William Wordsworth - 1770-1850


Wordsworth was born in the Lake District in (beautiful area in England), he attended the Cambridge University and went on a walking tour of Italy, the Alps and France. He fell in love and had a daughter with a French woman, Annette Vallòn, later he returned to England. His hopes for the French Revolution turned to disillusionment and a period of depression followed which lasted about five years. He finally recovered with the help of his friend, Coleridge. In 1795 they began work on the famous collection, Lyrical Ballads. He married Mary Hutchinson and they had 5 children.
His best poetry is considered to be the works written before 1808. He was made Poet Laureate and died in 1850.

The contents of poetry, the way in which these were expressed and the role of the poet were all changed by him. The result was a new type of poetry, forged by the Romantics but idealized principally by Wordsworth in his Lyrical Ballads.
From the point of view of contents the shift went from objectivity and the “commonly accepted idea”, to complete subjectivity and a poetry of the “inner self”. Wordsworth brought a “self-consciousness” into his poetry. From Wordsworth onwards it was no longer necessary to choose a subject to write poetry about, the poet himself became the subject; his thoughts, feelings and emotions. The poet encourages the reader to observe and enjoy nature.

Wordsworth praised the commonplace (esperienza comune): a natural landscape, the lives of humble people and their context together in rural life. He placed an emphasis on that was simple and unadulterated and for this reason children and childhood were popular themes in his poetry. He appealed to the purer feelings of man, which he defined as “the essential passions of the heart”.
Childhood was important in his work also because it presented a link with his own past, and his works are very often a contrast between past and present; memories and emotions “recollected” with the same intensity of feeling. He felt that man should look to nature as his moral and spiritual guide. Let Nature be your Teacher: he wrote in The tables turned, 1798.

Wordsworth’s poetry was also innovative in style. He saw the poet as being a prophet whose role was to communicate to as many people as possible in a language they would understand. This clarity of language along with a spontaneous appeal to human emotions meant that poetry could be read and appreciated by a wider audience and not just an intellectual elite.

Lyrical Ballads (which included The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner) was first published in 1789 and then again in 1800 to include the famous prose “Preface”. It was considered to be the most important volume of verse in English since the Renaissance. The Preface expresses Wordsworth’s aims in writing Lyrical Ballads – and has since been regarded as a Manifesto for Romantic poetry. It also stated that there need not be an essential difference between the language of prose and the language of poetry.

Preface To Lyrical Ballads 1800: written with Coleridge, Manifesto del Romanticismo
These poems (lyrical ballads) was to choose facts and situations from common life and to relate or describe them, in a selection of language really used by men (not artificial language), to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination (è una sorta di impressonista, descrive la realtà ma assume I colori della sua immaginazione), whereby (per mezzo del quale) ordinary (comuni) things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way. Feelings are more important than actions.

The poems in these volumes will be found distinguished at least by one mark of difference, that each of them has a worthy purpose (scopo). For all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow (profusione, profondersi) of powerful feelings it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility. The feeling therein (riguardo a ciò) developed gived importance to the action and situation, and not the action and situation to the feeling (il sentimento dà senso alla scena accaduta, non il contrario)

The poet is a man speaking to men: a man endued with (dotato di) more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human natura, and a more comprehensive soul. He considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other (symphony between man and nature) , and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest (belle) and most interesting qualities of nature the poet is chiefly (principalmente) distinguished from other men by a greater promptness (prontezza) to think and feel. The poet must express himself as other men express themselves.

I have one request to make my reader, that in judging these poems he would decide by his own feelings genuinely, and not by reflection upon what will probably be the judgment of others. Siate sinceri non fate condizionare il Vostro giudizio da quello degli altri. Sincero: honest.

Sonnet Composed Upon Westminster Bridge 1802: He describes London in the mornings, he describes London ad dawn (alba) untouched by men.
It is not a realistic description instead in William Blake’s London he presents a realistic description.
Beauty of nature and especially of the sun which makes the city shine in the light of the morning.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud 1807
One of the most popular work/poem written by Wordsworth. Full of personifications and sounds.
Inside the nature the poet feels at home
Fantastic scenery
4 stanzas, 6 lines, rhymes ABABCC

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