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Wordsworth's Poetry Essay

1854 words - 8 pages

The Romantic thinking was influenced by the ideas upon poet and poetry sustained by three of the greatest writers of the age: William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Byshe Shelley.

In the Preface of the second edition of Lyrical Ballads Wordworth sustained that the poet "is a man speaking to men- a man (it is true) endued with more sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has greater knowledge of human nature, and more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be the common among mankind"; a man who can delight other men in the spirit of life."

The poetry has a purpose: "Not that I mean to say that I always began to write with a distinct purpose formally conceived, ...view middle of the document...

The emotion which the poet recollects reduces in him the necessary state or
mood or tention in which Wordsworth sees the prerequisite of poetic composition and at the same time an essential constituent of the poem. In dicussing this question, however, Wordsworth makes no reference to the part played by imagination and fancy in the process, though at the beginning of the Preface he speaks of the colouring of imagination cast on the incidents and situations described in his poems.

The theory of poetic composit on developed by Wordsworth in the Preface, including his view on the language of poetry, was explicity aimed at exploding the traditional, neoclassic, concept of poetic diction, that is, of the view that the very nature of poetry demands a linguistic expression sharply differentiated from prose style not only through meter and rhyme, but also a special lexis, syntactic arrangement and imagery. It was therefore, like his creation itself, part of the revolution which he had set about to effect the English poetry and critical thought. At the same Preface was meant to defend his own poetic practice and forestall criticism of the often prosaic language he had used in some of his poems in the collection. It is that very practice that Wordsworth adduces as evidence that rhyme and meter are not in themselves sufficient to create a significant distinction between metrical and prose composition, and as an argument against the assumption that they necessarily entail further artificial differences. Writing as he himself has done, as far as possible, in a "selection of the language really spoken by men", is bound, he contends, to produce a much greater difference between such poetry and the kind of discourse people use in actual life. And the addition of meter will further set off the dissimilarity: "It is the life of our ordinary conversation, upon the accracy with which similitude in dissimilitude and dissimilitude in similitude are perceived, depend our taste and our moral feelings."

By suggesting that the choice of a procedure, here the selection of the register of language which he recommends for poetry, will result in a formal differentiation of the poem from other kinds of discourse, Wordsworth comes very close to a modern structural understanding both of language and of poetic construct: "The language of common men is adopted (purified indeed from what appear to its real defects- from all lasting and rational causes of dislike or disgust) because such men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is originally derived, and because, from their rank in society and the sameness and narrow circle of their intercourse being less under the influence of social vanity, they convey their feelings and
notions in simple and unelaborated expressions." This is also evidenced by his claim that the choice of the subject too conditions the language the poet will use, for, if it is judicious, the passions to which...

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