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Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth's magnum opus is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semiautobiographical poem of his early years which he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published, prior to which it was generally known as the poem "to Coleridge." Wordsworth was Britain's Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850. The Spirit of the Age/Mr. Wordsworth Mr. Wordsworth's genius is a pure emanation of the Spirit of the Age. Had he lived in any other period of the world, he would never have been heard of. As it is, he has some difficulty to contend with the hebetude of his intellect, and the meanness of his subject. With him "lowliness is young ambition's ladder:" but he finds it a toil to climb in this way the steep of Fame. His homely Muse can hardly raise her wing from the ground, nor spread her hidden glories to the sun. He has "no figures nor no fantasies, which busy passion draws in the brains of men:" neither the gorgeous machinery of mythologic lore, nor the splendid colours of poetic diction. His style is vernacular: he delivers household truths. He sees nothing loftier than human hopes; nothing deeper than the human heart. This he probes, this he tampers with, this he poises, with all its incalculable weight of thought and feeling, in his hands; and at the same time calms the throbbing pulses of his own heart, by keeping his eye ever fixed on the face of nature. If he can make the life-blood flow from the wounded breast, this is the living colouring with which he paints his verse: if he can assuage the pain or close up the wound with the balm of solitary musing, or the healing power of plants and herbs and "skyey influences," this is the sole triumph of his art. He takes the simplest elements of nature and of the human mind, the mere abstract conditions inseparable from our being, and tries to compound a new
system of poetry from them; and has perhaps succeeded as well as any one could. "Nihil humani a me alienum puto"--is the motto of his works. He thinks nothing low or indifferent of which this can be affirmed: every thing that professes to be more than this, that is not an absolute essence of truth and feeling, he holds to be vitiated, false, and spurious. In a word, his poetry is founded on setting up an opposition (and pushing it to the utmost length) between the natural and the artificial: between the spirit of humanity, and the spirit of fashion and of the world! It is one of the innovations of the time. It partakes of, and is carried along with, the revolutionary movement of our age: the political changes of the day were the model on which he formed and conducted his poetical experiments. His Muse (it cannot be denied, and without this we cannot explain its character at all) is a levelling one. It proceeds on a principle of equality, and strives to reduce all things to the same standard. It is distinguished by a proud humility. It relies upon its own resources, and disdains external shew and relief. It takes the commonest events and objects, as a test to prove that nature is always interesting from its inherent truth and beauty, without any of the ornaments of dress or pomp of circumstances to set it off. Hence the unaccountable mixture of seeming simplicity and real abstruseness in the Lyrical Ballads. Fools have laughed at, wise men scarcely understand them. He takes a subject or a story merely as pegs or loops to hang thought and feeling on; the incidents are trifling, in proportion to his contempt for imposing appearances; the reflections are profound, according to the gravity and the aspiring pretensions of his mind. His popular, inartificial style gets rid (at a blow) of all the trappings of verse, of all the high places of poetry: "the cloud-capt towers, the solemn temples, the gorgeous palaces," are swept to the ground, and "like the baseless fabric of a vision, leave not a wreck behind." All the traditions of learning, all the superstitions of age, are obliterated and effaced. We begin de novo, on a tabula rasa of poetry. The purple pall, the nodding plume of tragedy are exploded as mere pantomime and trick, to return to the
Wordsworth's unpretending . and Gothic. "Beneath the hills. "the judge's robe. He gathers manna in the wilderness. the Strophe and the Antistrophe. vulgar. Neither does he avail himself of the advantages which nature or accident holds out to him. idle. wealth. the distinctions of rank. the decorations of vanity are stripped off without mercy as barbarous. nobles. The author tramples on the pride of art with greater pride. to owe nothing but to himself. No cypress-grove loads his verse with perfumes: but his imagination lends a sense of joy "To the bare trees and mountains bare. the marshall's truncheon. he strikes the barren rock for the gushing moisture. and salutes the morning skies. Kings. he clothes the naked with beauty and grandeur from the store of his own recollections." No storm. the trump of Pindar and of Alcaeus are still. No sad vicissitude of fate. The internal pangs are ready. And grass in the green field." are not to be found here. so Mr. The decencies of costume. queens. power. the diadem on the polished brow are thought meretricious. birth. The harp of Homer. he laughs to scorn. and the breeze sighs through the withered fern. the pangs. Struggling in vain with ruthless destiny. no overwhelming catastrophe in nature deforms his page: but the dew-drop glitters on the bending flower. He chooses to have his subject a foil to his invention.simplicity of truth and nature. The Ode and Epode. no shipwreck startles us by its horrors: but the rainbow lifts its head in the cloud. The generations are prepared." As the lark ascends from its low bed on fluttering wing. The jewels in the crisped hair. the ceremony that to great ones 'longs. theatrical. the dread strife Of poor humanity's afflicted will. priests. and nothing contents his fastidious taste beyond a simple garland of flowers. the altar and the throne. the tear collects in the glistening eye. along the flowery vales. He elevates the mean by the strength of his own aspirations.
