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Though Lord Byron described William Wordsworth as crazed beyond all hope and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a drunk Essay

Though Lord Byron described William Wordsworth as “crazed beyond all hope” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as “a drunk,” the two are exemplary and very important authors of the Romantic period in English literature 648. Together these authors composed a beautiful work of poems entitled Lyrical Ballads. Included in the 1802 work is a very important preface written by William Wordsworth. The preface explains the intention of authors Wordsworth and Coleridge, and more importantly, it includes Wordsworth’s personal opinion of the definition and criteria of poetry and of what a poet should be.

Although there was some disagreement about the proper diction of a good poem, Coleridge, the lesser represented author of the two in the work, agrees with most of Wordsworth’s criteria. He voices his own personal opinions, however, in his Biographia Literia. In both Lyrical Ballads and Biographia Literia, the authors’ opinions coincide in that the definition and criteria of a poem is to be a structured and carefully planned composition that stirs passionate natural emotions in the reader and that the poet is the force directly responsible for this.

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To accomplish this, a great poet must possess an intimate knowledge of nature and have close interaction with all aspects of it. Coleridge states in his Biographia Literia that “the definition sought for be that of a legitimate poem, must be one the parts of which mutually support and explain each other; all in their proportion harmonizing with and supporting the purpose and known influences of metrical arrangement” 481.

This statement illustrates Coleridge’s opinion that in order to be a poem, the composition must be properly structured and composed so that all of the sentences create an identifying rhythm while still representing a single purpose. Wordsworth also speaks of the importance of purpose-focused poetry in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads, stating that in order to be a good poem, it must have behind it a “worthy purpose” 242.

The two authors believe that a poem must have a definite direction and that the reader should be very clear as to what the poem is actually about. The authors believe that in order for a short metrical composition to be a poem, it must be organized clearly and, according to Wordsworth “also thought long and lovingly about” Preface 242. Passion and emotion were two subjects that typically characterizes the Romantic period. Exemplifying this, Wordsworth and Coleridge thought that the direct purpose of any poem should be to stir passion in the reader.

They thought that a poem should also be a work that stirred the same feeling in the reader every time it is read as if it were being read for the first time; “but that to which we return with the greatest pleasure, possesses the genuine power and claims the name of essential poetry” Coleridge 473. By this meaning, after a good poem is read once, the reader should have the desire to read it many times. The passion in the reader should also be a pleasurable one, explained by Coleridge as “immediate object pleasure” 481.

The pleasure is nicely illustrated by Coleridge in Biographia Literia in the way he speaks of the pleasure in repeating rhymes. He goes on to identify a passionate pleasure as permanent, “that nothing can permanently please which does not contain in itself the reason why it is so” 480-81. Wordsworth expands on this by explaining that the passion that is felt by the reader should be of natural descent because they are “the general passions and thoughts and feelings of men” and that “we not only wish to be pleased, but to be pleased in that particular way in which we have been accustomed to be pleased” Preface 249-51.

The pleasures that Wordsworth was referring to man being “accustomed to” are those experiences that are derived from nature. Nature in this sense may be the emotion of an experience with living nature, such as a majestic observance of a mountain, or it may be in the sense of human nature, such as the natural presence of a mother’s love. Coleridge explains that “the reader should be carried forward, by the pleasurable activity of the mind excited by the attractions of the journey itself” 481.

Since the purpose of a poem is to stir passion kindred to nature, it is the duty of the poet to convey that feeling and make it immediately apparent in his composition. The poet would therefore have to be capable of being passionate and understanding nature enough to describe it in a sensible literary form. This criterion for a poet is another aspect of which Wordsworth and Coleridge are in agreement. Coleridge says “the poet, described in ideal perfection, brings the whole soul of a man into activity, with the subordination of its faculties to each other,” and “diffuses a tone and spirit of unity that blends” 482.

This description is of the magnitude of passion that a poet must have in order to reach “the soul,” and that passion is intertwined with the soul as an emotion of it. Wordsworth writes of the poet’s duty of producing pleasure with a serious overtone, “The poet writes under one restriction only, that of necessity, of giving immediate pleasure to a human being being possessed of that information which may be expected of him not as a lawyer, physician, mariner, but as a man” 247. By this statement, Wordsworth is grouping all people together as of mankind, and more specifically as beings of nature.

