Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Romantic Poets : Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge

The Romantic Poets 

The Nature of Romanticism
As a term to hide the foremost distinctive writers who flourished within the last years of the 18th century and therefore the first decades of the 19th, “Romantic” is indispensable but also a touch misleading: there was no self-styled “Romantic movement” at the time, and therefore the great writers of the amount didn't call themselves Romantics. Not until August Wilhelm von Schlegel’s Vienna lectures of 1808–09 was a transparent distinction established between the “organic,” “plastic” qualities of Romantic art and therefore the “mechanical” character of Classicism.
Many of the age’s foremost writers thought that something new was happening within the world’s affairs, nevertheless. William Blake’s affirmation in 1793 that “a new heaven is begun” was matched a generation later by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The world’s great age begins anew.” “These, these will give the planet another heart, / And other pulses,” wrote Keats , pertaining to Hunt and Wordsworth . Fresh ideals came to the fore; especially , the perfect of freedom, long cherished in England, was being extended to each range of human endeavour. As that ideal swept through Europe, it became natural to believe that the age of tyrants might soon end.
The most notable feature of the poetry of the time is that the new role of individual thought and private feeling. Where the most trend of 18th-century poetics had been to praise the overall , to ascertain the poet as a spokesman of society addressing a cultivated and homogeneous audience and having as his end the conveyance of “truth,” the Romantics found the source of poetry within the particular, unique experience.
Blake’s marginal discuss Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Discourses expresses the position with characteristic vehemence: “To Generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize is that the alone Distinction of Merit.” The poet was seen as a private distinguished from his fellows by the intensity of his perceptions, taking as his basic material the workings of his own mind. Poetry was considered conveying its own truth; sincerity was the criterion by which it had been to be judged.
The emphasis on feeling—seen perhaps at its finest within the poems of Robert Burns—was in some ways a continuation of the sooner “cult of sensibility”; and it's worth remembering that Pope praised his father as having known no language but the language of the guts . But feeling had begun to receive particular emphasis and is found in most of the Romantic definitions of poetry. Wordsworth called poetry “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling,” and in 1833 John Stuart Mill defined poetry as “feeling itself, employing thought only because the medium of its utterance.” It followed that the simplest poetry was that during which the best intensity of feeling was expressed, and hence a replacement importance was attached to the lyric. Another key quality of Romantic writing was its shift from the mimetic, or imitative, assumptions of the Neoclassical era to a replacement stress on imagination.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge saw the imagination because the supreme poetic quality, a quasi-divine creative force that made the poet a godlike being. Johnson had seen the components of poetry as “invention, imagination and judgement,” but Blake wrote: “One Power alone makes a Poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision.” The poets of this era accordingly placed great emphasis on the workings of the unconscious , on dreams and reveries, on the supernatural, and on the childlike or primitive view of the planet , this last being considered valuable because its clarity and intensity had not been overlaid by the restrictions of civilized “reason.”
Rousseau’s sentimental conception of the “noble savage was often invoked, and sometimes by those that were ignorant that the phrase is Dryden’s or that the sort was adumbrated within the “poor Indian” of Pope’s An Essay on Man. an extra sign of the diminished stress placed on judgment is that the Romantic attitude to form: if poetry must be spontaneous, sincere, intense, it should be fashioned primarily consistent with the dictates of the creative imagination. Wordsworth advised a young poet, “You feel strongly; trust to those feelings, and your poem will take its shape and proportions as a tree does from the life principle that actuates it.”
This organic view of poetry is against the classical theory of “genres,” each with its own linguistic decorum; and it led to the sensation that poetic sublimity was unattainable except briefly passages.
Hand in hand with the new conception of poetry and therefore the insistence on a replacement material went a requirement for brand spanking new ways of writing. Wordsworth and his followers, particularly Keats, found the prevailing poetic diction of the late 18th century stale and stilted, or “gaudy and inane,” and totally unsuited to the expression of their perceptions.
It couldn't be, for them, the language of feeling, and Wordsworth accordingly sought to bring the language of poetry back thereto of common speech. Wordsworth’s own diction, however, often differs from his theory. Nevertheless, when he published his preface to Lyrical Ballads in 1800, the time was ripe for a change: the flexible diction of earlier 18th-century poetry had hardened into a merely conventional language.

Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge
Useful because it is to trace the common elements in Romantic poetry, there was little conformity among the poets themselves. it's misleading to read the poetry of the primary Romantics as if it had been written primarily to precise their feelings. Their concern was rather to vary the intellectual climate of the age.
Blake had been dissatisfied since boyhood with the present state of poetry and what he considered the irreligious drabness of up to date thought. His early development of a protective shield of mocking humour with which to face a world during which science had become trifling and art inconsequential is visible within the satirical An Island within the Moon (written c. 1784–85); he then took the bolder step of setting aside sophistication within the visionary Songs of Innocence (1789). His desire for renewal encouraged him to look at the outbreak of the French Revolution as a momentous event.
In works like the wedding of Heaven and Hell (1790–93) and Songs of Experience (1794), he attacked the hypocrisies of the age and therefore the impersonal cruelties resulting from the dominance of analytic reason in contemporary thought. because it became clear that the ideals of the Revolution weren't likely to be realized in his time, he renewed his efforts to revise his contemporaries’ view of the universe and to construct a replacement mythology centred not within the God of the Bible but in Urizen, a repressive figure of reason and law whom he believed to be the deity actually worshipped by his contemporaries.
The story of Urizen’s rise was began within the First Book of Urizen (1794) then , more ambitiously, within the unfinished manuscript Vala (later redrafted because the Four Zoas), written from about 1796 to about 1807.
Blake developed these ideas within the visionary narratives of Milton (1804–08) and Jerusalem (1804–20). Here, still using his own mythological characters, he portrayed the imaginative artist because the hero of society and suggested the likelihood of redemption from the fallen (or Urizenic) condition.
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, meanwhile, were also exploring the implications of the French Revolution . Wordsworth, who lived in France in 1791–92 and fathered an bastard there, was distressed when, soon after his return, Britain declared war on the republic, dividing his allegiance. For the remainder of his career, he was to brood on those events, trying to develop a view of humanity that might be faithful to his twin sense of the pathos of individual human fates and therefore the unrealized potentialities in humanity as an entire . the primary factor emerges in his early manuscript poems “The Ruined Cottage” and “The Pedlar” (both to make a part of the later Excursion); the second was developed from 1797, when he and his sister, Dorothy, with whom he was living within the west of England, were in close contact with Coleridge. Stirred simultaneously by Dorothy’s immediacy of feeling, manifested everywhere in her Journals (written 1798–1803, published 1897), and by Coleridge’s imaginative and speculative genius, he produced the poems collected in Lyrical Ballads (1798).
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The quantity began with Coleridge’s “The Rime of the traditional Mariner,” continued with poems displaying enjoyment of the powers of nature and therefore the humane instincts of ordinary people, and concluded with the meditative “Lines Written a couple of Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” Wordsworth’s plan to began his mature faith in nature and humanity.
His investigation of the connection between nature and therefore the human mind continued within the long autobiographical poem addressed to Coleridge and later titled The Prelude (1798–99 in two books; 1804 in five books; 1805 in 13 books; revised continuously and published posthumously, 1850). Here he traced the worth for a poet of getting been a toddler “fostered alike by beauty and by fear” by an upbringing in sublime surroundings. The Prelude constitutes the foremost significant English expression of the Romantic discovery of the self as a subject for art and literature. The poem also makes much of the work of memory, a topic explored also within the “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of infancy .” In poems like “Michael” and “The Brothers,” against this , written for the second volume of Lyrical Ballads (1800), Wordsworth dwelt on the pathos and potentialities of ordinary lives.
Coleridge’s poetic development during these years paralleled Wordsworth’s. Having briefly brought together images of nature and therefore the mind in “The Eolian Harp” (1796), he devoted himself to more-public concerns in poems of political and social prophecy, like “Religious Musings” and “The Destiny of countries .” Becoming disillusioned in 1798 together with his earlier politics, however, and encouraged by Wordsworth, he turned back to the connection between nature and therefore the human mind. Poems like “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,” “The Nightingale,” and “Frost at Midnight” (now sometimes called the “conversation poems” but collected by Coleridge himself as “Meditative Poems in Blank Verse”) combine sensitive descriptions of nature with subtlety of psychological comment.
“Kubla Khan” (1797 or 1798, published 1816), a poem that Coleridge said came to him in “a quite Reverie,” represented a replacement quite exotic writing, which he also exploited within the supernaturalism of “The Ancient Mariner” and therefore the unfinished “Christabel.” After his visit to Germany in 1798–99, he renewed attention to the links between the subtler forces in nature and therefore the human psyche; this attention bore fruit in letters, notebooks, literary criticism, theology, and philosophy. Simultaneously, his poetic output became sporadic.
“Dejection: An Ode” (1802), another meditative poem, which first took shape as a verse letter to Sara Hutchinson, Wordsworth’s sister-in-law, memorably describes the suspension of his “shaping spirit of Imagination.”

The work of both poets was directed back to national affairs during these years by the increase of Napoleon. In 1802 Wordsworth dedicated variety of sonnets to the patriotic cause. The death in 1805 of his brother John, who was a captain within the merchant navy, was a grim reminder that, while he had been living in retirement as a poet, others had been willing to sacrifice themselves. From this point the theme of duty was to be prominent in his poetry. His political essay Concerning the Relations of Great Britain, Spain and Portugal…as suffering from the Convention of Cintra (1809) agreed with Coleridge’s periodical The Friend (1809–10) in deploring the decline of principle among statesmen.
When The Excursion appeared in 1814 (the time of Napoleon’s first exile), Wordsworth announced the poem because the central section of a extended projected work, The Recluse, “a philosophical Poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and Society.” The plan wasn't fulfilled, however, and therefore the Excursion was left to face in its title as a poem of ethical and non secular consolation for those that had been disappointed by the failure of French revolutionary ideals.