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Last Updated on July 10, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 430

The first (1798) edition of Lyrical Ballads includes numerous "experiments" by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The poems that are actually ballads contain specific characters, while other nature poems rarely do.

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The Mariner and the Wedding Guest

The greatest contribution by Coleridge, and the longest poem in the volume, is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It has two primary characters: the Mariner himself and the Wedding Guest. The mariner, a sailor, had called down a curse onto his ship (which was sailing in the Pacific) by shooting an albatross. The other characters are his fellow sailors. The Wedding Guest is the person to whom the Mariner tells his sad story.

Goody Blake and Harry Gill

In the advertisement that appears at the beginning of the first edition, the authors refer to two characters drawn from "a well-authenticated fact which happened in Warwickshire"; these are Goody Blake and Harry Gill in the poem of that title. Harry is a man whose teeth chatter constantly, no matter how warmly he is dressed and even on a sunny day. Goody Blake is a poor, thin, old woman who sneaks onto Harry's property to steal firewood from a hedge growing there. When Harry catches her in the act and grabs her arm, she calls down onto him a curse that he never be warm, and from that day on he never is.

The Mad Mother

Another poem with a central character is "The Mad Mother." She speaks to the baby she is carrying in her arms as they make their way through the woods: "Sweet babe! they say that I am mad." She tells the baby not to fear, as she will...

(The entire section contains 430 words.)

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