Text of The Romantic Period Introduction Romantic Poets –William WordsworthWilliam Wordsworth –S.T....
The Romantic Period Introduction Romantic Poets William WordsworthWilliam Wordsworth S.T. ColeridgeS.T. Coleridge G.G. ByronG.G. Byron P.B. ShelleyP.B. Shelley John KeatsJohn Keats
Introduction Romanticism as a literary movement came into being in England early in the latter half of the 18th century. English Romanticism begins in 1798 with the publication of Wordsworth and Coleridge s The Lyrical Ballads and ends in 1832 with Walter Scott s death. The eighteenth century was distinctively an age of prose. The Age of Wordsworth like the Age of Shakespeare was decidedly an age of poetry.
English Romanticism is a revolt of the English imagination against the neoclassical reason. The French Revolution of 1789-1794 and the English Industrial Revolution exert great influence on English Romanticism. The romanticists express a negative attitude towards the existing social or political conditions. They place the individual at the center of art, as can be seen from Lord Byron s Byronic Hero. The key words of English Romanticism are nature and imagination. English Romantic tend to be nationalistic, defending the greatest English writers. They argue that poetry should be free from all rules.
Lake poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey were known as Lake Poets because they lived and knew one another in the last few years of the 18 th century in the district of the great lakes in Northwestern England. They were friends and traversed the same path in politics and poetry. The former two published The Lyrical Ballads together in 1798, while all three of them had radical inclinations in their youth but later turned conservative and received pensions and poet laureateships from the aristocracy.
Other greatest Romantic poets are: George Gordon Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. Karl Marx likes Byron and Shelley very much. MU Dan / a renowned Chinese poet and translator, did splendid work to popularize Byron and Shelley in China. Years ago, Wordsworth and Coleridge were labeled negative/passive romantic poets while Byron and Shelley were hailed as positive/active (revolutionary) Romantic poets. Wordsworth and Coleridges literary achievements were underestimated for a long time.
Passive and Active / Revolutionary Romantic Poets Romanticists were discontent with and opposed to the development of capitalism. They split into two groups. Some Romantic writers reflected the thinking of those classes which had been ruined by the bourgeoisie called Passive Romantic poets, represented by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. Others expressed the aspiration of the labouring classes called Active or Revolutionary Romantic poets, represented by Byron and Shelley and Keats.
English fiction gropes/explores its way amidst the overwhelming Romantic poetry. It revives its popularity in the hands of Jane Austen & Walter Scott. Walter Scott is noted for his historical novel based on Scottish history and legends. He exerted great influence on European literature of his time. Jane Austen is the first and foremost English women novelist. Following the neoclassical tradition, she is unsurpassed in the description of uneventful /common everyday life.
Characteristics of Romanticism Romanticism is a literary trend prevailing in England during the period 1798-1832. Coming along with the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, the English Romanticism, compared with the neo- classicism which emphasized what men have in common, focuses mainly on the special qualities of individuals mind. So its features run in contrary with the Neoclassism: Firstly, the Romanticism tended to probe into the inner world of the human spirit rather narrate daily happenings of the human world; Secondly, they liked to employ rural scenery, legendary and mythological resources and stories of ancient times to create their artistic reality, and favored figures from the country and Orientals which they took to be part of the innocent and pure Nature they sought for;
Thirdly, the Romantic Age was one of poetry, producing a number of great poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron and Keats. Thus, imagination was emphasized as the greatest resource of literary creation, and freedom from all rules became the rule of poetical writing. Finally, the focus of the everyday life of human beings in the Age brought about the flourishing of familiar essay, e.g. those written by Charles Lamb, and the fiction about family life such as in the novels written by Jane Austen; and its romantic longings led to the popularity of Gothic fiction with violence, horror and the supernatural, and the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott.
William Wordsworth(1770-1850) All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. --- William Wordsworth
Biographical Introduction William Wordsworth, the representative poet of the early romanticism, was born on 7 April 1770 in a lawyer s family in Cockermouth. His father John was estate agent to Sir James,who owned the house. The garden at the back, with the River Derwent flowing past, was a place of magic and adventure for the young William. William has an elder brother Richard, a younger sister Dorothy and two younger brothers John and Christopher.
Cockermouth on the River Derwent, in the heart of the Lake District
His childhood was spent largely in Cockermouth and Penrith, his mother's hometown. William and Dorothy and his future wife Mary attended infant school in Penrith between 1776 and 1777. William's mother died when he was 8. At the age of 13 his father died, The orphan was taken in charge by relatives who sent him to school at Hawkshead in the beautiful lake district in Northwestern England.Here, the unroofed school of nature attracted him more than the classroom, and he learned more eagerly from flowers and hills and stars than from his books. So the child early cherished a love of nature, which he later expressed in his poetry.
The Old Grammar School in HawksheadHawkshead
He then went to St John's College of Cambridge, where he was not a notable student, but inevitably matured in thought and sophistication. From 1779 until 1787 William attended the Grammar school in Hawkshead with his brothers. At Hawkshead William thrived - receiving encouragement from the headmaster to read and write poetry. During these years he made many visits to the countryside, gaining inspiration as the powers of nature exercised their influence.
In 1795 he received a bequest and stayed in a cottage in Dorset, where they met Coleridge and Southey. In the years ahead a close relationship developed between William, Dorothy and Coleridge. Then William and Coleridge undertook a tour to the Lake District, devoting their time to writing poetry. By 1830,he was widely recognized for his poetry talent. He became a Tory and upheld the reactionary policy of the British government. In 1843,he was made Poet Laureate. In 1850 William caught a cold on a country walk, and he died on 23 April, 80 years after his birth. He and Mary who died 9 years later have a simple tombstone in the churchyard in Grasmere, now one of the most visited literary shrines in the world. William Wordsworth wrote some 70,000 lines of verse, 40,000 lines more than any other poet.
Wordsworth is buried with his family in Grasmere churchyard.
Wordsworth House and the Wordsworth Memorial
Major Works An Evening Walk (1793) Lyrical Ballads (1798) Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey 1798 Lucy Poems 1799 The Solitary Reaper 1805 Ode: Intimations of Immortality 1807 Ode to Duty (1807) The Excursion (1814) The Prelude, (1850)
Wordsworths greatest contribution to English literature is his poems and his Preface to The Lyrical Ballads. Though The Lyrical Ballads is known as the collaborated work of Wordsworth and Coleridge, all the poems but one (The Rime of The Ancient Mariner) are written by Wordsworth. Most of his most quoted poem are taken from this collection.
Preface to Lyrical Ballads Wordsworths Preface (1800) to Lyrical Ballads is the manifesto of English Romanticism. It is one of the revolutionary works of criticism, helping usher in the Romantic Age in literature (Dutton, 1984:50). He is primarily concerned to justify the kinds of his poems which he had contributed to Lyrical Ballads.
What Wordsworth says in the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling. Poetry takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility. The function of poetry lies in its power to give an unexpected splendour to incidents and situations from common life. Wordsworth endeavoured to bring (his) language near to the real language of men, by fitting to metrical arrangement a selection of the real language of men.
She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways Listen by William WordsworthWilliam Wordsworth