A Cultural Landscape: What links Wordsworth to Quentin Tarantino?
The surprising international cultural consequences of poetic life in Ullswater.
We have somehow come to think that Lakes creative life has always been sunnily bucolic, the backdrop to the pretty words of the serenely titled Sublime, and Romantic Movements which flourished in the Lake District.
However we could speculate, that Wordsworth and his famous daffodils were significantly responsible for a chain of creativity that leads directly to the Beatles and their ‘recreationally’ inspired music – and through to blockbuster Hollywood films.
The early Lake District tourist experience was billed as frightful and abhorrent, having penned Robinson Crusoe in the early 18th Century, Daniel Defoe still though the Lake District was the most awful place he’d ever seen. Only the almost continuous wars Britain waged across Europe in the late 18th C. forced restive travellers to explore their country in more depth, rather than adventuring abroad.
Wordsworth, and the Romantic Movement poets provided further enticement to the valley, who could resist a land where Daffodils danced beside the most beautiful lake of all?
Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’, or ‘I wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, is recognised as one of the most popular and critically revered poems in the English language – even to this day. Its last lines… ‘And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils’, are what hint at something deeper than the picturesque and pretty.
At this point of his life Wordsworth was suffering heart breaking personal losses, and his public persona had waned in popularity and public respect. The daffodils were his salvation in more ways than one.
But such was his critical standing that he maintained professional friendships with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (The Ancient Mariner), and Thomas de Quincey, (Confessions of an English Opium Eater). Close enough for them to take up residence in the Lakes – both were inspired by the particular splendid beauty of the Ullswater Valley and its fashionably melodramatic associations.
Coleridge and De Quincey both had a fondness for ‘Kendal Black Drops’, an Opium based sweetened drug, famous before the more popular modern Mint Cake. His opium habits brought fame to Quincey with his biographical publication, the first in the genre of what became known as ‘addiction literature’. A genre notably embraced by Aldous Huxley – inspiration for some of the Beatles most controversial songs – and culminating in mainstream Hollywood, with blockbusters such as ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, ‘Trainspotting’, and ‘Pulp Fiction’.
Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, and Samuel L Jackson, where would they be without Wordsworth?
Photo courtesy of Janet Wedgwood