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Monday, 24 September 2018

Estimate the importance of Wordsworth as a critic

William Wordsworth is a leading figure in the history of English Romanticism. He is the pioneer of the Romantic poets. Other Romantic poets have accepted his leadership in writing poems. But he goes beyond the limit of a poet. He successfully establishes himself in the field of literary criticism too. His performance as a literary critic has been seen in his famous critical piece, "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads". He explains his preference to Romantic poetry very well. Like a lawyer, he refuse the Neo-classical poetic theories in " Preface ". Moreover, he has clarified his theory of poetry. He explains very clearly the nature and function of poetry. He also interprets his clear-cut views about poetic diction, poetic creation and poet. Thus he becomes a literary critic.
Wordsworth as a Critic

Wordsworth as a Critic and Wordsworth has expressed his views on poetic creation in his " Preface to the Lyrical Ballads ". A good poem does not appear in the mind of a poet automatically. A poet has to go through a number of stages for creating it. Wordsworth interprets this process very vividly in his " Preface ". There are four stages in a poetic process. They are watching or studying, remembrance, meditation and imaginative thrill or enthusiasm. A poet goes through these stages and at last creates poetry. At first, he watches anything in nature. He studies any natural incident. His mind collects the images of natural objects. Afterwards, he meditates over the remembered feelings and emotions. The remembered feelings and emotions get a new dimension in the meditation of the poet. The poet becomes thrilled with the help of his powerful imagination.

Spontaneous feelings and emotions come out from the heart of the poet. They form a perfect poem. So poetry is actually the natural enfolding of strong feelings and emotions. But the natural enfolding of strong feelings and emotions should be taken place in tranquility. Actually, the poet transforms his powerful feelings and emotions into poetry. However, this poetic process occurs in a calm and quite state of the mind. The mind of the poet needs tranquility to create beautiful poetry. Wordsworth believes that imagination is the guiding force of writing poetry. It is the essence of poetic creation too.

Wordsworth revolts against the poetic diction of the Neo-classical poets of the 18th century. He opposes to their flashiness and absurd laseology. However, he expresses his own theory of language for his new kind of poetry or Romantic poetry in the "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads". He selects the language of the common people for his new kind of poems. He also selects the incidents of the common people's life for his poems. The language of his poetry is actually the language of general people. He believes that simple and easy language can express feelings and emotions properly. Simple language is more idealistic than the artificial language.

Wordsworth thinks that the language of poetry should be near to the language of men. The language of poetry should be the spoken language of the general people. Simple language can give immediate pleasure if it is used in poetry. Wordsworth does not like the personifications of abstract ideas in his poems. He believes that the personifications of the abstract ideas are not the part of the natural language. There is not any essential difference between the language of prose and the language of poetry. The language of poetry and the language of prose are same.

Wordsworth tries to seek for the answer of the question, " Who is a poet? " He says that a poet is a man speaking to men. A poet should have deep feelings, eagerness and softness. He should be well aware of the nature of human beings. A poet is a ready man. He is always ready to feel and think. He should not have any restriction. His only responsibility is to give immediate pleasure to the readers. He will give immediate pleasure as a man. It means that he will be fully aware of human pleasures. He tries to find out the characteristics of the relationship that exists between man and Nature. The relation between man and Nature is the first object of a poet. He should find out the confidence, perception, and reasoning of a man.

Wordsworth also makes a comparative study between the poet and the man of science. He says that the poet and the man of science try to give us comfort and pleasure. The knowledge of the poet is related to our existence. But the knowledge of the man of science is not related to our existence. The knowledge of the man of science does not come quickly to the general people. It comes slowly. But anybody can share the truth of the poet. Everybody can understand poetic truth. But scientific truth is not for everybody. The poet is different from other people because he has swift thinking capacity. He can think without any external influence. A poet should select the words of conversational language. A poet should not use complex phrases. But he does not have anything to do when he has to deal with metre. The poet and his reader do not have any scope for running away from the rigid rules of metre.

In conclusion, we may say that "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads" is a manifesto of the Momantic  Movement. It is a landmark of literary criticism too. It removes the influence of Neo-classicism and it brings the elements of Romanticism. However, many modern critics do not like Wordsworth's theory. They have pointed out that poetry is an art and it is not a dumping ground of powerful feelings. But contradictions and conflicts do not matter. The plain truth is that Wordsworth delivers some clear-cut ideas about poet, poetic creation, poetic diction and the nature and function of poetry in this "Preface". These features make it one of the most discussed critical and epoch-making documents in English. Wordsworth is also able to represent him as a literary critic.

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