Compare Emerson’s ideas in “The Poet” with the descriptions of the subject and purpose of poetry in William Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that there is much in way of overlap between both works' advocacy of ideas that emerge.  Both Wordsworth and Emerson view the construction of art, specifically that of poetry, as something that is transcendent, seeking to provide meaning to a world that might be lost in the search for it.  In Wordsworth's Preface, this is seen in his idea that art has to be reflective of a type of meditative quality that prompts reflection and introspection of one's world and their place within it.  For Emerson's description of "The Poet," this same element is seen his call that the artist holds within them and their work "a new thought" and a "new experience to unfold."  In both writings, there is a specific and clear call for the artist to develop and display art that provides meaning and a meditative quality.  Another shared element is that the traditional notion of structure and composition is not as important as content.  Wordsworth speaks to this when he speaks out against the "triviality and meanness" of standard composition of poetry, something mirrored in Emerson when he criticizes the belief that the artist's mind is  “a music-box of delicate tunes and rhythms."  Rather, like Wordsworth in his Preface, Emerson is seeking to construct a vision of the artist that is transcendent, seeking to establish a deeper and more profound connection to humanity through the work created and the emotions invested within it.


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