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William Wordsworth Essay, Research Paper
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,
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
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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