..." Here, the lengthened syllables of "one long bathing" reenact the way time can dilate in childhood when the child is allowed to engage in activity for its own sake, alone, but in the psychic presence of another,39 and the stresses on the verbs "Basked....and plunged....and basked" in the line that follows convey the energy that informs this orgasmic activity.40 If anyone ever wanted proof of the organic origins of poetry itself, its roots not merely in the body but in the far more complex and interactive entity, the "psyche-soma," this might be one of the passages one would want to turn to for demonstration.

The memories that follow the bathing sequence in the first book, organized in the seasonal pairs of autumn/spring, summer/winter, are based on much more psychologically complex experiences. Three instances involve theft (or something like it). Two involve intense feelings of guilt, the beginnings of some sort of rudimentary morality, the development of what Winnicott calls "the capacity for concern."41 One, the boat-stealing, involves sheer, unmitigated terror. For the purposes of this essay, the question that needs to be addressed is why memories of experiences involving not just orgasmic sensations, but those characterized by sensations of guilt, "fear" (306), and terror should "retain/ A renovating virtue," should serve as a cure for the sort of "futility" that a "wavering" or unbalanced mind can produce.

The answer to this question points to the feelings of physical "aliveness" involved in such experiences, however painful or disorienting they might have been at the time. This is "the feeling," as Winnicott puts it, "of real."42 This answer is related to the idea that poetry "takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility," recollected until something like the original emotion is reproduced, "and does itself actually exist in the mind."43 In the process of composition, this  

emotion, of whatever kind, and whatever degree, from various causes, is qualified  by various pleasures, so that in describing any passions whatsoever, which are  voluntarily described, the mind will, upon the whole, be in a state of enjoyment.  (149, italics mine)  

The mind's "state of enjoyment," then, can come from the voluntary (important because there needs to be some element of purposive control) description of "any passions whatsoever," terrifying as well as ecstatic, as long as they were (and hence at some level still are) "real," as long as they were (and hence still are) grounded in the "psyche-soma" of an individual, in "the aliveness of the body tissues and the working of body-functions, including the heart's action and breathing." Without that essential grounding, the argument of Wordsworth's poem as a whole goes, life will more than likely be characterized by a sense of "futility" (as seems increasingly to have been the case with that of its interlocutor).

The woodcock-snaring episode offers a good illustration of the ideas outlined above. Although readers can only indirectly experience the poet's pleasure in voluntary description, the poet will have learned his "lesson" from nature's preservation of "a state of enjoyment" in himself in the act of composition, and taken "care, that, whatever passions he communicates....those passions....should always be accompanied by an overbalance of pleasure" (150) on the reader's part (provided "the Reader's mind be sound and vigorous" [150], of course, i.e. in healthy contact with the "psyche-soma," not defensively opposed to it). And this he will accomplish through "the music of harmonious metrical language" (150). Wordsworth describes the sources of that pleasure this way:

the sense of difficulty overcome, and the blind association of pleasure which has  been previously received from works of rhyme or metre of the same or similar  construction, an indistinct perception perpetually renewed of language closely  resembling that of real life, and yet, in the circumstance of metre, differing from it  widely--all these imperceptively make up a complex feeling of delight, which is of  the most important use in tempering the painful feeling always found intermingled  with powerful descriptions of the deeper passions. (150) 

This passage is directly relevant to Wordsworth's account of the woodcock-snaring as it is to all the "spots," because he is talking about the instinctual energies that the "harmonious and metrical language" of poetry releases and at the same time organizes in its readers, enabling them to relive ecstatic or painful feelings themselves, in the act of reading. This has its origins in what could be called Wordsworth's "pleasure principle," and which he described a little earlier in the Preface as "the great spring of activity in our minds, and their chief feeder," the "principle" from which "the direction of the sexual appetite, and all the passions connected with it, take their origin....the pleasure which the mind derives from the perception of similitude in dissimilitude" (Preface, 149), likeness in unlikeness, and vice versa.44 In the case of the above passage, this comes from the perception, when one is reading a certain piece of poetry, that one has experienced these rhythms before, in other poetry one has read, hence a sense almost of deja vu; or the "indistinct perception" that the language one is reading is both similar to and, partly on account of the artifice of meter itself, utterly dissimilar from the "real life" it purports to represent, that it both recovers that life and stands as a reminder of its absence at the same moment .45 As Wordsworth implies ("all these imperceptively make up a complex feeling of delight"), none of this can be described very precisely, but these are the sources of the reader's pleasure, part of the process whereby "the mind/Is nourished and invisibly repaired" in the act of reading as well.

The woodcock-snaring episode takes place on the fells above the poet's school-boy home, unnamed in the poem. Hence the somewhat self-mocking pun on the adjective "fell" as the episode gets under way: cruel, savage, yet also a "fell destroyer," a destroyer of the fells, with an additional pun on the theological significance of the "fall," picked up later in the verb "befel." (This takes on a certain ironic significance, however, in the larger context of the French Revolution books to come, in which the poet will confess, however obliquely, his deep identification with another "fell destroyer," Robespierre himself.) 

   In thought and wish

  That time, my shoulder all with springes hung,

  I was a fell destroyer. On the heights,

  Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied

  My anxious visitation, hurrying on,

  Still hurrying, hurrying onward. Moon and stars

  Were shining o'er my head: I was alone,

  And seemed to be a trouble to the peace

  That was among them. Sometimes it befel

   In these night-wanderings, that a strong desire

  O'er powered my better reason, and the bird

  Which was the captive of another's toils

  Became my prey; and when the deed was done

  I heard among the solitary hills

  Low breathings coming after me, and sounds

  Of undistinguishable motion, steps

  Almost as silent as the turf they trod. (315-32) 

