Preface to Lyrical Ballads Questions and Answers
by William Wordsworth

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How might one analyse Preface to Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth?

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Joann Wentworth eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I find it helpful to consider the Preface as a sort of "statement of intent" where Wordsworth explains what he hopes to achieve in his poetry and what he believes all poets should strive for in their own work.

One of the most famous lines from the Preface states that "all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings . . . it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity." Here, Wordsworth upsets the notion that poetry is about form, meter, line breaks, figurative language, etc., claiming instead that it's the inspiring thoughts and emotions of the poet that form the heart of the poem. The idea of "emotion recollected in tranquillity" suggests that the poet must somehow exist beyond the common daily routines that comprise a person's life, reaching for "truth" by seeking quietness and equanimity in order to recreate prior experiences. As Wordsworth says, "The Poet, singing a song in which all human beings join with him, rejoices in the presence of truth as our...

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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