and he may be said to take a personal interest in the universe. or in daily converse with the face of nature. or to objects that recal the most pleasing and eventful circumstances of his life. Reserved. and its home! Possibly a good deal of this may be regarded as the effect of disappointed views and an inverted ambition. But to the author of the Lyrical Ballads. taught by political opinions to say to the vain pomp and glory of the world. Every one is by habit and familiarity strongly attached to the place of his birth. for his poetry has no other source or character. a link in the chain of thought. while it makes the round earth its footstool. nature is a kind of home.-"To him the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. yet haughty." seeing the path of classical and artificial poetry blocked up by the cumbrous ornaments of style and turgid common-places.) Mr. having no unruly or violent passions. He exemplifies in an eminent degree the power of association. Prevented by native pride and indolence from climbing the ascent of learning or greatness. partly perhaps from a judicious policy--has struck into the sequestered vale of humble life. scales the summits of reflection. "I hate ye. Wordsworth has passed his life in solitary musing. There is no image so insignificant that it has not in some mood or other found the way into his heart: no sound that does not awaken the memory of other years." . sought out the Muse among sheep-cotes and hamlets and the peasant's mountain-haunts. He has dwelt among pastoral scenes. he has turned back partly from the bias of his mind. and endeavoured (not in vain) to aggrandise the trivial and add the charm of novelty to the familiar. (or those passions having been early suppressed. in russet guise.Muse. so that nothing more could be achieved in that direction but by the most ridiculous bombast or the tamest servility. till each object has become connected with a thousand feelings. No one has shewn the same imagination in raising trifles into importance: no one has displayed the same pathos in treating of the simplest feelings of the heart. has discarded all the tinsel pageantry of verse. a fibre of his own heart.
do not understand them. and the one whose writings could the least be spared: for they have no substitute elsewhere. who see all things through books. Persons of this class will still continue to feel what he has felt: he has expressed what they might in vain wish to express. He has described all these objects in a way and with an intensity of feeling that no one else had done before him. Remote from the passions and events of the great world. He is in this sense the most original poet now living. Nursed amidst the grandeur of mountain scenery. seen on some wild moor. and ingrafted his own conscious reflections on the casual thoughts of hinds and shepherds. but by internal evidence one might be almost sure that it was written in a mountainous country. from its bareness. and has given a new view or aspect of nature. which can never die.The daisy looks up to him with sparkling eye as an old acquaintance: the cuckoo haunts him with sounds of early youth not to be expressed: a linnet's nest startles him with boyish delight: an old withered thorn is weighed down with a heap of recollections: a grey cloak. the learned. torn by the wind. the cataract roars in the sound of his verse. the mists seem to gather in the hollows of Helvellyn. its simplicity. the fashionable may ridicule them: but the author has created himself an interest in the heart of the retired and lonely student of nature. except with glistening eye and faultering tongue! There is a lofty philosophic tone. The vulgar do not read them. his mind seems imbued with the majesty and solemnity of the objects around him--the tall rock lifts its head in the erectness of his spirit. he has communicated interest and dignity to the primal movements of the heart of man. infused into his pastoral vein. or drenched in the rain. he has stooped to have a nearer view of the daisy under his feet. a thoughtful humanity. or plucked a branch of white-thorn from the spray: but in describing it. and in its dim and mysterious meaning. There is little mention of mountainous scenery in Mr. afterwards becomes an object of imagination to him: even the lichens on the rock have a life and being in his thoughts. the great despise. Wordsworth's poetry. its loftiness and its depth! . and the forked Skiddaw hovers in the distance.
that we can dwell upon in the same way. a dereliction of his first principles. or that they leave a mark behind them that never wears out. like that of careful sculpture. Wordsworth to the common ground of a disinterested humanity. he descends with Mr. Or if there are any of the latter's writings. They are a departure from. We might allude in particular. They are polished in style." Its glossy brilliancy arises from the perfection of the finishing. the beauty and the langour of death-"Calm contemplation and majestic pains. The last of these breathes the pure spirit of the finest fragments of antiquity--the sweetness. entitled Laodamia. as lasting and heart-felt sentiments. is more pleasing and permanent. that is. dignified in subject. it is when laying aside his usual pomp and pretension. bends a calmer and keener eye on mortality. They seem to have been composed not in a cottage at Grasmere. and the spirits of departed heroes and sages would gather round to listen to it! Mr. without being gaudy. not from gaudy colouring--the texture of the thoughts has the smoothness and solidity of marble. They either "Fall blunted from the indurated breast"-- .His later philosophic productions have a somewhat different character. with a less glowing aspect and less tumult in the veins than Lord Byron's on similar occasions. They are classical and courtly. the impression. the strength. seem mere nonsense-verses. It is a poem that might be read aloud in Elysium. that they either make no impression on the mind at all. for examples of what we mean. to the lines on a Picture by Claude Lorraine. It may be considered as characteristic of our poet's writings. the gravity. if less vivid. that we think of ten times for once that we recur to any of Lord Byron's. Wordsworth's philosophic poetry. and we confess it (perhaps it is a want of taste and proper feeling) that there are lines and poems of our author's. without affectation. and to the exquisite poem. but among the half-inspired groves and stately recollections of Cole-Orton.
both of natural description and of inspired reflection (passages of the latter kind that in the sound of the thoughts and of the swelling language resemble heavenly symphonies. to another (and we fear the largest) ridiculous. and instead of unfolding a principle in various and striking lights. were low. No one who has seen him . and the effect was like being ushered into a stately hall and invited to sit down to a splendid banquet in the company of clowns. His manner of reading his own poetry is particularly imposing. in his person. grave. Mr. and the meaning labours slowly up from his swelling breast. Wordsworth's mind is obtuse. and in his favourite passages his eye beams with preternatural lustre. except as it is the organ and the receptacle of accumulated feelings: it is not analytic. in justice and in sincerity. It affects a system without having any intelligible clue to one. fell stillborn from the press. for the most part. that we think it impossible that this work should ever become popular. mournful requiems over the grave of human hopes). saturnine. even in the same degree as the Lyrical Ballads. we believe. It was not even toujours perdrix! Mr. though few:" but we suspect he is not reconciled to the alternative. Wordsworth. He has a peculiar sweetness in his smile. and with nothing but successive courses of apple-dumplings served up. rather than theoretical. with marked features. but we must add. repeats the same conclusions till they become flat and insipid. in the tones of his voice. There was something abortive. and ill-judged in the attempt.--"and fit audience found. and an air somewhat stately and Quixotic. It was long and laboured. or they absorb it like a passion. and great depth and manliness and a rugged harmony. the fare rustic: the plan raised expectations which were not fulfilled. but synthetic. There are delightful passages in the EXCURSION. is above the middle size. The personages. He has probably realised Milton's wish. He reminds one of some of Holbein's heads. and clumsy. The EXCURSION. with a slight indication of sly humour. it is reflecting. kept under by the manners of the age or by the pretensions of the person.without any perceptible result. To one class of readers he appears sublime.
and relapsed into musing again. and he has . he was not so in his better days. that you saw Titian's picture of the meeting of Bacchus and Ariadne--so classic were his conceptions. His standard of poetry is high and severe." Perhaps the comment of his face and voice is necessary to convey a full idea of his poetry. Mr. almost to exclusiveness. He shews his honest face"-instead of representing the God returning from the conquest of India. or if one did not always understand his distinctions. If he is become verbose and oracular of late years. His language may not be intelligible. He threw out a bold or an indifferent remark without either effort or pretension. of wild men and animals that he had tamed. according to his notions of the art. but of which there are sure indications. indeed. even in a tête-à-tête. Wordsworth is often silent. scarcely of any thing above himself. as if he were a mere good-looking youth. He shone most (because he seemed most roused and animated) in reciting his own poetry. indolent. and drawn by panthers. and reserved. or boon companion-"Flushed with a purple grace. so glowing his style. in hearing him speak on this subject. but his manner is not to be mistaken. and followed by troops of satyrs. Chaucer is another prime favourite of his. It is clear that he is either mad or inspired. Thus he finds fault with Dryden's description of Bacchus in the Alexander's Feast. He admits of nothing below. have something of the same high-raised tone and prophetic spirit. In company. crowned with vine-leaves. He sometimes gave striking views of his feelings and trains of association in composing certain passages. Milton is his great idol. You would thank. or in talking about it. It is fine to hear him talk of the way in which certain subjects should have been treated by eminent poets. still there was no want of interest--there was a latent meaning worth inquiring into.at these moments could go away with an impression that he was a "man of no mark or likelihood. and he sometimes dares to compare himself with him. like a vein of ore that one Cannot exactly hit upon at the moment. His Sonnets.
because they have been supposed to have all the possible excellences of poetry." Yet Mr. We do not think our author has any very cordial sympathy with Shakespear. and the unshackled spirit of the drama. whom. and we have heard the following energetic lines quoted from it. however. and the second. the same idea is repeated three times under the disguise of a different phraseology: it comes to this--"let observation. this performance was never brought forward. must be rather at a loss to account for his strong predilection for such geniuses as Dante and Michael Angelo. Thus. and a fondness for Thomson and Collins. obscure. than the way in which he sometimes exposes the unmeaning verbiage of modern poetry. as put into the mouth of a person smit with remorse for some rash crime: "----Action is momentary. Suffering is long. "He hates those interlocutions between Lucius and Caius. "Survey mankind from China to Peru." . and infinite!" Perhaps for want of light and shade. Nothing. Wordsworth as a merely puerile writer. It is mortifying to hear him speak of Pope and Dryden.been at the pains to modernise some of the Canterbury Tales. with extensive observation. He does not much relish the variety and scope of dramatic composition. in the beginning of Dr." or take away the first line. observe mankind. Our critic has a great dislike to Gray. Wordsworth himself wrote a tragedy when he was young. or more amusing. How should he? Shakespear was the least of an egotist of any body in the world. Those persons who look upon Mr. Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes-"Let observation with extensive view Survey mankind from China to Peru"-he says there is a total want of imagination accompanying the words. can be fairer. The motion of a muscle this way or that. he will allow to have none.
and Waterloo's sylvan etchings. He also likes books of voyages and travels. the climate. that he hates the Venus of Medicis. But he sometimes takes a higher tone. In the way in which that artist works something out of nothing. we hope. We have known him enlarge with a noble intelligence and enthusiasm on Nicolas Poussin's fine landscape-compositions. It has been said of Mr. or had not this character of wholeness in it. He complains of the dry reasoners and matter-of-fact people for their want of passion. that "he hates conchology. Mr. as far from truth as they are free from malice. by the gorgeous light and shade thrown upon it. Paley. he greatly esteems Bewick's wood-cuts. and in pronouncing Rembrandt to be a man of genius. Wordsworth. the imaginative principle that brings all to bear on the same end. and declaring he would not give a rush for any landscape that did not express the time of day. that if Mr. and gives his mind fair play. we must say." But these. His list in this way is indeed small. however. pointing out the unity of design that pervades them.literally conveys the whole. the period of the world it was meant to illustrate. Wordsworth is. he would have been a more sterling writer. and transforms the stump of a tree. are mere epigrams and jeux-d'esprit. and Robinson Crusoe. and some other writers of an inoffensive modesty of pretension. In art. a sort of running satire or critical clenches-"Where one for sense and one for rhyme Is quite sufficient at one time. He condemns all French writers (as well of poetry as prose) in the lump. His eye also does justice to Rembrandt's fine and masterly effects. a common figure into an ideal object. a perfect Drawcansir as to prose writers. He approves of Walton's Angler. Wordsworth had been a more liberal and candid critic. If a greater number of sources of pleasure had been . he perceives an analogy to his own mode of investing the minute details of nature with an atmosphere of sentiment. feels that he strengthens his own claim to the title. and he is jealous of the rhetorical declaimers and rhapsodists as trenching on the province of poetry." We think. the superintending mind.
to deify men of genius as possessing claims above it. We exaggerate our own merits when they are denied by others. renders him bigotted and intolerant in his judgments of men and things. as to others. the originality. Wordsworth might plead. and the rest is scarcely worth thinking of. and would have been a person of great bonhommie and frankness of disposition. according to the old proverb. "the spoiled child of fortune:" Mr. But the sense of injustice and of undeserved ridicule sours the temper and narrows the views. that his strength lies in his weakness. Lord Byron we have called. Had he been less fastidious in pronouncing sentence on the works of others. the range of his understanding is lofty and aspiring rather than discursive. But this is a chord that jars. We might get rid of the cynic and the egotist. and are apt to grudge and cavil at every particle of praise bestowed on those to whom we feel a conscious superiority. and find in his stead a common-place man. if he had been early a popular poet. In mere self-defence we turn against the world." We are convinced. or who have been idle enough at some period of their lives. But it happens to him.open to him. To have produced works of genius. he would have borne his honours meekly. with respect to nature. but narrow. and treated more leniently. The force. is one of the heaviest trials of human patience. or vents itself in effusions of petulance . his own would have been received more favourably. makes him indifferent to so many others. and thus the genial current of the soul is stopped. and to find them neglected or treated with scorn. when it turns against us. and perhaps we have no right to complain. The simplicity and enthusiasm of his feelings. in mitigation of some peculiarities. We should "take the good the Gods provide us:" a fine and original vein of poetry is not one of their most contemptible gifts. and we shall not dwell upon it. the absolute truth and identity with which he feels some things. The current of his feelings is deep. that he is "the spoiled child of disappointment. brood over the undeserved slights we receive. except as it may be a mortification to those who expect perfection from human nature. he would have communicated pleasure to the world more frequently.
where he graduated B. and of the opinion. the family were well ed. Wordsworth has thought too much of contemporary critics and criticism. the tide has turned much in his favour of late years--he has a large body of determined partisans--and is at present sufficiently in request with the public to save or relieve him from the last necessity to which a man of genius can be reduced--that of becoming the God of his own idolatry!a A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Wordsworth. moody. however.and self-conceit.A. but of those who were made so by their admiration of his genius. and he ought not to have been surprised that his originality was not understood as a matter of course. In the preceding year. and in 1787 went to St..." He lost his mother when he was 8. which his lordship contested. and started in life. His boyhood was full of adventure among the hills. William (1770-1850). or that he resents censure more than he is gratified by praise. — Poet. Dorothy (afterwards the worthy companion of her illustrious brother). he was. like . visiting France in the first flush of the Revolution with which. prematurely cut off. at Cockermouth. s. Mr. was b... and which was not settled until his death. John's Coll. Otherwise. in 1791. of John W. attorney and agent to the 1st Lord Lonsdale. he had taken a walking tour on the Continent. in mere defiance or as a point of honour when he was challenged. except a claim for £5000 against Lord Lonsdale. in 1783 when he was 13. at that stage. The latter. William received his earlier education at Penrith and Hawkshead in Lancashire. Wordsworth's feelings are a little morbid in this respect. of uncles. Camb. and less than he ought of the award of posterity. we do not say of private friends. and violent temper. and he says of himself that he showed "a stiff. He has gnawed too much on the bridle. 1790. With the help. He did not court popularity by a conformity to established models. which otherwise his own good sense would have withheld. left little for the support of his family of four sons and a dau. and his f. We suspect that Mr. William Wordsworth. and has often thrown out crusts to the critics.
gave out. and the share of the brother and sister enabled them to live in the frugal and simple manner which suited them. who was then living at Nether Stowey in the same neighbourhood. and he returned to England shortly before his friends fell under the guillotine. appeared. to be near Coleridge. but attracted little attention. including the "Ode to Duty. and began his friendship with Scott. So much was this the case that he nearly involved himself with the Girondists to an extent which might have cost him his life. a poem descriptive of the development of his own mind. The first ed.'s circumstances enabled him to marry his cousin. His uncles were desirous that he should enter the Church. and The Evening Walk—appeared. and shortly afterwards removed to Alfoxden. Lyrical Ballads.'s contributions alone. and a legacy of £900 from a friend put it in his power to do so by making him for a time independent of other employment. The year 1807 saw the publication of Poems in Two Volumes. in the Quantock Hills. In the same year Lord Lonsdale d. and his successor settled the claims already referred to with interest. In 1804 he made a tour in Scotland. Tintern Abbey. In 1793 his first publication—Descriptive Sketches of a Pedestrian Tour in the Alps. to Germany. After over a year's absence W. He settled with his sister at Racedown. of the work appeared in 1798. accompanied by his sister and Coleridge. With the profits of this he went. which contains much of his best work. Dorsetshire. The beginning of his friendship with Coleridge in 1795 tended to confirm him in his resolution to devote himself to poetry.many of the best younger minds of the time. to which Coleridge contributed The Ancient Mariner. His funds.. One result of the intimacy thus established was the planning of a joint work. but to this he was unconquerably averse. in enthusiastic sympathy. however. to whom he had been long attached. Two years later W. Mary Hutchinson.." "Intimations of . In 1800 the second ed. among other pieces. and indeed his marked indisposition to adopt any regular employment led to their taking not unnatural offence. and where he began the Prelude. returned and settled with Dorothy at Grasmere. where he lived chiefly at Goslar. and W. of Lyrical Ballads. with several additions. containing W.
finished in 1805. was never completed. Ecclesiastical Sonnets 1822. he rises to heights of noble inspiration and splendour of language rarely equalled by any of our poets. did not materially advance his fame). was pub. had now come to his own. But it required his poetic fire to be at fusing point to enable him to burst through his natural tendency to prolixity and even dulness. and Yarrow Revisited in 1835. When at his best. a truly great and original poet.C. "being a portion of The Recluse. and received a civil list pension of £300. from Durham. his home for the rest of his life. and especially his sonnets. led him . The work of W. tranquil. and in 1839 the same from Oxf. After his death the Prelude. The White Doe of Rylstone appeared in 1815. His extraordinary lack of humour and the. when he wrote Yarrow Visited. and he also pub.Immortality. and fruitful life ended in 1850. He lies buried in the churchyard of Grasmere." "Yarrow Unvisited." and the "Solitary Reaper. imperfect power of self-criticism by which it was accompanied. however. The following year. and was regarded by the great majority of the lovers of poetry as. perhaps consequent. in 1838 he received the degree of D." W. The Excursion. through the influence of Lord Lonsdale. a Poem. notwithstanding certain limitations and flaws. is singularly unequal.. he succeeded Southey as Poet Laureate. with a salary of £400. and of which The Excursion is a part.L. the appointment of Distributor of Stamps for Westmoreland. 1843. as in the "Intimations of Immortality." In 1813 he migrated to Rydal Mount. and in the same year he received." some passages in The Excursion. Peter Bell and The Waggoner in 1819. The rest of his life has few events beyond the publication of his remaining works (which. and tokens of the growing honour in which he was held. Three years later he resigned his office of Distributor of Stamps in favour of his s. in which year also he made a collection of his poems. It had been kept back because the great projected poem of which it was to have been the preface." "Laodamia. In 1831 he paid his last visit to Scott. together with the theory of poetic theme and diction with which he hampered himself. and some of his short pieces. His long. The next year he made another Scottish tour. The River Duddon and Memorials of a Tour on the Continent in 1820.
