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Lyrical Ballads (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 30, 2007
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'It is an edition of a formative work which all students and lovers of English poetry will warmly welcome.' - Times Education Supplement --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
MICHAEL SCHMIDT is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and he received an O.B.E. in 2006 for services to poetry.
Top Customer Reviews
"Lyrical Ballads" is often said to be the beginning of the Romantic Movement, a claim which I can neither refute or prove. What I can say for certain, though, is that it is filled with some of the most moving, thought provoking, and beautiful verses ever put on paper. Whether you are looking for something dark, something whimsical, an epic tale, or a sweet romance-there is something in the collection that will appeal to you. Wordsworth and Coleridge are both masters of their craft, a fact that they prove in "Lyrical Ballads"
Most of my praise will go out to this edition, as the quality of the poetry contained in it is beyond question. This early work of both Coleridge and Wordsworth finds them at the height of their powers. For those less familiar with the LYRICAL BALLADS, I will mention some of my favorite poems in the work to give you a sense of what this volume contains:
1798 Edition - "Rime of the Ancyent Marinere," "We are seven," "Lines written in early spring," "The Thorn," "Expostulation and Reply," "The Tables Turned," "Tintern Abbey."
1800 Edition - "A slumber did my spirit seal," "Lucy Gray," "Nutting," "Michael."
And now, to end this review, I shall leave you with a few lines from one of my favorite poems, one that addresses me as I spend long hours studying hard into the night to uncover the "truth" of the world:
THE TABLES TURNED by William Wordsworth
Up! Up! my friend, and clear your looks,
Why all this toil and trouble?
Up! Up! my friend, and quit your books,
Or surely you'll grow double.
Books! `tis a dull and endless strife,
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music; on my life
There's more of wisdom in it.
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man;
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Enough of science and of art;
Close up these barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives. (1-4; 9-12; 21-24; 29-32)
A first time reader may not quite understand what all the fuss us about, as some of Wordsworth's pieces can seem facile and at times banal, something contemporary critics savaged him for. To truly grasp the spirit of the volume the reader must take time to absorb Wordsworth's 'Advertisment' in which he outlines the 'experimental' nature of the volume, as a reaction against the the artificiality and 'innane phraseology' of the majority of popular poetry at the time.
Wordsworth uses simple language to produce intimate sketches of ordinary people: a humble begger, an idiot boy, or the female vagrant, and he does so with great sensitivity and feeling, showing us that compassion and feeling of the simplest people makes them as worthy as any privileged man. No reader will soon forget the Lucy poems, in which the narrator recalls a girl he once loved, and mourns her tragic early death. Whether Lucy was ever a real person, let alone an object of Wordsworth's affection however is another matter.
There are weak links in the collection such as 'Lines Written in Early Spring', which could be justifiably labelled 'namby-pamby' (a term Byron used to describe a certain type of Wordsworth poem). However, the most impressive piece in the whole collection must be Tintern Abbey, a poem which could never be labelled facile or 'namby pamby', it is a spiritual, philosophical, and profoundly moving poem rich with memorably powerful turns of phrase and an intoxicating pslamic quality. Tintern Abbey may very well sum-up Wordsworth's entire enterprise better than any other poem he penned. Study and understand 'Tintern Abbey' and you understand Wordsworth. As for Coleridge's 'Mariner', although it is an enchanting and strikingly original work, I share Wordsworth's assertion that it's character is somewhat at odds with the spirit of the collection.
This edition is the finest you will find anywhere. It contains both the 1798 and 1800 editions, while including extensive supporting material. A real must-have for anyone interested in English Poetry.