23. “The Science of Feelings”: Wordsworth's Experimental Poetry

  1. Charles Mahoney Associate Professor of English
  1. Ross Hamilton Associate Professor of English

Published Online: 3 MAY 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444390650.ch23

A Companion to Romantic Poetry

A Companion to Romantic Poetry

How to Cite

Hamilton, R. (2010) “The Science of Feelings”: Wordsworth's Experimental Poetry, in A Companion to Romantic Poetry (ed C. Mahoney), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444390650.ch23

Editor Information

  1. University of Connecticut, USA

Author Information

  1. Barnard College, Columbia University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 MAY 2012
  2. Published Print: 26 NOV 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405135542

Online ISBN: 9781444390650



  • “The science of feelings” - Wordsworth's experimental poetry;
  • multidisciplinary studies, boundaries - separating sciences and humanities, since early nineteenth century;
  • Wordsworth's own familiarity with the Opticks - at Hawkshead, reading of Edward Young's poetic popularization of Newton in Night Thoughts;
  • Coleridge's, effect of hearing Wordsworth - reciting “Guilt and Sorrow”;
  • experimental philosophers, questions of perception - in terms that were inherently material;
  • Erasmus Darwin, “animal motions of the organ of sense” - physiological explanation for generation of ideas;
  • Wordsworth, his memory a “picture of the mind” - intrinsic to the mind's function;
  • “Ponder” functions, from the Middle English meaning - to judge the worth or estimate the value;
  • “The Thorn” and Wordsworth - importance he attached to musical aspects of poetic diction;
  • Wordsworth's account of climbing Mount Snowdon - in final book of Prelude, dramatizing space as a creation of imagination working through the eye


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Intellectual Communities

  • Development of the Sensorium

  • Experiments in Language

  • Space or Time

  • References and Further Reading