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Preface to the 'Lyrical Ballads' - Wordsworth In the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth has revolted against

the poetic principles of the eighteenth century saying that the life of a poor man can serve as a fit material for the poetry. The diction should be drawn from everyday speech and he wants to through a colouring of imagination over the simple material chosen for treatment in poetry. His poems like Michael, The Solitary Reaper, and To a Highland Girl to name only a few have been written keeping this in mind. Wordsworth has remarked that all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. It takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquility. If we consider this statement divorcing it from the part that precedes it, it would mean that a poet writes a poem as an immediate reaction to some experience. He expresses this through powerful feelings. A poem would be spontaneous if it comes directly from the pen of the poet without any pre-medication as a song comes from the throat of a bird. But Wordsworth qualifies his statement. He goes on to say that poems can be produced only by a man who has also thought long. Thus, it means that Wordsworth does not rule out contemplation or meditation. According to Wordsworth, our feelings are modified and directed by our thoughts which are indeed the representatives of our past feelings. He himself admits that he has always looked steadily at his subject. According to him, the poet is a man of great sensibility whose mentality has been already shaped. The emotion is contemplated till tranquility gradually disappears and an emotion similar to the one already existed, is gradually produced in mind. At this time, successful poetic composition takes place:

For oft when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude. And then my heart with pleasure fills And dances with the daffodils.

Further he says that the process of writing poems has four stages, that is, recollection, contemplation, recrudescence and composition. This is one of the reasons that he has revised, The Prelude. Actually his emphasis on emotion is a reaction to the eighteenth century poetry, which was intellectual, devoid of any feelings and it had its appeal to the head. Again, Wordsworth insists that the immediate object of the poet is to give pleasure. The poets mind is in a state of enjoyment and the poets description of passions ensures an over -balance of pleasure in the mind of the reader. The music of harmonious metrical language, the sense of difficulty, which the poet has received from the works of similar construction and perception of the received language produce a complex feeling of delight. The poet has unusual capacity to perceive and feel. To be a great poet, according to Wordsworth, he must have thought long deeply. Thus, he differs from his fellowmen only in degree and not in kind. The poet can feel, think, perceive and imagine. Besides these, he has the capacity to express him self in verse. In Tradition and Individual

Talent T.S. Eliot has criticized Wordsworths theory of poetry and has said Poetry is neither emotion, nor recollection nor tranquility, nor spontaneity. It is something like concentration or what is called a deliberate process. Will no one tell me what she sings? Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow For old, unhappy, far off things And battles long ago.

Coming to his view on poetic style (diction), Wordsworth has adopted the language of common people to communicate his ideas. For this purpose, he has chosen the incidents and situations from humble and rustic life. He thinks that the people from rural area convey the feelings in a simple way because they are not under the influence of social vanity of city dwellers. Such language is permanent and philosophic. He criticized the poets who have separated themselves from them. According to him, his very purpose is to imitate and adopt the very language of men. He goes on to say that there neither is nor can be an y essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition. The language of a large portion of every good poem differs from good prose except with reference to metre. Criticizing this theory, Coleridge maintains that there are certain modes of expression, a construction, and an order of sentences which are in their fit and natural place in a serious prose composition but would be inappropriate to metrical poetry. He goes on to say that in the language of a serious poem, these may be an arrangement of words and sentences; and the use of figure of speech would be inappropriate. He says that when a poet writes in metre, he means to differ from prose. Poetry implies passion. Moreover, Coleridge does not accept Wordsworths comment on Grays sonnet. When we come to wordsworths own poetic practice, he differs from his own theory of poetic style/diction. His poem like Tintern Abbey and Ode to the Intimations of Immortality are and illustration in po8int. regarding the poets use of metre, he says that metre has its own charm and it adds to the pleasure of poetry. Wordsworth fails to emphasize on the use of metre as metre is the integral part of poetry. Even in free v erse, here is some kind of rhythm though not recognizable. Even Wordsworth expresses his view on poets and poetry. Shelley calls the poets as unacknowledged legislators of the mankind; whereas Carlyle refers to poet as a prophet and a hero. According to Wordworth, the poet is a rock of defence for human nature. He binds together the vast empire of human society, which is spread over the whole earth and overall time. Wordsworth emphasizes his democratic view and the poet differs from other men not only in kind but only in degree. In the end we can say that Wordsworth has revolted against the eighteenth century poetic theory and the poetic style, which was prevalent at that time. Besides this, his views on the nature of poetry, role of poet and the choice of subject matter have their own significance. He has tried to practice his views in his poetry and brought his