Here are all the Winnicottian elements we have been led to expect: aggressive behavior that at its origin is "almost synonymous with activity" for its own sake, with a kind of "life-force" (ARED, 216) as basic as the instinct to movement itself; the "ability to be alone" (CBA, 29) but alone in the "presence of another," or, in this case, others: "moon and stars," the presences of nature that will assure that "the personal impulse is not wasted because the state of being alone is something which (though paradoxically) always implies that someone else is there" and that there will be continuity over time; and finally the setting for "an id experience" and an "id experience" itself that will have "value to the individual because it brings a sense of real and a sense of relating, but...is only brought into being by active opposition, or (later) persecution" (ARED, 217). (An early draft was even more explicit about the "psycho-somatic" or "true self" nature of the experience: "how my heart/Panted....how my bosom beat/With hope and fear."46 [italics mine]) Again, however, the poetry itself is where this is to be felt, in the sense of compulsive, almost manic urgency conveyed through the repetition of certain words and in the pounding (as of feet, both literal and figurative), trochaic structure of the participial constructions: "Scudding away from snare to snare....hurrying on, still hurrying, hurrying onward"; or in the uncanny echoes ("similitude in dissimilitude") of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, completed not long before the composition of this passage and heard elsewhere in the first book:  

   The moving Moon went up the sky,

   And no where did abide:

   Softly she was going up

   And a star or two beside,47  

which underscore the sense of the boy's solitude and his anxiety at being "a trouble to the peace that/Was among them."

As Winnicott puts it: "The stage is set for an id experience. In the course of time there arrives a sensation or impulse." In this instance, Wordsworth describes such a "sensation or impulse" as "a strong desire," editing out the Miltonic adjective "resistless,"48 or powerless to resist, in his final version, and therefore losing some of the involuntary quality of the experience in the process of secondary revision. The object of this "strong desire" (with heavy, iambic stress on the adjective, "strong"), of course, is the "the bird/Which was the captive of another's toils." The impulsive nature of the theft is conveyed through the impersonal construction, "became my prey." The boy is old enough to know that the act of stealing is "wrong" ("O'erpowered my better reason"), but he does it anyway. Why? Winnicott offers a partial explanation: 

The child who is thieving is an infant looking for the mother, or for the person from  whom he has a right to steal; in fact, he seeks the person from whom he can take  things, just as, as an infant and a little child of 1 or 2 years old, he took things from  his mother simply because she was his mother, and because he had rights over  her....[Further, looking at it from the child's point of view], his own mother is  really his, because he invented her, or at least (from an adult's perspective) he imagined he invented her by virtue of the fact that she allowed him to "by actively adapting herself to his needs" after birth, by fitting into his desires, by giving him the opportunity to experience the illusion of omnipotence for as long as possible.49 Lost to him now, as a result of the process of growing up and the "disillusionment" (PR, 10) involved, stealing is an _expression of the need to re-establish his relation to the world on the basis of a refinding of the  person who, because she is devoted to him, understands him and is willing to make  active adaptation to his needs: in fact to give him the illusion that the world contains  what he can conceive of, and to enable him to place this that he conjures up just  where there actually is a devoted person in external 'shared' reality. (IS, 177-8, italics mine) 

Aside from pointing to some rather strong connections between stealing and the act of poetic creation (i.e. by writing poetry you are taking back a world that was once "rightfully" yours, trying to preserve "the illusion that the world contains what [one] can conceive of," as Prometheus steals the spark of fire back from Zeus, the spark of fire that symbolizes, among other things, the possibilities of imaginative creation or creative illusion50 ), what this account suggests is that a theft of the sort that the poet confesses here has roots that reach far down into the individual and perhaps even the collective psyche, that tap into a common experience based on the fact that most people have more or less successfully undergone the process "illusion-disillusionment" (PR, 10) that leaves them with a sense of needing to recover something that is felt to be lost. In the poet's case, this is symbolized--since objects, living or otherwise, naturally always carry symbolic significance in Wordsworth's universe--by "the bird/Which was the captive of another's toils," a creature generally gendered feminine,51 and an appropriate object-choice, especially considering its situation as "the captive of another's toils" (snares as well as labors), for one who will later imagine himself to be the hero of a romance, the romance of the Revolution itself.52

But it is the episode's finale that leaves the deepest impression, and it does so again by virtue of the poetry itself. Winnicott remarks that the kind of "aggression" reenacted in an episode like this "is only brought into being by active opposition, or (later) persecution." What he seems to mean is that the child only begins to feel "the impulsive gesture" as "aggressive," and therefore only begins to experience the "value" of it as bringing "a sense of the real and a sense of relating," when he feels some resistance to it, either from without or from within or, in this case, both. That seems to be what is happening here, when the boy hears the "low breathings coming after" him and transforms the "sounds" he hears into "steps/Almost as silent as the turf they trod," when he begins, that is, to experience fears of "persecution" for the "deed" he has committed. This is when the consiousness of "aliveness" is most strongly felt, when the boy begins to sense the peril to his own life (cf. "While on the perilous ridge I hung alone" [347]), a sense conveyed through the sound of the poetry itself, where the iambic stress on "sounds" and "steps" in the final foot of each line makes the reader feel the pressure of the feet that the boy feels are pursuing him to exact their punishment, and the lengthened syllables and dominant sibilants render those "low breathings" and "sounds/Of undistinguishable motion" audible. In fact, "steps/Almost as silent as the turf they trod" might almost be taken as a figure for poetry itself, the imperceptible sound of feet on silence. This is the source of the "renovating virtue" retained by such memories, the "aliveness" they preserve, if one is willing to let it. At its most fundamental, then, what poetry tries to steal back is life itself, a fruitless task in the end (as Wordsworth well knew), but one that one nevertheless has to keep on trying, if only to help make this life worth living. 


There is hardly space here to discuss the other three "spots of time" featured in the first book, not to speak of the two which Wordsworth uses to illustrate his thesis about memory in Book Eleven. Readers already familiar with The Prelude should be able to recognize the relevance of the Winnicottian schema to those passages and others like them scattered throughout the poem: the intense, almost instinctual physical activity of the boat-stealing ("lustily/I dipped my oars into the silent lake") and skating ("Proud and exulting, like an untired horse/That cares not for its home") episodes, for instance, which produce the psychosomatic conditions for the "visionary" moments with which each episode concludes. I wish to end this essay, however, by reflecting on some of the broader, more philosophical implications of the argument I have been making, particularly as regards the question of human happiness, a question, as I indicated at the beginning of this essay, I consider central to the poem's project. Some of Wordsworth's most interesting thoughts about this topic are to be found in the context of his reflections on the nature of education in Book Five, the book about books and reading. It is those that I want to focus on in the end.

