Recollected in Tranquility

I remember William Wordsworth’s famous line in the 1800 Preface to the Lyrical Ballads that “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

Recollected in tranquility. Yes.

I think about “recollecting” or gathering back to yourself powerful feelings in order to write. You sit in tranquility and you collect about you emotions from which, as Wordsworth then reminds us, you voluntarily write. He claims that this brings the writer a special kind of pleasure. It’s a different kind of writing to recollect and control the emotion, as opposed to writing in a frenzy of overpowering, involuntary emotions.

How interesting, how freeing to write in this way.

I think about having critical distance from a subject; you need enough time and space to become tranquil. You are calm and free from disturbance as you begin to feel what you want to feel again. In this way, your writing isn’t as self-indulgent (for you, about you, uncontrollable), but it takes on a new maturity and a kind awareness of audience.

You find pleasure in writing, not because you’re overcome with emotion, but because you aren’t anymore.


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One thought on “Recollected in Tranquility

  1. Thanks Heather,
    I have been an Assistant Scout Master for many years. I have seen a lot of young men learn and grow through this program. It is nice to see them grow into reverent, cheerful and courteous adults too.
    I wish more parents would encourage their sons to join

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