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The Breath of Life

The Breath of Life

Wordsworth and the Gravity of Thought

Chapter 6 (p.114) The Breath of Life
Romantic Things
Mary Jacobus
University of Chicago Press

After the death of Wordsworth’s brother John, he and Dorothy visited his grave—which is recounted by Dorothy as an experience where they would hear one another breath along with nature. Breathing is the most basic denominator of animal life, and so the silent communication between William and Dorothy serves as pure aeration. Wordsworth and Derrida are both considered to be expressive on the subject of survival, wherein Derrida states that writing is the trace which survives death. Wordsworth takes on a more insomniac-like approach in his sonnet “To Sleep.” For Jean-Luc Nancy, gravity is equated with the weight carried by all thinkers, wherein thinking is the human condition that gives us the weight of existence. It is this exploration of the meaning and experience of death and survival that fills this chapter.

Keywords:   Wordsworth, Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, gravity, weight of existence, To Sleep, survival, pure aeration, human condition

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