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The most often quoted line in the Preface is ""a spontaneous overflow of powerful emotion, recollected in tranquility." Their function, then, is to communicate a personal experience, one experienced in Nature and bringing about an apotheosis (an awakening, a shifting to a more comprehensible state of understanding the way the world works) to the reader, in such a way as to reproduce that overflow of emotion into words. Shelley's Ode To a Skylark is as pure an example as any. Before The Lyrical Ballads were published, 18 c. poetry was more cerebral, more intellectual and social; the Lyrical Ballads went to Nature for inspiration. The "Preface" introduced the idea of moving beyond the knowable to the unknowable. Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" centers the new poetic movement: "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting." The words "spontaneous overflow" point to the feelings not controlled or monitored by Reason; but the key point is that the experience must be "recollected in tranquility," after the emotional excitement has died down.
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