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'The Excursion' and Wordsworth's Iconography$
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Brandon C. Yen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941336

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941336.001.0001

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Flowing and Reflecting

Flowing and Reflecting

(p.256) Chapter Five Flowing and Reflecting
'The Excursion' and Wordsworth's Iconography

Brandon C. Yen

Liverpool University Press

This concluding chapter analyses the ways in which the iconographical reconfiguring of the post-revolutionary world in The Excursion involves ambiguous uses of water. It demonstrates that the functions of flowing and reflecting tie in with the poem’s central concerns with perspectives and its unresolved ending. Throughout TheExcursion, the characters attempt to ‘correct’ the flow of the Solitary’s life – which he himself compares to a ‘mountain Brook’ – by tracing it to its ‘cloud-born’ origin and by following it to its eternal repose, channelling the course it travels by means of arguments regarding nature, politics, and religion. They offer images of flowing that embody a positive ‘tendency’ in the post-revolutionary context. On the other hand, images of reflecting are subtly present throughout the poem, working as analogues to the characters’ rhetorical uses of iconography. Water reflections raise vital questions regarding the indeterminate boundaries between substances and the shadows they cast, which enable iconography to function. The unresolved tensions between ‘images’ and the ‘real solid world’ are crucial to our understanding of The Excursion’s open-ended conclusion, and indeed of the poem as a whole.

Keywords:   flowing, iconography, reflecting, water

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