Lucy Newlyn's Vital Stream

A friend bought me a wonderful book for my birthday, Lucy Newlyn's Vital Stream. This is a book I probably wouldn't have chosen myself, but it's fabulous.

Vital Stream takes the form of a long sonnet sequence, revisiting six months in the lives of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. In 1802 the siblings  wrote some of their most beautiful work. Dorothy was writing her Journal and William some of his best poetry.

In the introduction to Vital Stream Richard Holmes writes that he "reads about ten sonnets a day and going back to Dorothy's Grasmere Journal as well as Lucy Newlyn's own William and Dorothy: All in Each Other". I decided that I would adopt this method, too. So, I've started with the first sonnet attributed to Dorothy on 15th April 1802.

It was a threatening cold misty day
As we set off from Eusemere, the lake rough
And the wind furious, seizing our breath.
We saw a plough working, a boat at play
And a thick belt of daffodils stirring
Like a busy highway along the shore -
Then more and more of them, and yet more.
Some reeled and danced in the wind's whirring,
Some rested their heads for weariness.
Across the lake and within each stormy bay
The tossing waves sounded like the sea.
All was alive in the wind's restlessness
As we continuef our homeward journey,
And throughout this day of celebration
There was universal animation.
I the one thing anxious, stunned, solitary.

Having read the sonnet I then read Dorothy's entry for the same date in her diary. It is such a interesting way to read both texts; the one adding so much to the other.

I will continue to dip into all of the books, enjoying the vibrancy of the new sonnets, as well as the lyrical prose of Dorothy's diaries, and the beauty of William's poems.

All in all, a super book, and even more pleasurable, as I would never have bought the book for myself!