The first and the second generation of poets The first and the second generation of romantic poets First generation features The first generation ( Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey).To a shorter period of optimism about French Revolution succeeds a longer period of despair, and pessimism caused by the degeneration of the Revolution into terror. As a result, the poets of this first generation pass from a hopeful support to the new issues concerning man and society, to a hopeless abandonment of their ideals, turning from fervent progressists into resigned conservatives. Wordsworth and conservatism That is the more so with Wordsworth, whose longer life makes him more and more complacent toward conservatism. His retirement to the Lake District is a clear manifestation of his incapability to keep his revolutionary ideals concerning man and human liberties. All in all, the first generation romantics reveal themselves too fragile, both spiritually and mentally, confused, and discouraged amidst the uncertainties of the time events. Also in poetry, their main concern seems to be to break with the neo-classical rules, more than to produce excellent verse. As a matter of fact, their poetic accomplishment is characterized by simplicity in language, theme, and versification. Second generation uniqueness It is quite different with the poets of the second romantic generation. Byron, Shelley, and Keats are the true incarnation of the romantic revolt. Their rebellion is a total war without truce, aiming at the affirmation of extreme individualism (Byron), or the triumph of the aspirations to freedom and equality (Shelley), or the proclamation of a new ethical philosophy centered on beauty and truth (Keats).