William Wordsworth: the Affliction of Margaret

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William Wordsworth: The Affliction of Margaret About the poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) is arguably the most popular and famous of all English poets. As a young man, he had quite radical ideas about political change - and he travelled to see the effects of the revolution in France - of which he wrote "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive". With his good friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he published, in 1798, a collection of poems called Lyrical Ballads (in 1800, they published a second volume). In some ways, these poems mark the beginning in England of what we now call the Romantic Movement. The Preface, written by Wordsworth, has come to be seen as one of the most important explanations of poetry in English literature. In 1805 Wordsworth published his masterpiece, the long autobiographical poem, The Prelude, subtitled Growth of a Poet's Mind. Wordsworth is strongly linked to the Lake District, where he grew up, and later settled. He helped introduce to Britain a love of the outdoors and of wild places. Wordsworth writes about man in relation to the natural world, and about simple or rustic people. He suffers from being strongly linked to gift shops and the heritage industry - so that his poems appear on tea towels, biscuit tins and postcards - and from the reputation of one poem (Daffodils) that begins "I wandered lonely as a cloud..." Back to top About the poem The Affliction of Margaret was composed some time between 1801 and 1804 (which Wordsworth gives as the date on the manuscript). It was published in 1807. In his own arrangement of his poems, Wordsworth includes it among "Poems founded on the affections". The poem is similar to a longer piece in Volume Two of the Lyrical Ballads, called Michael, and also to the first half of Jesus's parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15.11-32). In a way, the poem's subject is one that is still very
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