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William Wordsworth

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William Wordsworth is possibly the greatest Romantic poet to ever live. In his writings, his use of vivid descriptions, symbolism, and imagery are unmatched by any author past or present. Reading the poetry of Wordsworth is a unique experience that is both intellectual and enjoyable. His style of writing and themes captivate the reader and make him/her feel that they are experiencing the sights and sounds described in the poem.

Throughout this report, I will discuss the life of William Wordsworth. This includes his childhood, the tragic loss of his parents at a young age, reuniting with his sister, his close friendship with fellow writer Samuel T. Coleridge, and his various travels.

Also, I will discuss Lyrical Ballads, arguably his greatest work or “magnum opus.” Lyrical Ballads is a collection of 24 poems. I will explain what this volume of poetry contains, what some of these poems mean, and the literary techniques he uses to enhance his writing.

I will also examine The Prelude, which some also regard as his “magnum opus.” This poem is actually Wordsworth’s autobiography, which is a rather unique way to write about your own life. Once again, I will discuss what this poem is about, what it means, and the literary techniques that can be found throughout this poem.

Finally, I will survey The Ruined Cottage. However, it is more commonly known as The Excursion. This poem comes from The Second Volume of Lyrical Ballads. As with the other poems, I will discuss what this work is about, what it means, and the literary techniques that were used.

Biographical Influences

“William Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland.” His parents were able to send him to school as soon as he was old enough since his father had a good paying job. He began his schooling at Gilbank’s school for the first two years. In March of 1778, his mother died and his sister Dorothy, who he loved dearly, was sent to Halifax to live with relatives. William was distraught not only over the death of his mother but also from being separated from his sister. It was a very painful period in his life.

One year later, he entered Hawkshead Free Grammar School where he continued his education until 1787. During his time there, he receives the tragic news of his father’s death at Cockermouth in December of 1783. He realizes that he is on his own now.

After completing school at Hawkshead, he enrolled at Saint John’s College, University of Cambridge. While attending here, he developed a love for nature. During vacation time, he visited places known for their beauty. He received his degree in 1791 and began to write full time.

Although Wordsworth began to write poetry while attending school, not one of his poems was published due to his young age. “This changed in 1793 when he found someone to publish An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches.” These poems were original works but showed the formal style of the 18th century, which was no longer popular. Therefore, the public rejected these works. They wanted something new. Wordsworth realized he made a mistake in trying to rush himself and gain public recognition early.

Instead of becoming discouraged with the failure of his first published works, he tried harder to give the people a new style they would accept. In 1795, he published The Borderers, which was a moderate success. When he went to Halifax to visit his sister, she assisted him by raising his spirits and ensuring him of success. She began to accompany him wherever he went. Dorothy was the first influence on his writing. “In August of the same year, he met Samuel T. Coleridge.” Coleridge was the second influence on his writing. During the time they spent together, they planned to jointly release a volume of poetry which would be released at a later date. This volume of poetry, called Lyrical Ballads, was released in September of 1798 to much criticism and debate. The critics couldn’t sway public opinion, however, and Lyrical Ballads was a huge success. This collection made Wordsworth instantly famous and also started the literary movement known as Romanticism.

“In 1802, he married longtime friend Mary Hutchinson who was portrayed in many of Wordsworth’s latter poems.” Mary was the third influence on his writing. He wasn’t rich even if his poetry was successful. In 1802, he spent most of his time at Dove Cottage where he wrote 39 poems in that year alone. Wordsworth was very popular at this time in his life.

“For the next eleven years, he added to his long list of accomplishments by writing more of his poetry and starting a family with Mary.” “He moved to Rydal Mount in 1813 where they lived for the rest of his life.” Dove Cottage, the place where

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