entirely his own. White Doe and coll. works 1815. pub. and those by Knight (1882-86). of the poems. Another by Knight in 16 vols. revisits Scotland. Raleign (1903). . d. an unrivalled power of describing natural appearances and effects. He has a marvellous felicity of phrase. pub. sympathiser with French Revolution in earlier stages. visits Germany and begins Prelude. Poems in Two Volumes 1807. and 1850). including his own by Moxon (1836.. 1850. pensioned 1842. ed. pub. 1819-35. See also criticism by W. first publication Tour in the Alps and Evening Walk 1793. and others. But his great distinguishing characteristic is his sense of the mystic relations between man and nature.. Poet Laureate 1843. visits Scotland 1804 and becomes acquainted with Scott.. was the master of a noble and expressive prose style. became acquainted with Coleridge 1795. SUMMARY. and the most ennobling views of life and duty. of Lyrical Ballads. at Camb. The Excursion 1814. Morley (1888). Ecclesiastical Sonnets. second ed. includes the prose writings and the Journal by Dorothy (1896-97).—B. Myers (1880). appointed Distributor of Stamps. It should be added that W.into a frequent choice of trivial subjects and childish language which excited not unjust ridicule. etc. with him Lyrical Ballads 1798. Dowden (1893). like Milton. with whom he had many points in common. writes Yarrow Visited and pub. Lives by Christopher Wordsworth (1857). and long delayed the general recognition of his genius. 1770. Waggoner. returns to England and settles at Grasmere. Mary Hutchinson 1802. goes to Rydal Mount 1813. His influence on contemporary and succeeding thought and literature has been profound and lasting. 1845. 1800. m. There are numerous good ed. Smith (1908).
For the Scottish composer. England Died Occupation Genres Literary movement Notable work(s) 23 April 1850 (aged 80) Cumberland. 7 April 1770 Born Wordsworth House. For other uses. Wordsworth's magnum opus is generally considered to be The Prelude. Cockermouth. England Poet Poetry Romanticism Lyrical Ballads. see Wordsworth (disambiguation). a semiautobiographical poem of his early years which he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published. with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.William Wordsworth From Wikipedia. The Excursion William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who. Poems in Two Volumes. search "Wordsworth" redirects here. helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads. William Wordsworth Portrait of William Wordsworth by Benjamin Robert Haydon (NPG). the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. see William Wordsworth (composer). prior to which it was generally known .
Contents [hide] • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1 Early life 2 Relationship with Annette Vallon 3 First publication and Lyrical Ballads 4 Germany and move to the Lake District 5 Marriage and Children 6 Autobiographical work and Poems in Two Volumes 7 The Prospectus 8 The Poet Laureate and other honors 9 Death 10 Major works 11 Further reading 12 References 13 External links  Early life The second of five children born to John Wordsworth and Ann Cookson. including that of Milton. the Lake District. and Christopher. lived in a large mansion in the small town.  Wordsworth's father. His sister. as with his siblings. through his connections. Their father was a legal representative of James Lowther. John. to whom he was close all his life. who went to sea and died in 1805 when the ship of which he was Master. in addition to allowing his son to rely on his own father's library. the poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth. Along with spending time reading in Cockermouth.as the poem "to Coleridge. born after Dorothy. 1st Earl of Lonsdale and. who entered the Church and rose to be Master of Trinity College. Cambridge. They had three other siblings: Richard. the eldest. Cumberland—part of the scenic region in northwest England. was born the following year. Shakespeare and Spenser. did teach him poetry. Cumberland. and they would be distant with him until his death in 1783. At Penrith. who became a lawyer. and the two were baptised together. Wordsworth. Wordsworth would also stay at his mother's parents house in Penrith. had little involvement with their father. William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in Wordsworth House in Cockermouth. Wordsworth ." Wordsworth was Britain's Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850. the youngest. although rarely present. Earl of Abergavenny was wrecked off the south coast of England.
visiting places famous for the beauty of their landscape. There are strong suggestions that Wordsworth may have been depressed and emotionally unsettled in the mid-1790s. she and William would not meet again for another nine years. he was sent to a school in Penrith for the children of upper-class families and taught by Ann Birkett. With the Peace of Amiens again allowing travel to France. visited Annette and Caroline in France and arrived at a mutually agreeable settlement regarding Wordsworth's obligations. After the Cockermouth school. he visited Calais with his sister Dorothy and met Annette and his daughter Caroline. Because of lack of money and Britain's tensions with France. he had never seen his daughter before. and often spent later holidays on walking tours. Cambridge. and his hostile interactions with them distressed him to the point of contemplating suicide. That same year he began attending St John's College.A. calm and free. Dorothy. he took a walking tour of Europe. He fell in love with a French woman. but he supported her and his daughter as best he could in later life. and war between France and Britain prevented him from seeing Annette and Caroline again for several years. he returned alone to England the next year. he had been taught to read by his mother and had attended a tiny school of low quality in Cockermouth. The circumstances of his return and his subsequent behaviour raise doubts as to his declared wish to marry Annette. but little else. during which he toured the Alps extensively. In 1790. The Reign of Terror estranged him from the Republican movement. May Day. The purpose of the visit was to pave the way for his forthcoming marriage to Mary Hutchinson. a woman who insisted on instilling in her students traditions that included pursuing both scholarly and local activities." recalling his seaside walk with his daughter. After the death of their mother. John Wordsworth sent William to Hawkshead Grammar School in Lancashire and Dorothy to live with relatives in Yorkshire. It was at the school that Wordsworth was to meet the Hutchinsons. He returned to Hawkshead for his first two summer holidays. At the conception of this poem. and Italy. Annette Vallon. including Mary. in 1778. Caroline. Afterwards he wrote the poem "It is a beauteous evening. In 1802. whom he had not seen for ten years. degree in 1791. and Shrove Tuesday. The occurring lines reveal his deep love for both child and mother. who in 1792 gave birth to their child. Although Hawkshead was Wordsworth's first serious experience with education. Wordsworth was taught both the Bible and the Spectator. especially the festivals around Easter. who would be his future wife. and received his B. . Wordsworth visited Revolutionary France and became enthralled with the Republican movement. Wordsworth could not get along with his grandparents and his uncle. in 1802 Wordsworth and his sister. and visited nearby areas of France.was exposed to the moors. Switzerland. Wordsworth made his debut as a writer in 1787 when he published a sonnet in The European Magazine.  Relationship with Annette Vallon In November 1791.
he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Somerset. Somerset. which was augmented significantly in the 1802 edition. Wordsworth and Coleridge (with insights from Dorothy) produced Lyrical Ballads (1798). Wordsworth lived with Dorothy in Goslar. was published in the work. The second edition. an important work in the English Romantic movement. "Tintern Abbey". Dorothy and Coleridge traveled to Germany in the autumn of 1798. He wrote a number of famous poems. This Preface to Lyrical Ballads is considered a central work of Romantic literary theory. During the harsh winter of 1798–99. He and his sister moved back to England." A fourth and final edition of Lyrical Ballads was published in 1805. The volume gave neither Wordsworth's nor Coleridge's name as author. had only Wordsworth listed as the author. he began work on an autobiographical piece later titled The Prelude. While Coleridge was intellectually stimulated by the trip. its main effect on Wordsworth was to produce homesickness. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved to Alfoxton House.  Germany and move to the Lake District Wordsworth. along with Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". published in 1800. That year. one based on the "real language of men" and which avoids the poetic diction of much eighteenth-century poetry. Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the elements of a new type of poetry. despite extreme stress and loneliness. which is called the "manifesto" of English Romantic criticism. First publication and Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth in 1798. In 1797. In it. Here. about the time he began The Prelude. He received a legacy of £900 from Raisley Calvert in 1795 so that he could pursue writing poetry. now to Dove Cottage in Grasmere in the Lake District. Wordsworth calls his poems "experimental. and this time with fellow poet Robert Southey . Together. and. including "The Lucy poems". Wordsworth gives his famous definition of poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." The year 1793 saw Wordsworth's first published poetry with the collections An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. In his "Preface to Lyrical Ballads". just a few miles away from Coleridge's home in Nether Stowey. One of Wordsworth's most famous poems. The two poets quickly developed a close friendship. and included a preface to the poems.
William. John. Charles and Edward.000 debt owed to Wordsworth's father incurred through Lowther's failure to pay his aide. The following year. by Benjamin Haydon  Marriage and Children In 1802. 1842. after Wordsworth's return from his trip to France with Dorothy to visit Annette and Caroline. paid the ₤4. No issue.nearby. Married four times: Isabella Curwen (d. Later that year. Reginald.1858). William "Willy" Wordsworth (12 May 1810–1883). endurance. Gordon. William. Henry. Wordsworth married a childhood friend. Mary Gamble. Dorothy continued to live with the couple and grew close to Mary. Wordsworth. • • • • John Wordsworth (18 June 1803–1875). Helen Ross (d. 1st Earl of Lonsdale. Through this period. Mary gave birth to the first of five children. 3. . No issue. Coleridge and Southey came to be known as the "Lake Poets". Lowther's heir. three of whom predeceased William and Mary: • 1. 4. William Lowther. Mary Hutchinson. after 1858) had one daughter Dora (b. Married Fanny Graham and had four children: Mary Louisa. many of his poems revolve around themes of death. 2. Dora Wordsworth (16 August 1804 – 9 July 1847). Mary Ann Dolan (d. Portrait. 1854). Married Edward Quillinan Thomas Wordsworth (15 June 1806 – 1 December 1812). Catherine Wordsworth (6 September 1808 – 4 June 1812). 1848) had six children: Jane. separation and grief.
While it had long been supposed that Wordsworth relied chiefly on Coleridge for philosophical guidance. By 1805. The Prospectus contains some of Wordsworth's most famous lines on the relation between the human mind and nature: My voice proclaims How exquisitely the individual Mind (And the progressive powers perhaps no less Of the whole species) to the external World Is fitted:--and how exquisitely. however. While in Revolutionary Paris in 1792. across Africa and all of Europe. India. The source of Wordsworth's philosophical allegiances as articulated in The Prelude and in such shorter works as "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey" has been the source of much critical debate. to which many of Wordsworth's philosophical sentiments are likely indebted. including "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood". who was nearing the end of a thirty-years' peregrination from Madras. Stewart had published an ambitious work of original materialist philosophy entitled The Apocalypse of Nature (London. which he intended to call The Recluse. too. died in 1812. he had completed it. he began expanding this autobiographical work. . and never would. In 1804. Its reception was lukewarm. By the time of their association. Autobiographical work and Poems in Two Volumes Wordsworth had for years been making plans to write a long philosophical poem in three parts. The death of his brother. which he never named but called the "poem to Coleridge". For a time (starting in 1810). write a poetic Prospectus to "The Recluse" in which he lays out the structure and intent of the poem. in 1805 affected him strongly. including Dorothy. moved to Rydal Mount. however. The following year. the twenty-two year old Wordsworth made the acquaintance of the mysterious traveller John "Walking" Stewart (1747–1822). John. and the £400 per year income from the post made him financially secure. Two of his children. Thomas and Catherine. Ambleside (between Grasmere and Rydal Water) in 1813. Up to this point Wordsworth was known publicly only for Lyrical Ballads. He had not completed the first and third parts.  The Prospectus In 1814 he published The Excursion as the second part of the three-part The Recluse. and he hoped this collection would cement his reputation. He did. His family. In 1807. he received an appointment as Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland. but refused to publish such a personal work until he had completed the whole of The Recluse. through Persia and Arabia. where he spent the rest of his life. Wordsworth and Coleridge were estranged over the latter's opium addiction. more recent scholarship has suggested that Wordsworth's ideas may have been formed years before he and Coleridge became friends in the mid 1790s. his Poems in Two Volumes were published. having decided to make it a prologue rather than an appendix to the larger work he planned. and up through the fledgling United States. He had in 1798–99 started an autobiographical poem. 1791). which would serve as an appendix to The Recluse. Theme this but little heard of among Men.
Following the death of his friend the painter William Green in 1823. it has since come to be recognized as his masterpiece. by 1820. Wordsworth gave Annette and Caroline the money they needed for support. when they toured the Rhineland together. saying he was too old. His widow Mary published his lengthy autobiographical "poem to Coleridge" as The Prelude several months after his death. Wordsworth became the Poet Laureate. With the death in 1843 of Robert Southey. But. Grasmere. and the same honor from Oxford University the next year. Dora. He initially refused the honour. Some modern critics[who?] recognize a decline in his works beginning around the mid1810s. When his daughter. death. The two were fully reconciled by 1828. endurance. Oswald's church in Grasmere. Dorothy suffered from a severe illness in 1829 that rendered her an invalid for the remainder of her life.  Death Gravestone of William Wordsworth. In 1835. and was buried at St. In 1842 the government awarded him a civil list pension amounting to £300 a year. his production of poetry came to a standstill. he enjoyed the success accompanying a reversal in the contemporary critical opinion of his earlier works. but accepted when Prime Minister Robert Peel assured him "you shall have nothing required of you" (he became the only laureate to write no official poetry). . separation and abandonment) were resolved in his writings. Though this failed to arouse great interest in 1850.  The Poet Laureate and other honors Wordsworth received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1838 from Durham University.The external World is fitted to the Mind. since most of the issues that characterize his early poetry (loss. But this decline was perhaps more a change in his lifestyle and beliefs. Cumbria William Wordsworth died by re-aggravating a case of pleurisy on 23 April 1850. died in 1847. Wordsworth mended relations with Coleridge.
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