Essay Analysis Of Wordsworth 's ' The 1800 '

Essay Analysis Of Wordsworth 's ' The 1800 '

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‘The 1800 Preface’ to The Lyrical Ballads explains, amongst other things, the circumstances and mutual agreeability that led Wordsworth and Coleridge to co-author a work representative of their ‘joint opinions on Poetry’ (LB 16). Their kinship was founded by a sense of mutual respect for one another’s ability, having admired each other’s poetry for some time before they met in person, and through a shared similar background of being educated at Cambridge and subsequent sympathies for the radical movement of the age (Sisman 24). During Wordsworth’s journey to revolutionary France in 1792 he became ‘enthralled with the Republican movement’ (Nash 136), and likewise, Coleridge also expressed interest in the reformation of social and political order, even drawing up plans in 1795 for a “Pantisocracy” – an ‘utopian commune-like society’ (Trahair 307). However, the failure of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” and subsequent Reign of Terror in France gave both poets a profound sense of disillusionment for revolutionary politics. In Wordsworth’s only play, a tragedy called The Borderers, the hero is coerced by spurious Godwinian rhetoric into murderous complicity, which can a clear ‘allegory of their [the Romantics] generation’ post-French Revolution (Perry 163). Not only did they therefore share in a generational disillusionment, Coleridge and Wordsworth were also two of the foremost “nature poets” of the period. They both believed that rural, natural life was infinitely more beneficial for the human spirit than the rapidly industrializing cities, and they had a mutual distrust of ‘urbanity, mannerism and artifice’ (Perry 164). However, although they might seem highly compatible at first glance, it is in their presentation and discussion o...


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...d thought is further explored at the moment of epiphany in Coleridge’s 1798 ‘Fears of Solitude’:

… from thy lakes and mountain-hills,
Thy clouds, thy quiet dales, thy rocks and seas,
Have drunk in all my intellectual life,
All sweet sensations, all ennobling thoughts,
All adoration of the God in Nature
All lovely and all honourable things (LB 251.181-6)

Here, Coleridge speaks of learning morality from the English landscape (Burwick 349). His view of the natural surroundings of ‘lakes’ and ‘dales’ stretching out before him quickly turns to him reflecting upon how they have nourished his ‘intellectual life’ and the last three lines bring together ‘God in Nature’ with ‘ennobling thoughts’ – unified completely by the anaphora of ‘All’. Therefore, nature in Coleridge’s work inspires thoughts that turn the mind towards intellectual contemplation and divine meditation.

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