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Wordsworth's Fun$
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Matthew Bevis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226652054

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226652221.001.0001

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(p.55) Pains
Wordsworth's Fun

Matthew Bevis

University of Chicago Press

If echoes dally with the laughable, and if fits consort with it, what might pains do? Turning to Wordsworth’s renowned interest in suffering, this chapter suggests that even here (especially here) Wordsworth is willing to risk an odd kind of humor--and to have a curious kind of fun. The chapter begins by considering the poet's interest in parodies of sentiment, in potentially laughable moments in elegy, and in awkwardly placed puns and wordplay, before turning to look in detail at the Lucy poem "She dwelt among th'untrodden ways." The lyric testifies to Wordsworth’s fascination with how, at moments of high pressure, a speaker’s language falls short of or exceeds his intentions and, as a result, does tragicomic justice to the full complexity of his feeling.

Keywords:   pain, suffering, laughter, sensibility, elegy, Lucy poems, death

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