Published seven years after William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s popular collection Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth’s Poems, in Two Volumes shocked readers and drew scornful reviews. Poems was a revolutionary challenge to literary taste in revolution-weary times. The poems were perceived as inappropriately personal and egotistical in the attention that the poet pays to “moods of [his own] mind.” The collection is now seen as containing some of the most enduring works of British Romantic poetry, and Wordsworth’s achievement in opening up new worlds of subject matter, emotion, and poetic expression is widely recognized.
Richard Matlak places the initial reaction to Poems in its historical context and explains the sea change in critical and popular opinion about these poems. The extensive historical documents place the poems in the context of Wordsworth’s life, contemporary politics, and the literary world of the early nineteenth century.
“Broadview’s Poems, in Two Volumes provides an accessible edition of this text, perfect for classroom use. Editor Richard Matlak places Wordsworth’s poems in their personal, political, and poetic contexts. Beautifully edited and skillfully arranged, this one-volume edition also contains supplementary materials and appendices that highlight major issues. Helpful footnotes on each page and Wordsworth’s own original footnotes in the back ensure that readers will find this edition both illuminating and inviting.” — Judith W. Page, Professor of English and Distinguished Teaching Scholar, University of Florida
“Richard Matlak’s edition of Poems, in Two Volumes is an important addition to scholarship on the Romantic period in general, and Wordsworth’s poetry in particular. The introduction places the publication of P2V in its historical context, revealing the remarkable range of contemporary concerns and pressures, both personal and political, which inform and inspire the poems. Both Wordsworth the poet and Wordsworth the man emerge with energy and vitality from the pages of Matlak’s fine edition. Readers will marvel at the wide array of illustrations and contemporary essays that place Wordsworth’s 1807 volume in its original historical location. This is clearly the work of a careful, diligent, and indefatigable editor. Matlak’s edition presents a singularly original biographical, historical, and literary frame through which future readings of Wordsworth’s poetry will emerge.” — Michael Raiger, Ave Maria University
“We continue to be indebted to Broadview Press for issuing first-rate editions, with the past year bringing Wordsworth’s Poems, in Two Volumes, edited by Richard Matlak, which allows us to teach many core Wordsworth texts as they appeared in print and as they engaged a wide range of contexts marshaled in the appendices by Matlak” — Jeffrey N. Cox Studies in English Literature
“Having read through this volume twice, I shall return to my cherished facsimile with greatly enriched understanding of many things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. And in a culture wherein editorial preference for chronological or thematic arrangements often usurps upon authorial privilege, one can only celebrate the availability of an edition that (in many essentials) presents a great work as it was intended to be read. In short, bravo!” —Richard Gravil, Review 19
”A clear and judicious introduction, written in Matlak’s approachable style, is structured around the various contexts that conditioned or fed the making of the poems and their immediate reception … In presenting readers with the Poems, in Two Volumes as they were collected in 1807, Matlak’s fine edition allows the poems to speak not just singly, but together—in their original daring and abundance of form—of ‘the primal sympathy / Which having been must ever be’.” — Gregory Leadbetter