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The serious overtone of this statement is elaborated on by Wordsworth in the following paragraph by replacing the description of the poet’s obligation to nature as a “restriction” to an “acknowledgement of beauty” 247. This is a point that Coleridge opposes, however, believing that language differs with occupation Taybi 94. To Wordsworth, the poet is a translator that communicates the passion felt by nature to the conscious mind of the reader. Passion as described by Wordsworth and Coleridge is derived most naturally from “situations from common explained by Coleridge as “immediate object pleasure” 481.

The pleasure is nicely illustrated by Coleridge in Biographia Literia in the way he speaks of the pleasure in repeating rhymes. He goes on to identify a passionate pleasure as permanent, “that nothing can permanently please which does not contain in itself the reason why it is so” 480-81. Wordsworth expands on this by explaining that the passion that is felt by the reader should be of natural descent because they are “the general passions and thoughts and feelings of men” and that “we not only wish to be pleased, but to be pleased in that particular way in which we have been accustomed to be pleased” Preface 249-51.

The pleasures that Wordsworth was referring to man being “accustomed to” are those experiences that are derived from nature. Nature in this sense may be the emotion of an experience with living nature, such as a majestic observance of a mountain, or it may be in the sense of human nature, such as the natural presence of a mother’s love. Coleridge explains that “the reader should be carried forward, by the pleasurable activity of the mind excited by the attractions of the journey itself” 481.

Since the purpose of a poem is to stir passion kindred to nature, it is the duty of the poet to convey that feeling and make it immediately apparent in his composition. The poet would therefore have to be capable of being passionate and understanding nature enough to describe it in a sensible literary form. This criterion for a poet is another aspect of which Wordsworth and Coleridge are in agreement. Coleridge says “the poet, described in ideal perfection, brings the whole soul of a man into activity, with the subordination of its faculties to each other,” and “diffuses a tone and spirit of unity that blends” 482.

This description is of the magnitude of passion that a poet must have in order to reach “the soul,” and that passion is intertwined with the soul as an emotion of it. Wordsworth writes of the poet’s duty of producing pleasure with a serious overtone, “The poet writes under one restriction only, that of necessity, of giving immediate pleasure to a human being being possessed of that information which may be expected of him not as a lawyer, physician, mariner, but as a man” 247.

By this statement, Wordsworth is grouping all people together as of mankind, and more specifically as beings of nature. The serious overtone of this statement is elaborated on by Wordsworth in the following paragraph by replacing the description of the poet’s obligation to nature as a “restriction” to an “acknowledgement of beauty” 247. This is a point that Coleridge opposes, however, believing that language differs with occupation Taybi 94. To Wordsworth, the poet is a translator that communicates the passion felt by nature to the conscious mind of the reader.

Passion as described by Wordsworth and Coleridge is derived most naturally from “situations from common life” Preface 241. This subject of “common life” in poetry is of particular importance to Wordsworth. Although of much lesser importance to Coleridge, both authors considered this as a one of the criteria of a good poem. Wordsworth chose the subject of common life because it is what he finds to be in closest association with nature. He says “poetry is the image of man and nature” and a “homage paid to the native and naked dignity of man” 247.

To Wordsworth, the most important type of common life was the “low and rustic life because the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in that condition,” and the “manners of rural life germinate from those elementary feelings” 241. In other words, this type of man’s feelings was more recognizable and more closely connected with the natural, or instinctive, feelings of man. Coleridge, on the other hand, uses the term “ordinary life” in his Biographia Literia 478. The different terms indicate the differing feelings of the authors on the subject.

The term “ordinary” seems to indicate a more disconnected feeling from nature and seems to be typified more by social standards, while “common” has a much more naturalistic connotation. This point is well supported in a PMLA article on Coleridge by addressing the use of the Latin phrase lingua communis Sternbach 326. Some critics argue that, rather than diction, this disagreement was over “dramatic method” but this may be incorrect Parrish 367. Their idea about diction is where the controversy between Coleridge and Wordsworth occurred, which stems from their differing views on “common” versus “ordinary” life.

