The first volume of William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads (1798) was published, as Wordsworth states in Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802), "...as an experiment." (482). The introduction to Lyrical Ballads by William Richey and Daniel Robinson suggests that the experiment contested the valued literature of the time in such a way that it sought to "strip away the pleasing illusions of late eighteenth-century art in order to reveal things as they (were)." (1). Thus Lyrical Ballads became one of the first examples of literature of the romantic era, with William Wordsworth leading as one of the authentic romantic poets. A focus on the poor and disenfranchised, written in the real "language of men," characterized literature of the romantic era, which contrasted with the literature of the neoclassical era. This literature featured an emphasis on the lives of the aristocracy and was written in a sophisticated manner (2). Although Lyrical Ballads did not seek to provide a strong reaction against Neoclassicism, evidence of such a movement is obvious in the content of its poems, namely, "Expostulation and Reply."
The poem provides an interesting conflict within itself regarding the transition from...
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William Wordsworth's Expostulation And Reply And Strange Fits Of Passion Have I Known
William Wordsworth's Expostulation and Reply and Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known
William Wordsworth is well known for his great works of poetry,
spawned from his unique idea of how good poetry should be written.
Wordsworth was a firm believer in using simple language, and more
importantly emphasized the need to have a reflective component to his
poetry. As a result of his writing poetry in the Romantic era,
elements such as nature and spirituality have a more profound effect
on the poem. In two of his own poems, “Expostulation and Reply” and
“Strange fits of passion have I known,” Wordsworth demonstrates the
use of nature and spirituality combined with his more reflective style
to create stunning poetry. Although no two poem can entirely capture
his writing style, these two are as representative as possible,
they’re alike in that they both use elements of nature and
spirituality, but dissimilar because they create different
Nature is a theme prevalent in many varieties of poetry. Many
Romantic poets, including Coleridge and Keats used nature, but in a
drastically different fashion than Wordsworth. When Coleridge and
Keats used nature in their poetry, it was often portrayed as this
destructive horrible force that should be avoided. They would both
often juxtapose a harsh natural environment such as a stormy winter as
in Keats’ “The Eve of St. Agnes” with a warm, safe, and inviting
interior. Wordsworth shows nature in a much more positive light, and
uses it to enhance the mood of his poetry. From the fourth stanza of
“Expostulation and Reply” we see “One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake,
/When life was sweet, I knew not why.” These two lines help to create
a tranquil. The poem itself advocates the notion of viewing nature as
a more positive force. The friend with whom Wordsworth is conversing
wonders why he isn’t using books to learn. The dialogue that is
exchanged between the two shows Wordsworth’s stance on the superiority
of nature as a teacher than traditional books.
Similarly, nature is shown to be a gentle and peaceful part of his
poetry in “Strange fits of passion have I known.” This poem is very
much reflective, an aspect of his poetry which we should not be
surprised to see at all. “When she I loved looked every day /Fresh as
a rose in June, /I to her cottage bent my way, /Beneath an evening
moon.” (lines 5-8) Just as in “Expostulation and Reply,” Wordsworth
sets up a natural scene to convey a feeling of serenity. Later in
lines 13-16 he writes, “And now we reached the orchard-plot; /And, as
we climbed the hill, /The sinking moon to Lucy’s cot /Came near, and
nearer still.” Wordsworth’s goal has been reached, he has met Lucy
and in their mutual happiness they spend their time traversing an
orchard-plot and up a hill. Later in line...
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