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Tourist or Native Son: Wordsworth's Homecomings of 1799-1800

James A. Butler
Nineteenth-Century Literature
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Jun., 1996), pp. 1-15
DOI: 10.2307/2933838
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2933838
Page Count: 15
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Abstract

After many years of wandering in England and abroad, in November 1799 Wordsworth returned to his native Lake District on a "picturesque tour." guiding his southern friend Coleridge. That tour made clear to Wordsworth that tourists-and worse, tourists who returned to settle in the Lake District-were damaging the landscape and the people. When he himself took up residence in Grasmere the following month, Wordsworth's anxiety about his tourist experiences found expression in several poems in which he eventually defined his poetic identity by weighing the tourist against the native son. Somehow the poet born in Cockermouth and educated in Hawkshead had to create a fictive self who had returned (through birthright and not because he happened to see an empty house while on tour) to a home at Grasmere. In "The Brothers," "Hartleap Well," Home at Grasmere, and several Inscriptions and Poems on the Naming of Places, Wordsworth constructed that persona-and built a secure and permanent habitation for his mind. Only when Wordsworth had in his own imagination shed the stigman of intruder and outsider, a "tourist" to Grasmere and the Lake District, coul he tap the spring of inspiration that produced the poetry of his great decade.

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