Why was Wordsworth’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads so revolutionary?
William Wordsworth’s ‘Preface to Lyrical Ballads’ captures the integral meaning of the body of work constructed with Samuel Coleridge, whilst also simultaneously contributing to the commencement of the romantic era. This preface is regarded revolutionary as it shone a light upon unlocking a multitude of avenues for common society to access meaningful poetry. Wordsworth believed previous poets including those of the ‘The Age of Enlightenment’ incorporated diction and other devices ungraspable for others in order for them to be ‘carefully excluded’. This exclusion was however, further described as a ‘separation between themselves and the sympathies of men’. This preface envisioned art that encompassed “incidents and situations from common life” expressed through a language “really used by men” (men relating to mankind). This vision was a cog that turned in unison with concepts that formed around the primary laws of nature and elementary principle of pleasure. It is here that the focus on the “low and rustic life” of people broke down the barriers towards speaking a “more empathetic language” stemming from the ‘repeated experience and regular feelings’ of these said individuals.
Although Wordsworth created opportunities for the public, he also further challenged the meaning of what it meant to be a poet. Disregarding the previously held belief among many that a poet was only somebody who understood the intricacies of techniques and structure, Wordsworth simply described a poet as “a man speaking to men”. Delving into this idea, Wordsworth’s description of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of feelings” must be retained, as we grow to understand that Wordsworth believed a poet’s role is the role of a communicator who translates ‘their feelings to those of the persons whose feelings he describes’ rather than only that of themselves.
This was the first creative writing piece I had produced since high school back in 2015. I believe it is my favourite solely for reinvigorating a hobby I had lost to working and study.
You have just heard and discussed Coleridge’s “silent icicles, / Quietly shining to the quiet Moon….” Write your own description in prose or poetry of some moments of intense silence where you feel your experience has opened up to a new world of understanding.
I yelped only for the sound to be drowned by the constant static of machinery. Still however, loud enough for the tenant to have found humour in the farm dog having brushed my leg. There she sat, chain-smoking at half past four in the morning, all too wired to rest. I only managed to sigh as diesel added to my already coffee stained singlet, a scene that seemed too common to curse. With earmuffs on I held up traffic as per usual whilst hitting each pothole towards town, once again taking notice of my cemented cologne of manure.
Each meter gained as I drifted away from the road increased in warmth upon my skin. Without a single crunch, I shifted lower in gears as I headed towards the calm flow of the river. I eventually rolled to a halt. With eyes still focused on the water, I pulled the choke and floated down with the aid of the step. Lush palmetto beneath me, I sat and surrounded myself in the beauty of this particular dawn. I’ve been here before only slightly upstream.
I closed my eyes as my mind vividly returned to a square of heads upon ankles. Each comforting voice posed questions of the universe only to eliminate into none. With all asleep but myself, this unbroken silence could hopefully last forever. Sun rays rising up my face and body cool from the morning dew, the delightful tickling of ants couldn’t even disturb this moment of teenage bliss. As my breath soon slowly synced to the pace of my friends, our connecting gait walked into only that of a memory to never be relived.