Wordsworth between Minds

This essay argues that the slippery boundary between “mind” and “media” drives William Wordsworth’s experimental poetics and looks at two poems’ attempts to reimagine that boundary. Whereas “Lines Written in Early Spring” struggles to understand mental states as the common medium that links the system of nature, “The Old Cumberland Beggar” gives up that desire for a common medium and focuses instead on the ways that mental processes arise from the interaction between heterogeneous elements of village life. If the latter poem appears more overtly conservative in its defense of a traditional way of life, it continues to experiment with counterintuitive or unsettling ways of depicting mediated activity between minds.