Wordsworthâ€™s Thoughts about the Effects of Poetry on the Reader and The Prelude
Wordsworthâ€™s Preface to Lyrical Ballads, apart from being considered the â€œManifesto of Romanticismâ€, can also be regarded as reflection of the spirit of revolution that was prevalent in France at the time. One of the reasons for this, perhaps, is his approach to poetry; that is bringing poetry down to the sphere of ordinary men from the elevated position it used to stand. It can be said that the sentiments of equality resonates in his Preface, especially in his insistence on poet being a man addressing other men. But I believe, his approach to poetry is actually much more than it first suggests itself to ...view middle of the document...
The idea is that, poet, by constant meditation, develops this ability to describe things in such a way that he is making the best suited associations between things, he is describing the feelings and passions that all men have. So he will be able to excite his reader to the state of excitement where he will beâ€ in some degree enlightenedâ€. What is particular about Wordsworth poems is that, he is trying to get his reader to comprehend; men can be excited without gross stimulants. This is why, I believe his subjects are incidents from ordinary life, and also why he tries to use the language used by real men. Not the elevated, artificial language of Dryden or Pope, but the natural, simple language, not really differing from prose even, by which he hopes to excite simple and universal feelings in the reader. His aim is to take the ordinary, color it with the excited state of his mind, or rather his imagination by make the right associations of feelings and words, and then stimulate a kindred excitement in the reader, thus, aid him in developing his capacity to be affected. This kind of over-simplification can be seen inadequate and complicated, but I believe this is because Wordsworthâ€™s poetry is written with active feelings and rather passive rationality. It seems an injustice to rationalize his compositional aims and process, so I believe what he is trying to do can be seen better in an excerpt from his poetry, rather than describing what he is doing.
Wordsworthâ€™s first book of his â€œThe Preludeâ€ has, for example, this story, or rather a memory from childhood of a stolen boat. Wordsworth as a child, led by nature, finds a boat, and stealing it, sails into the lake. He describes his act in these lines;
It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light.
It can safely be said that Wordsworth, here, relates an ordinary incident. A boy, led by nature, with his curious disposition takes out a boat he finds tied within a cave. However Wordsworth, the poet, before he composes these lines, recounts the event. During this recalling of memory, he also recalls his feelings at the time of stealing. In these lines he relates his feelings in simple and yet lines with enticing poetic quality. The word choices of â€œThe act of stealth and troubled pleasureâ€, how he is able to devise the term troubled pleasure, in my view, are a proof of the associative process he claims. And yet there is also mentioning of the mountain echoes, which is the first sign of the natureâ€™s admonishment about the theft. It can be understood from the latter lines that, nature is...