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William Wordsworth Essay, Research Paper

William Wordsworth

Throughout the Romantic Period there were many excellent poets, but one is called the

greatest. William Wordsworth was born in 1770 in the town of Cockermouth, England.

Wordsworth was different than most children in the sense that he loved poetry. His unusual

writing topics have made him one of the greatest romantic poets. Many of his poems are

based on his life and beliefs. What Wordsworth is known for is writing about nature. He

learned during his childhood to love nature and what it had to offer him

(”Wordsworth,William” 1). William Wordsworth’s types of writings were seen in many

poems, but Lyrical Ballads and The Prelude were two of his main ones.

During the Romantic Period, William Wordsworths types of writings were different

than anyone else. In many of his poems, he writes about childhood events (Wordsworth,

William 3). In other poems Wordsworth takes a more serious approach. In these poems his

topic went from his childhood to the Industrial Revolution of England (U-X-L Biographies 3).

What Wordsworth is most known for is nature. Wordsworth wrote many poems about his

childhood and the Industrial Revolution, but a majority of them refer to nature (Wordsworth,

William 3).

During William Wordsworth’s early adulthood, the Industrial Revolution started in

England. Wordsworth was a person who despised the revolution. Throughout many of his

poems, he wrote about the effects that the revolution had on the common people. The

Excursion is one of his better poems that described his feelings toward the revolution. His

feelings for the revolution are shown to his readers through the eyes of a young man (U-X-L

Biographies 3). This is just one of Wordsworth’s topics of writing.

William Wordsworth is known to some people as the Nature Poet. This is because of

his many poems about nature (Wordsworth, William 3). At a young age, Wordsworth learned

to appreciate what nature had to offer him (Wordsworth, William 1). His appreciation for

nature was seen in An Evening Walk and The Prelude. These two poems describe different

things in nature that Wordsworth loved. His love for nature is also seen in Lyrical Ballads.

This is a book of many different poems. In many of them Wordsworth describes nature and

what it has to offer. Wordsworth’s love for nature has made him well known (U-X-L

Biographies 3).

In 1793 Wordsworth’s first two volumes of poetry were published. They were

Descriptive Sketches and An Evening Walk. These two volumes were not as popular as some

others (Wordsworth, William 2). The two books of poetry that have made Wordsworth

popular are Lyrical Ballads and The Prelude.

Lyrical Ballads is a book of poems in which all of Wordsworth’s topics of writing can

be seen. In 1797 Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge. A year later they published

Lyrical Ballads together. Lyrical Ballads was a collection of twenty-three poems. All but

four were written by Wordsworth (Twayne’s British Authors 4). The first twenty poems of it

described the effects that the Industrial Revolution had on nature and how this affected the

people around it (U-X-L Biographies 3). Some of the poems in Lyrical Ballads were “The

Idiot Boy”, “Peter Bell”, “Goody Blake and Harry Gill”, and “Simon Lee” (Twayne’s Author

Series 14). “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” is the most influential

poem of Lyrical Ballad (Twayne’s Author Series 28). Lyrical Ballads is a collection of

poems that has made Wordsworth well-known.

“The Idiot Boy” is another poem that Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads. In this poem

Johnny Foe is the idiot boy, Betty Foe is his mother, and Susan Gale is their neighbor. It

starts out with Susan falling ill. There is no doctor within a mile. Betty mounts Johnny on a

pony and sends him after the doctor (Twayne’s Author Series 17). Betty waits until midnight

then she goes to the town looking for her idiot boy. When she arrives, she asks the doctor if

he has seen her son. He replies,”no”. Betty is so worried about her son that she forgets to

send the doctor to Susan’s house. She realizes that the pony might have taken Johnny to the

families woodstack. When she arrives there she finds the pony grazing on some grass with

her son on it’s back. While this is going on Susan rises from her bed as if nothing was wrong

with her. The three are reunited and live happily (Twayne’s Author Series 18).

Wordsworths next poem in Lyrical Ballads was not Published until 1819 (Twayne’s

Author Series 19). “Peter Bell” is about a hero who is on his way home. He is walking

along the river when he decides to take a shortcut. Peter stumbles upon a donkey drinking in

a stream. He decides to steal the animal. Peter jumps on it’s back, but the donkey will not

budge. He then looks around for anyone that is watching. Peter then raises his cane and

knocks the animal to it’s knee (Twayne’s Author Series 20). He continues beating the donkey

until it lies motionless. Then, looking into the water, Peter sees the face of a dead man. He

faints from fear of what he has done. Then after awakening, he is encouraged by the donkey

to finds it’s drowned master. Peter vows to do what ever the donkey says. He mounts the

donkey and it carries towards the masters home. On the way nature plays a few pranks on

Peter to scare him. He also passes a chapel that reminds him of his sixth wife. Peter then

has a flash back of his early life. When he comes to he is at the donkey’s master’s house.

Peter is questioned for the death of the master. A preacher grabs Peter and tries to get him to

tell the truth. After a short time Peter can not take anymore and he becomes a good and

honest man (Twayne’s Author Series 21).

