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William Wordsworth and Lyrical Ballads

Wordsworth is the first true romantic poet. He belongs to the so called “the first generation of the romantic poets” and he is considered the theorist of English romanticism for his publication of the “Preface” to the Lyrical Ballads, which is considered the “Manifesto” of Romanticism, because in it we find the guide-lines of this new literary movement. Wordsworth’s living in close contact with nature justifies his philosophical attitude and his emotional involvement in the natural world. So for Wordsworth, nature is the main theme, is the main source for inspiration of his works and it is the place were to find consolation and shelter from life’s worries, abandoning the ugliness of a materialistic society. He said that only living touch with the nature, man could find the true essence of his spiritual and moral being. Therefore nature dictates the rules that poet must follow as regards language subject-matter and characters. For him poet has got a greater sensitivity than common man’s, so he has got the ability to penetrate to the hearts of things, just thanks to the power of imagination (which is the other great theme of romanticism) which enables the poet to communicate his knowledge becoming in this way a teacher for other men who shows them how to understand their feelings and improve their moral being. The main works of Wordsworth are “Prelude” which traced his evolution from childhood to adult life. The “Excursion” a long philosophical poem divided in two volumes; and the “Lyrical Ballads” written together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. The immediate effect on critics was modest, but it became and remains a landmark, changing the course of English literature and poetry. Most of the poems in the 1798 edition were written by Wordsworth, with Coleridge contributing only four poems to the collection, including one of his most famous works, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". (Additionally, although it is only the two writers that are credited for the works, William's sister Dorothy Wordsworth influenced William's poetry immensely because he studied her diary which held powerful descriptions of everyday surroundings).A second edition was published in 1800, in which Wordsworth included additional poems and a preface detailing the pair's avowed poetical principles. Another edition was published in 1802, Wordsworth added an appendix titled Poetic Diction in which he expanded the ideas set forth in the preface.

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