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Lyrical Ballads

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The majority of the following poems are to be considered as experiments. They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure - William Wordsworth, from the Advertisment prefacing the original 1798 edition. When it was first published, Lyrical Ballads enraged the critics of the day: Wordsworth and Coleridge had given poetry a voice, one decidedly different to what had been voiced before.

For Wordsworth, as he so clearly stated in his celebrated preface to the 1800 edition (also reproduced here), the important thing was the emotion aroused by the poem, and not the poem itself. This acclaimed Routledge Classics edition offers the reader the opportunity to study the poems in their original contexts as they appeared to Coleridge's and Wordsworth's contemporaries, and includes some of their most famous poems, including Coleridge's Rime of the Ancyent Marinere.

118 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1798

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About the author

William Wordsworth

1,550 books1,230 followers
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a major English romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their 1798 joint publication, Lyrical Ballads.

Wordsworth's masterpiece is generally considered to be The Prelude, an autobiographical poem of his early years, which the poet revised and expanded a number of times. The work was posthumously titled and published, prior to which, it was generally known as the poem "to Coleridge". Wordsworth was England's Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 280 reviews
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book82k followers
August 23, 2019

Small volumes of verse often start literary revolutions, and this little book published in 1798 is perhaps the most revolutionary of all, It not only brought England into the Romantic Movement, but also simplified English poetic diction, right up to the present day.

In 1800, Wordsworth would add the famous preface which defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" originating in "great emotion recollected in tranquility," but this influential definition provided a more sophisticated rationale for what was a simple experiment by two young poets. They used every day speech to create the most forceful poetic expressions possible by 1) telling realistic stories of humble English people, often in their own voices (Wordsworth) and 2) creating fantastic tales in the plain though archaic language of the the old English ballad (Coleridge). By so doing, they hoped to invigorate the pastoral, dignify the gothic, and create something new as well.

Wordsworth performs his task ably, endowing his simple people with full humanity, evoking our pity on their behalf. Occasionally, his poems are too long--"The Idiot Boy" comes immediately to mind--but, even at his "words-words" redundant worst, he gives--for the first time, I believe--poor country people a dignified human voice, thus preparing the way for Hardy and Steinbeck and many writers to come.

This first edition consists of nineteen poems by Wordsworth and four by Coleridge. This isn't as imbalanced as it may seem, for one of Coleridge's four poems is the impressive--and lengthy--"Rime of the Ancient Mariner." In this imitation ballad, Coleridge takes Chatterton's experiment in antiquarian forgery and transforms it into great literature. His archaic diction seems vivid and new, and allows his contemporary Romantic theme--the reverence for nature in all her wild variety--to speak with the authority of the ages.

"Mariner" and "Tintern Abbey" are undoubtedly the two greatest poems in this collection, but each and every poem is worth your time. If on occasion--particularly in Wordsworth--a phrase may strike you as trite and sentimental, remember that Wordsworth was the one who "made it new." The triteness, the sentimentality came after.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
October 26, 2017
Who wants a revolution?

Well Wordsworth and Coleridge certainly did. Their writing existed in the intellectual aftermath of the French revolution; thus, they tried to radicalise it and revolutionise it. With Lyrical ballads they, undoubtedly, changed the destiny of English literature. Granted, that’s a huge sweeping statement to make but, nevertheless, it is a true one.

No longer would poetry be the lofty language of the elites, a means for the bourgeoisie to demonstrate their intellect; it would now be the language of the common man: it would exist in a natural form, simple, basic even, so that that everybody could understand it and appreciate its beauty. Whist the two were not the first to start writing in such a way, Blake came much earlier on with his Songs of Innocence and Experience, though they were the first to actually set down what they were trying to do, to explain it and provide a critique of what they were actually doing rather than just doing it.

This work is brave and experimental and it would help to create a new class of poetry. Poetry, above all things, should have a purpose; it should aim to present human emotion and experience in a clear and considerate way. It’s not about who has the best diction or control over metrical forms: it’s about whom can portray life and human nature with the most honesty, at least, according to the preface Wordsworth added to the second edition. It’s really worth considering whist reading how many of these goals to two actually achieved.

