What are some ideas about poets and poetry proposed by William Wordsworth in his "Preface" to the Lyrical Ballads (1802)?
In his "Preface" to the Lyrical Ballads (1802), William Wordsworth lays out many of the ideas often associated with Romanticism in English poetry. Among those ideas are the following:
- an emphasis on the "real language" actually spoken by human beings, especially human beings from the lower reaches of society. Wordsworth thus rejects the kind of “poetic” language that had come to seem stale, artificial, and unconvincing.
- an emphasis on "vivid sensation," or heightened emotion and perception.
- an emphasis on using poetry to provide "more than common pleasure."
- an emphasis on "incidents and situations from common life."
- an emphasis on using “imagination” to “throw a certain coloring over” descriptions of such incidents and situations so that
ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way . . . in order to make these...
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In Wordsworth's "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads," something that interested me was that he said that in his poetryhe wanted to represent "incidents and situations from common life." He said he wanted to use a "selection of language really used by men." He does this throughout his poetry and it was interesting to me because, obviously, he's a talented guy, but he finds different ways to relate to common people throughout his poetry. I know it's something we all do when we're writing and know other people will read it, but it's interesting because he does it in so many different ways. He's like the professor that has a doctorate in the class your taking, but has the skill to actually make it comprehensible to his students. Rare, but amazing when it happens.
The way Wordsworth writes is very easy for the common person to understand and he writes about things that are easily related to. Like in "We are Seven," Wordsworth's writes about a little girl that had two siblings that had died, yet instead of saying that her family was only five now, she persisted that they were still seven. She was intent on telling this man that even though part of her family was gone, they were still there with her and they were still part of her family. This is something most people can relate to, whether it is from personal experience or not, we can still empathize with that feeling of loss and remembrance. Then, in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," he relates in a beautiful way, to people and something that's all around us; nature. He does the same in "My Heart Leaps Up."
Through many of Wordsworth's poems, he sufficiently backs up his ideas that he stated in "The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads," that he wanted to talk about things in his poetry that were understandable by the common man and also things that related to common life. He did a fine job of these things in his works and I enjoyed reading them.