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William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850

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William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850

W. Wordsworth was born in the Lake District, a natural place which was a source of inspiration for a group of romantic poets, the 'Lake Poets'. After his studies, Wordsworth went to France, where he was attracted by the ideals of the revolution. Lack of money forced him to return to England. After a nervous breakdown, he recovered his health with the aid of his new friend: Samuel T. Coleridge. This friendship was very important for the development of romantic poetry and the immediate result was a collection of poems called Lyrical Ballads.

Important themes of Wordsworth's poetry were ordinary subjects, and love of nature. Several poems are centred on children and childhood: Wordsworth saw the children closer than the adults to the original communion with nature. This idea developed in a philosophical meaning and Wordsworth believed in the pre-existence of the soul: after birth the soul loses its perfect knowledge, a man grown up loses all his memory of union with nature and universe.

Lyrical Ballads

Lyrical Ballads was written by Wordsworth and Coleridge: the first writing poetry involved with a simple nature described in an ordinary language, the second composing poems based on exotic or fantastic nature. Lyrical Ballads marked the appearance of modern poetry: the subject of the poet was himself and he could choose any kind of style.

To the second edition of Lyrical Ballads was addicted a 'Preface', written by Wordsworth, which can be considered a romantic manifesto. Here are described ideals as:

A description of the poet as 'man speaking to men'; an ordinary man with more imagination than others ('Romantic Genius'), able to communicate his feelings and experience.

Poetry as a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" originated from "emotions recollected in tranquillity".

How all human activity is the subject of poetry.

Many of Wordsworth's poems deals with nature:

Nature as the silent and solitary countryside

Nature as a source of inspiration for man, who's a part of it.

Nature as a life-force, which has a real life and can communicate with us (pantheistic vision)

In the "Lucy Poems" Wordsworth describes his own love for a country girl, a "natural" girl, opposed to him, a man separated from nature.


The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads

● Daffodils or I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

The Solitary Reaper

● She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

● Composed Upon Westminster Bridge

from Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood


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