Literature Study GuidesPreface To The Lyrical Ballads

Preface to the Lyrical Ballads | Study Guide

William Wordsworth

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Course Hero. "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads Study Guide." Course Hero. 4 Jan. 2019. Web. 12 July 2020. <>.

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Course Hero. "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads Study Guide." January 4, 2019. Accessed July 12, 2020.


Course Hero, "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads Study Guide," January 4, 2019, accessed July 12, 2020,



William Wordsworth

Year Published





Argument, Nonfiction, Philosophy

At a Glance

The Preface is considered a revolutionary step forward in introducing Romantic poetry to world literature. Wordsworth and his close friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) collaborated in explaining their new ideas of poetry and the poet's task. These views on poetry are based on a love of nature and on the use of common feelings and language, away from what Wordsworth and Coleridge saw as the falseness and needless complexities of the past. Wordsworth believed poetry should reflect everyday language rather than fit itself to established formulas, such as form, meter, and poetic diction, as it had in the past. The Preface has been called "Wordsworth's best-known critical work, and his most original essay in aesthetics." It continues to be read and discussed in the study of Romantic literature, as well as of succeeding centuries of realism and modernism in poetry and prose.

About the Title

After first publishing his Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth felt the need to explain and defend his new techniques in poetry, in the hope of attracting an audience who would continue to understand and appreciate his work. He wrote a Preface for the first edition in 1800 and made revisions throughout his life. The 1802 version formed the basis for the final edition of 1850. The title, "Preface," was never changed, giving it a sense of ongoing novelty.


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