Lyrical William Wordsworth Quotes Written to Move You

, Staff Writer
Updated February 17, 2022
Portrait Of William Wordsworth With Quote
    Portrait Of William Wordsworth With Quote
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    Used under Getty Images license

William Wordsworth was a leading poet in the Romantic movement during the 19th century, which embraced the beauty of nature and cautioned against industrialization. His poems like “I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud” and “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” not only helped shape an artistic and philosophical movement, but they endure today as gold standards of poetry.

In Wordsworth’s Own Words

Wordsworth usually expressed himself through his poetry. However, he did voice his thoughts on his craft in letters and in the preface to Lyrical Ballads, a poetry collection he wrote with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This collection single-handedly helped launch the Romantic movement in England.

  • “Life is divided into three terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.” - quoted in Speech by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions (June 30, 2010)

  • “...Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great or original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished…” - Letter to Lady Beaumont (May 21, 1807)

  • “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” - Letter to his wife, Mary (April 29, 1812) in The Love Letters of William and Mary Wordsworth

  • “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility…” - Lyrical Ballads

  • “For the human mind is capable of being excited without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this...” - Lyrical Ballads

  • “He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind…” - Lyrical Ballads

  • “Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science …” - Lyrical Ballads

  • “Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge — it is as immortal as the heart of man.” - Lyrical Ballads


Quotes From The Prelude

One of Wordsworth’s best-remembered and most remarkable works is The Prelude or, Growth of a Poet's Mind; An Autobiographical Poem — better known as The Prelude for short. It is an autobiographical poem that was intended as an introduction to his unfinished poem The Recluse.

  • “Free as a bird to settle where I will.”

  • “Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up/ Fostered alike by beauty and by fear.”

  • “Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows/ Like harmony in music; there is a dark/ Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles/ Discordant elements, makes them cling together/ In one society.”

  • “When from our better selves we have too long/ Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,/ Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,/ How gracious, how benign, is Solitude.”

  • “... and spirits overwrought/ Were making night do penance for a day/ Spent in a round of strenuous idleness.”

  • “Huge and mighty forms, that do not live/ Like living men, moved slowly through the mind/ By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.”

  • “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,/ But to be young was very Heaven!”

  • “There is/ One great society alone on earth:/ The noble Living and the noble Dead.”


Dreamy William Wordsworth Quotes

William Wordsworth wrote hundreds of poems during his career. His ethereal imagery and lyrical style shone in each line as he painted a picture with his words.

  • “I wandered lonely as a cloud/ That floats on high o'er vales and hills,/ When all at once I saw a crowd,/ A host, of golden daffodils;/ Beside the lake, beneath the trees,/ Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” - “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

  • “That best portion of a good man's life,/ His little, nameless, unremembered, acts/ Of kindness and of love.” - “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

  • “...Nature never did betray/ The heart that loved her.” - “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”

  • “While with an eye made quiet by the power/ Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,/ We see into the life of things.” - “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”

  • “Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance.” - “A Narrow Girdle of Rough Stones and Crags

  • “I travelled among unknown men,/ In lands beyond the sea;/ Nor, England! did I know till then/ What love I bore to thee.” - “I Travelled Among Unknown Men

  • “No bird, but an invisible thing,/ A voice, a mystery.” - “To the Cuckoo

  • “The light that never was, on sea or land,/ The consecration, and the poet's dream.” - “Elegiac Stanzas

  • “Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know,/ Are a substantial world, both pure and good:/ Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,/ Our pastime and our happiness will grow.” - “Personal Talk

  • “Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:/ Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:/ Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,/ So didst thou travel on life's common way,/ In cheerful godliness.” - “London, 1802

  • “From the sweet thoughts of home/ And from all hope I was forever hurled./ For me—farthest from earthly port to roam/ Was best, could I but shun the spot where man might come.” - “Guilt and Sorrow

  • “Sweet childish days, that were as long/ As twenty days are now.” - “To a Butterfly

  • “...every gift of noble origin/ Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath.” - “October, 1803

  • “Happier of happy though I be, like them/ I cannot take possession of the sky,/ Mount with a thoughtless impulse, and wheel there/ One of a mighty multitude whose way/ Is a perpetual harmony and dance/ Magnificent. “ - The Recluse

  • “Is there not/ An art, a music, and a stream of words/ That shalt be life, the acknowledged voice of life…” - The Recluse

  • “We must be free or die, who speak the tongue/ That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold/ Which Milton held. —In every thing we are sprung/ Of Earth's first blood, have titles manifold.” - “It Is Not to Be Thought Of

  • “He sang of love, with quiet blending,/ Slow to begin, and never ending;/ Of serious faith, and inward glee;/ That was the song,— the song for me!” - “O Nightingale! Thou Surely Art

  • “Two Voices are there; one is of the sea,/ One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice. In both from age to age thou didst rejoice,/ They were thy chosen music, Liberty!” - “Thought of a Briton on the Subjugation of Switzerland

  • “Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;/ His daily teachers had been woods and rills,/ The silence that is in the starry sky,/ The sleep that is among the lonely hills.” - “Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle

  • “Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind.” - “Surprised by Joy

  • “A cheerful life is what the Muses love,/ A soaring spirit is their prime delight.” - “From the Dark Chambers of Dejection Freed


Romantic Words From Romantic Poets