Wordsworth's Poetical Works

William Wordsworth's Expostulation and Reply: A Neoclassical and Romantic Analysis

The first volume of William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads (1798) was published, as Wordsworth states in Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802), "...as an experiment." (482). The introduction to Lyrical Ballads by William Richey and Daniel Robinson suggests that the experiment contested the valued literature of the time in such a way that it sought to "strip away the pleasing illusions of late eighteenth-century art in order to reveal things as they (were)." (1). Thus Lyrical Ballads became one of the first examples of literature of the romantic era, with William Wordsworth leading as one of the authentic romantic poets. A focus on the poor and disenfranchised, written in the real "language of men," characterized literature of the romantic era, which contrasted with the literature of the neoclassical era. This literature featured an emphasis on the lives of the aristocracy and was written in a sophisticated manner (2). Although Lyrical Ballads did not seek to provide a strong reaction against Neoclassicism, evidence of such a movement is obvious in the content of its poems, namely, "Expostulation and Reply."

The poem provides an interesting conflict within itself regarding the transition from...

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