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William Wordsworth

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What are the similarities between Wordsworth and Coleridge?

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Both William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were pioneering poets of English Romanticism. Both men were part of a sort of first wave of the movement (while younger poets, like Keats, Shelley, and Byron, were of the next wave). Wordworth even established some of the key traits and ideologies of Romanticism in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads. The Romantic markers, like free expression of emotion and writing about ordinary life and nature, are established there.

Most of Wordsworth's well-known poems are reflections on nature and country life. He does have some more political offerings as well, though. Coleridge's poetry, like his most famous long work The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, has a bit more gothic edge than we see in Wordsworth's poetry. However, both men were proponents of individual expression and valued emotion over reason. Both men were supporters of the French Revolution and its emphasis on individual liberty and the end of monarchy. Both men influenced and defined some of the parameters of the Romantic movement while also remaining informed of the political contexts of their era.

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Wordsworth and Coleridge were poets and political radicals who became friends. They both lived, at least for a time, in the remote English Lake District—the Coleridges were even the guests of the Wordsworths before getting their own place—and the two men spent a good deal of time discussing the theory and practice of literature. These conversations led to their collaboration on Lyrical Ballads, an important book in the history of English poetry.

Both had supported the ideals (if not the reality) of the French Revolution, and both felt a deep sympathy for the common person. As tensions between France and Great Britain heated up, both men poured their radical (for the times—we would not find their ideas particularly radical today) sympathies into poetry. Together, they conceived of a poetry that celebrated the ordinary individual, evoked a deep appreciation of nature, and was written using everyday language that the average person could understand. These principles became the foundation of English Romantic poetry.

Coleridge wrote poems for Lyrical Ballads that focused more on the supernatural, but Wordsworth also incorporated supernatural elements of folklore into some his poems. Likewise, Coleridge wove a deep reverence for nature into some of his supernatural poems, such as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Both helped move English poetry in a new direction, away from the neoclassical and toward simpler, more personal forms.

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Both William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were English Romantic poets. That being said, both poets adhered to the characteristics typical of the Romantic poet.

Romantics focused their works upon the following ideas:

1. Value of feeling over reason.

2. Highlighted both nature and imagination.

3. Wanted readers to look at the past through different lenses than before.

Both Wordsworth and Coleridge's works epitomized the importance of nature and free thought. After they met, both were highly influenced by the other. The impact of each's theology on the other changed each's writings to fit a more Romantic view of the world and of poetry.

Both poets focused upon the impact of nature and spirituality in life. The poetry, for each, was filled with imagery that reflected the importance of nature in man's life.

The poetry book Lyrical Ballads (1798) was a collaboration on the part of both Coleridge and Wordsworth.

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