Saturday, October 8, 2011

What's a Wordsworth? About 1/1000 of a Picture.

We took a few-minute bus ride in the morning to Grasmere.  Guess who lived there?  Bet ya can't figure that out from the title.  Give up?  It's Wordsworth!  Who knew, right?

So we first visited the cemetery where William, Mary, Dorothy, and one of his brothers (John, I think) are buried.  They are very simple headstones.  He wanted to be buried in Grasmere because he loved it there; he felt it was the place of his childhood, I believe.  The museum had memorabilia from his life, some things about life in general at the time, and words about his friendship with Coleridge, and some things about/by Coleridge as well, particularly the entirety of Kubla Khan and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner on different wall displays.  There was an exhibit on the Shelleys in the basement, as well.

We then moved on to Dove Cottage.  Wordsworth bought it in 1799 and moved in with his sister Dorothy.  Shortly afterwards, he married, and by the time they moved out, in 1808, they'd had five children.  The cottage had once been a pub, so all the wood paneling was dark, the floors were flagstone, and the rest of the walls were whitewashed.  There was also a "cool room" that had a spring running under it, so it stayed constantly cool and was good for storing anything that needed cooler temperatures.  We saw Dorothy's room on the first floor, the sitting room, William and Mary's room, the guests' room, and the children's room which was tiny and papered in newspaper to keep it warmer.  The gardens were also preserved in the state Wordsworth and Dorothy had kept them--half wild and beautiful.

From there, we hiked to Rydal Mount, where the Wordsworths lived 5 years after leaving Dove Cottage.  The house was much, much larger, testament to the fact that Wordsworth was becoming very successful.  Actually, the time he was at Dove Cottage was considered to be when he wrote his best poetry, things like I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud and so forth.  While he was at Rydal, he was asked to be poet laureate twice. He turned it down the first time because he didn't want to write on demand.  So the second time they told him he would not be required to write poetry for all state occasions unless he desired to.  Basically, as my professor said, he told them he wouldn't write poetry unless he felt like it, and he never felt like it.  Yep, Wordsworth is the only poet laureate who didn't write a bit of poetry (at all) while poet laureate.

The house was very nice.  It was two stories tall, it had an even larger garden than the first, there were separate rooms for everyone but William and Mary, he had a study, there was a sitting area, a library, a kitchen, and so forth.  Very nice.  They had some chairs that you could sit on, which was nice (as I pored over the tour in Welsh, trying to see how much of the language I could remember and what I could interpret because I'm weird like that).  They also had things like some of Dorothy's needlework, many pictures of the Wordsworths and of others, several busts and statues, and more memories from the lives of the poet and co.

We finished this day by hiking back to Ambleside to meet the bus, and then driving to a hotel so far out in the middle of nowhere that the hotel was not only not visible from the road, but when we finally got to it from the road, you couldn't hear the traffic.  Wonderful night, though--there was a wood-burning fire in the lobby which was wonderful for cold wet feet, and I got my own room for the first time in quite a while, especially since being out here (6 is the fewest in any room at the center or hostel that I've had yet).  (Okay, I got the dorm to myself the first night and the room at the apartment in Texas but those aren't quite the same as a private room.)  Not to mention the part where we got a very nice dinner with the hotel stay.


  1. Wow, you are so living my dream, I'm sure you have heard this about 1,00 times since going to Europe, but you are.
    I love how all the houses in Europe have names like Dove Cottage. We think we should name our house too. :)

  2. I'm going to name my house sometime, too. Actually, I got a house named after me when we lived in a basement apartment--it was called "The Hobbit Hole."