Wordsworth's early balladry : a critical study

LaBossière, Camille R. (1968) Wordsworth's early balladry : a critical study. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

William Wordsworth's early balladic poetry (1798-1800) repeals a reactionary as well as an innovational dimension in its use of language. The language of this poetry fluctuates, in varying proportions, from the language of denotation to the language of implicitness. A study of Wordsworth’s balladry is quite revealing, for it lies at the core of his literary manifestos when he embodies the explicitness of the broadside ballad in his early poetry, he is not being novel; his use of language is part of the denotative tendency which pervaded previous literary taste. When he embodies the implicitness of the ballad of tradition, his use of language constitutes an innovation. Some of his early ballad poems are mainly "direct,” some are mainly "oblique,” while yet others are both "direct" and "oblique" in part. Wordsworth's unevenness in his early balladry as a whole stems basically from the fluctuation in his use of language. -- An analysis of The Idiot Boy, Peter Bell, Goody Blake and Harry Gill, and Simon Lee the Huntsman reveals a didactic concern for illustrative subject matter. The emotional reactions of the persona are made explicit, and the reader’s response is controlled and directed through overt authorial statement. Expostulation and Reply and The Tables Turned emerge as gnomic Ideological statements which share this explicitness. -- The Thorn, The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman, Lucy Gray Anecdote for Fathers, We Are Seven, and Her Eyes Are Wild—all evidence a certain concern for the implicit, either through understatement and/or flgurativeness, as well as the explicitness of the poems mentioned above. -- The Lucy and Matthew poems evidence a radical divergence from the principally denotative use of language. The use of symbol and understatement in these poems, characteristic of the ballad of tradition rather than the broadside, points to "oblique" poetry. It is in these poems that Wordsworth emerges as an "innovator" in the use of language in poetry. It is here that the modern reader finds himself most at home.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1441
Item ID: 1441
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 110-113
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1968
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Wordsworth, William, 1770-1850

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