William Wordsworth, one of the greatest poets of the Romantic era, believed that poetry should be accessible to all, especially to the common man. In his preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth explicitly states that his poetry is meant for the common man and that it should be written in the language that they use in their everyday lives. He believed that poetry should not only be beautiful but should also be truthful, and that it should reflect the experiences and feelings of ordinary people.
Wordsworth’s focus on the common man can be seen in his choice of subject matter. His poetry often explores the experiences and emotions of ordinary people, such as shepherds, farmers, and laborers. He believed that these individuals, who were often overlooked by society, had valuable insights into the human experience and that their stories deserved to be told. By giving voice to these individuals in his poetry, Wordsworth was able to connect with his readers on a deeper level and to create a sense of empathy and understanding.
Another way in which Wordsworth appears as a poet of the common man is through his use of language. He rejected the formal, artificial language of traditional poetry and instead chose to write in the language of the common people. He believed that poetry should be written in the language that people actually spoke, rather than in an elevated or artificial language that was inaccessible to most readers. By using common language in his poetry, Wordsworth was able to make his work more accessible and relatable to his readers, particularly to those who may not have had a formal education.
In addition to his focus on the common man and his use of common language, Wordsworth also believed that poetry should be rooted in the natural world. He believed that nature was a source of inspiration and that it provided a way for people to connect with the world around them. By writing about the natural world and its beauty, Wordsworth was able to create a sense of wonder and awe in his readers, as well as a sense of connection to something larger than themselves.
Overall, Wordsworth’s preface to Lyrical Ballads reflects his belief that poetry should be accessible to all, especially to the common man. By focusing on the experiences and emotions of ordinary people, using common language, and grounding his work in the natural world, Wordsworth was able to create poetry that was relatable and meaningful to a wide range of readers. His emphasis on truthfulness and the importance of reflecting the experiences of ordinary people helped to shape the Romantic movement and continues to influence poets to this day.