English Romanticism

Topics: William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mind Pages: 12 (2097 words) Published: March 24, 2013
English Romanticism
Historical Background
Industrial Revolution

1776 American Revolution

1789 - 1815 Revolutionary and Napoleonic Period in France

1789 storming of the Bastille

1793 King Louis XVI executed

Political unrest in Britain, harsh repressive measures against radicals

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution of France 1790

Tom Paine, Rights of Man 1791

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792

1793 Britain at war with France

The Regency 1811-20
George, Prince of Wales acts as Regent for George III

1815 Waterloo; first modern industrial depression

1819 Peterloo, St. Peter's Fields, Manchester

1832 First Reform Bill

Social and economic changes
Industrialisation - the age of the machine

Social philosophy of laissez-faire 'let alone'


Lyrical poetry

Two generations of poets


Second generation: BYRON, SHELLEY, KEATS

Keats 'Great spirits now on earth are sojourning'

William Hazlitt - the new poetry 'had its origin in the French Revolution. It was a time of promise, of renewal of the world - and of letters.'

Wordsworth, The Prelude
France standing on the top of golden hours

And human nature seeming born again!

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,

But to be young was very heaven....

The poet as a 'bard' or 'prophet'
Poetic spontaneity and freedom

Poetry - subjective; it expresses the poet's own feelings (lyric poetry)

Rebellion against the Neo-classical 'rules'

Keats: 'if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had not come at all'

The importance of 'the heart' - instinct, intuition,


The human mind - IMAGINATION

Turning to NATURE

Wordsworth & Coleridge


1770 born at Cockermouth, The Lake District

Educated at Cambridge

1791-2 France - Annette Vallon

1795, reunited with his sister Dorothy meets S.T. Coleridge

1797 moves with his sister Dorothy to Alfoxden to be close to Coleridge, who lives at Nether Stowey (Somerset)

The role of friendship with Coleridge

1798/1799 Goslar, Germany

1799 settles with Dorothy in the Lake District, first at Grasmere

1802 marries Mary Hutchinson

1813 appointed stamp distributor for Westmoreland - becomes patriotic, conservative public man, abandoning radical politics and idealism

1843 Poet Laureate

Lyrical Ballads 1798
Coleridge on composition of Lyrical Ballads in Ch. XIV of Biographia Literaria

During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours, our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination. The sudden charm, which accidents of light and shade, which moon-light or sun-set diffused over a known and familiar landscape, appeared to represent the practicability of combining both. These are the poetry of nature.

The thought suggested itself (to which of us I do not recollect) that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency.

. For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life; the characters and incidents were to be such, as will be found in every village and its vicinity, where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them,...
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