-From 1775 til 1763 was the American War of Independence. 1780 was an uprising called “The Gordon Riots” in London; they were an anti-Catholic uprising against the Papists Act of 1778. -Then followed the French Revolution. 1789 was the fall of Bastille and 1793 was the Execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. France declared war against Britain. 1804 Napoleon was crowned emperor. -Industrial Revolution: James Watt perfected the steam engine and 1776 the first engines were in use in commercial enterprises. By 1824 over 1000 engines were produced. - Slavery became also a great issue . John Newton, a slave treder from Liverpool said: “of the English ships purchase 60000 slaves annually, upon the whole extent of the coast; the annual loss of loss of lives cannot be much less than fifteen thousand.” 1807. was the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. -In the later half of the 18th century, vast tracts of land all over England were transformed from common land into private property. Privately owned fields were divided by stone walls and hedges. Thousands of rural people were forces to abandon their homes, migrating to London or America. -English Countryside
The poetry of Sensibility
-James Thomson(1700-1748). He came 1725 from Scotland to London. 1726 he published “Winter”, a descriptive poem in blank verse. 1730. was “The Seasons” published. It is a poetry of natural description. From 1730 till 1800 it was printed 50 times. : Thomson amazed his contemporaries with his capacity to see well. -Nature was also popular in the visual art and music. (Picture). Antonio Vivaldi was for example inspired by nature. We can see it in his “Four Season” (1725). He was inspired by the countryside of Mantua, a beautiful landscape. -Thomas Gray (1716-1771) was an English poet. He seldom left Cambridge. Summers in the Lake District or Scotland (picture). His masterpiece is the “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”: dusk, a plowman goes slowly home, he is tired. The day is almost over and the air is still. The stillness is very important. It is a summer evening and everything is about to fall asleep. Gray creates an atmosphere without saying much. The plowman passes the graveyard and he sees yew trees. The poet focuses on the anonymous people buried in the graveyard. The poem is about the way of life that is disappearing from England. This poem has characteristics of romantic poetry. -Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) was an Anglo-Irish writer, poet, and physician. The „Deserted Village“ is one of his famous poems. It is a pastoral poem in memory of his brother. It is a reaction to the recently passed Inclosure Acts which forced a mass emigration of poor farming families from the countryside to the cities. -George Crabbe(1754-1832) is also an English poet. His most famous work is “The Village”. He demythologizes in his poetry. It is about a plowman that goes to a pub, gets drunk, goes home and beats his wife and kids. They are not a happy familiy. Crabbe wanted to show the real life. All the myths about the “golden age” are not true and real because there is no money, no medical care, no insurance and all the people are hard-working. They have a miserable life. Crabbe is an antidote to all those mythologizing contempories. -The features of the poetry of sensibility are: interest in nature, emotions, atmosphere, the sublime (something that appeals and terrifies at the same time)
William Blake (1757-1827)
His only formal education was in art, the Royal Academy of Arts. „Poetical Sketches“ is his first book of poems, which he had written at the age of 26 years. A Visionary Poet and Artist
- „America: A Phropecy“
- „The French Revolution“
Revolution as the purifying violence, the imminent redemption of humanity. Long Poems: The Four Zoas, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
They show a complex irony about the inadequacy of conventional moral categories. The good life...