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There are some highly distinctive features in Wordsworth's poetry. In keeping consistent with his believes in Romanticism, there is much in way of emotion or the expansion of moral imagination. Most Wordsworth poems feature the personal or subjective voice as being the narrative element. Both of these can be seen in his poem, "The Solitary Reaper," where the speaker, presumably Wordsworth, hears a song sung by a girl working in the field. He is entranced with this song and while he does not understand nor recoginize the language, he surmises what he thinks the lyrics could mean in that he expresses his thoughts as to how they wander upon hearing the song. This is a strong element in Wordsworth's poem, a stunning consistency in his work in that there is a praising of the subjective experience and the emotional or moral imagination that goes along with it.
A focus on simple, obscure people, use of everyday language and an emphasis on nature as an antidote to the corrupting influences of society are three main features of Wordsworth's poems in Lyrical Ballads, the book of poetry he produced with William Coleridge that is usually credited as beginning the Romantic movement in England. Wordsworth reacted against Neoclassic poetry, popular in the eighteenth century, which emphasized heroic figures, heroic themes and heroic couplets.
In the poem "Lucy Gray," Wordsworth celebrates the life of an obscure cottage child who disappears one day but whose spirit is later seen by other cottagers dancing on the moors. In "The Solitary Reaper," Wordsworth's narrator becomes transfixed by the haunting song of a peasant woman harvesting grain in the Scottish Highlands. In the Lucy poems (different from "Lucy Gray"), the narrator describes his love for an ordinary cottage-dwelling woman from the English Lake District who dies young.
Wordsworth uses simple, everyday language in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," in which he describes how he is lifted with joy by the sight of thousands of daffodils waving in the wind by a lake. He has an emotional response to this natural scene and remembers it with great pleasure many times in the wintry months. He uses words like line and bay, glance and dance, that anyone could understand:
They stretched in never-ending lineAlong the margin of a bay:Ten thousand saw I at a glance,Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
Wordsworth's poems often contain thoughts inspired by natural landscapes. Nature prompted Wordsworth to consider many topics in his poetry, including memory, childhood, and death. He i=often wrote poems inspired by specific places, forgoing titles and merely categorizing the poem based upon these places (such as "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802")
In "Tintern Abbey" (aka "Lines,Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting he banks of the Wye during a tour. July 13, 1798"), the poet's return to this well-loved place causes him to think upon the way he used to interact with nature as a young boy, then as a young man, with passion, abandon and imagination. He is also reminded of his sister and recalls her fondly and the times they spent there. His observations of the details of the landscape (the sky, the hills, the trees, the Wye River and its banks, and the copses) cause him to ruminate on the connectedness of all aspects of life and the similarities of all living things, the wide circle of life and death, and he concludes that nature's lessons have brought him to a state of thoughtful peace.
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