One of most profound characteristics of Romanticism is the idea of a story or narrative within human consciousness. Romantic thinkers like Wordsworth and Coleridge believed that poetry was meant to "see into the life of things." In Lyrical Ballads, both men articulated what they saw to be the essence of Romantic poetry: “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” This idea of recollection is essential in forming how one perceives consciousness. Romantic thinkers felt that this was an essential construction of human identity and artistic purpose.
Both poems embrace this particular idea. In Wordsworth's opening, there is much in way of "emotion recollected in tranquility." The opening lines speak to this aspect: "Five years have past; five summers, with the length/ Of five long winters! and again I hear/ These waters, rolling from their mountain- springs/ With a sweet inland murmur." The recollection element is seen in the time that has passed, something that Wordsworth feels is defining in his identity. In Coleridge's opening, the nature of recollection is seen in how the mariner is placed in a position of storytelling:
It is an ancient Mariner,And he stoppeth one of three.'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?