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Home » , » Write a note on metre in poetry and Science as Wordsworth has explained in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads
William Wordsworth rejects eighteenth-century poetic diction as it is artificial. In his epoch-making critical essay, "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads", he advocates the use of the common language of common people. He declares that there is hardly any essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition. He expresses his views on the use of metres in poetry. But he does not rule out the use of metre in poetry. Again he establishes the superiority of poetry over science and poetry. He agrees with Aristotle in this respect.

According to Wordsworth, the metre is associated with poetry. But poetry is associated with certain qualities of language, thought and emotion. Therefore, the subject-matter is associated with these qualities of language, thought and emotion. By the act of writing in metre, a poet makes a formal engagement that he will gratify certain known habits of association. These habits refer to the qualities of language, thought and emotion. Wordsworth argues that metre paves the way for artificial distinction which may involve pompous and empty phraseology. Thus he might appear to be rejecting metre in poetry. But in his "Preface", he actually establishes the nature and value of metre in a precise manner. Regarding the regularity and uniformity of metres, he says------
        " The distinction of metre is regular and uniform, and not like that which is produced by what is usually called poetic diction arbitrary and subject to infinite caprices."

He again speaks of the charm which is acknowledged to exist in metrical language. It proves that the relation of metre to poetry is not one of the associations. There is a necessary inherent relation between them. 

Poetry needs a selection of the language really used by men for true taste and feeling. This distinguishes poetry from prose. But the metre is associated with this selection of a language. If it is superadded to this selection, a dissimilitude will be produced altogether sufficient for the gratification of the rational mind. Metre thus contributes to the pleasure of poetry. It obeys certain laws accepted --- by the poet and the reader as well. These laws do not interfere with passion. Wordsworth says that metre needs in poetry to heighten and improve the pleasure which co-exists with it. When we closely examine his views of it, we find that he confuses the metre with rhythm.

Poetry is highly praised by Wordsworth in his "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads". It is shown as superior to science. The critic argues that a scientist works hard over long periods in the search for truth. He finds pleasure in the discovery of truth. But the truth which he realises is particular and personal. It is realised through study and research in a particular field. It cannot be shared by mankind in general. The truths and pleasures of science are limited only to individual scientists. But poetic truth and pleasure can be shared by all. It results from the perception of the basic principles of life. It also results from the fact of the unity of nature and man as well as all other forms of life.

Poetry in this respect is far superior to science. Wordsworth shows that the knowledge provided by science is superficial and entirely intellectual. A scientist studies only through the intellect. He murders to dissect and study only the appearance of the thing. A poet, on the other hand, goes down to the inner reality. He pierces surface appearance and reaches the soul that lies beneath. For this reason, he is a man of greater sensibility. The truth which he discovers is charged with his feelings and emotions. That is why Wordsworth defines poetry as the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge. It is the realisation of basic laws which have always been the same in all ages and countries. He sings a song which can please all.

A poet, therefore, is a general benefactor but he remains a companion of man. The scientist also is a benefactor but he remains aloof enjoying his knowledge of truth in solitude. It is the message of love and unity that the poet brings. He seeks to find all mankind in ties of mutual love and affection. Nature everywhere speaks to him of the essential oneness of all the perception of this truth excites him emotionally. He expresses his emotions and sensations in the poems that he writes. Therefore, his appeal is not merely to the intellect but also to the heart of man. Poetry is the first and of all knowledge. It is as immortal as the heart of man.

The time will come when science will revolutionise the material conditions of human life. At that time, poetry also will play a useful role. Then the poet will endow the achievements of science with feeling and emotion. Thus he will present them to his readers in an emotional and vivid form. The poet will thus always complete and impart perfection to the truths discovered by the scientist. It is he who will give life and substance flesh and blood to do the dry bones of science. Poetry is the countenance of all science. Science is incomplete without it.

Thus Wordsworth expressed his views on the metre in poetry in his immortal critical piece, "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads". He has also analysed the relationship between science and poetry. He has to accept the inevitability of a metre. At one point, he calls it adventitious. But his own argument makes it an integral aspect of poetry. He takes up a stanza of Dr Johnson to prove that subject- matter is more essential than a metre in poetry. The subject matter in this respect is hateful. But the metre used in the stanza enables us to endure the pathetic situation. Thus Wordsworth's views on the functions of rhyme and metre in poetry are confusing. His eulogy of poetry over science is true. But he is excessively emotional in analysing it.


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