The romantic period in English. Themes.
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Untitled THE ROMANTIC PERIOD IN ENGLISH The romantic period in English literature is often labelled by historians the Age of Revolution.
It opens with the American Declaration of Indipendence (1776 ) and is characterised by the effects of the French Revolution ( 1789 ) and of the Industrial Revolution. Most scholars agree that it concludes in 1837 with the coronation of Queen Victoria, after whom the subsequent Victorian Age is named. In literature, this was above all the age of poetry which reflected the important social and political aspects of the period, marking a watershed in the development of the genre. The Romantic poets Burns, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth ( first generation), Byron, Shelley and Keats ( second generation ), do not form a school, but their output shows a number of unifying themes and ideas.
THEMES Their first concern was with nature. Poets were filled with pleasure when they contemplated the external natural world. They often regarded nature as a manifestation of a divine power on earth and also sensed a correspondence between landscapes and man's feelings and values. The second unifying idea was imagination, a creative faculty which parallels that of God in creation and can reveal higher truths. The emphasis on imagination explains the visionaty quality of the work of some Romantic poets and the importance they attach to the supernatural, dreams and symbols. Romantic poets thought that the power of imagination was particularly evident in childhood but then gradually lost in the process of growing up. They often glorified childhood as the “ age of innocence “ or the age in which man most responded to the splendour of the natural world. In contrast with the cold rationalism of the previous age, Romantic poets valued human feelings and emotions more highly than reason and made them the subject matter of their works. The age attached much importance also to the poet. He was seen as a man gifted with greater sensibility and imagination. His function was to point out what is wrong with society and what ideals men should pursue. The creative act was analysed in detail and the role of inspiration forcefully asserted. The period marked a revolution also in the use of poetic language. THE POETS We will now deal with those poets who, in the present canon, are deemed major Romantic figures. Robert Burns, a Scotsman, was the first to break away from 18th-century conventions and wrote poems about Scottish scenery, local people and folk tradition. Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth are viewed as `first generation' Romantic poets. The most celebrated poems by William Blake are Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) which present a vision of the world first through the eyes of the inocent child and them through those of the experienced man. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth were close friends for a period of time. Together they planned the Lyrical Ballads, a collection which marked the beginning of