Wordsworth said that the collection of poetry he and Coleridge collaborated on, the Lyrical Ballads, was an “experiment”. The Lyrical Ballads was a joint venture by Wordsworth and Coleridge, aimed at unraveling the secrets of poetry that could veritably provide a fertile soil to essential passions of the heart and for the nourishment of the individual’s soul. Wordsworth and Coleridge decided to take up their specific fields of interest regarding poetry and build upon these cases an embellished esoteric interpretations of poems that could connect to nature as well as imagination—this being the primary objective of this “experiment”.

In the experiment, the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth focused on poetry as a piece of literature that would arouse more than ordinary pleasure and feelings, as he inexorably mentioned in the preface:

“I flattered myself that they who should be pleased with them would read them with more than common pleasure”.

Wordsworth looked towards introducing a new era of poetry in which he could wholly annul the hard-stone-set patterns, metrical language in poetry, gaudiness and inane phraseology used by modern poets and replace it with the colors of common life, repeated experiences of people and common language that the people used in reality.

This structure of poetry tinged with realism and natural elements, for instance the use of low, agrarian and rustic setting Wordsworth believed, would offer nourishment to the feelings, ideas and passions of the hearts of people in a broader spectrum and would have a natural connection in its essence. According to Wordsworth, the idea of bringing simplicity to the world of poetry was essential in terms of making it more deep in thought and lasting. This experiment with poetry, Wordsworth believed, would be the most accurate reflection of the beautiful and permanent forms of nature. The poets who substituted the ideas in sync with natural sentiments, according to Wordsworth, divorced themselves from the sympathies of men and indulged in arbitrary and capricious habits. Wordsworth pointed out by citing the poem, Babes in the Wood, he maintained that the kind of poetry featured in this specific poem was “neither interesting, nor harbored anything interesting”. This “experiment”, from Wordsworth’s side, was a process of fostering organic sensibilities and themes that could incorporate within themselves the notion of vitality, realism and a deep, melodious thought to rejuvenate senses—thereby breaking barriers that advocated the theorizing of bookish knowledge in creating poetry. According to him, poetry was a tyrannical discipline, which required the poet to burn all peripheries.

Wordsworth mentioned in the Preface, “Personifications of abstract ideas rarely occur in my poems”, which explains at length how he inevitably moved away from the conventional and customary ways of writing poetry. The traditional poetic diction was also curbed by Wordsworth—he declared, “I have taken as much pains to avoid it, as others ordinarily take to produce it”. It was in this idea that Wordsworth established that poetry was a subject that was purely a creation to satiate the taste and moral feelings of the masses. He considered this to be an indispensable part of this experiment, to define in veritable terms, a poet, as any person who would have an extraordinary sense of observation and imagination, as any person who would feel more than a regular individual and celebrate the spirit of life more than any other.

Wordsworth agreed with Aristotle, describing poetry as more philosophical than any other writing, and hence shaded this quote powerfully with the color of the idea of a poet as being someone whose thoughts ubiquitous and pervasive. Terming poetry as a powerful overflow of sensations, he put the beautiful words of his poems in conversation with moral sentiments and animal sensations, thereby highlighting the beauty with which these come to the mind in “moments of tranquility”.

Coleridge on the other hand, was to deliver something regarding the subject that could be analogous to Wordsworth’s work. Coleridge’s contribution to the Lyrical Ballads was the work primarily associated with the supernatural and romantic aspects of the world and the metaphysical dimension of life. He described poetry as the power of giving the interest of novelty, by the modifying colors of imagination. Coleridge introduced two important concepts: fancy and imagination. These two notions evoked supernatural elements, deliberating poetry as a medium that could reflect through the inward nature of human interest—a semblance of truth sufficient to procure the shadows of imagination, a willing “suspension of disbelief” for the moment which constituted poetic faith. 

Coleridge’s main aim in this “experiment” had been to materialize the importance of the attainment of truth and realism. He did this by learning the most from the stimulating depths of imagination and titillating supernatural agencies.

Coleridge established the importance of carrying the human mind forward; he said that it could not be merely done through the mechanically-injected impulse of curiosity, but that it ought to be a process which makes the journey itself more interesting than the final destination itself. Coleridge applied a vivid realization to his part of the “experiment”, maintaining that poetry had to be grasped by the thinking mind. He believed that poetry needed to be deconstructed reasonably, the essence needed to be imbibed and then the lines needed to be reconstructed in order to merge the mind’s thoughts with the thoughts portrayed in the particular piece of poetry.

Hence, in a nutshell, it was this striking merger of the natural and the supernatural worlds that Coleridge and Wordsworth were able to graft in this “experiment” of theirs, namely the Lyrical Ballads.