Lyrical Ballads

Preface To The Lyrical Ballads: Why Words Reject Poetry

The Lyrical Ballads, which was published in 1798, changed the course of English literature forever and ushered in the Romantic Age. The poems contained in the collection were written by two of the most influential poets of the 19th century, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge, who contributed to the book more than Wordsworth did, was considered to be an original thinker who used his understanding of ancient mythology and his knowledge of scientific discoveries to create these poems.

Wordsworth’s Intro

In the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth gives several reasons why he believes that words reject poetry. First, he says that words are too often associated with concrete meaning and lack the ability to be expressive. Second, he argues that words are often overused and lack originality. Third, Wordsworth believes that poetic imagination is often hindered by the limitations of language. He finishes his argument by stating that the goal of the poet should not be to please readers but rather to use language in a way that will make them think deeply about what they have read.

Wordsworth’s Argument – we should focus on all our senses, including sight

In the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth makes the case that we should focus on all of our senses when experiencing poetry – not just sight. He argues that words are often seen as too simple for poetry and that we should instead focus on their sound and feel. By doing so, we can connect with the emotions that they evoke. Ultimately, this will lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the poem. And while it may seem difficult at first, through time your vocabulary will grow and you’ll find it easier to understand poems written in these new styles.

This is important because it suggests how difficult learning about poetry is for people who have never done so before – yet if you stick with it, you’ll find that poems become more accessible.

Wordsworth’s Argument – vividness in poetry makes words unnecessary

 Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads

In the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth argues that vividness in poetry makes words unnecessary. He claims that if a poet can create a mental image that is more intense than anything that can be conveyed with words, then the words will only get in the way. This is why he believes that poets should avoid using descriptive language and instead focus on creating sensory images. While this may be effective in some cases, it can also result in poems that are difficult to understand.

Wordsworth ends with a call for change

At the end of the preface, Wordsworth makes a call for change. He says that the current state of poetry is unsatisfactory and that something needs to be done about it. He proposes that poets should focus on common speech and avoid using words that are not in common usage. Additionally, he believes that poets should use a more natural diction and syntax. In essence, Wordsworth is calling for a return to a more natural style of poetry.

Coleridge’s Reply

In the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Coleridge replies to his critics who argue that his poems are not real poetry because they are written in a common language. He argues that the purpose of poetry is to express emotions and that the use of poetic language actually prevents this expression. He goes on to say that the form of poetry should be based on the content, not the other way around.

Is Coleridge responding to Wordsworth directly?

 Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads

In the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Coleridge is responding to Wordsworth’s argument that poetry should be written in the language of conversation. Coleridge agrees with Wordsworth that poetry should be accessible to everyone, but he disagrees with the idea that poetic language should imitate everyday speech. Instead, Coleridge argues that poetic language should be musical and natural, drawing on the sounds and rhythms of speech without being constrained by them.

Coleridge agrees with an argument about the vividness of imagery, and doesn’t need words.

I agree with Coleridge’s argument that words can often get in the way of poetry. Sometimes, the most beautiful poems are the ones that don’t use any words at all. The best poems are the ones where the images are so vivid that they speak for themselves. In Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, William Wordsworth has a line about how the eye beholds / nothing but what is fit for its master’s need. By using only this one word- eye- and not using anything else to describe what it sees, Wordsworth is able to evoke feelings in the reader without needing to resort to any other form of language.

Coleridge thinks his response is common sense.

When I first read the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, I have to admit that I was a bit confused. Coleridge seems to be saying that words reject poetry because they are not natural. But isn’t poetry all about using words in creative ways? After thinking about it for a while, I realized that Coleridge is coming from a place of common sense. He is saying that in order for words to be poetic, they must be used in their natural state.

Note that only The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is included in this book (here are the lyrics).

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a poem that was published in the book, The Lyrical Ballads. This poem is about a sailor who tells a story of his journey at sea. The sailor uses words to describe his experience, but the words reject poetry. The reason for this is that the words are not able to create the image that the sailor wants to convey. They are not able to show the beauty of the sea or the horror of the sailors’ experience.

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