Compare this work to something written by Shakespeare, Pope or Milton and you will clearly see the difference in complexity. The style of this poetry is far more accessible and easier to understand, but, that being said, would you have agreed if you were a common man in the early nineteenth century? Possibly not. The educated would have appreciated what was happening here, but the uneducated would not have even been able to read it never mind afford a copy. And that’s why they are “Lyrical Ballads.” Again, like Blake’s work, many of these poems were meant to be read aloud and as such would have been easy to memorise and understand upon hearing them; thus, in a way, the two poets achieved their goals.

Coleridge’s Nightingale

Lyrical ballads is undeniably one sided. Wordsworth wrote most of the poems in here, though Coleridge contributed, arguably, one of the best poems written in the English language: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I didn’t want to talk about that here though, I’ve already reviewed it separately so here’s the next best one he included:

The Nightingale
And hark! the Nightingale begins its song,
'Most musical, most melancholy' bird!
A melancholy bird? Oh! idle thought!
In Nature there is nothing melancholy.


I like it so much because it is so deeply personal. Just like Wordsworth, Coleridge explicitly voices his opinion on the beauty of nature and life; he also mocks those “venerable” poets who try to emulate these ideas but fail to do so; they are inexperienced and don’t speak with a voice that is one with nature. They write from the deplorable ball room, and spend their lives in theatres; yet, they attempt to write poetry about nature. Coleridge was one of the Lakers, a poet who wrote in the Lake District from a voice of first-hand experience, so he was a little bit of an expert. I could fell the sarcasm and annoyance oozing out of his words, but also a sense of literary superiority. Coleridge clearly felt like his voice was prominent in these matters:

My Friend, and thou, our Sister! we have learnt
A different lore: we may not thus profane
Nature's sweet voices, always full of love
And joyance! 'Tis the merry Nightingale
That crowds and hurries, and precipitates
With fast thick warble his delicious notes,
As he were fearful that an April night
Would be too short for him to utter forth
His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul
Of all its music!

You could call these words arrogance, but I think his ego is deserved. And, if you haven’t already guessed, the Nightingale is clearly Coleridge. Well, he and the other early romantic poets; they make up the flock. I love the symbolism here; he suggests because he was one with nature, he could express it perfectly in his poems. He and his friends could provoke each other’s songs and make them sweeter in the process. It’s a quaint image, and perhaps alludes to how he and Wordsworth improved each other’s art.

Wordsworth’s Wonderers

Wordsworth’s poems are not quite as varied as Coleridge’s. After reading many the lines between each become blurred as he often repeats similar themes and ideas. Sometimes he takes an old poem, and uses it to make a new one by expanding upon the ideas and depicting it in a more artful way. He would do this often, and here “Old man Travelling” felt like a very early version of “The Old Cumberland Beggar.”

Both poems depict an aged wonderer, someone who exits in nature and is vitalised by it. He roams through the landscape seemingly unaffected by the troubles of the world and mortality. But that is a lie. Under the surface, as Wordsworth reveals, is a constant preoccupation with death. It will never escape us not matter how far we may wonder. The two exist together and as such behind the surface of the wonderers is knowledge of their eventual demise or the demise of their loved ones:

Old man Travelling

“The little hedge-row birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not.
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression; every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought—He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten, one to whom
Long patience has such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing, of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect, that the young behold
With envy, what the old man hardly feels.
—I asked him whither he was bound, and what
The object of his journey; he replied
"Sir! I am going many miles to take
A last leave of my son, a mariner,
Who from a sea-fight has been brought to Falmouth,
And there is dying in an hospital."


The old man’s reply ushers in a sudden change of tone; it’s almost shocking and abrupt, but read the poem again and you will see the subtlety. The poem is simple, more so than Coleridge’s, but is also extremely effective at what it does.

These two men changed poetry forever with this; they helped to make popular a model that would eventually be adapted by later generations. This poetry is a true pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
April 7, 2021
Happy birthday, William Wordsworh, April 7.

