Wordsworth And Coleridge Essay, Research Paper
Wordsworth and Coleridge
Poems in the Romantic Period can be referred to as incidents of life. They involve every aspect of life such as love, guilt, sinning, and even death. Specifically William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge have written many poems that have dealt with great emotions and imagination but they do not exclude the society or common man in their imaginations. This is why sometimes these two poets have even been called “visionary poets.” They can relate their lives, imaginations, and emotions to the rest of the ordinary man and hopefully deliver some kind of “pleasure” to the reader from their works. In Preface to Lyrical Ballads and Rime of The Ancient Mariner, Wordsworth and Coleridge chose to focus on the “common man” instead of the self. They do not only concentrate on personal response and rejection of the outside world. Therefore, Wordsworth and Coleridge can not be accused on the charge of solipsism.
William Wordsworth was very concerned with others in the subject of his poems as well as in his real life. In “Preface to Lyrical Ballads,” he would not have written, “I have pleased a greater number than I ventured to hope I should please” (141) if he was only concentrating on the self. Wordsworth was concerned for all responses from all mankind and not only his personal response. He emphasized and focused on the common man in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads by writing in a common language that the ordinary man can easily understand and appreciate. There are no phrases or figures of speech in his poems that would not be found in conversation between the ordinary, working man. “Because men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best object is derived; and because, from their rank in society and the sameness of their intercourse, being less influence of social vanity they convey their feelings and notions in simple and unelaborated expressions.”(143) Wordsworth was obviously not as subvert as he was accused to be since he wrote the ballads that followed this preface with these men in mind. He also took the time to explain for whom they were written. He continually tries to “adapt to the interest of mankind permanently” throughout the preface. (141) Near the end of the preface, Wordsworth provides even more evidence of his concern with others. In his definition of poet, (147) “man speaking to men,” he claims to have a greater understanding of human nature and a more “comprehensive soul” but he still is explaining this to the readers or common man. Although he claims to have a special spirit of life, he does not exclude this from others. He shares his thoughts and perhaps even considers himself part of the common man. In the preface, Wordsworth explains that through his poetry he examines the truths of the lives of ordinary people. The common man inspires him. In fact, one of the main goals of the preface would be to link his poetry to the common man.
Samuel Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” also has strong characteristics of focusing on the common man and society instead of the self. The poem represents the relationship between the common man and the culture. In this poem, the mariner represents the common man in general. He is a problem within the culture but this does not classify him as unordinary. When the mariner shoots the bird, he has sinned, as ordinary men will sometimes do. At first the mariner does not think much of killing the albatross but then he is plagued by a terrible spell. The other people on the ship start to die. They represent the rest of society that can be hurt by someone else’s actions. He does not get over his bad spell until he realizes that he has done something terrible and starts to ask for forgiveness. The bird may represent God. For example, in line123, the mariner even shouts “O Christ” referring to the albatross that has brought him such bad luck. The mariner goes through the process of sinning and then feeling guilty. The ocean, or the environment for the people, is even described sometimes as unpleasant and gross, which would represent the environment for the common man. In Coleridge’s viewpoint the environment does not adjust for the common man.