William Wordsworth, the “father” of British Romanticism, has been called a poet of spiritual and epistemological speculation in addition to being concerned with the human relationship to nature (Brodsky). Before embarking in the art of poetry, Wordsworth started and lived his early life very close to his family. He attended Hawkshead Grammar School, where it is believed that he began to practice poetry.
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However, at the age of eight, his mother passed away. Soon after, his father passed too, leaving him an orphan along with his other four siblings. This was the source of inspiration dealing with much of his later work regarding religion and childlike innocence.
After his primary schooling, Wordsworth attended St. John’s College in Cambridge.
In his last semester of school, he travelled throughout Europe during the era of the French Revolution. His experience in college and on his adventures greatly influenced his poetry dealing with political sensibility and the “Common Man.” His earliest poetry was published in 1793 in “An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches.” This was a solo project. Soon after, he wrote “Lyrical Ballads” in 1795 with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s aid. These poems became some of the most influential in Western Literature (Poets). In turn, Coleridge and Wordsworth were said to be the creators of British Romantic poetry. British Romanticism was an era of literature that lasted from 1800-1850. It started during rebellions and violence throughout Europe, so while focused on nature, most poets believed they were chosen to “guide” others through the changes and turmoil.
As a way to incite hope, poets believed something existed beyond the physical world. They used this to write about supernatural energy and beauty. The poet also believed they were only at “peace in nature” (the British Library). Specifically, William Wordsworth believed poetry should be democratic, and he advocated for the common man. For this reason, he tried to give a voice to those who tended to be marginalized and oppressed by society. This included the poor, discharged soldiers, widowed women, the “insane,” and children (The British Library). However, as he grew older, he became more conservative in his outlook. Because of this, he was ridiculed for “selling out” to the Establishment during the revolutions. This led him to begin writing more about the spirituality of nature rather than politics.
Some of Wordsworth’s most popular poems have dealt with the politics and revolutions occurring during the peak years of British Romanticism. In his poem titled “London, 1802”, Wordsworth explored the loss of English morals and tradition. Throughout the poem he used an apostrophe by the name of “Milton”, and he explained that he believed the deceased “Milton” can give the lost foundation back to England through his writing.
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