On Resuming University Life and Wordsworth’s “After-Thought”

This is the river that inspired much of Machado’s poetry. This also partly explains the
lecturer’s digression on Wordsworth – regarding a mention of a river – that I mention in this post.
Image from alotroladodelhilorojo.blogspot.com

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much. Anyone with anxiety – and other mental health issues – will understand how challenging university can be. I started term on Monday, and since then it has been quite stressful. However, I’m still alive, which I guess is what matters. I’ve made myself attend all my lectures and seminars, no matter how much anxiety that entails, and I’ve made some arrangements to make things easier. I’m having “mentoring” sessions every week with a lovely American, all my tutors are aware that I have some issues, and I’ve resumed therapy. I did end up having a panic attack in the therapy session, and I cried for almost the whole hour, but I’ll ignore that. I’ve also told one of the people I live with about (some of) my problems. As PTSD therapy can be quite traumatic, I thought it would be polite to warn her. Even the preparation for it earlier in the year brought up nasty emotions and memories, making me very unsociable and reclusive.

My literature module this term is called “Desire and Power”, covering texts from the Renaissance. The first week’s reading was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was nice to start with. Our seminar covered the structure of the play alongside the political aspects of it, particularly the links to Queen Elizabeth I. I’ve started The Faerie Queene for next week’s study: that’s a little more challenging to read and analyse! To prepare for the seminar, I have to consider how gender is represented, how allegory is used, and how poetry and power are linked.

My Spanish culture module is entitled “The Generation of 1898”. Although I’ve only had two introductory lectures so far, I’m really enjoying it. It covers Campos de Castilla by Antonio Machado and Castilla by Azorín, neither of which I’ve studied before. Perhaps I’ll write about these in detail when I’ve read them (yes, I’ve been a lazy student!), but in this post I’ll mention a Wordsworth poem that is essentially completely irrelevant to my course. However, the lecturer likes to digress, and today he quoted a few lines from After-Thought. He also managed to mention Keats’s death and Thomas Hardy. It’s not too much of a surprise to know that he studied English & Spanish at Oxford.

After-Thought was not a poem that I’ve read before, but I’m glad the lecturer introduced me to it. The emboldened lines indicate the passage he referred to:

I thought of Thee, my partner and my guide,
As being past away.–Vain sympathies!
For, backward, Duddon! as I cast my eyes,
I see what was, and is, and will abide;
Still glides the Stream, and shall for ever glide;
The Form remains, the Function never dies;

While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
The elements, must vanish;–be it so!
Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour;
And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,
Through love, through hope, and faith’s transcendent dower,
We feel that we are greater than we know.

William Wordsworth
It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.

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