✎✎✎ Preface To Lyrical Ballads

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Preface To Lyrical Ballads



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Preface to Lyrical Ballads - William Wordsworth - Romantic Criticism

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LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Preface to the Lyrical Ballads , which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. It would appear that as the first edition of the Lyrical Ballads were well-received, Wordsworth should feel at ease. However, a certain degree of uneasiness remains—Wordsworth still feels the need to explain his experimental poetry in a preface. Active Themes. Ordinary Life and Everyday Language. Wordsworth acknowledges that his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge supplied several poems in the collection, including Rime of the Ancient Mariner. He then relates that he and his friends wish to start a new type of poetry, poetry of the sort seen in Lyrical Ballads.

He also says the motives behind starting this new genre of poetry are too complex to fully articulate in so few words. Still, he has decided to furnish a preface: his poems are so different from the poems of his age that they require at least a brief explanation as to their conception. Wordsworth was not alone in his endeavor to start a new type of poetry. From this, readers can gather that Wordsworth lived in an era when things were growing increasingly complex with the onset of modernity. Romanticism vs. Related Quotes with Explanations. Wordsworth claims that just as authors have a right to use certain ideas and techniques, they also have a right to exclude other ideas and techniques.

In every age, different styles of poetry arise, and people expect different things from poetry. He goes on to cite many great yet different poets of old, from Catullus Terence to Alexander Pope. In drawing on many great yet disparate poets of old, Wordsworth implies that at different times, different styles of poetry were considered great. In other words, each generation lives in a different situation and thus naturally prefers a different style of poetry that somehow aligns with or responds to the times. Thus, Wordsworth writes differently from his contemporaries not because he is lazy, but because he senses that the changing times need a new style of poetry to match.

The feelings that arise in that condition are simpler, more understandable, and more durable. Throughout the preface, Wordsworth seems to equate cosmopolitanism with corruption. The language of the peasantry carries a certain permanence, unlike the lofty language of the late-Neoclassical writers. The late-Neoclassical poets believe that the lofty poetry they write bring them as well as poetry itself honor. Furthermore, they constantly and randomly change the style of their poetry to suit their own ever-changing tastes. Wordsworth views this sort of ignorance and inconstancy as self-serving. On the other hand, Wordsworth states that triviality and lack of profound thought is a larger problem than lofty language among his contemporary poets.

The poet is, in a sense, elevated from their peers. Wordsworth believes that poetry ought to be serious and profound—poems need to have a purpose and cannot be intended purely for shallow entertainment. Emotions are, for Wordsworth, a very serious and profound subject. At the same time, emotions cannot be separated from thoughts, as the two are inextricably tied together. Thus, readers can infer that good poetry should seriously deal with both emotions and thoughts.

This sort of poetry will help people become better people. Poetry and Emotions. Wordsworth then cites a few of his ballads and relays how those particular poems follow this purpose. In other words, feelings are the most important aspect to any experience. Modernity leads humans to crave sensationalism and instant gratification. The Industrial Revolution and its accompanying technological progress led people to crave instant gratification, which, in turn, led writers to use sensationalism to cater to this craving. It is important to note that Wordsworth does not disapprove of drama per se, as he considers Shakespeare and Milton—both are writers who engage dramatic subjects—to be great writers; rather, he disapproves of drama for the sake of drama.

In order to counteract the excessive drama that his contemporaries employ, Wordsworth intends to use nature to bring readers back to their senses. Wordsworth turns to the subject of style. Inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution — to shake up the foundations of old hierarchical structures — and distressed by the rise of the choking city life, the Romantic Wordsworth set out to challenge old notions regarding poetry. However, to reduce his work to just an imitation of trees and flowers would be immature. Wordsworth believed that the city life made the masses dull and stagnant — it had reduced them to overworked machines who failed to appreciate the simple beauty of life. He called this state of mental stagnancy as savage torpor. Wordsworth found inspiration from everyday figures of everyday life.

However, the poet differs from regular people because of his higher sensitivity to the happenings around him and a deeper connection with his own feelings, moods and emotions as they arise in response to these outer happenings. Simply speaking, the highly sensitive poet is able to experience the beauty of ordinary life, capture his own emotions as they arise and is finally able to sit in a calm, peaceful space to use his imagination to recollect these emotions and finally write about them. However, Wordsworth refined this common language to a purer form without losing the essence of its simplicity. The poems they produce are filled with their own imagination and perspective on how they perceive things around them.

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