William Wordsworth was born in 1770 in the Lake District, an area of supreme natural beauty, that provided the inspiration for his later poetry. After his graduation he left England and went in France, where fell in love and had a daughter. Lack of money forced him to return to England where met the poet Coleridge. This friendship was crucial to the development of Romantic poetry, and its result was a collection of poems called Lyrical Ballads.
Wordsworth was, with Blake, the first poet to make the child the subject of his poems.
In a first phase he wrote several poems centred on children’s feelings, the idea was that the child was closer to the original state of harmony with nature. (Lyrical Ballads and The Prelude)
In a second phase he began to believe in the pre-existence of the soul and that the soul after birth gradually loses its perfect knowledge.
In the last phase he wrote some good poetry but nothing comparable to his previous works.
Lyrical Ballads was written by Wordsworth and Coleridge. Wordsworth contributed with poems on common events written in ordinary language while Coleridge with poems based on exotic or fantastic nature.
Lyrical Ballads is one of the most important volume of verse in the English literature.
Lyrical Ballads began with the Wordsworth’s Preface, that is considered the English Romantic Manifesto, in which all the major ideas of Wordsworth are described:
the choice of ordinary subjects and language as a way of creating a kind of poetry accessible to all men;
a theory of the poet as men speaking to men;
how poetry in the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings originating from emotion recollected in tranquility.
Most of Wordsworth’s poems in Lyrical Ballads deal with the Nature.
Wordsworth saw the Nature: as the countryside that is often opposed to the noise and confusion of the town; as a source of inspiration, our best feelings are inspired by nature and in nature we can discover moral and spiritual values; as a life force with which the man communicates.
The poet is wandering alone through the countryside. The scene he describes is peopled not by other men but by nature: the crowd he sees is made up of golden daffodils which are located in the landscape and they are also seen to move continually in a dance. This vision brings happiness, a sense of harmony and pleasure.
The poem is about Wordsworth remembering the daffodils. The final stanza illustrates Wordsworth’ characteristic procedure of composition through the recollection of a precise event.
Composed upon Westminster Bridge
In praising the beauty of the silent city in an early morning, Wordsworth begins in a way which is simple and rhetorical. The language is plain and he make the reader participate in the emotion felt by the poet. The city’s beauty is described not as a urban phenomenon but in terms similar to those used in the nature poems.