It is occurred (as profoundly still occurring) the way in which, through serpentine rhetoric, I stumble across a most ordinary thing which is observed in such a way that has heretofore eluded me, being thus necessary to our joint existences and having, by its character, the means to turn one whole and apathetic human testament upon its head. I have no doubt these revelations previously passed me by, being as I am half-wit oblivious of this world, the other half dutiful to the prescriptions laid upon me by my environs. Though, if I be any sort of poet with a standard, I will confess the vision of one’s environment is paramount to his artistry, being so much the substance of it, the muse, and one’s own eternal gauge of accuracy and goodness. Has a poem much to say without it?
You likewise spent your apogee in this resolve, unveiling sordid tales as much as happy ones (the largest number which, I’m sure you are aware, were dedicated to beloved Lucy). Though you have founded within me a startled joy and happy peace to know of circumstances, poem-worthy as they are, that have no sure resolve and even less an entertaining conflict. But though you are human, and that is sufficient for a man of nature, these poems do their business in a tale with absent plot and little interest. For this too, is part of life.
—Though there is a part of me which says you’re full of crap. A poem about a bridge? Really? Wait—let me try to unpack this one. I learned how to interpret poems about bridges in college. Something about crossing wide rivers of disdain and/or guilt and/or turmoil and/or water. A transition? You were floating above the infested, plague-ridden waters of your soul! Or maybe you just felt you hadn’t written a poem in a while, were standing on a bridge, and felt the need for expostulation with no reply. Waste of space! And somehow, it ended up in the dry Dover anthology of your “Favorite Poems.” Though I still can’t tell whether they are YOUR favorite poems, or your whimsical audience’s favorite poems. I tend to think only you would add an ode to bridge-ness to the Wordsworth collection of masterpieces.
And then there’s the bit about a lamb. Who ties up their lamb? Seriously! And then sings to it, saying that it’s more than welcome to spend the night when it gets cold? And you feed it milk? I don’t know which is more disturbing—the fact that you witnessed this unfold in lyrical song like a precursor to Oklahoma!, or that you actually eavesdropped on the whole damn thing. Creepy, my friend. Creepy.
Oh, and stay away from old guys who make leeches their profession, mmk? Tintern Abbey came from the inspiration of just about nothing and is perhaps your most loved poem. Stick to nothing (aka nature) as your inspiration, and you’ll do fine. Or would if you were still alive.
—Therefore troublesome to me, William, is your vaunt of humanity which shadows all your work with bleak reality, though oft to no avail, and oft bereft of gladness, which is part-in-part of human life. I’ll grant you bliss with your beloved Lucy, but how many of us here have known her so well as you? Give more words to that great fire behind your plead to Milton, and less to your chance happenings which life conducts for all us wayward beings.
Truth be told, I would your work held faster to the heart, the soul, and spirit than it does. What talk of faith? Where religion? But these are absent, quiet. Or at the very least, reclined in silence behind the substances you have chosen. Give God a voice, dear poet! Give hell a tongue! Why else would you call forth our Milton? Do not wait for other prophets to unfold; give now your vision to the world!
Though thankful I am so stirred to action by your words, and their lack, I am your servant, sir. It does us neither one a bit of good to have you now beatified; nor is it prudent to assume your words are inviolable greatness. There is more worth in them, and so perhaps within my own, when they are someways brilliant, someways shy of our applause.
Rest well, dear poet. The days are coming when our voices shall together rise in harmony, no more against each other. For single verse is empty without voices there before and after stirred. I thank you for the chance, so many years reserved, to ply your own with mine, and resuscitate the joy and misery of our own humanness!
Meanwhile, rest in peace, William. For words too shall sing from the grave, and I shall watch thee as a little lamb imprisoned by a stream.