The World Is Too Much With Us
William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 20 books2,158 followers
February 13, 2020
#20for2020 I am counting this as a complete book of poems by a single author as there are only 2 or 3 poems in this book which were not written by William Wordsworth.

Confession 1: I was very intimidated by this book. I felt like I should read it in preparation for my trip to Ambleside in April but I thought it was going to be a slog. It was not even close to a slog. It was entirely delightful.

Confession 2: I like my poetry lyrical and that is exactly what these poems are. They rhyme, they flow, and they feel good on the lips.

I loved all the references in the poems to the Lake District. As with Wordsworth I now have the Lake District in my mind's eye for the coming years ahead. I loved many of these poems but this volume includes one of my all-time favorite poems Lucy or She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways...

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
—Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!
421 reviews167 followers
September 22, 2014
I feel like an asshole, at this point, for not being able to "get" Wordsworth. Every couple of years I read Wordsworth again and there's some very bright, very compassionate, very distinguished-type person who makes beautiful, eloquent arguments in these poems' favour. But I still really just couldn't give less of a shit. I don't know. While I respect Wordsworth, there's a strange personal-type bias I have against the guy. It's a bit more like "I really wouldn't invite this dude to a party at my place." He's a bit dull. Byron, on the other hand. Coleridge. Keats. Mary Shelley probably the most distinguished guest, but only if she left ol' Perce at home. She would provide the sane and sensible, but thoroughly fucked up and entertaining counterpoint to Byron's wanton molestation of other guests, to Keats' mumbling about the beauty of my old 'Oriental' bookcase or whatever, to Coleridge all junked out on the couch.

I'm starting on The Prelude again, though, and it's pretty great. I don't even know why I didn't like it a couple years ago. So things might be changing, after all.

I think I've now accomplished my goal of writing the least insightful review of Lyrical Ballads known to humankind. But there it is.
Profile Image for Himanshu Karmacharya.
950 reviews105 followers
October 11, 2020
What started out as an expetiment for Wordsworth and Coleridge, became a major factor in bringing forth the English Romantic Movement in literature.

Even though they have employed the use of vernacular language, the poetry is so rhyming, rhythmical and beautiful. There are plenty of poems, some a love letter to nature, some stories of the common people. It contains some of their most famous poems, including Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner".

Overall, it is an absolutely delightful read.
Profile Image for Ann Klefstad.
135 reviews7 followers
November 29, 2008
Of course these are wonderful. If only he'd died a little younger, like a good lyric poet . . .
Profile Image for Yules.
168 reviews15 followers
February 22, 2023
Wordsworth and Coleridge had one of those fortuitous friendships that prove invaluable for many writers, bouncing ideas off of each other - with Coleridge, already famous, encouraging Wordsworth’s lesser known talent. They wrote this collection together in 1798; a couple of years later, Wordsworth added a “Preface” which includes some of the most memorable lines in literary criticism: “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

Though he liked rhythmic meter, Wordsworth did not believe in the use of elevated “poetic diction,” preferring instead the everyday language of ordinary people which he thought infused poetry with flesh and blood. He argued that, with the exception of meter, there was no fundamental difference between verse and prose when prose is written well. He greatly disliked the increasing speed of the industrial age, worrying that people would lose their ability to be excited by very little (I suspect he really would have hated our addiction to entertainment, but been pleased by GR and the democratization of reading).

Funny enough, my favorite lines of the collection turn the reader away from reading altogether. I would go back to them only to be spun directly around. They insist I put down the poem, close my book, look and listen – within and without – and receive my wisdom in idle passiveness.

“And bring no book, for this one day
We'll give to idleness.”

“Up! up! my friend, and quit your books,
Or surely you'll grow double.”

“The eye it cannot chuse but see,
We cannot bid the ear be still;
Our bodies feel, where'er they be,
Against, or with our will.
Nor less I deem that there are powers,
Which of themselves our minds impress,
That we can feed this mind of ours,
In a wise passiveness.
Think you, mid all this mighty sum
Of things for ever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
But we must still be seeking?”
Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
309 reviews1,456 followers
March 27, 2018
I honestly don't know how to rate this. I've just spent an entire semester talking about this book, so I know these poems quite well. That being said, this is not something I would ever pick up just for fun. I don't particularly like poetry, but I have developed a certain appreciation for this collection.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,302 reviews22.1k followers
July 21, 2009
The copy of this that I have, and have just finished reading, is a reprint of the first edition of 1798. It has no notes, other than those presented by the authors themselves, and the book probably suffers for this. I probably should have gotten hold of a version that had a good introduction – but too late now.

