If scholars of Wordsworth have differed considerably in their interpretation of the poet's invocations of nature and subjectivity, there has been broad agreement that it is these and allied themes that determine the poetry's importance. In contrast, this essay identifies a deep seam of materialism in Wordsworth's verse, one that alights upon and magnifies aspects of the natural world that are irrecuperable by the subject or by poetic symbol. In poems from across Wordsworth's varied career, the formal properties of poetry are used to record a simultaneous material persistence and autonomy in language and the external world both. The gap between these materialities—that of the poetic sign and the external world—is held open by Wordsworth, a refusal of reconciliation that, I demonstrate, is particular to poetic rather than narrative form, and that may in turn be recognized as an idiosyncratic mode of poetic reference. Finally, Wordsworth's materialism is shown to induce a peculiarly impassive type of affect, one that troubles the ways in which affect has been mobilized in recent theoretical discussion.

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