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William Wordsworth thought that the poem should speak directly from common life “by fitting to metrical arrangement a selection of the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation” Preface 239. It is in this context that he describes his idea of proper poetic diction, which was the complete opposite of what was considered proper in the late 1700’s. He in fact says of his own works’ diction “found in these volumes little of what is usually called poetic diction” 244. The diction of a poem is not bound by a set of rules or binding for every poetic composition according to Wordsworth.

In his opinion, it is necessary for a poet to choose his own diction because a poet is a “man speaking to men” 246. The language of common life is the language of nature as well, so it is the best way to describe the feelings of nature. Coleridge, on the other hand, has a more formal idea of what the diction of a poem should be. He says, “My own differences from certain supposed parts of Mr. Wordsworth’s theory ground themselves on the proper diction for poetry from the mouths of men in real life under natural feelings” 483.

Coleridge doesn’t believe that common language can be applied to a wide enough public, or that certain classes wouldn’t understand it. He says, “My objection is this rule is applicable only to certain classes of poetry,” and “either need not or ought not to be practiced” Coleridge 483-84. He also explains that the common language varies with location, occupation, and culture. Coleridge thought that the proper diction of a poem could not be produced from the vocabulary of common language and had “no place in the consciousness of an uneducated man” 484.

Most critics, such as David Joplin, agree that this opposition in opinion arises from Coleridge’s more formal idea of poetry Tayebi 94. The second topic in which Coleridge disagrees with Wordsworth is on the application of prose to poetry. He directly addresses this matter in Biographia Literia by quoting from Wordsworth’s Preface, “between the language of prose and that of metrical composition, there neither is, nor can be any essential difference. ” “It is against these exclusively that my opposition is directed” 484.

Their disagreement on the concept of poetry and prose is in the purpose of each of the methods. Coleridge says that a poem is “opposed to the works of science by proposing for its immediate object of pleasure” 481. In this statement “works of science” is in reference to prose, where Coleridge is quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘The definition of good prose is – proper words in their proper places. Wordsworth says that metre is the only thing separating a “good poem” from “good prose 245.

Coleridge however elaborates on the distinction between poem and prose by explaining the emotional purposes of each, “it is discriminated by proposing itself such delight from the whole, as from each component part” 481. This means that in order for the work to be poetry, it must produce natural and passionate feelings from reading the whole, but must also do so simply by reading a small part of the poem. To Coleridge, poetry is different from prose in that, prose does not produce a fraction of the emotions that are produced by a poem, and therefore does not deserve to be called poetry.

Oxford gives the definition of prose as an ordinary form of written or spoken language without metrical structure. However, to capture the language spoken by men was the chief objective in Wordsworth’s poetry. When Wordsworth says, “no essential difference between the language of prose and of metrical composition”, he is speaking of the ordinary language spoken by men 245. The distinction between poetry and prose discussed by the authors is in agreement that a poem is something better than a work of prose.

Coleridge sys this by completely separating the definitions of the two while Wordsworth blends the two terms together by saying “poems will be found to be strictly the language of prose, when prose is well written” 245. Coleridge and Wordsworth create a definition and criteria for a poem that becomes representative for the ideology of the Romantic era. They thought that a poem should be a careful composition resulting from the passionate feelings that are experienced through nature.

They are in agreement on the criteria of a poem being that it must evoke the emotion of passion each time it is written and that it must be written about nature, whether of Earth or of the human experience. The two also believe it is the poet’s responsibility to put these emotions into words by being knowledgeable about poetry and, most importantly, having a truly intimate interaction between nature and his own mind. The two poets did seem to disagree on the actual proper structure of a poem, however, they both agreed on a basic purpose and technique that brought about an entirely new kind of poem in the beginning of the nineteenth century.

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Though Lord Byron described William Wordsworth as crazed beyond all hope and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a drunk Essay
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Though Lord Byron described William Wordsworth as "crazed beyond all hope" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as "a drunk," the two are exemplary and very important authors of the Romantic period in English literature 648. Together these authors composed a beautiful work of poems entitled Lyrical Ballads. Included in the 1802 work is a very important preface written by William Wordsworth. The preface explains the intention of authors Wordsworth and Coleridge, and more importantly, it includes Wordswort
2020-05-18 04:40:21
Though Lord Byron described William Wordsworth as crazed beyond all hope and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a drunk Essay
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