Traces of Mysticism in Wordsworth’s Aesthetics of Nature: A Study on William Wordsworth’s Nature Philosophy in the Light of Ibn Al-‘Arabi’s Ontology

Maryam Soltan Beyad, Mahsa Vafa


William Wordsworth (1770-1850) is generally known as a nature poet or a “worshipper of nature”. Yet, his nature poems are not merely confined to the portrayal of the physical elements of nature but are marked by his enlightened spiritual vision. The belief in one life flowing through all, which is a prominent feature of Wordsworth’s nature poetry is a prevalent theme also in the treatment of man and the universe in Ibn al-‘Arabi’s philosophy_ a Sufi mystic whose philosophy is most famously associated with the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud or “the oneness of being”. This paper is an attempt to critically analyze the traces of pantheistic and mystical elements underlying Wordsworth’s poetry, and more importantly compare this with Ibn al-‘Arabi’s stand on the matter. Through analysis of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s ontology, particularly his concept of unity of being and his emphasis on the importance of the faculty of imagination, this study first meets the controversy surrounding the pantheistic elements in Wordsworth’s nature philosophy and then attempts to demonstrate that the mystical doctrine of unity in all beings and the reliance on intuition and imagination as a means of perception of divine immanence is evident in both Ibn al-‘Arabi’s ontology and Wordsworth’s nature poetry. This study also reveals that Wordsworth’s attempt to get to coalescence of subject and object via imagination and its sublime product, poetic language, resembles the mystic’s yearning for transcendental states of consciousness and unification with the divine.


Wordsworth, Nature Philosophy, Pantheism, Panentheism, Unity of Being, Imagination, Ibn al-‘Arabi

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