The essay is divided into three topics:
1. the subject and language of poetry [1-300]
2. what is a poet [345-570]
3. emotions recollected in tranquility [694-730] [835-876]
The romantic poets:
William Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Keats, and Blake.
The characteristics of the romantic poetry:
the use of Nature (meaning to move oneself from society, which is rigid and mechanical,
toward the outside. Although Nature has order but its a free, not imposing) ,
supernaturalism, the language of man.
Whey did romanticism start?
1. the publication of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s The Confessions in which he emphasize
on the individuality.
2. the French Revolution because in it the old rules were destroyed. Society was divided
and there was a big gab between the rich and the poor. The rich made up the rules
while the poor had to follow them, and they weren't fair. Therefore, the revolution came
to bring the people the power of the King and the aristocrats. Now the people are the
most important element in society.
3. the publication of the Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth was very inﬂuenced by the French
Revolution, he believed strongly in it. He believed that we should have equality in
society. The start of of the romanticism is marked by the publishing of Preface to the
Lyrical Ballads (1800). His friends told him to write the preface to explain why he the
Lyrical Ballads in the way he wrote them.
What characterizes Wordsworth’s language?
it’s simple. He used symbols, images, metaphors, rhyme, and rhythm. They are
straightforward and taken from Nature and his daily life. He employed basic themes. Also,
his language is durable, it revives through time. (Do you ﬁnd his diction conventional or
not? It’s way simpler than Shakespeare’s for example. Does his poems affect you? ) He
doesn’t use poetic diction nor personiﬁcation because for him they are mechanical.
What characterizes Wordsworth’s subjects?
His subject is always “man.” Man in relation to Nature.
He used characters. For example, the girl in his poem The Solitary Reaper . The poem
was about her in relation to her existence in Nature. She’s an ordinary commoner, he
didn’t fall in love with her, but he respects and digniﬁes her. He also conveyed this feeling
to his readers. When Wordsworth write poetry, he always look for the sublime.
Wordsworth is the ﬁrst one who was subjective in his writings.
EXAMPLE: The Table Turned. Wordsworth didn’t believe in “teach and delight” in the
classical sense. He wrote “Let Nature be your teacher.”
His deﬁnition of poetry:
spontaneous overﬂow of powerful emotions that recollected in tranquility.
• spontaneous means natural, not restricted with education or past experiences.
• overﬂow means the emotion has to be very strong.
• powerful emotions meaning that my subject has to deal with feelings over everything.
• recollected in tranquility meaning that if my emotions remain powerful after a while then
I will write about it. Because only then the poem will be as powerful as I felt at the
John Keats came up with the sublime egotistic.
• The sublime means something great, wonderful, almost divine.
• Egotism means how everything is in relation to you. (compare to Shakespeare, we can
never ﬁnd Shakespeare in his works)
[2-7] he’s explaining why he chose to write in this form.
[44-50] traditionally, ﬁrst thing occurs to us when we hear the word poetry is the form. This
is mechanical and Wordsworth rejects everything that is mechanical.
[57-59] he’s saying that he’s not following the old rules.
The Principal Object of his Poetry [76-86]:
1. to choose incidents and situations from common life.
2. to relate or describe them.
3. throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men.
4. and, at the same time, (A) to throw over them a certain coloring of imagination, (B)
whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect.
5. the primary laws of our nature: chieﬂy, as far as regards the manner in which we
associate ideas in a state of excitement. (spontaneous overﬂow of emotion)
The Subject of Poetry [86-98]:
he chooses humble life because it’s simple, easy to remember in tranquility, easier to
express, they’re essential through the passions, they’re easily understood, they’re durable,
and it’s not only about man or Nature it’s between both.
The Language of Poetry [98-110] :
he will not use terms that are shocking, bad, or dishonorable. He chose everyday
language that’s suitable because:
1. such men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of
language is originally derived.
2. and because, from their rank in society.
3. and the sameness and narrow circle of their intercourse.
4. being less under the inﬂuence of social vanity.
5. they convey their feelings and notions in simple and unelaborated expressions.
6. Accordingly, such a language, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is
a more permanent, and a far more philosophical language. (Wordsworth, like Aristotle
and Sydney, believed that poetry is better than philosophy. The romantic poetry moves
the step further in having everyday language.)
