illustrated portrait of English poet WIlliam Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

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Describe the function of memory in Wordsworth's "Daffodils" and "We Are Seven."

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From the outset, I think that one could argue that the construction of both poems is the result of memory.  Wordsworth's own experiences play a formative role in each poem.  The girl in "We Are Seven" is actually someone that he encountered, while the scene with the daffodils was experienced with his sister on a walk.  In this light, memory plays a vital role in the construction of consciousness in each poem.  Memory also plays a role in how Wordsworth appropriates the lessons in each setting.  Wordsworth's memory of the girl's demand that there is life in the dead and the scene of the daffodils are both told in a reflective frame of reference, implying that memory plays a vital role in appropriating "the life of things" from these settings.  The fact that both poems are told in the past tense, recounting an experience, helps to bring to light the importance of memory in the construction of our individual consciousness.  This is an important idea in Romanticism, and one upon which Wordsworth himself placed a great deal of primacy.

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