Lecture 25: The Romantic Poets


Romantic Literature 1789-1832
Beginnings
The Romantic period lasts about 40 years, from the French Revolution (1789) to 1832.
This is the Age of Revolutions: The American Revolution in 1776 & the French Revolution: liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Willian Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge published the “Lyrical Ballads” (1798).
They later republished the collection with a Preface to illustrate the tenets of their movement.
The Romantics almost contrasted the Augustan/Neo-classical Age.

Romantic Features
The Romantics wanted a revolution in poetic language
1) simple language 2) simple subject matter 3) new poetic forms
The heart, not the mind, controls everything.
Feelings and imagination are above reason and intellect.
The sense of individuality is more significant than the collective society.
Nature was the source of inspiration
The city was a source of corruption and vices and sins.
Childhood is a source of innocence and inspiration.

William Blake (1757-1827)

Blake is a pre-Romantic poet.
He has a very individual view of the world.
His poetic style, ideas, sensibility, and ideas contrast with the order and control of the Augustans.
Blake best known poetry is “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience”.

Blake’s symbolism

His poems are simple, but symbolic. The lamb is a symbol of innocence:
Little lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee? (’The Lamb’)
While the Tiger is a symbol of experience:
Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forest of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Blake’s The Sick Rose

O Rose thou art sick. 
The invisible worm, 
That flies in the night 
In the howling storm: 
 
Has found out thy bed 
Of crimson joy: 
And his dark secret love 
Does thy life destroy.

Blake’s London
I wander thro’ each charter’d street, 
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow. 
And mark in every face I meet 
Marks of weakness, marks of woe. ??
In every cry of every Man, 
In every Infants cry of fear, 
In every voice: in every ban, 
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear