ENG 10B - Paper 2 - English 10B SEC 1A From Pope to...

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English 10B SEC 1A November 27, 2007 From Pope to Wordsworth: The Fall of Wit and the Rise of Emotion in English Literature In Preface to Lyrical Ballads , William Wordsworth writes, “For all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling,” (Norton, 265). Through this understanding of poetry, Wordsworth created what he calls the “language of men.” This language is created from an emotional response that leads to philosophical questioning of nature and the rustic life. Lyrical Ballads put in motion the transition from the Neoclassical era to the Romantic era. This period is characterized by a decline in the use of sarcasm and wit and a rise in techniques that produce more emotional responses to art. Wordsworth’s “language of men” deprives the English language of the ironic and sarcastic expressions that so often characterize the works of Neoclassicist, replacing them with a language that follows the “fluxes and refluxes of the mind” (Norton, 265). The ideas presented in the Preface introduce Wordsworth’s notion of the “language of men”, whose subjects come from common life while using a language that is accessible to all men that engages the reader’s imagination and aims to reveal truths about nature. By comparing Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” with Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads , the transition from the witty and sarcastic remarks of the Neoclassicists to the emotional questioning of the Romantics can be witnessed. The subject and setting of Wordsworth’s poetry is a vital part of its separation from the Neoclassicists. Wordsworth feels that the topic of poetry should come from situations and incidents that occurred in common life. This idea led to the transition from poetry focusing on broader, more general settings to a detailed and particular stage. In
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