The most original genius of his age, William Wordsworth attacked the poetic diction and mannerisms fashionable in the mediocre poetry of the late eighteenth century, but his earliest poetry abounds in the personifications, hackneyed expressions, and apostrophes that he came to dislike most. His earliest poems, contained in AN EVENING WALK and DESCRIPTIVE SKETCHES, reveal the careful observation of nature that he excelled in during his most productive and most creative years between 1797 and 1807. He lacked only the discipline and the vision that came to him after he discarded Godwinism and the revolutionary fervor of his youth.
In 1797 he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the strongest influence on his maturing style and philosophy, and entered the period of his greatest work. Through Coleridge he discovered the associational psychology of David Hartley and discarded William Godwin’s rationalism. As a result of his new interest in psychology, he chose peasants, children, and mental defectives as subjects for his poetry. This choice marked a break with the decadent neo-classicism of his minor contemporaries. Many of the poems in LYRICAL BALLADS, written in conjunction with Coleridge, thus dealt with subjects from common life in order to reveal the unsophisticated operations of the human mind. For this publication Colderidge was to have written poems in the manner of “The Ancient Mariner,” in which the supernatural was made...
(The entire section is 1911 words.)
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