Written by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Samuel Coleridge (1772-1834), Lyrical Ballads was originally published while these two famous poets were young men and the best of friends. They earned their fame through innovative and provocative writing styles that broke the regimented boundaries for poetry of that era. Their similarities end there, however, as each has
his own unique focus in his poetry. While one writes from an introspective view to celebrate nature and question the purpose of life, the other searches for the “what if” in life and leans more towards science fiction and paranormal content.
Michael Schmidt's foreword provides a brief historical biography of Wordsworth and Coleridge.
The termination of their friendship and Coleridge’s difficulties with love and addictions
make the two appear more human, allowing readers to relate to their poetry in
ways they could not have prior to the foreword.
Poetry – like style, art and fashion - is a matter of individual preference. Few will interpret the same piece in the same way, even if they had a personal relationship with the poet.
Here, readers have the opportunity to delve into 23 poems by Coleridge and Wordsworth
within this paperback book's 123 pages.
“Goody Blake and Garry Gill” is one of my favorite pieces in this book, reportedly based on a real event that occurred in Warwickshire. “The Rime of the Ancynt Mariner” is a “what if” scenario with an introduction clearly sailing the reader down the suggested pattern of thought. “Lines”, “Lines Written in Early Spring,” “The Tables Turned,” and “Lines Written Near Richmond upon the Thames, At Evening” are four poems that also stand
out – pieces that I could read time and time again – lamenting nature and celebrating the benefits of introspection and thoughtful observation.
While the poems' titles are not altogether clever or interesting, the words within them are enough to make one pause in thought. For instance, in “The Tables Turned”:
Books! ‘tis a dull and endless strife,Many of the other pieces are works of pure imagination. Some emulate poetic styles of an older era; others go far beyond what was known at the time of the poem’s creation.
Come, here the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music; on my life
There’s more of wisdom in it.
And hark! How blithe the throstle sings!
And he is no mean preacher;
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
As a poet, I was thrilled to lay my hands on this book. To have read the words of some of the great historical poets of all time, words I have not been exposed to before, was a memorable experience.
It is wonderful that Penguin Classics has endeavored to bring such wonderful works back into circulation for today’s readers to enjoy.