William Wordsworth: Literary contribution

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      William Wordsworth (1770-1850) : In the history of English poetry Wordsworth occupies the position of a conscious rebel and reformer. He spearheaded the movement against the artificial drab poetry of the eighteenth century which was townbred and which indicated a total neglect of Nature and the humbler aspects of human life. He threw his weight against the 'poetic diction' - the gaudy, inane phraseology of the eighteenth century. He brought a new note in English poetry - both in its subject-matter and style and thus he is the leader of the Romantic movement in English poetry. He expressed the deepest aspirations of English romanticism. He saw Nature of man with new eyes and his whole work is an attempt to communicate the new vision. In his youth he came under the influence of the ideals of the French Revolution, but towards the age of 28 he was disillusioned by the atrocities perpetrated in the name of the revolution and devoted himself entirely to the worship of Nature which, alone according to him could give man happiness.

Wordsworth Born in 1770 on the edge of the Lake District and educated at the little Grammar school of Hawkshead in the heart of that picturesque country Wordsworth had spent happy years in daily communion with Nature.
William Wordsworth

      Wordsworth Born in 1770 on the edge of the Lake District and educated at the little Grammar school of Hawkshead in the heart of that picturesque country Wordsworth had spent happy years in daily communion with Nature. After some years at Cambridge he travelled in France in 1792 and became a fervent republican. But soon he was disillusioned and was attracted to the intellectual exercises of the rationalist philosopher William Godwin. But the doubts and contradictions which these intellectual exercises gave rise to led to a moral-despair from which he emerged only by returning to the study of Nature and the cultivation of poetry. By 1798 he came into association with Coleridge and jointly published the Lyrical Ballads. This work is an important landmark in the history of English poetry. Here he broke with the eighteenth century tradition and sought his subjects in the humbler aspects of life, in the elemental feelings of men and women bred and brought up in the simple surrounding of nature and country life. For these new subjects he employed a new style. He wrote in the language of common men. His poetry depended for its effect solely on his strength of feeling and imagination:

The moving accident is not my trade;
To freeze the blood I have no ready arts;
Tis my delight, alone in summer shade,
To pipe a simple song for thinking hearts.

      Wordsworth's beautiful literary verses are those which he wrote when he was between 28 and 35 years old. During this period the short poems contained in Lyrical Ballads were increased by fresh collections which contain his purest gems of poetry. He also at this time planned the writing of a long philosophical poem in blank verse in which he would expound his views on life, mankind and society. He wrote only some fragments of it. He then began with The Prelude in which he analysed the growth of his poetic genius during his childhood and youth and explained in detail the development of his attitude to nature. From 1805 until 1815 he found a noble inspiration in moral poetry, in the thought of duty and in the energy with which he attacked the Emperor. He had already written some fine patriotic sonnets : he now wrote many more, and composed his great poem The Excursion. Gradually Wordsworth became a conservative and his poetic inspiration flagged. He wrote sonnets until his death in 1850 which were included in the series called the Ecclesiastical Sonnets. After the publication of the Excursiom Wordsworth's poetical power was clearly on the wane, but his productivity was unimpaired. His late volumes include The White Doe of Rylstone, The Waggoner, Peter Bell (1819), Yarrow Revisited (1835) and the Borderers (1842), a drama.

      Among Wordsworth remarkable poems mention may be made of The Solitaru Reaner Michael, Expostulation and Reply, Yarrow Visited and Yarroro Unvisited, Laodamia, Ode on Intimation of Immortality, Lines Written On Tintern Abbey, Ode to Duty besides the longer work like The Prelude, The Excursion, etc. Wordsworth is essentially a poet of Nature. He spiritualises Nature and feels in her the presence of a spirit, whose dwelling is the light of the setting sun, the green earth and the mind of man. He believes that Nature is the greatest teacher of man. The bane of modern industrial civilisation is man's separation from Nature. He is also a poet of man. He has in his poems dealt with the simple rustics, and their elemental feelings and emotions. He idealises the child as the best prophet because a child is the symbol of innocence and purity and is untouched by the sophistication of culture. He has also revolted against 'poetic diction' and has chosen to write in the language used by man. It is true that his practices did not always fulfil his professions and his poetry was often 'bald and prosaic', but his theory and general practices indicate his rebellion against the tyranny of rules and conventions and his freshness of outlook as regards the subject-matter and style of poetry. His poetry of Nature and man gave a new direction to poetry and started what may be called democratic trend in poetry.

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