William Wordsworth Expostulation And Reply Poem

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In this essay, I will discuss how the literature produced by the revolutionary decade of the 1970’s was distinguished by new and radical ideas, and experimentation with regard to genre and form, in relation to William Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads. The poem which I will be drawing from in this essay is “Expostulation and Reply”, and the Preface to Lyrical Ballads.

Wordsworth was a child of nature, he grew up in a rustic environment, in which he spent much time playing outside, in touch with his surroundings. He would later refer to this time as a pure connection to nature. As a young man, Wordsworth moved to France, which, at the time, was in the grip of a violent, volatile revolution. The Reign of Terror, and all that accompanied it, was
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The poem is set in the Lake District of Wordsworth’s youth, and embodies the ideals of the Romantic Era; that nature and human intuition have a kind of knowledge not found in books and formal education. When confronted as to why he spends his time at the lake, musing and contemplating, Wordsworth replies with what was to become a memorable moment in english literature; nature nurtures the mind in a unique way, with it’s own wisdom, one which cannot be found in the pages of scholarly books. To stimulate his senses entirely, a man must just sit in the presence of nature. This was an idea found in the works of many romantic poets, who were thought to have a distrust in mankind, but found peace and knowledge in closeness with nature. Romantic poetry allowed us to see their world directly and "much of romantic poetry invited the reader to identify the protagonists with the poets themselves.”(Abrams)

The metre of this poem is in iambic tetrameter, which places emphasis on the power of nature. For example, in the first line, the words “old” and “stone” are emphasised by the metre, pointing towards the poets belief in the power and importance of nature. Again, in the third stanza, the metre points towards “moth” and “earth”, furthering the pointed use of nature as a genre. “it has been common in critical writing since the romantic period to equate the loosening of specifically metrical restrictions
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Wordsworth and his contemporaries sought to move the discoveration and formulation of knowledge and wisdom from wrote learning and classrooms to the real world, to nature, to make time to contemplate and reflect, to discover their own views on the world, instead of having them given to them by teachers and their superiors. In “Expostulation and Reply”, we see that Wordsworth is not content with Matthews suggestion that he read the books of those that passed before him, to take their knowledge. “Up! up! and drink the spirit breathed
From dead men to their kind.” (wordsworth) This is not enough for the poet, he does not simply want to learn another persons knowledge, and have that same knowledge recanted for generations. Instead, he wants a society where we learn our knowledge, and find our own wisdom, in nature. This, above any other, is the radical idea of the Romantic
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