by Jasmine Phillips
William Wordsworth’s poem “Resolution and Independence” captures the anxiety one may feel about the future. The poet in the poem worries about what will happen in his future, which is an entirely relatable feeling many have most likely experienced. I begin to feel weary and subsequently unsure whenever someone asks what can I possibly do with an English degree, especially when I mention I had no interest in teaching. For me, “Resolution and Independence” addresses the doubts I have concerning my future.
Wordsworth’s “Resolution and Independence” depicts a poet who is basking in the joy of nature by taking a morning walk after a storm from the previous night, where “[t]here was a roaring in the wind” (1) and the “rain came heavily and fell in floods” (2). Besides the poet, “all things that love the sun” (8) were also outside enjoying the morning. Suddenly, however, the poet feels “dim sadness, and blind thoughts [they] knew not nor could name” (28). The poet states that for their “whole life [they] have liv’d in pleasant thought / As if life’s business were a summer mood / As if all needful things would come unsought” (36-38). This is also a sentiment I have shared. Many others have probably also lived like this, especially as children since that is the only lifestyle we know at that point. As we mature, we realize that we have to take the initiative if we want to see any progress with our passions and desires as well as in our lives. Even so, if we do try to be resourceful, plans may not always work out, and we must be willing to accept that.
I tend to fret when I think about the future and plans falling apart, like the narrator, who fears another day may bring “solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty” (35), which are all valid concerns one will face. He also states that “from the might [o]f joys that can no farther go / As high as we have mounted in delight / In our dejection do we sink as low” (22-25). This reminds me of times when I feel happy and joyous about something, but when that feeling passes, I start to panic about some other topic and stay stuck in that mindset. This feeling does pass, but it always manages to come back in similar circumstances.
The poet goes on to say that when they are young, poets “begin in gladness” (48), but “despondency and madness” (49) set in towards the end of their lives. While he is pondering on this, he sees a leech gatherer and watches him before the two begin to talk. He then comes to find that despite the leech gatherer looking like a “decrepit [m]an” (144), he had “so firm a mind” (144). Because of this, the poet vows to “think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor” (147), or when he starts to feel upset as he did during the beginning of his walk. Similarly, whenever I start to doubt what I can do in the future, whether that be with my degree or any various topics, I try to look to someone who was in a comparable place like me at one point, but stay motivated and achieved their goals. By doing so, I remain determined to accomplish my short-term goals, which help with containing future uncertainties.