What are the traditional approaches used in Wordsworth's poems?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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William Wordsworth has a very simple style that he applied to all his works. Unfortunately, in his later life, this would lead to his writing being considered uninspiring and many of his peers thought it lacked artistic merit.

He is considered to be one of the leading Romantic poets (together with William Blake, Byron and Coleridge), as opposed to those that came before, such as Alexander Pope, with their neo-classical style for whom rational, formal and conventional subject matter was the order of the day. Abstract ideals – imagination in preference to reason, emotion rather that logic and insight over explanations – gave this poetry a freer style.

The ordinary language that Wordsworth is well-known for creates simple visual images and avoids difficult imagery that requires interpretation. In Written in Early Spring, Wordsworth uses common literary devices to convey the images. Twigs that “catch the breezy air,” does not require poetic knowledge to understand its intention. His straightforward use of language and meter gives his poetry a discernible difference.

Romantic poetry and, therefore, Wordsworth himself, was influenced by Scottish poet James Thomson who wrote “The Seasons” wherein the pleasure gleaned from unspoilt scenery and a beauty found in the innocent life of rural dwellers is easily identified and relished.

Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey is composed in blank verse - unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter It is fluid and natural and uses meter loosely whilst still having regard for it. Modern poets do not have the same regard for meter and have even been criticized for this.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud (my own particular favourite)has a simple rhyme scheme and Wordsworth's simplicity allows the reader to concentrate on the detail and the visual image created rather than the form of the poem although the form is apparent. It is so obviously his own interpretation of what he saw, involves subjectivity and sincerity which can only appeal to any reader.

Read the section on William Wordsworth on enotes for a better understanding of Wordsworth and the Romantic era.  


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