The most meditative, certainly the most structurally demanding and possibly the most original of all the books that make up the poem, Book Five opens with a meditation on the evanescence of all intellectual achievements ("those palms atchieved/Through length of time, by study and hard thought" [7-8]), especially books, and even by implication the book the author himself is engaged in writing and the reader in reading, not to speak of their own persons. This leads to the poet's heart-felt question, the question the rest of the book will try to resolve: 

   Oh, why hath not the mind

  Some element to stamp her image on

  In nature somewhat nearer to her own?

  Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad

  Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail? (44-48) 

The rest of the book is structured, in David Haney's words, like "a post-Miltonic elegy, moving from the _expression of grief through various strategies for 'reconcilement' with the death [the destruction of those objects the human mind has tried "to stamp her image on"] at issue, to the placement of the death in a context that allows for a kind of cathartic celebration."53 In other words, it will try to find some way out of a problem that may very well be embedded in the dualistic terms of the question itself (i.e. either some permanent memorial or nothing at all), the product of the mind's tendency to consider too curiously, or, in the skeptical words of the poet's friend, the dreamer of the dream of the Arab-Quixote,54 to go "far to seek disquietude" (52), the same tendency that seems to have inhibited the poet at the begining of his poem.

One of the poet's "strategies for 'reconcilement,'" embodying "the manner in which we associate ideas" (Pref. 123) under the pressure of such urgent questions, turns out to involve the figure of a lengthy digression ("My drift hath scarcely/I fear been obvious" [290-91]) on the nature of modern systems of education, preceded by a tribute to his mother's character and her "good-enough" (PR, 10) ways of childrearing (the "parent hen" [246]) and followed by the Boy of Winander passage and a record of the poet's own meditations by the boy's graveside. The question is: what is all this doing in a book the chief project of which is to try to come to terms with the utter ephemerality of all human achievements, including even the book the reader happens to be holding in his hand, that opens with a vision that foretells the apocalyptic destruction of the world "by deluge now at hand" (99), a vision the truth of which it is impossible on some level to deny (i.e. that none of this will last), even if one might disagree with some of its details?

What the digression on education does is to form part of a dialectic, to help make the poem's readers more urgently aware of exactly what is at stake in the issues of lived, uniquely individual, yet at the same time profoundly collective experience it has raised so far (and will continue to raise in different, more sociopolitical ways in later books). For, far from decreasing the value of life, the value of a life that "feels real," the prospect of total annihilation by "the fleet waters of the drowning world" (136) imagined to be prophesied and realized in the dream of the Arab-Quixote only underscores the sacredness of such experience for each human being, its absolute value. It is almost as if readers of the poem had found themselves unexpectedly, through the poet's rhetorical manipulations (working ideally in the service of "Nature" herself, "a power like one of Nature's" [XII, 312]), in the position of the boy in the woodcock-snaring episode, forced to feel their very "aliveness" and the "aliveness" of others as a consequence of their realization of the perilousness of their situation--awake, perhaps for the first time. This illustrates what Winnicott calls "the positive value of destructiveness" (PR, 94), destructiveness that produces what he describes as "the quality of externality" (PR, 93) in objects, that "places [them] outside the area....set up by....projective mental mechanisms [and creates] a world of shared reality....[a world] which can feed back other-than-me substance into the subject" (PR, 94), "other-than-me-substance" being substance you can actually be nourished by, like Wordsworth's poem.

The point is that against the background of inevitable destruction--individual, collective, or both--everything depends upon having "a life that has reality in it instead of futility," everything depends upon being "constantly able to rediscover the personal impulse." And that is because, for Wordsworth, there is simply no other life to be had, living ours as we do  

   in the very world which is the world

  Of all of us, the place in which, in the end,

  We find our happiness, or not at all. (X, 725-27) 

To "find....happiness," in the terms we have been using in this essay, is to find a life that "feels real." It is to have a "self," in Winnicott's words, that, having learned "to ride instincts, and to meet with all the difficulties inherent in life....can eventually even afford to sacrifice spontaneity, even to die,"55 like Cleopatra at the end of Shakespeare's play who, having lived (especially having ridden her own instincts and Antony's as well), seems able to embrace her death as a part of life, to fulfill the wish Winnicott expressed toward the end of his life: "O God! May I be alive when I die."56

This is why the boy of Winander passage, placed where it is, is so crucial to Wordsworth's argument, because, although the boy is dead (seems, in fact, to be one of those children--part of himself, really--the poet wants to protect from the inevitable losses involved in the disillusionment of growing up), he did live, was alive when he died, as the abrupt break between the verse paragraph celebrating his experience and the one describing the poet's reflections over his grave seems to suggest. And he was alive because the spontaneous and impulsive activity in which he was involved, blowing "mimic hootings to the silent owls/That they might answer him" (398-99) from across the "glimmering lake" (394) afforded him the sort of "sensation or impulse" that felt "real" and was genuinely his own, in contrast to the utter deprivation of "sensation or impulse" experienced by the "dwarf man" (295), the product of modern systems of education, whose life is essentially finished before it is begun. Here is the way Wordsworth describes a central moment in the boy of Winander's life (actually a central moment in the poet's own):  

 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 surprise

  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. (404-13) 

The element of chance is crucial here (whatever role the concept of "chance" plays in Wordsworth's cosmology!), because everything depends upon an experience like this having been unprepared for, having been unanticipated, having been unthought about beforehand. That is what will make it "feel real" at the time, and in retrospect. This is the sort of "fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery," that, according to Keats, Coleridge "would let go by....from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge" (I, 193-94) (or in this case, with no knowledge). It is a consequence of "the capacity to be alone" pure and simple.

