Preface to Lyrical Ballads An experiment fit into metrical arrangement a selection of the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation… 263 Hope to start a poetic movement… These poems seemingly have not met the readers expectations (filled the contract 264) of what poetry should be. They who are accustomed to the gaudiness and inane phrasology of many modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to its conclusion, will, no doubt, frequently have to struggle with feelings of strangeness and awkwardness: they will look around for poetry, and will be induced to inquire by what species of courtesy these attempts can be permitted to assume that title. 264 Why? What is so different about these poems?
O THOU, by Nature taught To breathe her genuine thought In numbers warmly pure and sweetly strong: Who first on mountains wild, In Fancy, loveliest child, Thy babe and Pleasure's, nursed the pow'rs of song! Thou, who with hermit heart Disdain'st the wealth of art, And gauds, and pageant weeds, and trailing pall: But com'st a decent maid, In Attic robe array'd, O chaste, unboastful nymph, to thee I call! By all the honey'd store On Hybla's thymy shore, By all her blooms and mingled murmurs dear, By her whose love-lorn woe, In evening musings slow, Soothed sweetly sad Electra's poet ear: By old Cephisus deep, Who spread his wavy sweep In warbled wand'rings round thy green retreat; On whose enamell'd side, When holy Freedom died, No equal haunt allured thy future feet! O sister meek of Truth, To my admiring youth Thy sober aid and native charms infuse! The flow'rs that sweetest breathe, Though beauty cull'd the wreath, Still ask thy hand to range their order'd hues. While Rome could none esteem, But virtue's patriot theme, You loved her hills, and led her laureate band; But stay'd to sing alone To one distinguished throne, And turn'd thy face, and fled her alter'd land. No more, in hall or bow'r, The passions own thy pow'r. Love, only Love her forceless numbers mean; For thou hast left her shrine, Nor olive more, nor vine, Shall gain thy feet to bless the servile scene. Though taste, though genuine bless To some divine excess, Faint's the cold work till thou inspire the whole; What each, what all supply, May court, my charm our eye, Thou, only thou, canst raise the meeting soul! Of these let others ask, To aid some mighty task, I only seek to find thy temperate vale; Where oft my reed might sound To maids and shepherds round, And all thy sons, O Nature, learn my tale. Ode to Simplicity by: William Collins (1721-1759)
The principal object, then, proposed in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect; and, further, and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly, as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement. (264) What is a Poet? to whom does he address himself? and what language is to be expected from him?He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. To these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present… (269)
He considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting properties of nature. And thus the Poet, prompted by this feeling of pleasure, which accompanies him through the whole course of his studies, converses with general nature, with affections akin to those, which, through labour and length of time, the Man of science has raised up in himself, by conversing with those particular parts of nature which are the objects of his studies. (271) I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. (273) So… what does all this mean?
Terms: Synaesthesia Transcendence Sublime Pantheism Wordsworth: Poet of nature Looks to transcend the body (and bodily cares) by losing himself to the sublime aspects of nature… Like a greater power or spirit or supreme being that moves through all things It is the poets duty to write (embody, make material) the memory of such moments for all men to experience. Therefore, as a product of the enlightenment, Wordsworth attempts to find spirituality in nature, to capture the unquantafiable (sublime) in poetry. To do this he must first lose himself (transcend) in the beauty of nature. This transcendental moment uses but then blurs the senses (synaesthesia) as they / the poet moves inwards.