William Wordsworth is one of a group of poets known as the Lakeland Poets. Perhaps the group's most notable members are Samuel Coleridge (known for works such as “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan”) and Robert Southey (a very popular poet in his time who also wrote “The Three Bears”). The Lakeland Poets were given their name because they all came from a district of England known as the Lake District (Wordsworth's house is pictured above). Located in the northern area of England, the district is known for its dozens of lakes, beautiful mountains, and fields full of flowers. Many other writers found inspiration in the Lake District, including Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Hugh Walpole, and Wordsworth’s sister, Dorothy.
Not only were the three most famous poets of the Lake District contemporaries, they were also quite close. Coleridge and Wordsworth were best friends for most of their lives. In fact, they did some of their best writing together, including Lyrical Ballads, which is often viewed as the beginning of the Romantic Movement. Furthermore, Robert Southey was Coleridge’s brother-in-law.
The beautiful landscape of the Lake District had a profound influence on the poetry of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. The poets used the backdrop they were so familiar with as a way of conveying their thoughts and ideas. In “I wandered lonely as a cloud,” for example, Wordsworth famously describes daffodils frolicking and dancing in the Cumbrian breezes. The speaker is saddened by the idea of having to leave the scene, but he is heartened to know that he will always have the memory of those daffodils with him. Lakeland-inspired nature is also found in many of Wordsworth’s more serious poems, such as “Ode; Intimations of Immortality,” in which the speaker ponders man’s seeming disconnection from nature. Wordsworth finds the idea of such a disconnect physically painful.
Even though nature is a prevalent theme in the poetry of Wordsworth and his fellow Lakeland Poets, it is incorrect and overly simplistic to call them “nature poets.” This is a title commonly given to many Romantic writers, but it is important to realize that while many of the Romantics appreciated nature and employed nature imagery in their works, it was more often a tool that they used to get their message across rather than the focal point of their poetry. The Lakeland Poets (and many other Romantic writers) viewed nature as a means through which to convey their deepest emotions and a catalyst for introspection.