Friday, February 26, 2016
Philosophical Poems The Stolen Boat By William Wordsworth
When The Majestic Becomes The Monstrous
The stolen melons are the sweetest, stolen apples taste the best. The poet has reminiscences of adolescent age when he stole a boat for a ride. The poet in the very first line says that he was ‘led by her’ to the place where the boat was moored. The nature (or her) steered him to steal the boat. The pleasure is not absolute, but a ‘troubled pleasure’ that pricks his conscience even after he has retrieved the boat at its former place. So the aftermath of the ‘stolen’ thing is a haunted conscience that troubles the thief for a long time. It may trouble lifelong depending upon the severity of crime, mental condition when the ‘crime’ was committed and the sensitivity of the person to react to a situation.
During the adolescent age mind is experimenting and experiencing many new things. It has more attraction towards things forbidden by society. Stealing is not
for permanent possession or consumption of a thing. The boat was stolen for a
ride and was to be moored in the same place once the adventure of the journey
was over. The innocence in stealing makes the poem attractive. The magnitude of
the crime is trifle and readers are full of sympathy for pious thief.
The poem is a confirmation of the age old saying ’guilty conscience pricks the mind’. The guilt may supersede the magnitude of the offense. The monster is within us. The daring is not in confrontation, but in hurried escapism to save the psyche from some irreversible damage. The poet decides to turn back
with ‘trembling oars’.
Things appear beautiful from a distance, when we go closure the ugly side is
revealed. Sometime the revelation is so all of a sudden that a person is taken
aback with a shock of the unexpected. The unreconciled psyche sends a danger
signal and ‘defense mechanism’ insist on avoiding the cause of trouble.
All craggy hills have hidden monsters. If the boat was not a stolen one, the boy could have enjoyed the lofty and majestic hills, the shades of
colour bathed in moonlight, the silence and solitude. The journey in a stolen boat started with a
beautiful scenery of ‘small circles glittering idly’, ‘elfin pinnace’, ‘silent
lake’, ‘like a swan’ are some beautiful perceptions of untroubled mind. The
mind is mesmerised, and has obliterated the moral coaching done by society. The
‘natural’ seems to have won over the ‘artificial’. Society is appalled by
pleasure of an individual and it always strikes with a greater force. The
majestic becomes monstrous due to change in perception. The means become more
important than the end. Poet surrenders his inner 'Self ' which is molded by
outer forces. He is compelled to retreat. Even the retreat is not graceful as
the ‘way back’ to ‘covert of the willow tree’ also appears ‘stolen way’. The
poet is now ‘in grave and serious mood’. The ‘familiar shapes’ become scary and
pleasant images of trees, sea, sky, green fields and majestic mountains are
vanished. Now a ‘grim shape’ that keeps on ‘growing stature’ stands between him
and stars symbolic of ‘material self’ and ‘pure self’. Every experience teaches
a lesson. The poet gets a peep into ‘unknown modes of being’ a ‘darkness’,
‘solitude’ or ‘blank desertion’. Those parts of his existence were hidden
somewhere in depth, hitherto.
Travelling at sea was never a smooth sailing for mankind. Even the veterans had many kinds of illusion and hallucination in the calm of the sea during a voyage. The adolescent mind of the poet is quite imaginative. An ‘optical illusion’ is easily transformed into ‘fear of unknown’ which is an integral part of the human psyche. Society exploits this fear to
frame the structure and framework of
© Vipin Behari Goyal
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