Wordsworth and Coleridge were friends and enter to live in a part of England that is called the Lake District that is a wonderful countryside which is west and immediately below the Scottish border, the perfect romantic landscape. When they both moved to the Lake District Wordsworth spent most of his timing living with his sister Dorothy, and of course the went out for long walks in the countryside and they discussed about the difference of poetry now and the XVIII century, they thought about how poetry could change in order to express real emotions. Together in time they decided to write a poem following their conceptions of how poetry should be, this poem is probably the most famous poem ever and it's untitled “Lyrical Ballads” and you can easily understand the title itself:
- They are ballads, the romantic period rejected the Augustan formal poetical form and they look for more natural world to express but the idea in the title was to show something new and closer to the people
- They are lyrical and not philosophical, they aren't concerned with ethical values even though there are ethical consideration, poetry is the spontaneous (something witch feed a need to express) overflow (no-stopping) of powerful emotions (never appeared before).
The lyrical ballads were first published in 1798 (first edition) and had enormously success, in 1800 a new edition was published this time with a long preface by Wordsworth in which he tells about the main principals of the new conception of poetry, this is why it is considered to be a manifesto of the English romantic movement.
23 poems: 19 by Wordsworth and 4 by Coleridge and the opening poem is a very famous one that is to say “the rhyme of the ancient mariner”.
They are entitled ballads in order to make it clear that this is not going to be traditional Augustan poetry, wants to appear different from anything which were published before, but not all the poems were ballads.
The manifesto tells that poetry has nothing to do with the expression of reason, anything logically constructed but is poetry that wants to express the power of imagination and the power of human emotions. Ò.lp
It tells you (p 251) that it takes its origins by emotions recommend in tranquility and the tranquility gradually disappear and emotions exists in the mind. Focuses only few elements of those preface.
(P 254) the idea is that the two poets decided that in order to create a new kind of poetry that had to do with nature and imagination they decided to divide the task and they decided to write each a part of the poem.
Wordsworth – had the task to write poets concerned with humble life, simple people, a natural setting (agricultural setting)
Coleridge – he had a stranger task, still concerned with nature and imagination but it was something more connected with the sublime and supernatural
The idea was to define the imagination of the divine in the world, Wordsworth is more concerned with an experience of a common everyday part of life (duties..) while Coleridge is more connected with supernatural events, far away places, something mysterious.
The topics in fact are more suited to the personality of each poet, Coleridge loved philosophy and spent some times in Germany studying philosophy and he was much more intellectual and concerned with speculation, instead Wordsworth preferred to live in a much more familiar environment.
About this poem is new that Wordsworth focuses on ordinary people living their ordinary life,
But the poem is able to show ordinary people in a special way, this experiences become foreground end and you are able to see reality from a different point of view as if they were something new, a new subject of poem. In this way he was also democratic .
Wordsworth says that he wanted to write poems in a selection of languages really used by man, but is still a poetic language, it's a reaction against the heroic poetry, the situation of the poem do not contain any slang words, they are not dialect. It's the beginning of a new poetic convention. It's a language less artificial than the language used before, those county people look all very educated. The register is lower anyway by Pope’s one but it's still poetic, it's a a language of a person who has a great education in the background. The poet purifies the language.
He says that poetry a spontaneous overflow of feeling and emotions but he also says that it is emotions recommend in tranquility : there is nothing impressionistic in this, he didn't write the poem just to write a poem. He went home to his studio and in peace and quiet he thought long about the experience he had had and purifying his emotions he writes.
The poet in Wordsworth opinion is a man speaking to man, again a felling of union, democratic, but again by a man who has thought long and deeply and who can teach you something that he has learned, the poet is a teacher with a special sensibility which embodies with a special sensibility and whose task is to say what he has discovered how to be at one with the natural world.
Wordsworth concentrated on his tasks in order to understand the essential passions of human being.
Nature expresses the divine and shows a simpler political background.
Coleridge decided to write a different kind of poem, still concerned with the divine, it was beyond reality which has to do with the magic of light and with exotic experience.
The rhyme of an ancient Marian has to do with a mysterious and anything but ordinary event.
But still is another part of the humanity, the imagination that can also tell us something, open up our mind/hearts to a full experience of life, Wordsworth didn't like the preface and he tried unsuccessfully to cut it. Wordsworth was born in Lake District was quite active, he moved around Europe, he had an affair in Paris with a girl who left with his child in France, after he coming back all his life had been pretty calm, he spent sharing the house with his sister Dorothy and he became poet laureate (important reward who is considered to be the best one who embodies art in that period) among his work he also wrote two very long poets : “The Prelude” and “The Excursion” in which he tells his experience of life as a poet.