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William Wordsworth Research Papers

Literature and poetry research papers on William Wordsworth are custom written by the writers at Paper Masters. Our writers will focus on the poetry of Wordsworth or on any aspect of his life. William Wordsworth is an important literary giant.

When looking across the broad categories of literary genres that have been identified, it becomes clear that the Romantic era was one of the most distinct and clearly delineated periods. Authors who wrote during this period had a number of commonalities in the their works. William WordsworthThese commonalities typically included:

  • The use of nature as an omnipresent and inspiring force
  • The use of personal experiences as epiphanies caused by ordinary events
  • Enlightenment through the process of emotion
  • The use of simple language to convey complex meanings
  • The inclusion of supernatural events

In order to illustrate the ways in which these elements converge to create Romantic literature, this investigation considers the work of William Wordsworth. Specifically, it focuses on his poems “The world is too much with us” and “My heart leaps up.” In each of these poems Wordsworth develops the Romantic tradition by employing many of the elements of this genre into a few succinct lines of poetry. To this end, this investigation considers the override theme of nature in Wordsworth’s poetry. In particular, it considers the presence of nature, how it promotes the personal epiphany of the author and its relationship to the supernatural. Analysis of Wordsworth’s poems will provide a full conceptualization of how Romantic literature is defined and also how it is different from other genres of literature.

As noted above the central element that will be explored within the context of Wordsworth’s poetry is the theme of nature. While this theme is not the central focus of all of Wordsworth’s poems, the two poems being analyzed in this essay contain numerous references to nature and demonstrate how nature impacted Wordsworth’s life. Because nature is seen as a central theme of Romantic poetry, this essay also includes the elements of epiphany as they relate to nature and the elements of the supernatural as they relate to the central theme of nature.

William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England in 1770. As the second child in the family, he had an older brother, two younger brothers and a younger sister. When Wordsworth was eight years old his mother died. Five years later, Wordsworth’s father, a lawyer named John Wordworth, died, leaving the family in great debt. The children were separated and for years never saw each other, since some were sent to the paternal side of the family and some, like Wordsworth, were sent to the maternal side. Wordsworth was given to his maternal grandparents. In 1787, Wordsworth began work at Cambridge, where he earned somewhat of a reputation. He led a social rather than a studious life; he had no ambition to do well in examinations, and read to please himself rather than to please his examiners.

This reading and attempt at higher education was a factor that would play into his works as an adult. While Wordsworth knew he desired to read and write as a means for both pleasure and profit, the debt that his father left the family was still being overcome. At age 25, Wordsworth received an inheritance. While he did not become a millionaire by any definition of the word, the money did allow him to work completely and solely on his poetry.

Shortly after becoming completely devoted to his poetry, he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and developed a close friendship that would span nearly two decades. This relationship was enriched on both the personal and professional levels. Together they published the first edition of Lyrical Ballads in 1798. This work is considered to be the beginning of the Romantic era in literature.

In many ways the Lyrical Ballads are different from works that both authors had previously published, and this work was different--breaking the mold that other poets used as well. According to Margaret Drabble, author of Wordsworth, there are three main differences between the poetry in Lyrical Ballads and previous works in the literary world.

  1. First, the meter is different. Instead of using the constant heroic couplet, “some of the poems are in blank verse, but most of them are in very simple ballad stanzas, with short lines and simple rhymes”.
  2. Secondly, the language has changed. Instead of the flowing, “poetic” language that flowered and embellished the works of others, “there are no purple, thrilling tides; when Wordsworth means blood, he says blood”. The language is easy to understand, and in most cases the only figure of speech used is a simile comparing one subject to another.
  3. Lastly, the subject matter was changed in Lyrical Ballads. Drabble writes, “these poems are not nature poetry or landscape poetry. Most of them are about people, but they are not about aristocrats . . . they are about ordinary people . . . with names like Michael and Susan and Simon Lee”.

While these differences and unconventional ways of developing poetry were at times, and are sometimes, still, criticized, one who understood the friendship as well as the individuals responsible for this work would realize that these differences were intentional. These differences were not made as mistakes, as some would assume would be made by inexperienced poets. These men were very sure of what they were doing, and as experienced and gifted poets, intentionally made changes in their poetry style that would make Lyrical Ballads a work that, in the 21st century, is still an important factor in the poetical world.

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