Discuss Wordsworth as a Romantic poet. 

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Though one can identify many factors that characterize the poetry of Wordsworth and the other Romantics, I would choose to focus on two specific things in answering your question: 1) the personalized orientation of Wordsworth's verse, and 2) the kind of language he typically makes use of.

I say "personalized" rather than simply "personal" because any artist's work, whether or not he or she is a Romantic, does express personal views. But the manner in which such views are expressed is different in Romanticism than in the work, say, of the neoclassical period a hundred years earlier. By personalized I mean that the poet is self-consciously looking inward, and in his poetry showing the reader the process by which this occurs. Wordsworth's poems are essentially meditations upon himself. This does not mean he is egocentric or narcissistic, but that he believed the purpose of art was to focus on the artist's own individual spirit and to make this "public." The Prelude is a long work about the growth of Wordsworth's mind: the development of his own mental process as he matures. It would not have occurred to the neoclassical poets such as Dryden and Pope to celebrate themselves, so to speak, in this way. Their expression, by contrast, was more universally oriented. Romanticism was a movement in which the individual's, the artist's, own mind was deliberately made the focus, both the means and the end, of the substance of poetry and of all artistic work.

The second aspect of Wordsworth that is a trait of Romanticism is the natural, unaffected diction he employs. He believed that a fault of poetry in the past was the "artificiality" of much of the language poets employed. In many ways Romanticism was a movement that celebrated ordinary human beings and was egalitarian in spirit. Wordsworth attempted, as much as possible, to employ wording in his poetry that was the same as that used by people in ordinary, everyday speech. Although this was a feature of Wordsworth's type of Romanticism, others in the Romantic movement often held a quite different view of the appropriate language for poetry. But for Wordsworth, personalized expression and natural and unaffected language were together the means by which he intended to revolutionize poetry. They were an outgrowth of the Enlightenment values of the century in which he was born, and set the tone for much of English literature from the 1790's on.

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As a poet, Wordsworth exemplified the Romantic ideal of writing about individual, subjective, emotional experiences and these often deal with connecting to Nature. Wordsworth coined the phrase that poetry is "the spontaneous overflow of emotion recollected in tranquility." In his "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood," Wordsworth writes of how he, as an adult, tries to recall the intimate connection to nature that he'd experienced as a child. Wordsworth shares a similar sentiment in "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey." Although he can not experience the world with the same wonder he did as a child, he is more wise and profound. And he is more able to rely on his imagination and memory in recreating emotional and subjective experiences. In "Tintern Abbey," Wordsworth hopes his sister, Dorothy, will develop the same ability: 

When these wild ecstasies shall be matured

Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind

Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,

Thy memory be as a dwelling place (138-41) 

In recalling such experiences with a vivid imagination, Wordsworth intends to go to that place in his mind, that "dwelling place," thus having a transcendent experience, transcending to another place: a place in the mind. Wordsworth's purposes in writing poetry and experiencing the world are to embrace his emotions and channel his imagination to bring about experiences and memories which connect him to nature and others in an individual, yet spiritual (or transcendent) way. 

In the "Preface to Lyrical Ballads," Wordsworth essentially writes the Romantic manifesto. He proposed to write about common lives and to present ordinary things (such as a daffodil) in extraordinary ways. Speaking of "emotion recollected in tranquility," Wordsworth adds: 

the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquility gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. 

In an individual, reflective mood/meditation, Wordsworth deems that the poet must link inspiration and emotional experience to an imaginative source of creation. He uses external experiences to inform and inspire his inner creativity: a connection between experience and reflection. 

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