Wordsworth as possible source of Ruskin's notions of imagination

George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University

James A. W. Heffernan, "Wordsworth on Imagination: The Emblemizing Power," PMLA, LXXXI (1966), 389-399, would seem to suggest that Wordsworth, rather than Carlyle, was a more likely influence. Professor Heffernan's fine essay explains that Woldsworth's

statements on the imagination -- and particularly those of his later years -- seem to point substantially in one direction: that the primary effect of imaginative power is the evocation of meaning from the material world. the manifestation of a visible object as the emblem of invisible truth. . . . Wordsworth read all of nature as a living testament, a world whose material forms had been consecrated by their appearance in Scripture; and in its achievement of the eternal through the temporal, of the infinite through the finite, and of the invisible through the visible, poetry was for him the brother of religion, bearing witness to the World made flesh. Its nature and purpose were evangelical. (389)

The essay concentrates on examining the poet's idea of imagination in "The White Doe of Rylstone," a poem which Ruskin praises highly for its truth, grace, and imaginative power (4.392).


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