William Wordsworth Essay

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One of the most influential poets of his time, William Wordsworth helped usher in the Romantic movement of British literature. His works continue to entice scholars and students alike, and they evince his views on the simplistic, emotional views of the natural world. Wordsworth’s distinct view on poetry, which focused on nature, tranquility, emotion, and simplicity, and his refutation of traditional neoclassical standards formed the fundamental principles of his poetry; the originality of his internationally acclaimed poetry lead him to be recognized as one of Britain’s most prominent poets. William Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770, Cockermouth, an old town in the county of Cumberland, England. He was the second of five children. Born to a relatively wealthy background, Wordsworth was quickly sent off to Hawkshead Grammar School, where his love for poetry was first engendered. In 1787, Wordsworth began to attend St. John’s College in Cambridge, England. Before finishing his final semester, Wordsworth went on a tour of Europe, witnessing political and social conflicts that would influence his writing. For instance, Wordsworth witnessed the French Revolution, which spurred his sympathy for the common man and his interest in Nature. In 1793, after about a year in confusion over what his life’s work will be, Wordsworth published his first collections of poetry: An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. In 1798, Wordsworth would meet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a man with whom Wordsworth would start the Romantic age of English literature. Together, they published Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems that marked the beginning of this Romantic Age. While living in France, he had his first daughter, Caroline, but would leave France be... ... middle of paper ... ...ct, or that he resents censure more than he is gratified by praise” (Hazlitt 21). A Victorian critic, Stephen Gill, stated that the Victorian period critics approached Wordsworth not because of his poetry, but because reevaluating such a renowned name would augment their own reputation as critics. Another key Victorian critic, Matthew Arnold, asserted that the greatest flaw of the Romantic poetry was of its “source in a great movement of feeling, not in a great movement of mind”. (Arnold 4). Modernist Critics such as T.S. Eliot preferred concrete imagery and language, qualities mostly absent in Romantic poetry. Eliot was largely against the notion that poetry was “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling”, believing that poetry was in fact an escape from emotion. He preferred reason over irrational emotion, causing him to believe Wordsworth was too ambiguous.
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