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The Transition from Rationalism Tosentimentalism in English Poetry

By Abualbasher Jun 06, 2012 837 Words
ABSTRACT

This study is about the transition from rationalism to romanticism in the English poetry, which reflects the relation between art, literature, and poetry; in addition to the relation between language and literature. The researcher has used the historical method in carrying out this study. The study covers part of the English poetry composed from 1700 to 1835. The poetry composed in the Age of Reason, in which reason, order, and form have dominated all fields of life at that time. The poetry composed during that era was based on certain rules; and the heroic couplet was chosen as the metre to suit the town- life. In the Age of Reason, emotions, sentiments, rural life, nature and imagination were excluded as they had nothing in common with reason; the result was satirical and pseudo classical poetry. Alexander Pope is chosen as the representative poet of the Age of Reason. The researcher has focused on Pope's Essay on Man to explain the philosophy, attitudes, and the tendencies of the eighteenth-century society. The study turns to deal with romanticism crossing a bridge of transition. That bridge is the essence and core of this study; it is a transition from rationalism to romanticism. That transitional period is neither classical nor romantic; however, it has the characteristics of both. One end of the bridge is on classicism and the other on romanticism. The poetry composed in that era has features of classical poems in length, and romantic in content and metre. Thomson, Cowper, Gray, and Blake are the poets who exemplify the transitional period poetry. The transitional poets are classical in body but romantic in flesh and bones. The study illustrates their slogans, and ideas towards the English society's beliefs; thus, samples of their poetry are treated and analysed for proof, comparison, and justification. The transitional poets rebelled against classicism and rationalism paving the road for romanticism by turning their backs and pens to collectivistic, reason, and form and opened their hearts, ears, and chests to embrace nature, rural people, and individuals. Therefore, all symptoms of a new and a different philosophy were obvious by the end of eighteenth-century. Romanticism was considered deliverance to emotions, sentiments and feelings, and a liberator of nature and imagination. Romanticism stood steadfastly against the industrial revolution that had contaminated the emotions, nature and enslaved man. The researcher has given a thorough background about the romantic concept of poetry which shows their philosophy that poetry should be composed in the language of the ordinary man and woman or the rustic people; returning to imagination, contemplation, speculation, meditation, and brooding woods, mountains, country sides and all the aspects of nature. The romantics used the blank verse instead of the heroic couplet to suit their concept of poetry. The romantics have paid great attention to individuals and transcend their world of solitude. Wordsworth who believes in pantheism was chosen as a spokesperson of the period. Some of his poems will be discussed to highlight the abuses of the previous age, and prove their revolution against rationalism. The researcher has compared the classical, transitional, and romantic poetry; and discovers that there are similarities between transitional and classical poetry on one hand; and between transitional and romantic on the other. However, there are no similarities between rational and romantic poetry. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, L .G (1964): Poetry and Prose Appreciation for Overseas Students. Longmans, London. Burgess, Anthony (1995): English Literature, Longman, Essex. Collin, Collin’s York English Dictionary (2000): York Press. Compton’s Pictured Encyclopaedia (1961): Vol. 1.

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