The other crucial element, of course, is the "pauses of deep silence" that "mocked" the boy's of Winander's "skill" and by mocking it enable him to hear what he hears and see what he sees. Such pauses, of course, are an essential element of poetry itself, often mocking the "skill" of readers and hence enabling them to hear what they hear and see what they see. What they provide are "gaps" to be filled in,57 space where experience can be felt, as in the poet's apostrophe at the end of the horse-riding sequence in Book Two: 

  Oh, ye rocks and streams,

  And that still spirit of the evening air,

  Even in this joyous time I sometimes felt

  Your presence, when, with slackened step, we breathed

  Along the sides of the steep hills, or when,

  Lighted by gleams of moonlight from the sea,

  We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand. (138-44) 

The "slackened step" (feet again, or "hoofs," to be more exact) and pauses while the riders allowed the horses to catch their breath58 are picked up by commas in the broken rhythm of the lines themselves ("when, with slackened step, we breathed..., or when, ...."), and they enable the "presence" of the "rocks and streams" to be "felt" or the "beat" of the "thundering hoofs" to be heard. Similarly, in the discharged soldier sequence, the "passing forms" (IV, 396) of "primary process" imagery released through the activity of walking leave the young man with 

  A consciousness of animal delight,

  A self-possession felt in every pause

  And every gentle movement of my frame, (397-99, italics mine) 

a consciousness and self-possession that prepare him for the encounter to come. By the same token, the same consciousness, the same self-possession released in the act of engaged and passionate reading prepares the reader for the sorts of reencounters with the psychosomatic levels of experience that poetry makes possible and that make life (or, more properly, living) itself more fully worthwhile.

In the boy of Winander passage, however, there is a further element to the "pauses of deep silence" that deepens their impact for both the boy and the reader even further. That is the boy's expectation of the responses of the owls embodied in Wordsworth's most famous enjambment, "hung/Listening," which provides the framework for the boy's experience and the opportunity for the reader to reenact it in the act of reading. That expectation ("hung/Listening") is what makes possible the "gentle shock of mild surprize" that "has carried far into his heart the voice/Of mountain torrents," as if the "shock of....surprize" itself were the vehicle of the voice's carrying (or even of the sound of those "mountain torrents" being heard as a "voice,") and gentleness and mildness the necessary conditions for that transport. Wordsworth uses the same construction in his defense of the "truth" of poetry in his Preface: "not standing upon external testimony, but carried alive into the heart by passion" (139, italics mine). Just as the passion intrinsic to poetry is what keeps its "truth" alive long enough to enter the heart and presumably to transform it, so "a gentle shock of mild surprize" is what enables the "voice/Of mountain torrents" to penetrate "far" enough "into [the boy's] heart" to make a lasting impression on it or, in the terms we have been using in this essay, to make him "feel real."59 The same goes for "the visible scene" as well. Because of its more intellectual appeal to the eyes, it enters "unawares" (without warning; by surprise; suddenly; unexpectedly) into the boy's "mind," a "mind," however, clearly not separated from the "heart," or "psyche-soma," but working in co-operation with it "for the purpose," in Keats' words, "of forming the Soul or Intelligence destined to possess a sense of Identity" (II, 102), a sense of identity, a feeling of identity, "a feeling of real." All this is somehow embodied in the passage's final image--"that uncertain heaven, received/Into the bosom of the silent lake," where the very uncertainty60 of the "heaven" (sky, but something more, a human creation) makes its reception "into the bosom of the silent lake" possible, or vice versa, if we take that uncertainty to be a property of the heaven's reflection on the surface of the "glimmering lake." It is impossible to know which, which is just the point: not-knowing, which leads to some deeper form of knowledge, some deeper experience of being, like "the aliveness of body tissues and the working of body-functions, including the heart's action and breathing....the experience of aliveness."

The above reading does not resolve all the contradictions involved in the boy of Winander passage, especially those connected with the boy's death (given that the boy's experiences were originally ascribed to the poet himself). But at least it places that passage in a broader context and connects it to the urgency of the poem's more general argument about the crucial importance of felt or lived experience. The reverie that follows the poet's recollection of his own meditations by the side of the boy's grave only reinforces this argument, a reverie ("Even now methinks I have before my sight...."[423]) which covers the gap between his present situation and, the fiction goes, the "spot" (416) where the boy was buried and below which the poet himself had played as a boy.

What the poet "sees" (1850 version: "before the mind's clear eye" [398]) is an emblematic version of the space in which Winnicott's "capacity to be alone" develops in a child. Here, the "village church" (424), figured as maternal, provides the "protective environment" (CBA, 33) beneath and around which her children can play: 

  I see her sit--

  The throned lady spoken of erewhile--

  On her green hill, forgetful of this boy

  Who slumbers at her feet, forgetful too

  Of all her silent neighborhood of graves,

  And listening only to the gladsome sounds

  That, from the rural school, ascending play

  Beneath her and about her. (424-31) 

Here is maternal continuity raised to an almost impersonal level, spanning generations of children with its protectiveness, yet "listening only to the gladsome sounds" of the present generation, assuring that "the personal impulse is not wasted because the state of being alone is something which (though paradoxically) always implies that someone else is there." Indeed, the "throned lady" seems to inhabit a kind of perpetual present, oblivious to the children who are in their graves, attentive solely to those who are currently alive and expressing their aliveness in the sounds that issue from their games. Of course, from her much longer perspective--the blink of an eye, almost--those children will soon be in their graves as well and others will have replaced them, but at least, the argument seems to imply, they will have been alive, have possessed selves strong enough to be able "eventually even [to] afford to sacrifice spontaniety, even to die."

The poet's recollection of the "race of young ones" with whom he "herded" as a child offers an example of just such "spontaneity": 

  A race of real children, not too wise,

  Too learned, or too good, but wanton, fresh,

  And bandied up and down by love and hate;

  Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy,

  Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds.... (426-40) 

"A race of real children" in the context of Book Five is obviously meant to serve as a contrast to the compliant children who are the product of "advanced" systems of education Wordsworth had satirized earlier in the book, "worshipper(s) of worldly seemliness" (298), children protected even from "fear itself" (315). They have had their lives stolen from them and been forced into only playing a part, like the "six-years Darling" (PW, IV, 281) of Wordsworth's "Ode," whereas the children of this passage have been afforded a context within which to give their instincts as free a rein as possible without complete loss of control: tossed about "by love and hate," strong feelings, originating in the "psyche-soma," that strengthen the self and make it "feel real." Wordsworth tries to give some sense of this in his line of heavily stressed and emotionally conflicting adjectives: "Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy," and in the simile that follows: "Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds," where "withered leaves" and autumn winds not only draw on sources from Homer to Milton to figure proleptically the children's deaths but also serve as conventional tropes for powerful, vital, and instinctual life-forces which, when harnessed and put to use, can result in things like poetry itself, even something like the poem we have been reading.

