Over spring break, I had the brilliant opportunity to travel to the English Lake District (please Google this place, it’s a fairytale land) to study Wordworth in his beloved Grasmere. I cannot stop gushing about my trip; it was life-changing in so many respects, and I’ll take as much time out of my day as you want to show you my pictures and tell you my stories. But one of the greatest things I got out of this trip as an English major was the opportunity to truly connect with an author, to really get to know William Wordsworth as a human being who wrote poetry.
Here I am holding a first edition 1798 Lyrical Ballads. Yeah, that’s what it felt like to hold that book. Even after learning in detail how to pick up, hold, and open a book of such value and age, I was terrified. The process is almost holy, but when completed, it was the most exhilarating feeling. I held the beginning of Romanticism, the beginning of Wordsworth; that book was so much more than just old pages to me.
That day continued with a long walk through the countryside, as we traced Wordsworth’s footsteps through Hawkshead, traveling the same route he walked to get to school. Simply existing in the space he existed in made me realize that Wordsworth was a real person who had a special adoration the natural world that surrounded him. What a surreal moment it was, to look out at the same mountains he looked at, to watch the sun fall through the afternoon just as he would have.
I could go on for days. How I touched the Goslar notebook, where The Prelude was born. How I held Wordsworth’s own copy of Paradise Lost, which was 100 years old when he owned it. How at least one person in our group cried everyday out of the intense emotion that comes with truly connecting with an author. How we ate dinner in Dove Cottage and read poems by candlelight. But these experiences are ones that have to be lived to be known. I know that traveling to England is not an option for everyone, but the ability to at once revere an author and know them as a person is absolutely possible for all lovers of literature. You can’t sit in a chair all day and expect to know who an author was. Before, during, and after reading, get out and live the literature you love. Trust me, you will be forever changed for the better.
Written by Emma Irving
To find out more about the Wordworth Trust and all the awesome programs they offer, visit: https://www.wordsworth.org.uk/home.html.