Definition and Criteria of Poetry.

Essay by RTShacklefordUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2005

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Though Lord Byron described William Wordsworth as "crazed beyond all hope" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as "a drunk," the two are exemplary and very important authors of the Romantic period in English literature (648). Together these authors composed a beautiful work of poems entitled Lyrical Ballads. Included in the 1802 work is a very important preface written by William Wordsworth. The preface explains the intention of authors Wordsworth and Coleridge, and more importantly, it includes Wordsworth's personal opinion of the definition and criteria of poetry and of what a poet should be. Although there was some disagreement about the proper diction of a good poem, Coleridge, the lesser represented author of the two in the work, agrees with most of Wordsworth's criteria. He voices his own personal opinions, however, in his Biographia Literia. In both Lyrical Ballads and Biographia Literia, the authors' opinions coincide in that the definition and criteria of a poem is to be a structured and carefully planned composition that stirs passionate natural emotions in the reader and that the poet is the force directly responsible for this.

To accomplish this, a great poet must possess an intimate knowledge of nature and have close interaction with all aspects of it.

Coleridge states in his Biographia Literia that "the definition sought for be that of a legitimate poem, must be one the parts of which mutually support and explain each other; all in their proportion harmonizing with and supporting the purpose and known influences of metrical arrangement" (481). This statement illustrates Coleridge's opinion that in order to be a poem, the composition must be properly structured and composed so that all of the sentences create an identifying rhythm while still representing a single purpose. Wordsworth also speaks of the importance of purpose-focused poetry in the Preface to...