To what extent does Lyrical Ballads represent a new departure for British poetry and poetics?.
The period in which Coleridge and Wordsworth were writing was that of the politically charged atmosphere of the late eighteenth century as the revolutions of both America and France affected the consciousness of the time. Coleridge and Wordsworth shared sympathies which allied them as political radicals and two of the most important writers in England. It was this intimacy as enthusiastic supporters of the revolution that led them to collaborate on the revolutionary Lyrical Ballads, published in 1798, helping to inaugurate the Romantic era in England. While disenchanted with the revolution's betrayal of its origins they retained strong demographic beliefs, manifested in their collaborative work. With this merging of artistic and social change, their revolutionary ideals prescribed a rejection of contrived higher-class sensibilities and acceptance of basic human passions and characters. As a new movement, the Lyrical Ballads incorporate a certain amount of instability in their contrivance of an unexplored poetic territory. This instability provides a continued link to the revolutionary consciousness which generated the Lyrical Ballads in the first place. .
As Wordsworth explained in the 1802 preface to the third edition of the work, the idea underlying the Lyrical Ballads sought to overthrow the established conventions of poetry and poetics. Natural emotion was considered preferable to abstract thought, which was experienced through natural beauty rather than the urbanity that dominated the Restoration period. It is unsurprising that several of the poems of the Lyrical Ballads provide direct commentary on poetry itself and how poetic experience relates to nature. Both Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree and The Nightingale, poems coupled together in the first edition of the ballads, testify to men of poetic temperament whose sensibilities lead them to be misguided.