William Wordsworth (1770-1850) began the period of Romanticism in English poetry. The publication of Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1798 was the most dramatic event in English literature since John Milton's Paradise Lost. Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey defined the nature of romantic poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings," which "takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity." The following poem from his Ecclesiastical Sonnets is a tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary, "tainted nature's solitary boast."
Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!