Not surprisingly, "love" (meant in this broader sense) is a word that one comes across again and again in Wordsworth's poetry. It is a word that goes to the very heart of what Wordsworth thought of as the vocation of "the Poet":
"He is the rock of defence of human nature; an upholder and preserver, carrying everywhere with him relationship and love."
William Wordsworth, Preface to 1802 edition of Lyrical Ballads, with Pastoral and Other Poems, page xxxvii. The phrase "relationship and love" is curious (and lovely), isn't it? I've never quite figured it out. But that does not stop me from liking it.
Earlier in the Preface, he speaks of "the Poet's art" as being "a task light and easy to him who looks at the world in the spirit of love." Ibid, page xxxiii.
Wordsworth published the Preface at the age of 32. Did his passion wane in his later years? Well, passion does wane, doesn't it? Yet he wrote this at the age of 72:
Glad sight wherever new with old
Is joined through some dear homeborn tie;
The life of all that we behold
Depends upon that mystery.
Vain is the glory of the sky,
The beauty vain of field and grove,
Unless, while with admiring eye
We gaze, we also learn to love.
William Wordsworth, Poems (1845).
Dane Maw (1909-1989), "Woolverton and Peart Woods" (1970)
Wordsworth's love is not an abstract, free-floating concept. Through his poetry, it is intimately connected with, and is the product of, the daily miracle of the World around us. This love, if we pay sufficient attention (a daunting task!), is one we all carry within us.
The sky is overspread
With a close veil of one continuous cloud
All whitened by the moon, that just appears,
A dim-seen orb, yet chequers not the ground
With any shadow -- plant, or tower, or tree.
At last a pleasant instantaneous light
Startles the musing man whose eyes are bent
To earth. He looks around, the clouds are split
Asunder, and above his head he views
The clear moon and the glory of the heavens.
There in a black-blue vault she sails along
Followed by multitudes of stars, that small,
And bright, and sharp along the gloomy vault
Drive as she drives. How fast they wheel away!
Yet vanish not! The wind is in the trees;
But they are silent. Still they roll along
Immeasurably distant, and the vault
Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds,
Still deepens its interminable depth.
At length the vision closes, and the mind
Not undisturbed by the deep joy it feels,
Which slowly settles into peaceful calm,
Is left to muse upon the solemn scene.
William Wordsworth, 1798 manuscript, in Beth Darlington, "Two Early Texts: A Night-Piece and The Discharged Soldier," in Jonathan Wordsworth (editor), Bicentenary Wordsworth Studies in Memory of John Alban Finch (Cornell University Press 1970), page 431.
A side-note: as I have noted previously in connection with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's line "The one red leaf, the last of its clan," the journal entries of Wordsworth's sister Dorothy provided, on more than one occasion, the source for poems written by Wordsworth and Coleridge. Such is the case with "A Night-Piece." On January 25, 1798, she wrote:
"The sky spread over with one continuous cloud, whitened by the light of the moon, which, though her dim shape was seen, did not throw forth so strong a light as to chequer the earth with shadows. At once the clouds seemed to cleave asunder, and left her in the centre of a black-blue vault. She sailed along, followed by multitudes of stars, small, and bright, and sharp."
Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals (Oxford University Press 2002), page 142.
Dane Maw, "Scottish Landscape, Air Dubh"
Like the other Romantic poets, Wordsworth produced his fair share of paeans to the moon and the stars, and to the other wondrous immensities of the Universe. But we mustn't forget that his love is catholic. The minute particulars (to borrow one of William Blake's favorite phrases) are worthy of -- deserve -- our attention.
To a Child
Written in Her Album
Small service is true service while it lasts:
Of humblest Friends, bright Creature! scorn not one:
The Daisy, by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dew-drop from the Sun.
William Wordsworth, Yarrow Revisited, and Other Poems (1835).
Dane Maw, "Langdale Fells, Westmorland"