The Prelude

The Romanticism of Wordsworth and Shelley: A Poetry of the "Happiest Moments?" College

Wordsworth said that ‘poetry is passion, it is the history or science of feeling’. In conjunction with Shelley’s quote, this is a bold statement to make. Not only does Wordsworth name poetry as the ‘science’ of emotion –creating an authorial sense of logic –but also as the ‘history’ of feeling. This suggests that poetry has been able to ‘record’ every past emotion, whether elation or despair. This claim in itself implies that other modes of documentation, such as prose, are inadequate at recording such emotion. And Wordsworth takes this definition even further. Shelley claims that poetry is the ‘record of the best and happiest moments’, whereas Wordsworth asserts that ‘poetry [is] passion’. Therefore, poetry is not only the act of a witness; reading and writing poetry creates these ‘happiest moments’.

Shelley’s opening quote maintains that poetry is a ‘record’, suggesting that the poet’s choice of words merely translates sight to verse. However, Shelley’s ‘Defence of Poetry’ also argues the importance of the poet in creating such happy moments within a poem. It is only through their imagination that words are able to exalt a ‘dull, dense world’ from ephemeral humanity to an eternal, true beauty. This is continued as he quotes...

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