Wordsworth as person and poet: Hannah’s postcard from Dove Cottage

Hannah at Dove Cottage, Spring 2016

Hannah at Dove Cottage, Spring 2016

Why I went…

I think of Wordsworth as an important figure in Romantic poetry and really enjoyed studying his poetry. I liked how Wordsworth took inspiration for his poems by walking through France and the Alps. I myself very much loved walking through Lake District to visit Dove Cottage in Grasmere. It is easy to see where Wordsworth might have gotten some inspiration from the beautiful setting. Wordsworth is known as a writer of remembrance and things past. We are alike in this way because I too like the feeling of nostalgia and that feeling is evident in his works.

 What I got out of the experience…

From this experience, I learned how complex Wordsworth was as a person. He suffered many tragedies in his life, but still created beautiful poetry. In the garden at Dove Cottage, lines from his poems are scattered throughout it accompanying flowers and it really brought everything together. I enjoyed seeing the connection between his words and the surrounding setting. Wordsworth was known for his affinity for nature and I felt the connection he had with nature while at Dove Cottage. There was a lot of inspiration to be found in Grasmere and it was cool to see how Wordsworth used that in his works. Going on the pilgrimage to Dove Cottage gave me a greater appreciation for Wordsworth as a person and as a poet.
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Connecting to place: Mikey’s postcard from Tintern Abbey

Visiting Tintern Abbey with the BARS Conference 2015

Visiting Tintern Abbey with the BARS Conference 2015

Why I went…

My primary reason for going to Tintern Abbey was because it formed a central part of the British Association of Romantic Studies 2015 conference as run by Cardiff University. As I was helping out at the conference I had to go to make sure all the delegates knew what to expect and to make sure we left with the same amount of travellers as we left Cardiff with.  More personally, as I have not been to Tintern Abbey for many years (we used to go quite often in school), I also wanted to see how I now felt about the place, especially after years of studying English Literature. As the great poet Morrissey once asked,  ‘has the world changed or have I changed?’

What I got out of the experience…

As pretentious as this may sound, this was the first time that I had visited Tintern where I had truly felt connected with place. I’m not sure whether it was the exhaustion that comes with working at a conference or not, but I found the experience quite emotional; perhaps because, for me, the place does not just form part of literary history but is also very much part of my own. I also learnt that I am very lucky to be working with some very talented creative writers  (Emily Blewitt and Christina Thatcher) who gave recitals of their own poetry. I have also developed a new found respect for teachers who take their pupils on school trips and manage to retain sanity: counting people and ensuring everyone is in the right place at the right time is, surprisingly, quite challenging (!).

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‘The rooms speak for themselves’: Anna’s Postcard from Coleridge Cottage, Nether Stowey, Somerset

Anna visits Coleridge's cottage September 2013

Anna visits Coleridge’s cottage September 2013

Why I went…

I travelled to Somerset to visit the place where many of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s most famous poems were written and to work as a volunteer Room Guide at his very cottage in Nether Stowey (now owned by The National Trust). This was his home for the Lyrical Ballads years, and Wordsworth also lived close by.

What I got out of the experience…

The cottage is beautiful. Perhaps most inspiring is the set-up of the fireside, complete with real wood fire, the spot in which Coleridge probably composed ‘Frost at Midnight’. There is a chair with a baby’s basket placed at the side. One can imagine the child Hartley Coleridge slumbering beside his father in this very room as STC composed some of his most famous verses. A lack of a large collection of manuscripts or relics makes this particular literary house very unassuming and modest, and therefore the rooms speak for themselves. The cottage has been expanded since Coleridge’s time, but the original spaces remain. There is a lime-tree bower in the garden, and my favourite feature of the curating was the listening points, where recordings of the poems are played. The Quantock Hills around Nether Stowey are idyllic, and I hope to return to walk ‘The Coleridge Way’.
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