What can I say, it's true. He may be the most boring great poet in history.
I don't want to dispute his greatness. I'd rank him #3 or 4 in English (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wordsworth and Yeats, Milton) in "greatness," whatever that means. "Michael" (1800) is one of my favorite poems. The 1798 Lyrical Ballads, the collaboration with Coleridge, is a favorite, too. And the reason Wordsworth's dullness is on my mind is because I just finished my fourth pass through The Prelude (the 1850 version this time) Wordsworth's blank verse epic of himself. The Prelude is boring.
Like many a dull-brained pupil, what I mean, or at least one thing I mean, by "boring" is "hard." Wordsworth - the philosophical Wordsworth - presents difficult ideas in a heightened language. Sometimes his subject is concrete, and not so hard. Sometimes it is completely abstract, akin to philosophy, but without the underlying logic, which makes it even harder. I obviously think The Prelude is worth the effort. But the effort is real, for me, just to finish the book, much less to really undertand it.
A not-so-boring bit of The Prelude, young Wordsworth at play:
And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and visible for many a mile
The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom,
I heeded not their summons: happy time
It was indeed for all of us—for me
It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud
The village clock tolled six,—I wheeled about,
Proud and exulting like an untired horse
That cares not for his home. (1850, I, 425-33)
And then the next phrase is "All shod with steel," ice skates in reality, but another link to that wheeling horse. What an image, and what absolute mastery of blank verse. Too bad that blank verse is large quantities is typically a bit, what's the word, boring.
Wordsworth is describing the development of his own mind, a subject he barely understands. How could that be easy? Since he understands it better than I understand my own growth, or whatever I should call it, I keep reading him, and reading The Prelude.
I don't want to spend a whole week on The Predude - boring! - but I'll try to push past my own resistance and see if I can find a few more posts.