William Wordsworth(1770-1850) as a Romantic period Literature

Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth, Cumberland in 1770 which is in the northern part of England. His mother died when he was only eight years of age while his father died when he was thirteen. He studied in a small grammar school at Hawkshead where he enjoyed an unusual degree of freedom in the company of friendly teachers and farmers’ sons. Rough and rugged peasants’ sons were types of homely virtues of manhood untainted by the evils of modern civilization. There he developed faith in humanity and reverence for the elemental virtues of life.
In 1787, Wordsworth went to Cambridge University where he felt rather lonely and morose. After leaving the university, he settled in London for some time. Meanwhile, he paid two visits to France-one in 1790 and the second one in 1791-92. It was the time when the French Revolution was at its glory and it made the poet quite revolutionary. During his second visit, he fell in love with Marie-Anne Vallon which resulted in Anne giving birth to a female child. Forced to leave Anne behind to avoid punishment on the suspicion of being a royalist, he returned to England. He remained under a period of turmoil that was intensified when England went to war with France in 1793. The emotional trauma of this period in his life seems to have been displaced into the searching anxiety which underlies much of his early poetry.
Wordsworth’s revolutionary enthusiasm died soon with the excesses of the revolution including the ‘Reign of Terror’ and the rise of tyrannical Napolean. Though his relatives wanted him for the Church, his religious views evolved during his lonely but happy childhood. Moreover, the writing of William Godwin, a rationalist philosopher, influenced him against the possibility of a career in the
Church of England.
n 1795, Wordsworth settled down in Somerset with his sister Dorothy who had the most sustaining personal effect on his life. In 1797, he made friends with Coleridge who came to live nearby, and the very next year the two poets collaborated in producing Lyrical Ballads. In 1799, he moved to Grasmere and in 1802 married Mary Hutchinson. By that time he was completely disillusioned with France and Godwinism and turned back to orthodox religion. He became more conservative even in politics to the chagrin of younger poets such as Shelley and Byron. The great decade of his poetry was from 1797 to 1807. Thereafter there was a decline in the quality of his poetry. By 1830, he was acknowledged as a great poet and in 1843 he was made the Poet Laureate. He died in 1850.
The greatness of Wordsworth lies in his authenticity of tone, and the use of primitive and simple literary forms as in the Lyrical Ballads and Lucy Poems. Sometimes he develops the 18th-century discursive blank verse into an original vehicle for what John Keats has called him ‘egotistic sublime’. His technique, especially in his poems, is very impressive and treats the poor, the mad, and the senile who were normally disregarded in earlier poetry.
Wordsworth’s literary career covered a long period of time from 1798 to 1850. During this period he wrote a large number of poems, probably larger than any other poet in English literature. His excellent poems were brought out by Matthew Arnold in an anthology that has become a treasure in the literary circles of the world.

His works are:

  1. The Longer Poems:
    (a) The Lyrical Ballads (1798): It is a book often considered the beginning of the Revival of Romanticism in English. His preface to the Lyrical Ballads is considered important in the history of English literary criticism.
    (b) The Prelude (1805): It was published posthumously in 1850.
    (c) The Excursion (1814)
    (d) The Recluse: This poem was never completed.
    (e) Tintern Abbey (1798)
    (f) Ode on the Intimation of Immortality (1807)
    (g) Ode to Duty (1807)
  2. The Narrative Poems:
    (a) Laodamia
    (b) Michael (1800)
    (c) The Leech Gatherer
    (d) The Solitary Reaper (1807)
  3. The Sonnet Series:
    (a) The Ecclesiastical Sonnets
    (b) The River Duddon Sonnets
    (c) The Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty and Order
    (d) The Miscellaneous Sonnets
  4. The Lyrics and Nature Poems:
    (a) The World is Too Much With Us
    (b) The Daffodils
    (c) The Rainbow
    (d) To Milton
    (e) To the Cuckoo
    (f) Lucy Poems
    (g) We are Seven
    (h) Composed Upon Westminster Bridge
    (i) Simon Lee
    (j) Lines are written in Early Spring
    (k) Strange Fits of Passion Have I known
    (l) Goody Blake in Harry Gill
    (m) The Thorn
    (n) The Idiot Boy
    (0) The Elegiac Stanzas
    (p) The White Doe of Rylstone
    (q) Yarrow Revisited (r) Peter Bell
    (s) The Waggoner
    (t) The Sailor’s Mother
    (u) An Evening Walk
    (v) A Night Piece

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