Wordsworth & Basho
In this seminar we will compare the writing of William Wordsworth, a founder of English Romantic poetry and the most revered poet of nature in the English tradition, with that of Basho, who brought a new depth to the haiku form and shaped Japanese attitudes toward the natural world. Beyond reading widely in the the works of both authors, we will investigate their sharply contrasting religious, aesthetic, and political contexts. Despite the historical and cultural gaps between them, though, these poets also show surprising similarities. Wordsworth and Basho were both prodigious walkers, whose poems resulted from moments of inspiration along the path. They both far preferred country life and its simple pleasures to the world of wealth and luxury, and found in their modest lives images that conveyed transcendent realities. In acknowledgment of the poets' own affinities, we will look for opportunities to complement our discussions by walking, writing, and drawing together out of doors.