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Personal Response to William Wordsworth

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Reading William Wordsworth: A Personal Response 4

Reading William Wordsworth: A Personal Response

Much of Wordsworth’s poetry was composed outside. He often composed while walking, speaking the words aloud, but he rarely wrote as a tourist. He felt that he belonged to or lived in the places he describes and celebrates in his poetry and his poetry was startlingly original in its day.

‘Wordsworth was a revolutionary in that his writings ultimately changed the way in which most of us now perceive the natural world’, argued Ronald Sands. Dorothy Wordsworth, his sister, said of her brother that ‘starlight walks and winter winds [were] his delight.’ Intriguingly, Wordsworth’s love of nature marked a significant change from the preceding age, during which Dr. Samuel Johnson pronounced that, ‘The man who is tired of London is tired of life’. For Wordsworth, however, ‘High mountains [were] a feeling, the hum of cities torture’.

Wordsworth belongs to what is now known as the Romantic Age and the age preceding it was known as the Augustan Age. In Augustan England people wore wigs and dressed elaborately and social life centred on the city. The countryside was preferred when eventually it had been tamed, arranged, controlled, ordered; buildings were ornate and landscaped gardens were very popular.

Augustan poets favoured heroic couplets while Wordsworth frequently wrote in blank verse, as in Tintern Abbey and The Prelude. The Romantic poets focused on rugged,...

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