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Poetry Defined by Romantics Though Lord Byron described William Wordsworth as "crazed beyond all hope"

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Introduction

Poetry Defined by Romantics 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. To accomplish this, a great poet must possess an intimate knowledge of nature and have close interaction with all aspects of it. ...read more.

Middle

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. ...read more.

Conclusion

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. ...read more.

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