chapter  1
“Blank Misgivings”
Infancy in Wordsworth’s Ode
WithD. B. Ruderman
Pages 33

This chapter argues that Wordsworth's conception of infancy is actually profoundly resistant to narratives of development and is, in fact, de-temporalizing rather than progressive. It finds a figure of infancy overburdened by people's projections against sentimental depictions of the infant and child, at the heart of Wordsworth's immortality. The chapter reads the Ode as enacting an incomplete movement from a single temporality to a social sense of space rather than reading the poem in a linear, developmental, and chronological fashion. It argues Wordsworth's formal linkage of classical and modern structures is inseparable from his "bad philosophy", which links the human and the spiritual through the mediation of infancy. The chapter ends by looking more closely at changes in the Pindaric ode form and its relation to the term "lyric". Wordsworth's blank misgivings, his theory of infancy in the Ode, offers people an unparalleled formula for that failure, not merely a frame for their continued revisions and reformations.