The Fancied “Peele Castle”

“I could have fancied that the mighty Deep                                                                        Was even the gentlest of all gentle things. 

Ah! then , if mine had been the Painter’s hand,
To express what then I saw; and add the gleam,
The light that never was, on sea or land,
The consecration, and the Poet’s dream” (Wordsworth 11-16). 

Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm, Painted by Sir George Beaumont, is something of a typical “romantic” poem by Wordsworth as well typical of the Romantic Era. Wordsworth’s focus on what is the spiritual connection between the mind and nature works to ultimately dictate the meaning of this elegy, using metaphorical language to elucidate a sort of reciprocal relationship between nature and emotions that we find in ourselves only through this connection. In this bit from the elegy, something I found substantial and certainly meaningful is the use of the word “fancied”. As one of the “Big Six” of the romantic poets, Wordsworth is known for utilize common factors in which distinguish the Romantic Era from others. As the concept of “imagination” part of the typical terminology of this Era, and as “fancied” is fairly synonymous with “imagined”, it is intriguing to think of how he differentiates the two terms; why he did not choose to simply write “imagined.” 

Though, in considering this conundrum respective to the rest of the elegy, and as Wordsworth continues to write, “Ah! then , if mine had been the Painter’s hand”, the significance of “fancied” reveals itself not only in Wordsworth’s interpretation of the painting, but also in him visualizing himself as Beaumont himself. As this is obviously not the case, it is possible that to Wordsworth, fancying something is a form of visualization with maybe less credence than that of imagination. This concept is reiterated later in saying “To express what then I saw; and add the gleam, The light that never was, on sea or land.” Here, he is seemingly coming to grips with what is real, and what is not. “To express what then I saw”, while later realizing that there was a “light that never was, on sea or land”, Wordsworth is conceptualizing a difference in what he has seen, or even imagined, versus what he has defined as “fancied”. “The light that never was, on sea or land” represents a struggle in his realization that in his connection to nature, or “sea” and “land”, he has worked to create mental fallacies that dictate how he interprets the world around him, and ultimately, how he interprets this painting. 

2 thoughts on “The Fancied “Peele Castle””

  1. My first thoughts about your response to this poem were about the relationship between humans and nature, as that was a subject that my chosen poem “Lines Written in Early Spring” also reflected on. They are both written by Wordsworth, so it isn’t a surprise that they share this quality, especially since reflections on nature such as this are seemingly typical for the Romantic period and Wordsworth, as you said, is one of the “big six” of the time. Another similarity (and romantic quality) between the reflections of these two poems is the way that the speaker is entirely alone in their reflections, but reflect on other people, perhaps humankind as a whole—though in this poem, the speaker imagines themself as an artist, and in “Lines Written in Early Spring” the speaker generalizes for “man” as a whole, in both circumstances the speaker is having these reflections alone, prompted by the scenery they are presented.

  2. Your analysis of this poem reminds me of the paper “Perspectives: The Sublime, the Beautiful, and the Picturesque” that we read for class. Something that interested me in that paper was how tourists would carry mirrors and tinted glasses, which framed landscapes and altered their colors. This is similar to how Wordsworth imagines Peele Castle in a more sublime, beautiful light, rather than its wholly natural state. In both instances, the beauty of nature becomes something that is enhanced through human imagination and management, which seems somewhat counterintuitive to the goal of appreciating nature.

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