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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

V. William Wordsworth

§ 15. His poetry of Nature

His chief originality is, of course, to be sought in his poetry of nature. But it is not the mere fact of his being a poet of nature that makes him unique. There had been many poets of nature before, more were to come after, him. It is not even the minute, precise, loving observation of her aspects that gives him his pre-eminence. Certainly, he was one of the most truthful describers when his task was to describe; though, for accuracy or subtlety of outward detail, he may have been equalled, nay, surpassed, by other poets who, at the same time, were botanists or naturalists, writers as different from each other as were Crabbe and Tennyson. Of flowers, insects and birds, the latter two knew, perhaps, more than Wordsworth. His undisputed sovereignty is not there. It lies in his extraordinary faculty of giving utterance to some of the most elementary, and, at the same time, obscure, sensations of man confronted by natural phenomena. Poetical psychology is his triumph. Apart from the philosophical or moral structure which he endeavours to raise on data furnished him by his sensations, these sensations are, in themselves, beautiful and new. By new, we mean that he was the first to find words for them, for they must have been as old as mankind.