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Synopsis: William Wordsworth sought to revolutionise poetry in the eighteenth century. He believed that the beauty of his home in the Lake District, local folk tales and the occurrences of everyday rural life were as fit a subject for poetry as an epic battle.
I started reading this rather hefty collection with a sense of foreboding, as required reading for my studies. However, the lovely lilting rhythms of Wordsworth’s poetry gave me momentum. Not only did I finish it much faster than I thought, but I must have enjoyed it because – high praise for required reading – I never complained about it once!
This collection contains a sample of Wordsworth’s prose essays as well as poetry, but I found it rather heavy and pompous in tone. Nowadays we’re not used to having a preface where the writer explains why we should like their work, and that if we don’t. we must be lacking in intelligence!
I would hopefully have met Wordsworth’s approval though, as I much preferred the understated power of his poetry.
The best way to read Wordsworth’s poetry is out loud – trust me, it’s worth the risk of people thinking you’re a universally acknowledged weirdo!
Rather than elevated poetic diction, Wordsworth selected the ‘common language of men’ for his poetry (and future students would thank him for it). As a result, even though many were written in the eighteenth century, the poems do not feel at all laborious to read.
Still, like all good poetry, it remains endlessly quotable…
Wordsworth is most famous for his picturesque poems, but I liked those focussed on people the most. He revolutionised poetry by including ordinary people as a subject of his work, rather than just the aristocracy. I found that these poems, constructing moving and poignant stories from everyday life, are the ones that still resonate today.
“Wisdom is oft-times nearer when we stoop
Than when we soar”
Read if: you want an introduction to Romantic-era poetry with a collection that will make you relish life.
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Have you read any poetry recently? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!