There are two poems in this collection that I have read before – The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere and Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey. There is a reason why these are the most famous poems from this collection, I think they are clearly the best poems in the collection and the only ones I would choose to read again.

Some of the other poems are very ‘dramatic’ – The Thorn for example and The Mad Mother both on the theme of seduced women driven mad by abandoned lovers who leave them pregnant – but the themes seem quaint. I also felt the images were perhaps a little too ‘easy’. Not something I could ever say about the images in The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere .

There is a self-confidence in Coleridge’s Rime that really marks it out as something special compared with many of the other poems here. The idea of an old man stopping you on your way to a wedding and you stopping to listen to the point of missing the wedding tells you that the story being told is going to have to be one worth listening to. I don’t think there is any threat of someone missing a wedding to finish hearing the ballad of The Idiot Boy. The images of killing the albatross with a cross-bow, of wearing the bird like a cross around the sailor’s neck, of all of the crew dying of thirst while surrounded by literally an ocean of water, or the dead sailors, come back to life, raising their right-arms aflame as torches – these are not the sorts of images that are easy to forget.

I had hoped I would enjoy the other poems in this collection nearly as much as I’ve always enjoyed the Rime and Tintern Abbey – but I found the others rather dull, to be honest. I do understand that this collection holds a very important place in the history of poetry, it being the first work of the Romantic Movement. All the same, I found poems like Expostulation and Reply and even Lines left upon a seat too keen to make a point – and that point being that idol reflection on nature is an unequivocal good. To me, this point – no matter how right – just wasn’t really enough to sustain my interest. However, I have to concede that much the same point is being made in Tintern Abbey and yet that poem never bothers me at all.
Profile Image for Moony.
21 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2021
Who would have thought I could enjoy (and at times even understand!!) poetry. We are seven is and always will be best girl.
Profile Image for Eliza.
16 reviews22 followers
February 10, 2017

Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me,
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet

The poetry equivalent of sinking into a hot bath and with Classic FM playing something wholesome for you in the background.
Profile Image for Becky.
832 reviews155 followers
May 17, 2013
If I continued with my theme of replacing books of the bible with works of poetry instead, I would use mostly Wadsworth to replace Proverbs. Many of these poems are cautionary tales encouraging kindness and empathy, and the rest are extolling the virtues of nature. No, going out into nature isn’t one of the commandments, but it should have been, I think we would all be better for it. Wadsworth encourages “nature baths,” a spiritual bathing in nature to cleanse the soul of the stresses of urban life. It’s a recommendation all should heed.

Some of the particularly potent verses that I feel could be good replacements for the “O Heed you Mother” rhetoric of Proverbs:
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man;
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Enough of science and of art;
Close up these barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

O reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
Profile Image for Mark.
191 reviews2 followers
April 11, 2020
I set out to approach this as a reader might have done in 1798. I realized, though, that I couldn't really do it; the way people thought about poetry then is so alien to how I think of it now, that it seemed impossible to put myself in an 18th century mindset and allow myself to be carried away with by the vibrant energy of early Romanticism. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading most of these poems, and I was occasionally struck by a brilliant line that gave me just a taste of how fresh and revolutionary this book must have seemed in 1798.
Profile Image for Holly.
111 reviews57 followers
September 2, 2015
I actually really enjoyed this poems more than I thought I would. Especially Tintern Abbey (a beautiful poem).

Romanticism isn't really my favourite area of poetry, but this definitely makes me want to explore more of Wordsworth's work!
Profile Image for Kelly.
312 reviews
February 16, 2019
It's nice to have now read this defining work of English literature in its entirety. It's about as Romantic Era as it gets - full of shepherds, innocent children, bubbling brooks, and emotional walks in the lake country. The narrative poems were my favorite although there were some standout lyrical ones as well. I wouldn't reread the entire work over and over, but I have found some new favorites.

