Wordsworth Reacted Sharply and Sought to Increase the Range Of English Poetry through Rustic Characters and Their Language


The poetry of the Pseudo-classical school was very artificial and unnatural. It was extremely limited in its themes. It was confined exclusively to the city of London and in that city to the artificial and unnatural life of the fashionable lords and ladies. It did not care for the beauties of nature or for the humanity-farmers shepherds, wood cutters etc. Who live its simple life in the lap of nature? Wordsworth reacted sharply and sought to increase the range of English poetry by taking his themes from humble and rustic life, himself living in the lap of nature, was well familiar with the life of the humble people, and he has rendered it in his poetry, realistically and accurately.

There are various reasons why Wordsworth preferred incidents and situation from humble life, as themes of his poetry for one thing, in this way, he could emerge the scope and range of poetry and make a whiff of fresh air to blow through the suffocation atmosphere of contemporary poetry. Secondly, he knew this life intimately, was in sympathy with it and so could render it accurately and feelingly.

Thirdly he believed that a poet is essentially a man speaking to man. Since he is a man, and he has to appeal to the mind and heart of man, he must study human nature and try to understand ‘The primary laws of Nature.” Now these primary instincts and impulses which govern human conduct can best be understood by studying the simplest and most elementary form of life. He chose rustic and humble life, because the village farmers, leach gatherers even idiots represent human life reduced its simplest. In humble and rustic conditions of life man is more natural, and so a proper, and on human life. He did not think city life to be a proper subject of poetry because there the fundamental passions of human heart are not expressed freely and forcefully, but are inhibited by social codes and considerations of public opinion.

William Wordsworth
Fourthly, in rustic and humble life, the fundamental passions of human heart can be easily studied. From a study and understanding of these elementary feelings, the poet can produce to study ‘the primary laws of our nature’. In other words, through a process contemplation and reflection the poet can derive certain universal principles of human conduct which are not true only of individuals or of particular places but are universal and general in, their application. Feelings and passions of a humble are not peculiar to them but are common to all mankind. Universal significance of human emotion can only be studied through life reduced to lowest levels.

Fifthly he preferred rustic and humble life because in that condition. ‘The passions of man are the result of nature.’ They live in the midst of grandeur and beauty of nature and as Plato much earlier has taught us they must absorb some of that beauty and grandeur. In this connection it will not be out of place to refer to the romantic glorification, of the primitive and the cult of the noble savage Wordsworth has been criticized thus for limiting the scope of poetry to humble and rustic life, It has been said that upper class life is as suitable for poetic treatment as humble rustic life, in this way, Wordsworth excluded from poetic treatment a wide range of complex human emotion which are expressed in only sophisticated societies. However, Wordsworth’s views are to be judged in the historical context as resulting from his desire to extend the domain of poetry, conquer new territories for it, and thus to ‘correct’ the contemporary prediction for upper class to exclusion of humble and rustic life. 


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