Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads first appeared in 1798 and was expanded in 1800. The 1800 edition includes new poems and Wordsworth’s now-famous “Preface.” Lyrical Ballads contains some of the early treatments of subjects and themes by Wordsworth and Coleridge that would occupy the bulk of each poet’s oeuvre. These subjects and themes include the relationship between humanity and nature, the psychology of the human heart, the fascination with the supernatural, and the sympathetic presentation of the plight of old hunters, insane mothers, and the victims of England’s various wars abroad.
Lyrical Ballads, especially the 1798 version, has long been regarded as a major influence on the poetry of the Romantic period in England. Many consider its influence to have been not unlike that of Edmund Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calendar (1579) on Elizabethan poetry or T. S. Eliot’s Prufrock, and Other Observations (1917) on modern poetry. The 1798 edition of Lyrical Ballads contains twenty-three poems, most famous among them Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” and Coleridge’s only major contribution to the volume, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Both poems explore one man’s difficult attempts to understand who he is in relation to the natural world. Other well-known poems from 1798 are lyrical ballads: “Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman,” “The Thorn,”...
(The entire section is 1166 words.)
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