All this is given appropriate closure in the poet's concluding benediction to the "race of real children" currently playing beneath the benevolent protection of the "throned lady." Again, the terms of the benediction are entirely conventional for the period: "knowledge" and "power,"61 the former signifying the cerebral, the latter, the more instinctual aspects of human nature--passion, feeling, intuition (both together forming the "whole soul of man"62 ). In the context of this essay, however, those terms, and the way Wordsworth employs them--not to speak of his reference to the "mind"--gather further resonance. 

  Simplicity in habit, truth in speech,

  Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds!

  May books and nature be their early joy,

  And knowledge, rightly honored with that name--

  Knowledge not purchased with the loss of power! (445-49) 

The first part of this benediction offers some solution to the "mind-problem" which has been with us throughout this essay: "Simplicity in habit, truth in speech" need to act as "daily strengtheners" for the "mind" to develop in a healthy way, for it to remain in contact with the "psyche-soma" and not become localized solely in the "head," thus transformed into a "false self" the main occupation of which would be to protect the "true" from any contact with external reality, resulting in an essentially schizoid personality. The crux, however, of the issues explored here is contained in the qualification with which the second part of the benediction concludes: knowledge, yes, but "knowledge not purchased with the loss of power." This is knowledge not gained at the expense of something even more essential, the kind of spontaneous, instinctual energy that makes knowledge worth having in the first place. To be "knowledge, rightly honored with that name," is to be correctly or appropriately honored, not misnamed or mistaken for something false. This is how Wordsworth viewed the risks in the exchange of knowledge for power, why (if he had any choice about it) he became a poet in the first place, to combine the two in poems like The Prelude. One can't imagine Winnicott disagreeing with that strategy. His writings indicate that he too was equally suspicious of such a bargain, of trading power for knowledge, or losing power in a mistaken quest for knowledge.  


1William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850, ed. Jonathan Wordsworth, et al. (New York: Norton, 1979) 1805 version, XI, 259. Unless otherwise indicated, this version of The Prelude hereafter cited by line and, when necessary, by book in the text. (Back to Main Text)

2 The literature on the "spots of time" is quite extensive. Nearly everyone who has written at length on The Prelude has found it necessary to comment on the passage and the "spots" themselves to some extent, and there is one book devoted entirely to the topic from a Freudian perspective, David Ellis, Wordsworth, Freud, and the spots of time: Interpretation in "The Prelude" (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985). Among the more prominant critics, Geoffrey Hartman describes "the renovating energy flowing from the spots of time [as the] spirit of place reaching through time with a guardian's care.... [and bringing] the child closer to confronting the power or mystery of its own imagination." (Wordsworth's Poetry: 1787-1814 [New Haven: Yale UP, 1971] 212, 216), and Jonathan Wordsworth sees them as examples of the poet's "border vision," his capacity to see beyond the ordinary into some invisible dimension. (Jonathan Wordsworth, William Wordsworth: The Borders of Vision [Oxford: Clarendon, 1984] 65). Ellis is more impressed by the corporeal dimension of the experiences, how they provided "a wholly pleasant confirmation of bodily awareness" (49), a sense of "everything having been right in the first place" (91), and Jonathan Bishop sees them as characterized by a "rhythm of repeated actions" (46) or "powerfully repeated actions" (47) ("Wordsworth and the 'Spots of Time,'" ELH 26 [Mar. 1959]). The latter two accounts, not fully worked out in either study, are a bit closer to my own. (Back to Main Text)

3 See especially a number of the the papers reprinted in Playing and Reality (New York: Basic Books, 1971). (Back to Main Text)

4 A central concern of Winnicott's, especially toward the end of his career. See especially, "The Location of Cultural Experience," in Playing and Reality: "Psychoanalysts....seldom reach the point at which we can start to describe what life is like apart from illness or absence of illness....That is to say, we have yet to tackle the question of what life itself is about" (98). Readers familiar with David Collings recent book, Wordsworth's Errancies: The Poetics of Cultural Dismemberment (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1994), may be struck by the rather different Wordsworths we present, the difference between reading him through Winnicott and reading him through "writers like Nietzsche, Artaud, Bataille, Foucault, and Derrida, to name one lineage, or....Freud, Lacan, Laplance, and Bersani, to name another" (13). Sympathetic as I am to Collings' project of drawing out a hyperbolic, extravagant, masochistically self-destructive picture of the poet from the poems, I think there is room for a more constructive one, the poet, say, of the Preface or of the aspects of The Prelude I will be focusing on. But the real task would be to see how these two accounts could be made to fit together. (Back to Main Text)

5This raises the question, of course, of the extent to which Winnicott's own theories of human development may have been influenced by his reading of Wordsworth's poetry. The answer to that question is, I think, "only in the most general terms," terms Winnicott would have absorbed from British culture generally. There is no direct reference to Wordsworth's work in any of Winnicott's writing, except the occasional vague allusion to the child being father of the man, which he would have recalled from schoolboy or later recreational reading. Once, when Rosemary Dinnage pointed out to him the passage from Book Two of The Prelude in which Wordsworth locates "the first/Poetic spirit of our human life" (275-6) in the infant's interactive relationship with its mother, Winnicott caught the somewhat uncanny similarity between the passage and his own ideas about the infant-mother relationship by responding playfully,"'He seems to have read my books!'" (Rosemary Dinnage, "A Bit of Light," in Between Reality and Fantasy: Transitional Objects and Phenomena, ed. Simon A. Grolnick M.D. and Leonard Barkin M.D. [New York: Aronson, 1978] 371). The only other (fairly) extensive use of Winnicott ideas to discuss Wordsworth's poetry that I am aware of is John Turner, "Wordsworth and Winnicott in the Area of Play," in Transitional Objects and Potential Spaces: Literary Uses of D.W.Winnicott, ed. Peter L. Rudnytsky (New York: Columbia UP, 1993) 161-188. So far, Winnicott's work seems to have been of much more use to critics of Shakespeare than to those working in the field of romanticism. See especially a number of the essays in Representing Shakespeare, ed, Murray M. Schwartz and Coppelia Kahn (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1980) for fruitful applications of Winnicott's ideas. (Back to Main Text)

