Talk: Friends of Coleridge present Graham Davidson on Wordsworth and Coleridge

The Friends of Coleridge present:

Graham Davidson on Wordsworth and Coleridge and the "Intelligible Ode"

In this book talk, Graham Davidson reexamines one of Wordsworth’s most controversial poems in the context of Cambridge Platonism.

Date and time: Sat, Sep 23, 2023, 3.00-4.30 PM (UK)

Location: ZOOM

Reserve FREE Tickets:

About your tickets:

Details of how to access the Zoom meeting will be printed on your e-tickets. Reminders and a Zoom link will be sent to your registered email address shortly before the event.

About the talk:

Graham Davidson will be giving a book talk on his new study published in March 2023, The Intelligible Ode: Intimations of Paradise.

From the Publisher's website (

From its first publication, what is now known as the Immortality Ode has been praised for the magnificence of its verse and disparaged for its paucity of meaning – the ‘immortality’ of the subtitle unsubstantiated, and the ‘recollections’ insubstantial. Yet Wordsworth’s idea of immortality has clear precedents in the seventeenth century, and recollections of childhood are Traherne’s starting point for the recovery of a lost vision comparable to Wordsworth’s. Via the power of the imagination, or reason, they believed they could experience a renewed vision that both termed variously Paradise, or infinity, or immortality.

Graham Davidson traces the origins of Wordsworth’s poetic impetus to his resistance to the Cartesian division between mind and nature, first adumbrated by the Cambridge Platonists. If reunited, Paradise was regained, but this personal trajectory was tempered by a deep sympathy for the woes of mortal life. Davidson explores the consequent dialogue through some of Wordsworth’s best-known poems, at the heart of which is the Ode. In the last section, he demonstrates how Wordsworth’s publishing history led the Victorians and modernists to misinterpret his work; if one considers Eliot’s Four Quartets as odes, facing several of the same problems as did Wordsworth, there is some irony in Eliot’s dismissal of the Immortality Ode as ‘verbiage’.

About the speaker:

Graham Davidson was the editor of The Coleridge Bulletin for twenty-five years, to which he contributed regularly. He has also published in The Charles Lamb Bulletin, The Wordsworth Circle, Romanticism, and The Philological Quarterly. He has made contributions to Coleridge’s Assertion of Religion, Coleridge in the West Country, The Bible in English Literature and Revisioning Cambridge Platonism. His first book, Coleridge’s Career, was published in 1990.

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