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00066--What is the function of Poetry according to Wordsworth?


William Wordsworth
                                           
            In the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth also discusses the function of poetry.  The function of great poetry is "to please, to move, and to transport."  The three functions of poetry fuse into an aesthetic pleasure with moral elevation.  However, the moral elevation far outweighs the aesthetic pleasure.  The moral function consists first 'in the refinement of feelings', second, 'in the knowledge of Man, Nature, and Human life', and third, 'in the power that makes life richer and fuller.'
"Truth, Grandeur, Beauty, Love and Hope,
And melancholy Fear subdued by Faith."
            The reader of poetry emerges saner and purer than before.  The second great function of poetry is to enable us to look 'into the life of things.'  While science sharpens our intellect, poetry enriches our moral insight.  The moral force of poetry 'is felt in the blood, and felt along the heart'.  So Wordsworth says:
"Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all science."
            Finally, poetry provides shelter and succor to the afflicted human soul.  It is a great force for good and welfare.  Wordsworth's own object in writing poetry was 'to console the afflicted; to add sunshine to day light by making the happy happier; to teach the young and the gracious of every age to see, to think, and feel, and therefore to become more actively and securely virtuous.'
            Thus Wordsworth concludes that 'every great poet is a teacher; I wish either to be considered as a teacher or as nothing'.  In this role poetry makes man "wiser, better and happier".

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