English Literature » Notes » Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” is considered the manifesto to the romantic movement

Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” is considered the manifesto to the romantic movement

Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads is the declaration of a movement against the neo-classical poetry dominated by the representative poets of the Neo-classical Age. It announced a new age that was so different from so called Neo-classical age. The Preface is considered a manifesto because it talks about the nature of romantic poetry and declares how poetry, itself is a type of experiment in which the emotive takes precedence over structure and form. The fact that Wordsworth devotes so much of the Preface in talking about the purpose of poetry and the rationale behind it lends father credence to the idea that this is a manifesto, a declaration about the intent within poetry and what individuals seek to gain from it.

Wordsworth, in the beginning, states the necessity of bringing a revolution in the realm of poetry as the Augustan Age`s poetry has become cliche. He painfully notices that the 18th century poets have separated poetry from the grasp of common people. So, Wordsworth tries to liberate poetry from the shackles of so-called classical poetry. He along with S.T. Coleridge begins to write poetry for the common man. Wordsworth also avoids the language which was used by the poets of 18th century because it was highly decorative and artificial. Wordsworth chooses the language of common man and he also selects the theme of his poetry from the core heart of common people. According to him-

Poetry is a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes it origin from recollected into tranquility.

The subject-matter of romantic poetry was taken from the humble and rustic conditions of life. Because the common people communicate with nature more deeply than a western man. Nature teaches them strong sensibility. Wordsworth says,

My purpose was to imitate, and so far as possible to adopt the very language of men.

Wordsworth lays emphasize on the role of imagination because it creates a new world for the poets. He wants to make his poetry indifferent by throwing over them a colour of imagination.

Wordsworth also brings a change in poetic diction. He suggests to write poetry without following the rules of poetic diction which was a radical attack against the poets of the 18th century.

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