“Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.”
William Wordsworth is one of the most beloved poets of all time. He lived during the late 1700s and early 1800s, a time known in literature as the Romantic Period. His love of nature inspired most of his poems.
- William Wordsworth was born in Cumbria, England in 1870. During his childhood and young adulthood, he watched the American and French Revolutions unfold. These experiences surely influenced his thinking.
- He was very close to his siblings and parents. His mother died when he was eight and his father died just a few years later, leaving the children orphans. The siblings were separated and sent to live with relatives.
- Wordsworth was sent to boarding school and he later attended college. After college, he walked through Europe.
- In 1802, he married his childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson. They had a long and happy life together. They had five children, two of whom died while they were young. Wordsworth was intimately acquainted with grief, having lost his parents, as well.
- Wordsworth became friends with Samuel Coleridge, another English poet. Together, they published a book of poetry. Wordsworth’s career was launched.
- Wordsworth loved the natural world. He would often go on long walks, during which time, he would write down ideas for poems on scraps of paper. He sometimes walked at night. People living in his community thought he might be a spy for the French government because of his odd habits.
- It is estimated that Wordsworth walked over 10,000 miles in his lifetime.
- He wrote extensively about the natural beauty of the Lake District in England. Inspired by Wordsworth’s pastoral descriptions, people from London, which was a dirty, congested city at the time, flocked to the country.
- Wordsworth’s poems inspired future naturalists, such as John Muir. Some say Wordsworth is credited for inspiring the idea of a national parks movement.
Questions and Answers
Question: Did Wordsworth have a happy life?
Answer: Wordsworth experienced sadness over the loss of his parents, separation from his siblings, and the deaths of three of his children. However, walking and writing poetry seem to have given him peace and purpose. Many of the poets of his time suffered from mental illness or addiction to opium and alcohol. Wordsworth was spared these problems. He enjoyed a quiet life with his wife. Critics of the day sometimes said he had sold out because his life didn’t have enough angst.
Watch a video of one of Wordsworth’s most famous poems.
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