The Lyrical Ballads were planned by Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1797, and were published in 1798, with four poems by Coleridge and ninenteen by Wordsworth.
The two poets conceived this work as an experiment in poetry, in which Worsworth’s contribution was to make verse out of the incidents of simple rustic life, in a language that was a selection from the phrases of ordinary speech. He was convinced that the passions exist in their purest form in simple rural life, and thus the humble activities of ordinary people could serve as poetic themes. As a result he wrote poems remarkable for their simplicity, both in subject-matter and in form. He spent most of his life in the beautiful Lake District, where he found not only peacefulness and serenity, but the things he loved: lakes, valleys, waterfalls, trees, flowers and birds. His poems are deeply felt responses to the beauties of nature. His thoughts proceed from external description to a moment of illumination as he reflects on the true nature of all the life he is observing.[newpage]
Preface of Lyrical ballads: manifesto of the English Romantic movement
The second edition of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge was published in 1800. It included more poems by Wordsworth and a long preface, which eventually come to be considered the manifesto of the English Romantic movement. In it Wordsworth explained his own and Coleridge's ideas about poetry, its language and its subjects. One of the central issues, which was to have a major influence on the development of English literature, was the lucid defence of their own work, seen as a break with the artificiality and over-elaborate style of 18th century poetry and its contrived poetic diction.