illustrated portrait of English poet WIlliam Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

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How does William Wordsworth's work celebrate revolutionary ideals, explore the idea of nature, and examine the subjectivity of the narrative voice?

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Part of the reason that Wordsworth's work celebrates revolutionary ideas, explores the idea of nature, and examines the subjectivity of the narrative voice is that he believed that poetry and the poet were able to accomplish all of the above.  For Wordsworth, the pure understanding of a poet is one who can reach across such terrains of transformation because the poet is an agent of change.  Wordsworth believed that the transformation of poetry into a vehicle for emotions allowed it to present what can be in the face of what is.  In his "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth articulates as much when he defines this as the purpose of the poet in the modern setting: 

Taking up the subject, then, upon general grounds, let me ask, what is meant by the word Poet? What is a Poet? to whom does he address himself? and what language is to be expected from him?—He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him;

Wordsworth believes the poet to be an individual as one "speaking to men" and one who "has a greater knowledge of human nature."  The fact that the poet as a "more comprehensive soul" is the reason why the poet can articulate art that seeks to celebrate revolutionary ideas, as the poet can speak to the need and demand for change.  The poet is able to articulate a condition in which emotions and subjectivity can be evident because not only does poetry come from a "spontaneous overflow of emotions," but the poet is one who is "pleased with his own passions and volitions."  Finally, the poet lives with "the spirit of life that is in him," a spirit that can extend into a love of nature.  The ways in which Wordsworth conceives of the role of the poet and how poetry is an agent of change is the reason why his work is able to span so much in way of radical transformation.

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