What kind of language is appropriate for poetry?

Poetic diction is usually defined as the words and phrases that have established themselves as appropriate to poetry because they are not used in normal day communication. Aristotle, Horace, Dante, Sidney, Dryden, and Johnson had all advocated to a certain degree that a serious poet should use lofty/high-style language. They briefly discussed that the language of literature, poetry or drama should differ from the language used in the real world. Wordsworth opposes this view and, in doing so, makes an ‘Objective’ analysis of the language of poetry.

He believes a poet must descend from his supposed height and express himself as common men express themselves. Wordsworth objectives for poetic diction are very popular in the poetry of his time. Wordsworth says that his purpose is to imitate and, as far as possible, to adopt the very language of a common man.

To imitate the language of common men, Wordsworth emphasizes the subject matter of poetry. To most writers before Wordsworth, common characters and rustic settings were unsuitable for poetry. However, Wordsworth, conversely, concentrates that a poet must choose incidents and situations from common and rustic life to collect simple and common ideas. According to him, this collection of simple ideas will force the poet foe to select the language spoken by common people.

Poetic diction

Wordsworth justifies his choice largely upon the close ties between country dwellers and nature. So a poet should deal with humble and rustic life and he should also use the language of the rustic farmers, shepherds, etc. Wordsworth prefers rural setting because the passions of country-folks are combined with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature. According to him, the language of common men, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is a more permanent and a far more philosophical language than that poetic diction which is adopted by poets, who think that they are presenting honour upon themselves and their art, in this way they separate themselves from common people.

In a nutshell, Wordsworth rejects the idea of language as artificial and figures of speech as mere decoration of the language. He justifies its use only when they are naturally suggested by the passion unlike artificial decorations. For him, the natural feelings cannot be communicated with the help of the embellished speech but with the actual speech of the humble and rustic life.