6 cf. Hartman's claim that in Wordsworth's rendition of the Snowdon episode--all the major visionary moments in the poem, in fact--the poet "dooms himself to stay within the limits of the corporeal understanding and of immediate experience" (187), another case of his general tendency towards "avoidance of apocalypse" (61). As should be clear shortly, one of the aims of this essay is to take issue with this kind of apocalyptically-oriented and religiously idealist account of Wordsworth's poetry, however useful it once was in rectifying previous misconceptions of Wordsworth as simply a poet of "nature." I realize that the "new-historicists" have intervened in the meantime, but, given their (fruitful) efforts to historicize Wordsworth's writing, their own work has had little to say on these more phenomenological topics. This essay, then, represents a partial attempt to return to some concerns that have been lost sight of over the past few decades as the wave of new-historicism swept over us, some of the more frankly psychological and aesthetic dimensions of Wordsworth's poetry (no less political and social, however, for that), but to return to them from the perspectives made possible by object-relations theory and the interest in the body that developed during the 1970's and 80's. (Back to Main Text)

7 D.W.Winnicott, "Mind and its Relation to Psyche-Soma," in Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis (Basic Books: New York, 1975). This paper hereafter cited when necessary as P-S by page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

8 D.W.Winnicott, "Ego Distortion in Terms of True and False Self," in The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development (New York: International Universities Press, 1965) 148. This paper hereafter cited when necessary as TFS by page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

9 A passage notable for its brevity in comparison with its later versions, eight and a half lines as opposed to twenty-two in the 1805 version and seventeen and a half in the 1850:  

There are in our existence spots of time

Which with distinct preeminence retain

A fructifying virtue, whence, depressed

By trivial occupations and the round

Of ordinary intercourse, our minds--

Especially the imaginative power--

Are nourished and invisibly repaired;

Such moments chiefly seem to have their date

In our first childhood.

(Back to Main Text)

10 That analysis, plus the revised "spots of time," was originally intended to form the concluding two-thirds of Book Five of the Five-Book version of the poem of the spring of 1804. Only later, after Wordsworth had composed the French Revolution books, did it become a part of Book Eleven. For a detailed account of the chronology of the poem's composition, see William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850, p. 512-24. (Back to Main Text)

11 Geraldine Friedman, "The Letter and the Spirit of the Law: Wordsworth's Restagings of the French Revolution in 'Carrousel Square' and the First 'Spot of Time,'" Texas Studies in Literature and Language 34 (1992) 494. (Back to Main Text)

12 Jack Stillinger, "Textual Primitivism and the Editing of Wordsworth," Studies in Romanticism 28 (1989) 3-28. (Back to Main Text)

13 Friedman, "The Letter and the Spirit of the Law," 497. (Back to Main Text)

14 For a relevant recent discussion of this paper, see Adam Phillips, Terrors and Experts (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), ch. 6, "Minds." (Back to Main Text)

15 Adam Phillips, Winnicott (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1988) 95. (Back to Main Text)

16 D. W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality (New York: Basic Books, 1971) 2. This edition hereafter cited as PR by page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

17 "This provides an important source for headache as a symptom." (247) (Back to Main Text)

18 In certain extreme circumstances, such as those reenacted in The Prelude's opening section, "'without mind' [altogether] becomes the desired state" (247): "Ah, far better than this to stray about/Voluptuously through fields and rural walks..." etc (252-3). (Back to Main Text)

19 The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Five Vols, ed. Ernest de Selincourt (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966) IV, 84. "Ode to Duty": "I long for a repose that ever is the same." (Back to Main Text)

20 "The world may observe academic success of a high degree, and may find it hard to believe in the real distress of the individual concerned, who feels 'phoney' the more he or she is successful. When such individuals destroy themselves in one way or another, instead of fulfilling promise, this invariably produces a sense of shock in those who have developed high hopes for the individual." (TFS, 144) (Back to Main Text)

21 Shelley's Poetry and Prose, ed. Donald H. Reiman and Sharon B. Powers (New York: Norton, 1977) 193; Prometheus Unbound, III.iv.150.(Back to Main Text)

22 Julia Kristeva, "Revolution in Poetic Language," in The Kristeva Reader, ed. Toril Moi (New York: Columbia UP, 1986) 94. (Back to Main Text)

23 Among British "romantic" writers, besides Wordsworth, Byron and Austen seem particularly alert to this dimension of experience. (Back to Main Text)

24 The Letters of John Keats 1814-1822, Two Vols., ed. Hyder Edward Rollins (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1972) Vol. II, 102. This edition hereafter cited by volume and page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

25 The language here is extremely interesting for its gendered, or cross-gendered, properties. "Nourished," of course, has maternal connotations, while "repaired," as Geoffrey Hartman first observed in "The Poetics of Prophesy" (High Romantic Argument: Essays for M. H. Abrams, ed Lawrence Lipking [Ithica: Cornell UP, 1981] 26), contains a kind of double meaning, "restored" or "healed" (from reparare, "to make ready, put in order" [OED]), but also something like "returned to" or "brought back to" (from repatriare, "to return to one's country," one's patria, one's fatherland [OED]). This secondary or underlying meaning of "repaired" stresses the "masculine" element of the process. The "virtue" retained by the "spots" not only nourishes; it also enables a reidentification with the "masculine" element, a return the house of one's father, one of The Prelude's central thematic concerns. cf. the river Derwent , at the poem's opening, that the poet remembers passing "behind my father's house...close by...." (288) or, perhaps closer to the psychological point, this passage from the second "spot of time," with its allusion to Hamlet: "Ere I to school returned/That dreary time, ere I had been ten days/A dweller in my father's house, he died...." (XI, 363-5). The point is that the phrasing here suggests a kind of balance: "nourished and.... repaired," fed and restored to one's country of origin, one's fatherland, both together, implying some more or less psychologically harmonious condition. (Back to Main Text)

