The worthy words of Wordsworth!

Seriously, try saying that 10 times fast! And now to the point…

I absolutely loved reading Wordsworth! He’s been one of my favorite poets since high school, and I think he always will be. I mean Coleridge is okay too… but, you know…

Well, reading the Lyrical Ballads this time got me thinking about why it is exactly that I like Wordsworth so much. And I think the answer has two parts to it: the content of his poems, and their style.

I noticed that the subjects of most of the poems in the collection are ordinary people – often poor farmers or homeless people. He paints a realistic and somewhat sentimental portrait of life in rural parts of the country, where people are far from the bustling cities and in harmony with nature. These are the kind of individuals that wouldn’t usually end up in poetry, the kind whose lives might be considered insignificant or boring. But Wordsworth chooses to capture exactly this kind of lifestyle and to expose the underlying depth and meaning with which these people experience their lives.

Secondly, Wordsworth directs his poem to the reader themselves in a very inviting way. He approaches you as his equal, unlike Nietzsche, for example, who claims he is so much better than everyone else and that nobody can actually understand him. Plus, in the preface, he states that he believes that there is a formula through which he can convey his experiences to people, which will cause them to mentally feel what he felt and reach the same conclusions.  Wordsworth is very human in his writing – he does not strive too hard for marvelous poetic achievement, but rather writes as though to think on the page and calmly observe the world. His style is not poking and hateful, but reflective and contemplating.

I think the reason I like him so much is that I feel he was truly trying to help me in some way, rather than just insult me and tell me what I’m doing wrong. And what he says is true. In modern times, we are all so obsessed with celebrities and politicians and what they are doing at every moment of every day. We sometimes forget to appreciate the events of our own lives. I think Wordsworth was trying to tell us to slow down and take a look around us – to pay attention to who we are as individuals and who we are living our lives for.

TL;DR: I like Wordsworth.


2 Thoughts.

  1. Hey Iva, I’m glad you like Wordsworth’s poems and enjoyed them again on this reading. Given the title of your post, I thought you might enjoy knowing that Wordsworth published his first poem at the age of 17 in the _European Magazine_ under the name “Axiologus,” which translates as “worth [of] words.”
    The poem is a sonnet addressed to the poet and essayist Helen Maria Williams, who wrote several books of _Letters from France_ documenting the events of the French Revolution; the letters, especially the first book from 1790, are remarkable to read. Williams is listed, as “W[i]LL[ia]MS,” among the “creeping creatures, venomous and low,” or pro-French Revolutionary writers, condemned in the Gillray caricature “The New Morality” I showed during the lecture. (Her name appears in the 4th column, alongside, among others, Thomas Paine, whose printers were repeatedly prosecuted and who had to flee to France and America. That’s why he’s named in full here; he’d already been criminalized. The remaining writers listed in the line are “G[o]DW[i]N [Mary Shelley’s father; Mary Wollstonecraft’s husband, author of _The Enquirer_, which is included in the pile of documents coming out of the cornucopia, and _Political Justice_], H[o]LC[ro]FT”–an important protest novelist–and the French republican politician Lep[e]aux.) There’s no evidence Wordsworth ever actually met Williams by the way, and certainly not by 1787. The sonnet is very different from Wordsworth’s mature work: it’s interesting to assess the changes and think about where they came from. You can read the poem at Best wishes, Miranda Burgess

  2. Nice reflections here! I do see your points, that he is talking about ordinary people and also to ordinary people–us. I have often wondered why I am not as enamoured of much poetry as I am of fiction. I think I often feel intimidated, like there is some deep meaning that I’m just not getting, and if only I were smarter, or more versed in poetry and theories of poetry, then I’d get it. But I don’t feel that way at all with these poems. Well, actually, I still feel that way with “Tinturn Abbey,” but the lecture really helped me understand that one better. One does get the sense that he wanted these poems to speak to many people, since he argues in the Preface that he chooses ordinary language, such as will be meaningful to many people over long time periods. He certainly doesn’t feel elitist in any way, which I, too, like!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Spam prevention powered by Akismet