poetry near to life. That is why he is called a literary revolutionary his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads shows his revolutionary ideas in the literary field. The Preface embodies the poetic manifesto of Romanticism. Preface to Lyrical Ballads Poems are experiments which are written to impart a sense of pleasure to the common people who did not had an access to the poetry or could not understand the poetry which was being written from ages because according to Wordsworth the poems of those times were mainly meant for the Monarchs or the Elite class. As most of us know, he was a poet of nature but basically he wanted to present his thoughts or the ideas to the common masses, had it been nature or about a common man walking by the road or some flowers and many more. All he wants that a common man should not be deprived of this pleasure and this is the reason he has used simple words and moreover a common language in his poems .He justifies himself by saying that they who have been accustomed to the gaudiness and inane phraseology of many modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to its conclusion, will, no doubt, frequently have to struggle with the feelings of strangeness and aukwardness:. And this is because those people according to him will not found The Poetry because the language he used is common and in most of his poems he has not used metrical verses. The themes which he had chosen are the incidents and situations from common life and have wonderfully tried to relate them by using the languages really used by men.

I feel though a poem in common language is easy to comprehend but the poems having hidden meanings or code words are interesting to read and when their meaning is understood by us there is a satisfaction attached to it. When he says that the people in rural areas or close to nature are pure to heart a strange contradiction captures the mind that the people living in towns or cities are impure in their thoughts? Well answer to this question may be that just because they are close to nature they cannot think of negative aspects or do some harm to the other man but this thought can be present in a person living in towns or cities also though he may not be so close to the nature .He too can feel in the same way the person living in rural area can feel.

When he talks about the other eminent poets of earlier times he tends to mock them because they wrote in code words, in a difficult language, in rhyme in meters etc and he also mention that they wrote for The Elite Class but in those times that was how it use to be and its not their fault if common man is unable to understand what they have written if we see many of the poets they are also from a common background writing beautiful poetry and by saying that they had a defect in their art may be a wrong statement which in the preface Wordsworth has said many times.

Concluding my words, all I can say that his thoughts about a common man or about the low and rustic life is understandable and his piece of art, his poetry,is also beautiful, easy to understand but there was no need to give justification by writing such a long preface and repeating the same thing again n again .He could have said this in a page or so. But again I can understand his feeling that when there is a lot to say and likewise you are asked to finish it in 500 words.

After the Lyrical Ballads were published, Wordsworth later wrote a "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads," in order to inform readers of his purpose in writing poems such as "Lines Written in Early Spring," "Mad Mother," and "We are Seven." One main point of this preface is to relate Wordsworth's intention to depict the common man, using the common language of man in his poetry. Another goal outlined in the preface is to show how feeling "gives importance to the action and the situation." A third goal of Wordsworth's poetry is to illustrate the way in which poetry is a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." Wordsworth clearly achieves these goals for the most part, however seems to not fully display the way in which poetry is this "overflow of feelings." Wordsworth makes it very clear in his preface that he wants to depict the common man in a "selection of language really used by men." He achieves his goal of using common language with lines such as "And I must think, do all I can / That there was pleasure there" from "Lines Written in Early Spring," that use very simple language. His goals are also achieved as Wordsworth often chooses poor rustic settings to write his poetry about, rather than writing about the fancy courts in which Kings and Queens dwelt. For example, the main character in "Mad Mother" dwells "underneath the hay-stack warm." Also, the characters of Wordsworth's poetry, such as the "little cottage girl" in "We are Seven," are very simple people Wordsworth uses these simple people in their simple settings to illustrate how feeling "gives importance to the action and situation and not the action and situation to the feeling." In "Mad Mother" Wordsworth writes "Sweet babe! They say that I am mad, / But nay, my heart is far too glad." These lines convey the feeling and emotion that the mother feels. Her feelings give importance to the poem, because they illustrate the sadness she feels from having society looking down on her as mad. They also show how happy she is for finding one person, her baby, to love her. Without these strong emotions, the situation in the poem is nothing more than a mother holding her baby. But with the feelings expressed, the "Mad Mother" is able to give the situation feeling and meaning. While through his poetry, Wordsworth achieves most of the goals outlined in the preface, he does not seem to be completely able to show how poetry is a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." It is difficult for him to prove this, because the reader cannot see the state that Wordsworth was in when writing the poetry. Although a characters emotions might grow intense, such as when the man in "We are Seven" yells, " But they are dead; those two are dead!" This does not indicate how intense the poets' emotions are. Nothing from the poetry itself can clearly indicate the emotions felt by the poet. One can merely guess from their own experiences, that Wordsworth was driven by strong emotions, which helped to guide his poetry. For the most part, Wordsworth's collection of poems is a manifestation, illustration, and example of his ideas about poetry. He outlines the goals of his poetry in his preface, and these goals can be easily seen in his poetry. His poetry shows how important the use of common language and common situations are to him. His poetry also illustrates the way that importance comes from the feeling itself, and not the situation. While Wordsworth is unable to prove to his reader that his poetry is derived from his overflowing feelings, his poetry still serves as an excellent example about his beliefs of poetry.