26 D.W.Winnicott, "The Capacity to Be Alone," in The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, 33. Hereafter cited when necessary as CBA by page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

27 For an exception in The Prelude, see the poet's moving account at the end of Book Eight of the man in London who had taken his "sickly babe" out of doors "to breathe the fresher air....and, bending over it....eyed it with unutterable love" (851, 856-9). (Back to Main Text)

28 Keats calls it, in a letter which perhaps best exemplifies his paradoxical idea of "Negative Capability," a "delicious diligent Indolence" (I, 231) and elsewhere writes that "in this state of effeminacy the fibres of the brain are relaxed in common with the rest of the body," so that "the body (overpowers) the Mind" (II, 78-9). (Back to Main Text)

29 In Keats's words, any "irritable reaching after fact and reason" (I, 193). (Back to Main Text)

30 It also points to the crucial importance, for Winnicott, of the setting, the "stage," one reason his work has been so useful to critics of Shakespeare. cf. Murray M. Schwartz, "Shakespeare through Contemporary Psychoanalysis," in Representing Shakespeare, 21-32. (Back to Main Text)

31 Something like "ordinary language" psychoanalytic theory. (Back to Main Text)

32 The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Five Vols. ed. Ernest de Selincourt (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966) IV, 56. (Back to Main Text)

33 "'I wish you would write a poem, in blank verse, addressed to those, who, in consequence of the complete failure of the French Revolution, have thrown up all hopes for the amelioration of mankind, and are sinking into an almost epicurian selfishness, disguising the same under the soft titles of domestic attachment and contempt for visionary philosophes.'"--an extract from a lost letter from Coleridge to Wordsworth written in 1799 (The Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Two Vols. ed. Earl Leslie Griggs [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956] I, 526. (Back to Main Text)

34 All this may be related underneath to some of Wordsworth's more severe psychosomatic problems, problems usually connected with the act of writing itself: "I should have written five times as much as I have done," he apologizes to Coleridge from Goslar in Dec. 1798, in the letter which contains early drafts of portions of Book One of The Prelude, "but that I am prevented by an uneasiness at my stomach and side, with a dull pain about my heart." (The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early Years 1787-1805, Three Vols. ed. Ernest de Selincourt, rev. Chester L. Shaver (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967) I, 236). Or the much fuller account of his symptoms to Sir. George Beaumont from Grasmere on Oct. 14, 1803: "Owing to a set of painful and uneasy sensations which [I have,] more or less at all times about my chest, from a disease which chiefly affects my nerves and digestive organs, and which makes my aversion from writing little less than madness, I deferred writing to you....I have now been more than [a] fortnight at home, but the uneasiness in my chest has made [me] beat off the time when the pen was to be taken up. I do not know from what cause it is, but during the last three [y]ears I have never had a pen in my hand for five minutes, [b]efore my whole frame becomes one bundle of uneasiness, [a] perspiration starts out all over me, and my chest is [o]ppressed in a manner which I can not describe. [T]his is a sad weakness, for I am sure, though, it is chiefly [o]wing to the state of my body, that by exertion of mind [I] might in part control it." (The Letters, I, 406-7) Winnicott comments: "It is not sufficient to analyse the hypochondria of the psychosomatic patient, although this is an essential part of the treatment. One has to be able to see the positive value of the somatic disturbance in its work of counteracting a 'seduction' of the psyche into the mind" (P-S, 254). It is doubtful that Wordsworth would have taken much consolation from this explanation. In fact, he seems to have believed that an "exertion of mind might....control" his bodily symptoms. It is remarkable how completely the model of the "mind/body" split governs his thinking here and may even help to produce the symptoms he is describing. (Back to Main Text)

35 John Milton, Complete Poems and Major Prose, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (New York: Macmillan, 1957) 560, ll. 340-1, 361-2. For more details on the "was it for this...? tradition, see Jonathan Wordsworth, The Borders of Vision, 420, n.3, and John Woolford, "Wordsworth Agonistes," Essays in Criticism 31 (1981) 27-40. Aside from the referencs cited in Jonathan Wordsworth's note, including Pope's wonderful parody in The Rape of the Lock, it is worth adding that Byron parodies the tradition as well in Donna Julia's tour de force rebuke to her husband, Don Alphonso, in Don Juan, Canto I: "It was for this that I became a bride!/ For this in silence I have suffered long/ A husband like Alphonso at my side....Was it for this that no Cortejo ere/I yet have chosen from out the youth of Seville....?" etc. (Lord Byron, The Complete Poetical Works, Seven Vols. ed. Jerome J. McGann [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986] V, Canto I, 1156-58; 1177-78). For an earlier version of this motif, which Wordsworth almost certainly knew, since he was an avid reader of Ariosto at Cambridge and tranlator thereafter, see Lodovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, Three Vols. (Milano: I Grandi Libri, 1978) I, 154, Canto VII, 57-59, the sorceress Melissa's interroatory rebuke to Ruggerio for allowing himself to be unmanned by the witch Alcina's powers. (Back to Main Text)

36 That is why the "window of opportunity" for Wordsworth is so small, because the child needs to be young enough to feel the full power of his or her "id" drives yet old enough to be able to process them in memory. If he or she is too young they won't be able to be remembered with enough specificity to be able to record them, if too old, they will have lost their full power, unless, of course, he or she has been blessed with them to begin with. (Back to Main Text)

37 D.W.Winnicott, "Aggression in Relation to Emotional Development," in Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis, 211. Hereafter cited when necessary as ARED by page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

38 Although The Prelude is strongly, even rather ruthlessly, gendered masculine, there is nothing in the essential (i.e. "psycho-somatic") quality of the boy's experience that is confined to one gender. In fact, one of Mary Wollstonecraft's complaints in her Vindication is that, as a sex, girls are not "allowed to take sufficient [bodily] exercise" to achieve a healthy state, and that "if fear in girls, instead of being cherished, perhaps, created, were treated in the same manner as cowardice in boys, we should quickly see women with more dignified aspects." (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman [London: Penguin, 1992] 154). This is particularly interesting given the central educative role "fear" ("Fostered alike by beauty and by fear...." [I, 304]) plays in Wordsworth's narrative. Wollstonecraft seems to be asking that girls be given the same chance to "work through" strong emotions like "fear," until they are able to "recognize/A grandure in the beatings of the heart" (I, 440). The tragedy is that they are "confined in close rooms till their muscles are relaxed, and their powers of digestion are destroyed" (154), hardly a fit state for the sort of strenuous bodily activity that produces strong sensations that might be rememberable, that might "form the basis of a life that has reality in it instead of futility." (Back to Main Text)

