William Wordsworth

  • Preface to the Lyrical Ballads
    • explained what he and Coleridge were doing and defend their new methods which were largely different from the poetry of the time
    • Wordsworth felt the modern poet needs to write for men
    • Wordsworth defines the poet as having: an intense emotional intelligence, more than average education, a certain amount of experience, acute awareness of Poetry of Old
    • Abigail proposes that Wordsworth has himself and Coleridge in mind when creating this definition
    • His definition of a poet holds great privilege and power
    • Is possible that Wordsworth was not defining the poet as privileged above man, but privileged to enlighten man
    • His idea of the Poet was received negatively, so he included the preface in later editions after hearing the response of poet community
    • Poetry is a result of a habitual meditative, reflective process
    • One experience is not enough to produce poetry – must be comparison, experience of opposite and varied feelings
    • Idea of readership is very important
  • Lines Written in Early Spring
    • diction more like prose, conversational
    • Wordsworth thinks poetry and prose are artificially separated – are related
    • No complicated, detailed imagery
    • Man lacks harmony with nature – separates himself
    • Man domesticates himself
    • What “man has made of man” – French Revolution, Industrial revolution
  • [I wandered as a lonely cloud]
    • When writing, one cannot experience the emotions fully because they are split between writing and presence in the environment
      • poetry becomes this moment of emotional peace


  • Accused of being the “egotistical sublime” by Keats because the use of “I” is so frequent in his works
  • Objective Correlative – by writing a poem, you are encapsulating a feeling which you would like to evoke in your reader
  • As a poet, he felt he did not need to use sensational subjects to make poetry work
  • We Are Seven
    • Innocence confronting Experience
    • Neither offers to change their perspective
    • The child has what may be a more abstract, complex view of her family situation and presence/existence after death
    • Similar to Blake – deceptively simple poems that contain great irony, depth, and complexities
    • By creating an imaginary relationship with her dead siblings, she creates her own abstract concept of life and even her own religious belief on death which departs from Christian tradition by proposing the souls/existences are still present
      • How does Wordsworth view this? – children are closer to reality and may not understand their truths that they utter as much as adults
      • she composes images of her siblings
      • the speaker even refers to the child as an “it”, not addressing it by name
    • Speaker seems simply amused by the encounter – “the little maid will have her will” and is insistent on arguing with the child
    • What constitutes being/existence?


  • Lines Written in Early Spring
    • tone associated with the romantics – intimate tone, as if overhearing the poem
    • written in iambic pentameter
  • First verse-paragraph
    • two signs of human existence show seclusion, present but not seen
    • very calm and quiet
    • Time  – been five years, acknowledging the scene after revisiting
    • Poem discusses what happens with your perception when you revisit something
  • Second Verse-Paragraph
    • when in settings of human and noisy environments, he recalls the scene and feels suspended in the remembrance of a scene that is so much more sublime, lasting, and beautiful
    • he sees the noise and troubles of man to be disruptive and his memories provide relief

Ode – Intimations of Immortality

  • ode – song of praise
  • the sight of nature is not as powerful or deep as it used to be for him
  • seems opposite from his observations about Tintern Abbey
  • thoughts are intruding on his relationship between himself and nature
  • he does not feel the rebirth or flourishing of his surroundings within himself
  • He does not experience this annual cycle of rebirth – is aging and advancing towards death
  • what we learn is the imprisonment of perceived ideas and expected behaviors
  • Paradox – when we know, we don’t have the ability to talk about it – when we are in the experience, we cannot express it because of lack of experience and words – once we develop and gain experience, what is expected of us, biases, the child is being imprisoned by these as it grows
    • we cannot discuss the lived experience, only the theory of it
    • as children, we do not have these prejudices, but as we grow they begin to appear and role expectations begin to arise without you even knowing
  • We murder to dissect. – when we try to analyze something, we kill it

Two-Part Prelude

  • theme: the organic relationship between himself and nature
  • documentation of emotions recollected in tranquility
  • reflection on emotions recollected is important element of the poem
  • trying to see the origin of the growth of the poets mind – of what started his development into who he is today
  • River – compares mind to a river with tributaries- what is the fountain/source?
    • identifies the river Derwent as a possible source for his knowledge
    • theme: mind as river with tributaries (infusions, begins as a trickle)
  • Refers to himself as a kind or predator
  • What appears separate and distinct, because of the Mother’s influence, is able to be seen in unity by the child
  • first intimation – child as one with mother (birth from womb and breastfeeding) and experiences first major separation in birth
    • attests to unity of all of life
    • critics see this as Wordsworth referencing the divine as female – no other reference to established religion in the poem
  • By creating these divisions/classifications, you kill the imagination and wonder in the name of knowledge and control

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