As we discussed in class, the language of the Romantic Period as a whole was marked by its shift away from the elaborate, baroque style to one in the tongue of common man. Through the deliberate choice of everyday diction, both Wordsworth and Coleridge go against the elaborate forms and figures of speech that dominated much of 18th century English poetry.
In the preface, Wordsworth argues that the vernacular language of commoners, “being less under the influence of social vanity”, conveys “feelings and notions in simple and unelaborated expressions” (295). Hence the language used by the “humble and rustic” people was “a far more philosophical language” and more sincerely expressed universal human feelings.
Wordsworth goes on to point out that their poems depict “incidents and situations from common life” (294) with a shift of focus to elements such as peasants, children, rustic country settings and the pure state of nature. By doing so, the poets broke past the Neo-Classical restricts on the choice of poetic subject matters, which were usually confined to the lives of kings, queens, nobles and life in the city. Furthermore Wordsworth maintains that the very purpose of poetry is to offer access to the emotions within human memories and to provide pleasure through the uncontaminated expression of feeling.
This overall style remains consistent throughout his works, including the poem simply known as Tintern Abbey.The language throughout the monologue stands out for its simplicity and directness as the poet speaks frankly in plainspoken manner, thus making it easy to understand (even today in 2013). Wordsworth focuses on the subjects of childhood, memory and its preservation. This along with the religious references, rustic symbols (of cottages, orchards trees) depict the beauty of humanity’s connection with nature.
Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts… (Wordsworth 291)
Through his interconnectedness with nature, Wordsworth finds an inspirational harmony and outlines how his senses (“of eye and ear”) are the building blocks of his consciousness.
What strikes me most about his work overall is the focus on the human mind and it’s appreciation of the solace that imagination and memories provide. Wordsworth’s emphasis on the basic but very universal theme of human nature along with his simplistic, modest approach is what makes his writing not only relevant but an almost natural pleasure to study today.