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 line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
He also states that nature is worth more than wealth, a recurrent theme in his poems: "What wealth the show to me had brought," he writes of the dancing daffodils.
The theme of nature versus material pursuits also comes out in his poem "The World is Too Much With Us." The poem repeats the refrain: "getting and spending we lay waste our powers." We are so busy earning money that, Wordsworth says, "little we see in Nature that is ours," a loss the poet laments.
Simple people, simple language, love of nature: Wordsworth's influence stays with us still.