Representatives of “Lake school”



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Representatives of “Lake school”

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  • The three main figures of what has become known as the Lakes School were William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey.

Origins and accuracy of the name

  • The "Lake Poet School" (or 'Bards of the Lake', or the 'Lake School') was initially a derogatory term ("the School of whining and hypochondriacal poets that haunt the Lakes", according to Francis Jeffrey as reported by Coleridge)[1] that was also a misnomer, as it was neither particularly born out of the Lake District, nor was it a cohesive school of poetry. The principal members of the 'group' were William WordsworthSamuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert SoutheyDorothy Wordsworth was an auxiliary member who was unpublished during her lifetime (her journals, letters, and poems were published posthumously), but she provided much of the inspiration for her brother William's work.[2]
  • There was a certain amount of additional irony involved in the 'School's' perception by readers, who were inspired, upon reading the poetry, to visit the area, thus helping to destroy, in the mind of Wordsworth at least, the very thing that made the Lakes special (although he himself ended up writing one of the best guides to the region). In addition, many of the first and second generation practitioners of Romantic poetry had a complex and not entirely easy relationship with the Lakes (apart from Wordsworth). "For the most part other Romantic poets either struggle with a Lake Poet identity or come to define themselves against what the Lakes seem to offer in poetic terms."[3]
  • The "Lake Poet School" (or 'Bards of the Lake', or the 'Lake School') was initially a derogatory term ("the School of whining and hypochondriacal poets that haunt the Lakes", according to Francis Jeffrey as reported by Coleridge)[1] that was also a misnomer, as it was neither particularly born out of the Lake District, nor was it a cohesive school of poetry. The principal members of the 'group' were William WordsworthSamuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert SoutheyDorothy Wordsworth was an auxiliary member who was unpublished during her lifetime (her journals, letters, and poems were published posthumously), but she provided much of the inspiration for her brother William's work.[2]
  • There was a certain amount of additional irony involved in the 'School's' perception by readers, who were inspired, upon reading the poetry, to visit the area, thus helping to destroy, in the mind of Wordsworth at least, the very thing that made the Lakes special (although he himself ended up writing one of the best guides to the region). In addition, many of the first and second generation practitioners of Romantic poetry had a complex and not entirely easy relationship with the Lakes (apart from Wordsworth). "For the most part other Romantic poets either struggle with a Lake Poet identity or come to define themselves against what the Lakes seem to offer in poetic terms."[3]

The Lake poets

  • For Wordsworth, who settled at Dove CottageGrasmere, with his sister Dorothy after some years of wandering, the Lakes became bound up with his identity as a poet. Born and brought up on the fringes of the Lake District (at Cockermouth and Penrith), Wordsworth came back to the area in December 1799 and settled into a 'poetic retirement' within his 'native mountains.' Although Wordsworth did not 'discover' the Lake District, nor was he the one who popularised it the most, he "was destined to become one of the key attractions to the area, while his particular vision of his native landscape would have an enduring influence upon its future".[4] Not just a 'nature poet', his poetry "is about the organic relationship between human beings and the natural world...'[5] After a brief flirtation with the Picturesque in his Cambridge years, he came to see this aesthetic view of nature as being only one of many (although it is arguable that he "was under the sway of Picturesque theory", he frequently transcended it).[6] His 'vision' of nature was one that did not distort it in order to make art.
  • Wordsworth's early radical political ideas led him to his second poetic innovation: the use of "plain language" and having for his subject the "common man" as represented by the Dales-folk (rather than "kings and queens, lords and ladies or gods and goddesses" as was the case up to then).[5] His third innovation was to do with the inward-turning of his mind, producing a semi-autobiographical take on nature and imagination: his poem The Prelude, he wrote to Dorothy, was "the poem on the growth of my own mind."

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