39 A situation confirmed by the simile the poet chooses at the conclusion of the episode to describe how he "stood alone/ Beneath the sky," at the end of the day,  

as if I had been born

  On Indian plains, and from my mother's hut

  Had run abroad in wantonness to sport,

  A naked savage, in the thunder-shower, (300-4) 

"alone," yet still within some sort of protective maternal environment. (Back to Main Text)

40 Winnicott's terminology. He speculates that such experiences result in what he calls "ego orgasm.... which draws attention to the climax and the importance of the climax [but also to] the difference of quality as well as quantity of id when one compares the game that is satisfactory with the instinct that crudely underlies the game" (35). He is trying here to make the same distinction he makes between "the body" and the "psyche-soma." It is necessary to find a less crude way of talking about human experience than simply in terms of "id." These reflections are especially useful in thinking about the skating episode, which features 


  Confederate, imitative of the chace

  And woodland pleasures, the resounding horn,

  The pack loud bellowing, and the hunted hare, (461-4) 

and concludes with a spectacular example of "ego orgasm" and its aftermath, "till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep" (489). (Back to Main Text)

41 D.W.Winnicott, "The Development of the Capacity for Concern," in The Mturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment. (Back to Main Text)

42 D.W.Winnicott, "Communicating and Not Communicating Leading to a Study of Certain Opposites," in The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, 184. (Back to Main Text)

43 Preface to "Lyrical Ballads" (1850), The Prose Words of William Wordsworth, ed. W.J.B.Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser, Three Vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974) I, 149. This edition of the Preface hereafter cited when necessary as Pref. by page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

44 Cf. Keats, "and who is to say between man and Woman which is the most delighted?" (Letters, I, 232). (Back to Main Text)

45 Which would connect reading somehow with the work of mourning.(Back to Main Text)

46 William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850, 488. (Back to Main Text)

47 The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Two Vols., ed. E.H.Coleridge (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912) II, 1037. (Back to Main Text)

48 William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850, 489. (Back to Main Text)

49 D.W.Winnicott, "The Impulse to Steal," in The Child and the Outside World: Studies in Developing Relationships (London: Tavistock, 1962) 177. Hereafter cited as IS by page in the text. (Back to Main Text)

50 cf. "Onely the Poet disdeining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, doth grow in effect into another nature: in making things either better than nature bringeth foorth, or quite new, forms such as never were in nature....her world is brazen, the Poets only deliver a golden." Sir Philip Sidney, Defence of Poesie, in The Prose Works of Sir Philip Sidney, Four Vols. ed. Albert Feuillerat (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1962) I, 8. (Back to Main Text)

51 cf. James A. W. Heffernan's comment about the theft: "The thefts involving birds, first of all, assume special significance when we notice that in the later versions of The Prelude birds typically appear as mothers." ("The Presence of the Absent Mother In Wordsworth's Prelude," Studies in Romanticism 27 [1988] 259).(Back to Main Text)

52 cf. Beaupuy's "''Tis against that/Which we are fighting'" (IX, 519-20), as rescuers of beleaguered maidens. (Back to Main Text)

53 David P. Haney, Wordsworth and the Hermeneutics of Incarnation (University Park: Penn. State UP, 1993) 73. (Back to Main Text)

54 Appropriately enough, based on the famous dreams of Descartes, as a result of which he dedicated himself to the life of the Mind, or rather a life dedicated to making clear the separation of the Mind from the Body. See again, Adam Phillips, Terrors and Experts, ch. 6, "Minds." (Back to Main Text)

55 D.W.Winnicott, "Primary Maternal Preoccupation," in Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis, 304. (Back to Main Text)

56 Clare Winnicott, "D.W.W.: A Reflection," in D.W.Winnicott, Psychoanalytic Explorations, ed. Clare Winnicott et al. (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1989) 4.(Back to Main Text)

57 Adam Phillips comments on the importance of "gaps" for Winnicott: "He was to be preoccupied....by the idea of gaps, those 'spaces between' where there was room for the play of speculation." Winnicott, 1-2. cf. Keats on some engravings he saw at Haydon's: "even finer to me than more accomplished works--as there was left so much room for the Imagination" (II, 19). (Back to Main Text)

58The verb "breathe" in this context means "to let breathe; to give breathing, or a breathing space to" (OED,#13). (Back to Main Text)

59 cf. De Quincey's comment on the language of this passage: "This very _expression 'far,' by which space and its infinities are attributed to the human heart, and to its capacities of re-echoing the sublimities of nature, has always struck me with a flash of sublime revelation." Literary Reminiscences (Boston, 1852) I, 310. Quoted in Herbert Lindenberger, On Wordsworth's "Prelude" (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1966) 42. (Back to Main Text)

60 Note the negative: indefinite; not clearly apprehended, as in the capability "of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts..." (Back to Main Text)

61 Cf. not only De Quincey's well-known essay, "The Literature of Knowledge and the Literature of Power," but also Wordsworth's own Essay, Supplementary to the Preface of 1815, where he uses them brilliantly to organize the concluding section of his argument. (Back to Main Text)

62 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographica Literaria, Two Vols. eds. James Engell and W. Jackson Bate (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1983) II, 15-16. (Back to Main Text)

To cite this article, use this bibliographical entry: Brooke Hopkins, Ph.D. "WORDSWORTH, WINNICOTT, AND THE CLAIMS OF THE "REAL"". PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts. Available http://psyartjournal.com/article/show/hopkins_phd-wordsworth_winnicott_and_the_claims_of_t. April 12, 2024 [or whatever date you accessed the article].
Received: January 1, 2004, Published: January 1, 2004. Copyright © 2004 Brooke Hopkins, Ph.D.