I'm teaching Eloisa James's The Duke is Mine this afternoon, so I've spent much of this glorious May Day indoors, re-reading the book and taking notes.
One of them concerns a little phrase that the second male lead, Rupert, says early in the book, when he promises to marry our heroine after he's returned from battle, "Trailing glory, you understand" (41). Near the end of the book, the phrase returns with a slight variation: "Rupert was buried with honors: not in the family tomb, but in Westminster Abbey, as befitted an English hero who trailed clouds of glory" (362).
The novel is set in 1812, and Rupert is a poet, so perhaps he knows the source of his own allusion, Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood." It was first printed, I gather, in 1807, but not published in its final form until 1815, and I'm not sure which version features the lines, but in any case, here's the passage in question, with the key lines underlined.
|O evil day! if I were sullen|
|While Earth herself is adorning,|
|This sweet May-morning,||45|
|And the children are culling|
|On every side,|
|In a thousand valleys far and wide,|
|Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,|
|And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm:—||50|
|I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!|
|—But there's a tree, of many, one,|
|A single field which I have look'd upon,|
|Both of them speak of something that is gone:|
|The pansy at my feet||55|
|Doth the same tale repeat:|
|Whither is fled the visionary gleam?|
|Where is it now, the glory and the dream?|
|Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:|
|The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,||60|
|Hath had elsewhere its setting,|
|And cometh from afar:|
|Not in entire forgetfulness,|
|And not in utter nakedness,|
|But trailing clouds of glory do we come||65|
|From God, who is our home:|
|Heaven lies about us in our infancy!|
|Shades of the prison-house begin to close|
|Upon the growing Boy,|
|But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,||70|
|He sees it in his joy;|
|The Youth, who daily farther from the east|
|Must travel, still is Nature's priest,|
|And by the vision splendid|
|Is on his way attended;||75|
|At length the Man perceives it die away,|
|And fade into the light of common day.|
Why this passage? How does it connect to the novel? Is this a "working allusion," so to speak--one that has some actual bearing on the book--or just a tag that the author has in her head, and so put in the novel, as appropriate for a poet in 1812?
I'm teaching the book in conjunction with Laura's chapter on Metafiction, so my thoughts tend that way, but we'll see what my class decides, or I come up with, as the afternoon goes on!