This book presents much of Wordsworth's poetic output from the last three decades of his life. Approximately two hundred poems are featured, including On the Power of Sound, the sequence of Evening Voluntaries, and the poet's tributes to the dead, such as those to Sir George Beaumont, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and James Hogg. The volume excludes longer works written during this period, which appear in other volumes in The Cornell Wordsworth.
Last Poems provides reading texts of all the poems in their earliest finished versions, an apparatus criticus of all variant readings from all surviving manuscript and print forms over which the poet exercised control, Wordsworth's—and the editors—notes to each of the poems, and photographs and transcriptions of selected manuscripts.
The poems display a wide range of verse forms, including examples from most of the classes and types that Wordsworth himself used to organize his oeuvre as well as poems best described as efforts to shape poetic forms in new ways. Chronologically arranged, the poems explore themes both perennial and topical as Wordsworth endeavored to come to terms with a rapidly changing world by exploring the past, the present, and the links between them.
"This is the most exhaustive, and accurate, textual rendering of the works concerned which we are likely to see for a very long time.... Curtis's labors have set a benchmark for Wordsworth scholarship for decades to come. This volume is... essential for institutional libraries everywhere, and for anyone else who can afford it."
Duncan Wu, Charles Lamb Bulletin. January, 2000.
"The Cornell Wordsworth is arguably... the most important editing project under way in British Romantic literature... It is a rich assemblage reckonable on its own poetic merits and especially valuable... as an archive of relatively unstudied material for those concerned with the poet's creative processes."
Jack Stillinger, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Wordsworth Circle, Autumn, 2000
"Indispensable for the scholar."
"Cornell's Last Poems, the latest published in an unnumbered series that now boasts nineteen volumes, sees Wordsworth right to the end—up to and including the last poetry he is know to have written... Magnificent."
Nicola Trott, University of Glasgow. The Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 52, No. 206 (2001)
"Intriguing continuities and distinctions appear across these two volumes: most of the pieces collected in Early Poems were not published in Wordsworth's lifetime or even after, although he evidently quarried them for phrases and directions he reworked in other poems while most of what appears in Last Poems was published or reissued. Both volumes make use of manuscripts written on separate sheets, large and small, as well as notebooks. The most compelling of the latter may be the one, described in Early Poems, whose fine leather binding and paper suggest that it was the notebook Wordsworth remembers being given as a very young man. Its still unfilled sheets were an invitation to write, which he took up again and again."
Theresa M. Kelley, University of Wisconsin, Madison,
Journal of English and German Philology
"Nearing the end of its monumental efforts, the Cornell Wordsworth series marches on, with yet another carefully researched and edited volume, this of Williams Last Poems, 1821-1850, which, as the editor, Jared Curtis, explains, does not mean all the last poems but those that do not fit into categories contained in other volumes."
Studies in English LIterature