The majority of the following poems are to be considered as experiments. They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure - William Wordsworth, from the Advertisment prefacing the original 1798 edition. When it was first published, Lyrical Ballads enraged the critics of the day: Wordsworth and Coleridge had given poetry a voice, one decidedly different to what had been voiced before.
For Wordsworth, as he so clearly stated in his celebrated preface to the 1800 edition (also reproduced here), the important thing was the emotion aroused by the poem, and not the poem itself. This acclaimed Routledge Classics edition offers the reader the opportunity to study the poems in their original contexts as they appeared to Coleridge's and Wordsworth's contemporaries, and includes some of their most famous poems, including Coleridge's Rime of the Ancyent Marinere.