William Wordworth

Posted by Freddy on Apr-3-2011

William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland, in the Lake District. Wordsworth uses his poetry to look at the relationship between nature and human life, and to explore the belief that nature can have an impact on our emotional and spiritual lives. He also saw imagination as a powerful, active force that works alongside our senses.

William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads. In his “Preface to Lyrical Ballads”, which is called the “manifesto” of English Romantic criticism, Wordsworth calls his poems “experimental.” The year 1793 saw Wordsworth’s first published poetry with the collections An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. He received a legacy of £900 from Raisley Calvert in 1795 so that he could pursue writing poetry. That year, he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Somerset. The two poets quickly developed a close friendship. In 1797, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved to Alfoxton House, Somerset, just a few miles away from Coleridge’s home in Nether Stowey.

Wordsworth and Coleridge together has produced Lyrical Ballads(1798), an important work in the English Romantic movement. The volume gave neither Wordsworth’s nor Coleridge’s name as author. One of Wordsworth’s most famous poems, “Tintern Abbey”, was published in the work, along with Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The second edition, published in 1800, had only Wordsworth listed as the author, and included a preface to the poems, which was augmented significantly in the 1802 edition. This Preface to Lyrical Ballads is considered a central work of Romantic literary theory. In it, Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the elements of a new type of poetry, one based on the “real language of men” and which avoids the poetic diction of much 18th-century poetry. Here, Wordsworth gives his famous definition of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” A fourth and final edition of Lyrical Ballads was published in 1805.

Wordsworth received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1838 from Durham University, and the same honor from Oxford University the next year.[7] In 1842 the government awarded him a civil list pension amounting to £300 a year. With the death in 1843 of Robert Southey, Wordsworth became the Poet Laureate. He initially refused the honour, saying he was too old, but accepted when Prime Minister Robert Peel assured him “you shall have nothing required of you” (he became the only laureate to write no official poetry). When his daughter, Dora, died in 1847, his production of poetry came to a standstill.

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