Another poem that was written by Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads is “Goody Blake

and Harry Gill”. This poem is about an older lady, Goody Blake, who lives alone. In this

poem Goody gets her fire wood from her neighbors hedges. One night Harry Gill, Goody’s

neighbor, catches her trespassing on his property. Harry catches her and then threatens her.

Goody Blake gets on her knees and starts to pray. She prays that God put a curse on Harry.

The curse is that he will never be warm again (Twayne’s Author Series 22). Harry Gill puts

on as many clothes as possible, but he never will be warm again (Twayne’s Author Series 23).

Wordsworth also wrote a poem about one of his neighbors, “Simon Lee”. In this

poem Simon Lee, at an early age, was the fastest person in town. There was not a person

anywhere that could catch him. Later in life he is living in poverty and bad health. Simon is

along the streets, in his later years, trying to cut a root. He can barely raise the ax. A man

sees him and offers to help. He takes the ax and with one swing he breaks the root in half.

Simon Lee is so grateful that he cries to the man.

In 1850, shortly after Wordsworth’s death, his greatest work was published. His most

famous work was titled The Prelude. The Prelude is a long poem that describes

Wordsworth’s life (Wordsworth, William 3). It did not tell the story of Wordsworth’s entire

life, just from early childhood through adolescence (Twayne’s British Authors 2). This poem

was thirteen books long when it was first finished in 1805 (Twayne’s British Authors 2).

Over the next forty-five years Wordsworth improved the poem. When it was finally

published Wordsworth had lengthened it to fourteen books (Wordsworth, William 3). When

Wordsworth died he had not titled the poem. His wife felt that The Prelude was an

appropriate title for it, so she is given credit for the title (Twayne’s British Authors 2).

In book two Wordsworth is between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. In this book

Wordsworth is slowly learning about the quality of nature. He realizes what nature has to

offer and what more it has to give. Wordsworth describes how these things were slowly

being revealed. In this book Wordsworth’s love for nature is first seen.

Book three of The Prelude is describing Wordsworth’s first year at college. When he

first arrived he was happy to be there. It did not take long for him to have a change of heart.

Wordsworth did not have any desire to learn. He thought he was just wasting his time. This

book describes how Wordsworth felt about learning (Twayne’s British Authors 3).

In book four Wordsworth writes about his first summer vacation. He is happy to be

back at his home in Hawshead. Wordsworth describes how he went back to his old way of

living before college. He describes how he could take his daily walks through nature. This

book describes a more joyous time of his life (Twayne’s British Authors 4).

In book five Wordsworth remembers a dream a friend had told him. The dream is

about a man who is alone in the desert. Then suddenly an Arab appears carrying a rock and

a shell (Barna, Mark Richard). The rock and the shell represent books. One book tells of the

destruction of the earth. The Arab hurries to bury the books before the end of the earth

comes. He is last seen drowning. This dream makes Wordsworth realize the freedom he

had with books as a young child (Twayne’s British Authors 4).

Book six of The Prelude is about his second and third years at college. Wordsworth

still did not care for college itself. His favorite time was during his summer vacations. Book

six describes a time in his life when he was extremely happy.

In book seven Wordsworth has graduated from college. In this book Wordsworth

describes how he walks the streets admiring objects that he had never noticed. In this book

Wordsworth is learning to enjoy his surroundings (Twayne’s British Authors 5).

In book eight Wordsworth describes how he came to love nature and mankind. He

learned to love nature at an early age. Wordsworth watched shepherds in the mountains with

their sheep. He noticed how beautiful nature was and how much it had to offer. Through

this he learned to love mankind (Twayne’s British Authors 5 – 6).

Book nine begins with Wordsworth traveling to France. He wanted to learn the

language. Wordsworth met Michel Beaupey, who taught him many things about France

(Twayne’s British Authors 6).

In book ten Wordsworth makes it back home from France. Shortly after arriving

England declares war on France. In book ten Wordsworth is under a lot of stress (Twayne’s

British Authors 6 – 7).

In book eleven of the final version as Wordsworth is still describing his feelings for

the war. Wordsworth feels that England has let him down by declaring war on France. He

has confidence in France that they will settle the dispute. Wordsworth ends this book by

writing a letter to Coleridge wishing him well (Twayne’s British Authors 7).

In book twelve Wordsworth writes about a different time in his life. Here he describes

how he became a idolater of analytical reason. This change caused Wordsworth to love

nature more than he ever had (Twayne’s British Authors 7 – 8).

At the beginning of book thirteen, Wordsworth has returned to his normal self.

Wordsworth wanted to learn how man really was so he went to the streets. He listened to

people’s conversations and learned all he could (Twayne’s British Authors 8).

The last book of The Prelude was book fourteen. In this book Wordsworth describes a

hike that he and a friend took up a mountain. They were going to watch the sunset. When

they reached the top Wordsworth looks and notices the mist in the valley. This sight was

something in nature that Wordsworth will never forget. At the end of the book, Wordsworth

writes tributes to Coleridge and Dorothy, Wordsworth’s sister (Twayne’s British Authors 8 -


William Wordsworth’s style of writing has influenced many people. Lyrical Ballads

and The Prelude were his two main books of poetry that showed his main topics of writing of

writing. This style has left Wordsworth with the nickname “The Nature Poet”. William

Wordsworth has changed many people’s views on nature through his innovative way of


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