He was born in Cockermouth in Cumberland in 1770. His father, a lawyer, taught him poetry and in 1791 he graduated from St John’s College Cambridge. He travelled to France during the Revolution and he was fascinated by the democratic ideals (Republican movement). After an year he had a daughter, Caroline, from Annette Vallon who was a French aristocratic woman. The aggressive developments of the Revolution and the war between England and France caused him nervous breakdown, so he returned to his country. In 1795 William’s dark time (periodo buio) was cured by the contact with nature in Dorset where he lived with his sister, Dorothy. She was his most loyal (leale, fedele) friend because she has always supported his poetry, she copied his poems and she described their life in her Journals. In the same year a close friendship was born with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. That was very important for the development of English Romantic poetry. They wrote together a collection of poems called Lyrical Ballads in the 1797-1799 period.
2. Main Works:
The firt edition of Lyrical Ballads appeared anonymously in 1798. In 1800 there was the second edition that contained the famous Preface, the Manifesto of English Romaticism. in the following years the poet wrote some of his best poems, published in 2 volumes in 1807. Only after his death his masterpiece, The Prelude, was published. It was a long autobiographical poem in 14 books.
3. “The Manifesto of English Romanticism”:
Even if in the 18th century English poetry was mainly made up by the highest diction (style), Wordsworth considered the poetry as a solitary act, originating in the ordinary. His strongest objection to 18th-century poetry was the artificial and elevated language, which he called “poetic diction”. In his Preface, he espress that the subject matter (tema, argomento di discussione) must deal with everyday situations and with ordinary people. The language must be simple and the objects called by their common names. That is why the poet wanted to put himself in contact with (avvicinarsi) passions of the humble man.
What is the poet? The poet is a man among men, writing about what interests mankind (ciò che interessa l’umanità).
What is poetry? Poetry is the spontaneous profusion (abbondanza, overflow) of powerul feelings: it came from emotion recollected in tranquillity and that can only happen (può solo avvenire) by simple things.
4. Man and Nature:
5. The senses and memory:
Nature is also the world of sense perceptions. The poet exploited (sfruttava, utilizzava a suo vantaggio) the sensibility of the eye and ear to perceive the beauty in the nature. Wordsworth was influenced by the philosopher David Hartley who believed that the moral character develops during the childhood. The sensations caused by physical experience lead to simple things that later organised ideas.
Memory is a major force in the process of growth of the poet’s mind and it gives to the poet power.
6. Recollection in tranquillity:
Imagination refers to his clear, loyal and loving observation of nature. The poet used ‘imagination’ as a synonym of ‘intuition’. All authentic poetry “takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity”. Through (attraverso) the power of memory, the motion is reproduced in poetic form generating a “kindred” emotion (affinità).
7. The poet's task:
The poet, even if a common man, has a greater sensibility and the ability to communicate his knowledge, so that he becomes a teacher who shows men how to understand their feelings and get better (rendere migliore) their morality. He also draws (attirare) attention to the ordinary things of life where the deepest (più profonde) emotions are to be found.
8. The poet's style:
Wordsworth abandoned the 18th-century poetic diction and almost always (quasi sempre) used blank verse (verso sciolto). He also shows ability in some verse forms, for example sonnets, odes, ballads and lyrics.