What is Poetry?
[131-132] poetry is the spontaneous overﬂow of powerful feelings.
[124-127] poetry has a worthy purpose which doesn’t come spontaneously, although
writing poetry is spontaneous but he recollect. So he meditates before writing.
[140-149] We should choose things that we are very familiar with through a process of
repetition. (This bring back the idea of mimeses which means imitation. We cannot imitate
something that we’re not familiar with). Wordsworth believed in imitation, but not that which
rigidly follows the classic rules. For example, he uses the image of green ﬁelds, and you
understand the concept of green ﬁeld and they represent something to you.
[153 - 154] to Wordsworth feelings is the most important thing I have. I can change the
characters or the plot, but feelings has to be their.
 Wordsworth lived at the beginning of the industrial revolution. And he says that if we
kept conﬁning ourselves in society that believes that we need industrialism, and excludes
all modes of beauty (drama, poetry, etc), we will become savage torpors. We’ll lose our
ability to taste beauty which will make our lives very depressed. He says we should create
something that would make our lives better and give us a change.
 The most effective causes that will lead us to be savages torpor are:
1. the great national events which are daily taking place (The French Revolution, Industrial
2. the increasing accumulation of men in cities,
3. where the uniformity of their occupations produces a craving for extraordinary incident.
(at that time there was districts specialized in one thing, one for steel factories, another
for coal factories, etc)
 this tendency of life and manners the literature and theatrical exhibitions of the
country have conformed themselves. (he says literature at that time is about the same life
and he’s against it).
 1. Wordsworth never uses a personiﬁcation. He rejects them because they’re
mechanical and they’re not a regular part of everyday language. (to Wordsworth
everything is either mechanic or organic, and he hates everything that’s mechanic)
 2. He doesn’t use conventional poetic diction. He rejects it because he wants the
language of man, besides it doesn’t suit his subjects.
 3. he preserves the real characteristics of objects that he describes. For example, if
he’s describing the sun he will describe it as having raise, and the river as having waves.
 4. “my love is like a rose” is a beautiful expression. However, it was used too many
times that it doesn’t affect us anymore. So Wordsworth is saying if the expression have
been used before, even if it’s beautiful, I won’t use it.
Language of poetry vs. Language of prose:
Wordsworth doesn’t believe that there should be any difference between them. The reason
is that the language of prose is everyday language, and he wants to write poetry that uses
 He means by ‘these men’ traditional critics, and canon means %$#"نor set of ideas
that critics believed they have to exist or the piece of literature is not good. For example,
it’s a canon of literature to have a tragic hero.
Wordsworth is says the canon of literature used to be that he needs to use a poetic diction
in his poems. However, he rejects that.
 Writing has to be good.
 the only difference between the language of prose and the language of poetry is the
rhyme scheme. There is no essential difference.
What is a poet?
1. there’s no difference between the poet and poetry.
2. poetry is about the real language of men.
a poet is a man speaking to men.
3. a poet is not nobler than other men.
4. poets have a more organic and comprehensive soul than other men.
5. he is more in touch with his own feelings.
6. he needs little stimulation to experience deep emotions.
7. he’s able to feel absent pleasures as though they were present.
8. he rejoices in his own spirit of life and seeks to discover the joy in the world.
9. has a rich memory that serves his writings.
10. he can sustain a mood of tranquility and peace.
11. he’s a lover of his fellow man and honors his dignity.
12. he rejoices in the presence of truths.
13. he’s a friend of man and binds everything together with love and passion.
Emotions recollected in tranquility [694-730] [835-876]
 Everything in nature is balanced, so everything in poetry has to be balanced as well.
The emotion I have has to be powerful, overﬂow, but this overﬂow has to be balanced in
relation to Nature. I shouldn't have powerful lines and weak lines, they have to be
 “the verse will be read a hundred times where the prose is read once.”
So poetry is better than prose.
 “metrical composition essentially different from that which I have here endeavoured
to recommend: for the Reader will say that he has been pleased by such composition; and
what more can be done for him? The power of any art is limited; ...  the powers of
language are not so limited as he may suppose; and that it is possible for poetry to give
other enjoyments, of a purer, more lasting, and more exquisite nature.”