First Generation Romantics
Brittani Powell Dr. Matthew DeForrest ENG435/ TR 9:30-10:45 March 1, 2010 Individualism: First Generation Romantics The Romantics were known for their use of the unusual and old-fashioned in their poetry because they were in a very unusual and old-fashioned state of mind when writing their poetry. The Romantics were experimental writers and they lived during a very tough time period, and itshowed in their poetry. The Romantic period had the shortest life p of any literary era in the English language. It lasted 43 years, beginning from 1789 to 1832.
It started during the French revolution and ended during the parliamentary reforms, which established a foundation for which still exists in modern day Britain. There were six major Romantics, and they were split into two generations. The first generation consisted of William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The second generation consisted of Percy Bysshe, John Keats, and George Gordon, Lord Byron. These poets were considered old-fashionedbecause they were the first to experiment with this style of writing. There was no one before them, so for influence they had to look back to the past for influence.
Even when inventing a new style of writing there still has to be some influence. It is very hard to come up your own completely original literary style. They admired the work of Milton and Shakespeare very much. All the first generation romantics felt those two were the best poets and admired their style. Shakespeare and Milton were very old poets and they influenced the Romantics so their poems came off very old-fashioned and out dated. They used very old English that was hard for people to comprehend, making some people feel the writings were unusual.
The Romantics were known for their theories on the connection between nature, the mind, and the imagination. The English Romantics accepted the reality of the link between man and nature in the form of the human imagination as the basis of human understanding, rejecting the scientific world view onmaterialism. Imagination is a force, or energy, that allows such a connection to be made. William Blake saw the human imagination as essential to human understanding of the world they live in; he saw reality as a “mental construction. According to Blake and the other Romantic poets, “once the energy of imagination is used effectively to realize the connection between man and nature, the individual gains freedom from the restrictive bonds of unimaginative thought. ” The first generation romantics are characterized by their shift in style and subject manner from the Neo Classicalist. The use of satire is rare and the Romantics tend to focus on particular aspects of objects, people, and events instead of the fundamental nature of objects, people and events.
One of the most important works pertaining to the change of style during this time was William Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads, which demonstrates Wordsworth’s particular motivations for how he writes the Lyrical Ballads. Notably the subjects of these poems, are “incidents and situations from common life” verses the normal neoclassical subject of incidents and situations from elevated life, like Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock, which is about the aristocracy and not the common people (Norton 266).
Wordsworth also changes the style of his poetry when he states, “The reader will find that personifications of abstract ideas rarely occur in these volumes; and, I hope, are utterly rejected as ordinary device to elevate the style, and rise it above prose”, and “there will also be found in these volumes little of what is usually called poetic diction; I have take as much pains to avoid it as others ordinarily talk to produce it; this I have done for the reason already alleged, to bring my language near to the language of men, and further, because the pleasure which I have proposed to myself to impart is of a kind very different from what is supposed by many person to be the proper object of poetry” (Norton 267). Wordsworth and other first generation poets take a notable step away from their Neo Classical predecessors by embracing the common people and the common language. First Generation romantics also believe in the possible ability of dreams to clarify reality, as seen in Coleridge’s Kubla_ Kahn_. Also _Kubla Kahn_,presents a different kind of characterization of the poet.
The narrator states, “I would build that dome in air,” which shows the narrator’s desire to use his words combined with his imagination to create a poem, which is unlike the characterization of the poet in Rassles(Norton 448). In _Biographia Literaria_, Coleridge distinguishes imagination from fancy and even separates imagination further by distinguishing between primary and secondary imagination. Romanticism is often associated with radical individualism, and much Romantic poetry focuses on the struggles of the individual will to break or exceed its social and metaphysical bonds. Millenarianism, on the other hand, consists of the expectation of the fulfillment of God’s providential design, in which the place left for individual human agency is limited if not nonexistent.
