What is Typical of Lyrical Ballads Essay

What is Typical of Lyrical Ballads Essay

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What is Typical of Lyrical Ballads

The group title of the set of poems written by Wordsworth and
Coleridge presents an interesting starting point of analysis. The
phrase ‘Lyrical Ballads’ is a paradox as the genres of ‘lyrics’ and
‘ballads’ can be defined as in opposition to each other. A ‘lyric’ is
‘a poem about feeling… addressed to the reader in a manner of private
and intimate conversation’. A ‘ballad’ is ‘a narrative poem from an
anonymous point of view, often relating to characters from public or
historical events, such as war.’ Therefore the two genres are combined
under the title ‘Lyrical Ballads’, signifying an unexpected and
unusual style from Wordsworth and Coleridge. This is further evidenced
by Wordsworth, who said the ‘Lyrical Ballads’ should be seen as ‘an
experiment’, consisting of ‘poems… materially different from those
under the general approbation… present bestowed’ and that they may be
read by some with a ‘common dislike’.

One aspect of the style of ‘Lyrical Ballads’ that caused much contempt
at the time of publication is the simple language, an important
characteristic of the poems. Wordsworth tries to avoid the ‘falsehood
of description’, instead preferring to record reality in ordinary
language rather than attempting a poetic diction. Unlike many of his
contemporary poets, Wordsworth did not attempt an ornate and elevated
poetic style adorned with extravagant metaphors. However, this does
not mean the language is colloquial, but that Wordsworth takes his
language and subjects from ‘ordinary life’ hoping to show ‘the
language really spoken by men’. This is true for poems such as ‘We are
Seven’ in which the narrator meets a ‘little cottage girl’ and
questions her about her sibling...

... middle of paper ...

There are many characteristics that permeate throughout each of the
poems in the ‘Lyrical Ballads’ creating a style fundamentally
associated with Wordsworth. These qualities have a number of different
intentions, for example the simple language and the reference to
ordinary life do not alienate readers from a less educated background.
Wordsworth’s intention was for his poetry to be inclusive and the
‘Lyrical Ballads’ are infused with ordinary life, responses to loss,
growing old and the fear of death. The poems also celebrate a view of
rural life and nature as a solution to industrialisation.
Consequently, whilst many of the poems aim to engage readers for
entertainment purposes, some poems, such as ‘Last of the Flock’ and
‘Simon Lee’ not only offer a story of ordinary life but they provide
political protests on the provisions for the poor and the old.

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