This is an aside from a longer reading of Wordsworth’s “Immortality Ode.” It felt blog-like, so here it is.
For me, the saddest thing in the history of ideas is a noble idea so corrupted that it comes to mean the opposite of its first intention. I suppose, to be charitable, this corruption can come out of innocent stupidity, but it’s difficult not to recognize how convenient the corrupted version is for the regime du jour, especially when the original idea is dangerous or potentially destabilizing. Christianity is probably the most notorious example of this corrupting tendency, as most of the Christians around us have demonstrated ever since the Nicene Creed declared war on the world, especially on Christianity itself. But the ideas of Romanticism have surely endured another such traumatic corruption. The sentimentalizing of the Romantic metaphor of childhood is a case in point. The innocence, the perfection, the general mindless adorability of children is one of the most enduring Romantic clichés. Its admirable origin is in work like German Romantic Philipp Runge’s painting The Huelsenbeck Children.
Philipp Otto Runge, The Huelsenbeck Children, 1806