About seven years ago the wickedness of all this suddenly “rose from [my] mind’s abyss, like an unfather’d vapour”—as the poet once said. We were in fact discussing that very poet, Wordsworth, and that very passage in the Prelude. The class was talking in such animated ways about what it might mean that I began to feel they were losing hold of the poem’s words as they raised up and tracked through great thickets of ideas. So I called a halt and asked a bright student to help clear the air. “George, read the passage for the class.”
It was appalling. He stumbled across that splendid set of lines like “one that hath been stunn’d / And is of sense forlorn”—wrecking the phonemes, the phrasings, the entire play of the metrical scheme in its unfolding grammatical order. He couldn’t read the poem. He could “read off” the poem and generate all sorts of ideas. But the oral delivery? It was a total crack-up.
—Jerome McGann, Radiant Textuality, ch. 1 (p. 31 in ISBN 1-4039-6436-X)