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MMaran - The Manifesto
[author: Beltramini Marilena - postdate: 2008-01-27]

Text: Preface to Lyrical Ballads

Task: Summing Up


In the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth talks about the new form of Poetry of Romanticism.


Content: in the preface Wordsworth states his belief that poetry results from "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings," and presses for the use of natural everyday diction in literary works. Moreover he emphasizes the importance of the poet's imagination and discounted adherence to arbitrary literary rules.


Poetic diction: in the new Romantic vision of poetry, language must be purified, every kind of people might understand what a poet means, it must not be a factitious language but a simple and meaningful way of writing. Moreover Wordsworth says that if poets write for a high élite of people they will suffocate the spontaneity of poetry.



  • a return to nature and to belief in the goodness of humanity;
  • the rediscovery of the artist as a supremely individual creator; the development of nationalistic pride;
  • the exaltation of the senses and emotions over reason and intellect.

In addition, romanticism was a philosophical revolt against rationalism. On the contrary,

classicism is a term that, when applied generally, means clearness, elegance, symmetry, and

repose produced by attention to traditional forms.


Poet's characteristics:  A Romantic Poet is a poet who believes emotions to be universal and nearly inexpressible.  They believe that every love has a common base, every hate a common structure etc, so that by expressing one version of love, a poem may touch the hearts of many lovers.  This is despite any extenuating circumstances, for even the most specific love flows from the same source as all the others, and thus shares a bond of mutual understanding.  Even if, as Wordsworth declares, a poet writes of an imagined feeling, that imagined feeling found its inspiration in the real feeling, or else in a circumstance likely to produce the real feeling in its experiencer, and so the poet can not deviate entirely from the feeling, but rather can express it more generally, so that most would agree and understand the poem.

So the language and feeling are both altered, and yet the poets goal remains to express the inexpressible to the best of his or her abilities, so that everyone may understand who has once felt that feeling.  This would seem nearly impossible, if the poet and the poem are both so far removed, but it is better to say that they are not removed, but generalized, specifically engineered to reach a large audience, and so simplified is the feeling and beautified is the language used.

However, according to the Romantic Poet any feeling is impossible to accurately express.  This is, in fact, why a poet practices and trains so hard to become pleasing and understandable to his or her reader, getting closer with each poem to expressing how he or she actually feels, but never in their mind acquiring the goal.  Feelings are supposed to be high, fully inexpressible things, and so the work of a poet is both gratifying in its closeness to the feeling so that others may understand, and torturing in its distance from the actual feeling the poet tries to express.