Favorites: "Goody Blake and Harry Gill," "We Are Seven," "Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman," "Lines Written in Early Spring," "The Idiot Boy," "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "The Two April Mornings," and "Rural Architecture"

Great examples of Romantic poetry: "Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey" and "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower, &c."
Profile Image for Alice C.
50 reviews
April 10, 2022
I enjoyed this far more than i thought i would!!
Not painful to read or claggy in any way- some brilliantly light and humorous poems in here!
I enjoyed some of Wordsworth’s funny and childish poems like ‘Goody blake and Harry Gill’ ‘the last of the flock’ and ‘idiot boy’. Not convinced that Coleridge’s contributions were significant - maybe should have been called ‘poems by Wordsworth and supported by (although maybe better off without) Coleridge’
Interestingly these are a very different style to the second wave romantics and have a much lighter and more humorous tone.
Profile Image for Hoda Marmar.
487 reviews187 followers
November 13, 2017
Very well written, but the themes were not interesting to me, so the rating is completely subjective.
Profile Image for Cecilia H..
161 reviews
July 7, 2016

I give this small collection of poems by Wordsworth and Coleridge 3,5 stars. A few of the poems were a bit tedious and long for my taste but some really captured feelings and thoughts in a beautiful way. On the whole, I preferred Wordsworth's poems over Colderidge's, mainly because the latter used a more advanced and superior language which (in my case) distanced the reader from both the writer and what he was trying to say. My favorites from this collection are We Are Seven, The Thorn and The Last of the Flock. We Are Seven because of its meaning, The Last of the Flock earns a place in this category as well. And I really liked The Thorn because of the poignant and beautiful way it was written in.

I'll definitely read more of Wordsworth in the future and think that this short collection of both his and Coleridge's poems was a great start.

We Are Seven and The Thorn can both be found at Poetry Foundation, (but The Thorn was a bit too long to include here).

We Are Seven
by William Wordsworth

———A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
—Her beauty made me glad.

“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”
“How many? Seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me.

“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.

“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.”

“You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.”

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”

“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.”

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
The little Maid replied,
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
And they are side by side.

“My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

“And often after sun-set, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

“The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

“So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

“And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side.”

“How many are you, then,” said I,
“If they two are in heaven?”
Quick was the little Maid’s reply,
“O Master! we are seven.”

“But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!”
’Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”
Profile Image for Alexander Rubtsov.
33 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2020
“...If thou be one whose heart the holy forms
Of young imagination have kept pure,
Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know, that pride,
Howe'er disguised in its own majesty,
Is littleness; that he, who feels contempt

For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him
Is in its infancy. The man, whose eye
Is ever on himself, doth look on one,
The least of nature's works, one who might move
The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds
Unlawful, ever. O, be wiser thou!
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love,
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself,
In lowliness of heart.”
Profile Image for Annia Garzon.
14 reviews
February 9, 2021
I read this text in the context of having just studied the surge of Romanticism in Europe and the relationship between German Romanticism and English Romanticism for a European Literature module at university. I state this because it definitely influenced my reading experience; not only was it the reason I got to know the text and had to pick it up in the first place, but it was also what shaped the way in which I understood and interpreted both the preface and the poems. The preface (which appeared until the second edition) is truly what shaped my understanding of the text, both of each poem individually and of the anthology as a paradigm shift in English literature and what many consider to be the Manifest of English Romanticism.

Wordsworth felt the need to add the preface to the book in order to give the readers at the time an introduction to a poetry that he felt and knew was different to the widely accepted literary canon of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He attributes this innovative nature of his poetry to the way in which the poems deal with topics that he considered to be of greater importance to humankind, far beyond the creative and imaginative restrictions of metric and genre. He believed his poetry to be breaking the expectations of fixed genre in poetry through a new use of language characterised by leaving behind the excessively sumptuous and adorned but “empty” phraseology which he attributed to the way the poets of his time, in his eyes, posed with intellectual and academic superiority. In an attempt to break this tradition, Wordsworth stated that he intended for his poems to revolve around and present everyday situations using everyday language in order to, with the use of imagination as a guiding light, unravel and show the beauty that is hidden in our ordinary lives, which is, according to him, obtained through the combination of the laws of nature and the emotion of the human spectator. This is why the poems he wrote for this collection centre on the topics of nature and a rural lifestyle. He stated that people who lived like this, mostly those of a lower socio-economical position, due to their proximity to nature and their living amongst “simple” objects, were able to experience and express human passions and feelings in a clearer and more natural way, free of any external bias that might blur the true human experience. Wordsworth believed this to be reflected in the use of simple, “rural”, language, which, according to him, wasn’t contaminated with unnecessary vanities, but rather closer to one’s life experience.

The poet stated that the purpose of his works in the collection was to illustrate how all of our feelings and ideas become connected when we reach a certain state of emotion. On this same line of thought, he believed that the poet (a person with an innate sensibility, beyond average) was a sort of translator who mediated in between the world of a “real” language that stimulates the passion of a lived experience, and the world of the language that a person can produce as a response to such passion. The poet, according to Wordsworth, is someone who can connect the world through pleasure; for he —in a very Romantic fashion— believed pleasure to be the ultimate end to both poetry and shared knowledge. “All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” he states in the Preface in the same way he later exemplifies in his poems (especially those written in the first person and centring around the role of the poet). In this manifesto of English Romanticism, he not only proposed a new way of reading and criticism poetry that would change the course of literature and its canons forever but also stated an important view of his that truly reflected his own experience of the Romantic aesthetic: Wordsworth felt the need for art (specifically poetry) to be an imitation of lived experiences; he knew, however, that this was impossible given that, in his opinion, the language that poetry has at reach will always fall short to the greatness of life’s passions. He believes the poet should strive to get as close to this union of languages as possible; in a true Romantic manner, he searched for an unattainable absolute.

Maybe it was because I was so mesmerized by what he stated in the preface and how it seemed to reflect exactly the way in which I feel about nature and religion and forces far superior to humankind, but, after reading the entire work, I found that I was far more moved by Wordsworth’s poems than I was by Coleridge’s. I enjoyed the flow of the rhythm and metric, and the natural imagery that allowed me to imagine myself in the Lake District, sitting under the shade of an old tree, or, like Wordsworth wrote: “sit upon this old grey stone/ And dream my time away.” Amongst all the poems in the collection, I preferred the shorter ones because they felt as though the feelings, passions, and intensions of the poet were condensed into lines that were filled with deeper meaning and resulted in a beautiful choice of language that got amazingly close to communicating the language of experience that Wordsworth looked for. I have to make an exception amongst my favourites and add Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancyent Marinere. I loved the following the story that this poem presented and was amazed by how it fits with the chosen metric and overall enjoyed it in a way I don’t typically enjoy Coleridge’s poems. I enjoyed finding gothic and fantastic elements yet feeling a deep sense of coherence throughout the entire piece. The symbolism was definitely transcendental as, after reading the poem, I have found intertextual references to its key elements in other major works of literature (like Shelley’s Frankenstein). One of my favourite themes throughout the collection was how the poems explored the condition of an irrational human (both collective and individual) existence and gave sense to it through the wisdom and beauty that, as stated in the works, are inert to nature. As a lover of writing and an aspiring writer and poet, I found myself to be inspired by the way the poems explored, as explained in the preface, the role of the poet as a mediator who finds beauty that they translate into poetry in places where other’s can’t spot it. It made me feel as though maybe every little thing that connects us to nature has a hidden verse or rhyme and, just maybe, I could one day carve it out.

For someone who is yet to read the collection I would definitely recommend reading the preface to the 1800 edition beforehand, for it will expand the reader’s views and understanding of the poems individually and as a series of collected works, and allow them to truly grasp the key points of English Romanticism that are established in this text. If looking for an extra nerdy read, I would recommend reading and doing a small research on Romanticism as a whole movement and its characteristics. Having the university module as a guiding axis for my read definitely allowed me to enjoy it more and to be able to come to my own conclusions, not only on this text but also upon the role it plays in relationship to German and French Romanticisms.

