1. Take a holiday in the Lake District in northern England. Even at the height of summer, one can find solitary places where you can take in some of the most spirit-stirring of landscapes. Take in as much of this as you can, while trying to remember various bits and pieces of Wordsworth.
I don’t really know this region too well, but it’s like a bit of the Scottish Highlands – which I know a bit better – transplanted across the border.
2. Come home, settle into your armchair, and reacquaint yourself with those half-remembered lines from Wordsworth. Experience again that sense of the eternal suffusing the real.
That last line should be by Wordsworth, but it isn’t. It comes from a limerick that rather neatly summarises Wordsworth’s “Ode on the Intimations of Immortality”:
In childhood ’tis easy to feel
Th’eternal suffusing the real,
But as the beholder
Grows steadily older
It doesn’t seem such a big deal.
3. To maintain this elevated frame of mind, listen to a good recording of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Pour yourself a good glass of whisky while you’re at it.
The music of Beethoven, born coincidentally in the same year as Wordsworth, often makes me feel the same way that Wordsworth’s poetry does. I prefer not to go further down this route, as I have not the first idea how to describe these feelings.
The Pastoral Symphony does seem to me particularly Wordsworthian in feel. There are many fine recordings of it. For the record, I listened to the recording featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.
And the whisky I poured myself was a rather fine bottling of Bruichladdich.
And there you have it: three steps to heaven.
Well, it worked for me.
I won’t bore you with all my holiday snaps, but here are a few of Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage. the bearded chap you see in one of them is me.
I’ll be back to my more usual posts once I’ve got back out of the holiday frame of mind.