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Sunday, 23 September 2018

How does Wordsworth appear as a poet of common man in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads?

William Wordsworth appears as a poet of common man in his "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads" to a great extent. He is a blind lover and worshipper or Nature in his poetry. His attitude to her makes him a mystic and a pantheist. He often shows an intimate relation between man and Nature. But in "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads", he tries to represent himself completely as a poet of common man and discuss about rustic and humble life. He has advocated here in favour of common people. He says that humble and rustic life must be chosen for composing poetry. He thinks that a poet is a man speaking to men. Common people and their common life come to a poem obviously. Thus Wordsworth speaks in favour of common man, common life and manners. This has made him a poet of common man.
Wordsworth as a poet of common man

Wordsworth expresses his main purpose in writing poems in his epoch-making contribution, " Preface to the Lyrical Ballads". He talks openly about the themes of his poems. He talks about the choice of subject and language of poetry too. He says that his subject has been taken from incidents and situations of common life. He has related them in a selection of language really used by men. In this respect, he says------
       "Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity."

Rustic and Humble life

He has chosen rustic and humble  life for a number of reasons. The essential passions of the human heart find a free, unrestrained, plain and powerful expression in this life. In rustic life, the feelings are very simple. So they are more forcefully expressed. The manners of rustic life are simple and hence are easily understood. In the humble condition, the passions of men are closely connected with the life of men.

In the rustic and humble conditions of life, the elementary feelings of the human heart co-exist in a state of greater simplicity. This results in greater accuracy and forcefulness of communication. Wordsworth says that human passions are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of external nature. As a result, they are ennobled and more permanent than those of the sophisticated people of cities. The manners of the rural folk germinate from those elementary feelings. They are very easily realised and lasting. The critic aims at understanding human nature and communication this understanding to his readers. For the proper understanding of the essential human nature, it is best to go to the simple and humble life of the rustics.

In his "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads", Wordsworth speaks to man but not to a civilization. He says that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. It is concerned with the incidents of common, humble and rustic life. The critic adopts the language of the humble and rustic people. He argues that the common people live closely with nature. They always communicate with best objects from which the best part of human language is originally derived. They have a narrow range of intercourse. So they are not subject to the corroding influence of social vanity. They feel and express simply. Their language is more passionate, vivid and forceful. It is very precise. It is also philosophical and permanent. The earlier poets wrote for the fickle and depraved public taste. They separated themselves from the language of common man.

Wordsworth has avoided the use of personification of abstract ideas in his poems. He revolts against the artificial style of the eighteenth century poetry. His purpose is to imitate the language really used by men. Moreover, he thinks that a poet is a man speaking to men. Actually, a poet is a man like other men. He writes not only for his own pleasure but also for communicating his emotions and feelings to others. In this respect, Wordsworth says----
     "The poet thinks and feels in the spirit of human passions."

A poet is a flesh and blood. His language should be same to the language of men. Thus the critic represents himself as a real lover of man.Wordsworth wants to say that there is no difference between a poet and a common man. A poet differs from an ordinary man not in kind but in degree. Because he has a comprehensive soul which rustic people do not have. However, we see that Edmund Spenser who is called the poet's poet is a great poet in the Elizabethan Age. When we go through his poetry, we feel that he does not write it for ordinary man but writes only for the poets and the elites. In the Neo-classical Period, we see that the poets composed poems in describing the decorated drawing room, coffee houses etc. Personifications of abstract ideas are salient features of the eighteenth century. There is no room for common people in their poetry. Wordsworth disapproves such tendency of the poets. He says-----

       "But poets do not write for poets alone but for men." 

He says that poets should not write only for poets. Poets have to write for only common men in common or rustic language.

In "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads", Wordsworth again and again speaks of common, humble and rustic life and language. Such of his love for them represents him as poet of common man. Some of his poems have beautifully painted the life of common folks. But he is not always able to maintain it in his poems. His language becomes lofty and high sounding. It is not common and rustic at all. Moreover, his conception of poet is also contradictory in this " Preface ". He reverses his idea, " A poet is a man speaking to men. " He says that a poet is different from other men. A poet has a more lively sensibility than them. He has a greater degree of imaginative power than other men. He has a greater knowledge of human nature and a more comprehensive soul than them. He has a greater power of expression and a greater ability at communicating himself than the common men.

To sum up, we may add that William Wordsworth has represented himself as a poet of common man in his "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads" to a great extent. His view of poet, language and purpose of poetry makes him a lover of common people. His idea of humble and rustic life in poetry makes him a poet of common man. He has thus advocated in favour of common life in poetry. But he does not hesitate to differ a poet from common men. He finds the greatness and superiority of a poet over the common people in his "Preface". This makes thoughtful of his intregrity in his love for common people and their particulars.

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