My favourite poems in the collection: Lines: Written at a Small Distance from My House and Sent by My Little Boy to the Person to Whom They Are Addressed; Lines written near Richmond, upon the Thames, at Evening; Expostulation and Reply; The Tables Turned: An Evening Scene on the Same Subject.
Profile Image for Dihia .
134 reviews47 followers
October 25, 2020
Lyrical Ballads ( Volume I) is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge published in 1798. It is a collection that marked the beginning of English Romanticism in literature.
Ballade refers to a fixed-form medieval poem that originally represented `` dance songs '' dedicated mainly to popular society. It is a type of intangible cultural heritage joining folklore.
The main objective is to democratize the culture by trying to express oneself using everyday familiar language.
Wordsworth expresses in the preface to this collection the primary objective of his work:

The principal object then which I proposed to myself in these Poems was to make the incidents of common life interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement.

Profile Image for Hamad AlMannai.
347 reviews7 followers
December 18, 2022
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Profile Image for Shawn Thrasher.
1,844 reviews43 followers
September 11, 2023
“And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts…”
— “Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey” by Wordsworth. The second most famous poem in this collection. “ The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere” by Coleridge is probably the most famous, and we still quote, unknowingly, some of the lines “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink” is how we usually say it, although that’s not how Coleridge wrote it (“ Water, water, every where / Ne any drop to drink.”). Honestly, “The Rime…” always daunted me, but I plowed through this time. It’s a horror story! Did not know that. From what I’ve read, Wordsworth called it a “supernatural” and eventually wanted to remove it from Lyrical Ballads because it didn’t fit with the rest of the poems. Wordsworth is the poet I like more than Coleridge though. I’ve always liked his style and his love of nature.

“Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.”
— Also from “Tintern Abbey”. Stunning; you have this stop and think when you read this. Drink deeply.

“The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years.”
— hopefully everyone has moments like this (“Tintern Abbey” again).

Profile Image for Renee.
196 reviews
July 26, 2023
It’s challenging to rate a book of poems as a whole. As (in my opinion) some of these poems deserved five big fat stars, while others deserved maybe two. Overall it was wonderful to get aquatinted with “The Lake Poets” through this collection though.

My favorite were these lines from Wordsworth:

“Then come, my sister! come, I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress,
And bring no book; for this one day
We’ll give to idleness.”

If you love nature and words and are a romantic type too, I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Alison.
Author 6 books570 followers
December 20, 2018
Meh meh meh I’m Wordsworth I speak for the noble peasant meh meh meh
Profile Image for Emily.
193 reviews35 followers
October 3, 2016
Very enjoyable, once I got into it. I think it's fair to say the poems improved as the book went on, perhaps because the later ones were written later when the poets themselves had developed. Wordsworth's Preface was very interesting, in which he states his intention to write "in the ordinary language of men" rather than fanciful "poetic diction", that is to say overblown language and dead metaphors. Sometimes he had great success in this; other times, less so. Wordsworth is criticised for being too egotistical and sometimes this was certainly the case, but other times I loved to read his heartfelt description of English landscapes, specifically the dales and hills of shepherds. 'Poor Susan' tells of a country girl forced to live in a city for work:

"She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade;
The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes."

Wordsworth writes also of the transcendental power of nature:

"Up the brook
I roamed in the confusion of my heart,
Alive to all things and forgetting all."
(from 'It was an April morning')

"[on a riverbank] that blessed mood
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lightened; that serene and blessed mood
In which the affections gently lead us on
Until, the breath of this our corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul;
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things."
(from Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey)

Especially when he was not writing in verse (as in Tintern Abbey), his grasp of iambic pentameter reminded me strongly of Shakespeare. Quite remarkable.

As for Coleridge, despite the ostensible joint authorship of 'Lyrical Ballads' only four of the poems were his. None of them stood out for me, which was disappointing as after my love of 'What if you slept' (as quoted in the preface to Stiefvater's The Dream Thieves!) and 'Kubla Khan'; I was especially expecting to enjoy The Ancient Mariner, but didn't. However, I'd like to pursue both these poets further!
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