November 18, 2019

William claims, is based on an intrinsic human desire

William Wordsworth’s substantial poetic legacy is upheld in his
many notable poems, differing in length and weight. But certain themes that run
through Wordsworth’s poetry, and the language and imagery he employs to express
those themes, remain remarkably steady throughout Wordsworth’s material. Wordsworth
argued that poetry should be written in the natural language of common speech,
rather than in the grand and extravagant choice of words that were, at the
time, the only ones considered “poetic.” He argued that poetry should offer
access to the emotions contained in memory. And he contended that the foremost value
of poetry is to provide pleasure through a rhythmic and striking expression of
feeling—for all sympathy, he claims, is based on an intrinsic human desire for
the expression of “the naked and native dignity of man.”

Wordsworth believed that poetry should include presentations
of the ordinary in unusual ways. Lord Byron exemplified this idea in his poem
“She walks in beauty” when he describes a beautiful woman wearing a
black dress. He describes her by writing, “all that’s best of dark and
bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes.” By saying that the best of
nighttime is represented in the woman’s appearance, Byron is using an uncommon visual
aid to define her attractiveness.

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Wordsworth’s poems initiated the Romantic era by highlighting
feeling, instinct, and pleasure above conventionalism and reserve. Wordsworth’s
images and metaphors combine natural scenery, religious symbolism (as in the
sonnet “It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,” in which the evening is
described as “quiet as a nun”), and the symbols of his rural
childhood—cottages, orchards, and other places where people intersect kindly with
nature.

The Romantic Age in English literature was heavily shaped by
Wordsworth’s creations. For Wordsworth, poetry, which should be written in “the
real language of men,” is nonetheless “the spontaneous overflow of feelings: it
takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” He made it his mission
to write in the simple language of common people, expressing real accounts of
their lives.  

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