Study Guide

William Wordsworth Dorothy & Coleridge

Dorothy & Coleridge

From 1797 to 1798, the Wordsworth siblings and Coleridge spent nearly every day together. They took walks that lasted hours through the hills and thickets of the Lake District, sometimes talking, sometimes composing poetry. They embraced the Romantic notion that nature was the only place where one could truly experience the deep, powerful emotions from which true poetry emerged. Wordsworth believed that cities and the seemingly boring jobs men held there made people more stupid. "A multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind… to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor," Wordsworth wrote. Urban life made men crave stimulation, "which the rapid communication of intelligence hourly gratifies." None too modestly, Wordsworth suggested that if readers got on board with his ideas, they would judge the work of modern and ancient poets differently. His goal was no less than to change the course of poetic history.

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