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What is the purpose of the Lyrical Ballads, according to the "Preface to Lyrical...

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taffys | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:48 PM via web

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What is the purpose of the Lyrical Ballads, according to the "Preface to Lyrical Ballads" By William Woodsworth?  Is it meeting pleasure of men or something?

Specific quotes from the preface.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 20, 2011 at 1:26 AM (Answer #1)

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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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