Blog One. Expostulation and Reply.

expostulation. verb.

express strong disapproval or disagreement:he found Fox expostulating with a young man.

Wordsworth’s Expostulation and Reply initially made me think that his poem would be centred around a conversational disagreement.

The first three stanzas of the poem are Wordworth’s good friend, Matthew, questioning him as to why he is observing nature to learn instead of reading books. Wordsworth has shaped this conversational poem to engage the reader into two arguments; that is, learning is found in books and that there is more to learning than what books can offer. Wordsworth agrees with the latter.

‘Where are your books?-that light bequeathed To Beings else forlorn and blind!’

Wordsworth juxtaposed the two words, ‘light’ and ‘blind’, to allude to the reader that books unveil darkness. The image of the darkness of being blind compared to the light that is found within books shows that answers are found within them. I do agree with Matthew’s perspective that knowledge can be caught through words on a page. But I relate to Wordsworth’s argument on a deeper level. I agree with Wordsworth’s perspective that nature nurtures the mind in a unique way that books cannot grasp.

‘You look around on your Mother Earth, as if she for no purpose bore you; as if you were her first-born birth, and no one had lived before you!’

There are so many things I love about this stanza in terms of Wordsworth’s reply to Matthew. Wordsworth is arguing that there is so much wisdom to be found in nature. He challenges Matthew’s thought that books are the only way to enlighten your mind as there were many before him that learnt through Mother Nature. The use of the words, ‘your mother earth’ signify a sense of entitlement; that is, if we came from Mother Earth, surely we have a connection to learn from her. I particularly admire the personifying of the earth, referring to the planet as ‘she’ and ‘her’. This lively feature goes far beyond the immediate thought of earth and takes the reader deeper into thinking of her as a soul. This further suggests that Wordsworth is comparing our Mother Earth and the power she has in teaching her offspring, compared to words written down on paper.

Wordsworth continues the stanza to suggest that Mother Earth is wise and that anything written down in a book is only a thought that she ignited. He questions Matthew as to why we are studying ideas in a book when Mother Earth’s tangible presence is all around us in her nature.

One of the other areas that stood out to me was the fifth stanza, “our bodies feel, where’er they be, against our will or will our will”. I believe here is the true heart of Wordsworth’s argument, that learning through our Mother Earth is captured through a simple experience of sitting down gazing at a lake. And that our being is connected to the earth as if it were a magnet, drawing in and clinging to every piece of information it finds, whether we notice we are taking part in it or not.

I admire Wordsworth’s interpretation of learning – that learning is found through individual experiences that a book cannot simply grasp.



One thought on “Blog One. Expostulation and Reply.

  1. Engaged reading of the poem. Very good work Annabelle. Not sure who “Fox” is in your opening line? Have I missed something. Also, I wouldn’t get into the habit of centreing all your writing…. It can take control over your intentions made clearer by your line breaks and paragraphs etc.


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