The term diction refers to the kind of words, phrases, sentences, and sometimes figurative language that constitute any work of literature. When it comes to poetry writing, the question related to the diction always arises. The question of diction is considered as primary because the feelings of the poet must be easily conceived by the readers. The poets of all ages have used distinctive poetic diction.
The Neo-classical poetic diction was mainly derived from the classical poets such as Virgil, Spenser, and Milton. These poets used to write poetry by using embellished language and particular decorum. Other prominent features of that period were the extensive use of difficult words, allusions, the personification of abstracts, and avoidance of things considered as low or base. The poetry of that time was treated as something sacred. It was only subjected to the people with high intellect and of high status in the society.
Wordsworth prime concern was to denounce such superficial and over-embellished language. Wordsworth’s aim was to write poetry which symbolizes the life in its simple and rustic state. The poetry, for Wordsworth, must be like the part of daily life speech. It should be written in such language that anyone who wants to read it could comprehend it easily. Wordsworth believes that all such ornamented poetry clocks the genuine and passionate feelings of the poets. He only justifies the use of an embellished language of poetry when it is naturally suggested by the feelings or the subject matter of the poetry. The poetry, for Wordsworth, is the expression of natural feelings and these feelings cannot be communicated with the help of fake and version of upper-class speech but with the actual speech of “humble and rustic life”.
He defines poetic diction as a language of common men. It is not the language of the poet as a class but the language of mankind. It is the simple expression of pure passions by men living close to nature. The poetic language is the natural language; therefore, it must be spontaneous and instinctive. The real poetic diction, in the view of the Wordsworth, is the natural overflow of the feelings, therefore, it is immune to the deliberate decoration of the language.
Wordsworth also attributes the quality of giving pleasure to the natural poetic diction. It must not contain any vulgarity and disgusting element. The poet must, through his language, elevate the nature and human feelings.