Wordsworth, Notes on Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800)


-        His declaration of belief in the primary value of the common man’s experience in the natural world as the proper subject of great poetry.


Definition of Poetry:


-        All good poetry derives from experiences of the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.

-        The poet possesses a sensibility that enables him to recall these powerful emotions in moments of reflective tranquility.

-        ‘sensibility’ : a capacity of emotion or feeling as distinguished from intellect or will;   a peculiar susceptibility to pleasurable or painful impressions, a refined sensitivity in emotions and taste with special responsiveness to the pathetic. (Webster)


Purpose of his Ballads:


-        Wordsworth sought to show how ideas and emotions are associated in states of excitement, “to follow the fluxes and refluxes of the mind when agitated by the great and simple affections of our nature.” (Preface to Lyrical Ballads)

-        Wordsworth’s ballads appeal to “the inherent and indestructible qualities of the human mind, and likewise of certain powers in the great and permanent objects that act upon it”.

-        In other words, man contacts the divine not in nature itself, not in the intense emotion of the moment, but in the imaginative way in which we reconstruct a moment of emotion.


Rustic Subjects:


-        He discovered the primary laws of human nature in incidents from the rustic lives of common people.

-        He preferred their plainer, more emphatic manner of speaking, less affected by rationalisms and more concerned with common sense.

-        He admired the purity of the rustic person’s simple, unelaborated expressions of emotion and his or her connection to the natural rhythms of life.