The French Revolution could thus be viewed either as the work of heroic individuals struggling for liberty or as an act of God. The role of an individual as shown in Samuel T. Coleridge’s Religious Musings, is to know thyself; he starts the poem reflecting his Unitarian ideas about the independence of God, who is only One but at the same time He is everything we can feel and see and he equals God with Love. “There is one Mind, one omnipresent Mind, Omnific. His most holy name is Love” (Lines 105-106). Coleridge repeats two times “one” to emphasize the Unitarian Idea of the oneness of God. In the lines19-23 he speaks about the disaster of the war, the fight between France and England. A sea of blood bestrewed with wrecks, where mad embattling interests on each other rush/ With unhelmed rage ‘Tis the sublime of man. ” You can imagine how terrible the situation was. It was like a disastrous vision, but a necessary vision because after it 1000 years of peace had come. According to Coleridge after that God will judge all the nations, “Our noontide Majesty, to know ourselves, parts and proportions of one wondrous whole! (Lines 127-129). ” After this time of violence, a new better time came. The thoughts of the major part of the romantic poets are influenced by the French Revolution when they wrote about religion or other topics.
Although at first some writers like Coleridge had a positive view of this violent period, later they changed their opinions because the results were not what they had expected. All the relations between the prophecies and the periods of violence did not come true and they felt disappointed. The French Revolution and the Unitarian tendencies of Coleridge is the key to understanding the major parts of his works and indispensable to understanding his religious point of view. Wordsworth’s poetry is distinguished by his straightforward use of language and meter and his natural and often conversational themes and imagery. This is not to say, however, that Wordsworth’s ideas are simple.
He unites several ideas throughout his poetic works, including the importance of the natural world, transcendentalism and interconnectedness, religion, morality, mortality, memory and the power of the human mind. Wordsworth began publishing in 1793, at the age of 23, with a collection of poetry about a tour he took in the Swiss Alps – Descriptive Sketches. Wordsworth’s poetry was a little ahead of its time; however, it instigated Romanticism in England through its emotional nature and its allusions to nature. His work has had a profound legacy on the Victorian and twentieth-century literature as well. Yet his ultimate goal was the betterment of mankind through the discovery of an individual’s own joy and emotions.
Percy Bysshe Shelly’s first major poetic work was _Queen _Mab. This poem was written early in his career and serves as a foundation to his theory of revolution. Shelly took William Godwin’s idea of “necessity” and combined it with his own idea of ever-changing nature, to establish the theory that contemporary societal evils would dissolve naturally in time. This was to be coupled with the creation of a moral mentality in people who could envision the ideal goal of a perfect society. The ideal was to be reached incrementally, because Shelley (as a result of Napoleon’s actions in the French Revolution), believed that the perfect society could not be obtained immediately through violent revolution.
Instead it was to be achieved through nature’s evolution and ever-greater numbers of people becoming honorable and imagining a better society. _Queen _Mab was infused with scientific language and naturalizing moral prescriptions for an oppressed humanity in an industrializing world. William Blake, a painter and poet, and one of England’s most famous literary figures. A great predecessor to the Romantics, Blake was a revolutionary and visionary artist and his work represented a decisively new direction in the course the Visual Arts. He expressed an individualized view of humanity that became important to Romanticism. His poetry is described as “highly individual in style and technique” (Lawall, ed. , 540).
To relate to his readers, Blake uses different voices and puts forth his own ideas about human existence. In his poem, The Little Black Boy, Blake uses the voice of a black boy who is confused on how he is different than the white boy. The reader is probably “painfully” aware of the society’s judgments of black people during this time. The black boy concludes by seeing himself as a protector to the white boy, “I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear / To lean in joy upon our father’s knee” (Lawall, ed. , 544). Instead of understanding that white means good and black means bad, the black boy comes up with a new meaning for his black skin (Lawall, ed. 541).
Blake uses emotion in his poetry to enhance the reader’s reaction to his works. He also looks to exposethe inner thoughts of the human being. Blake’s individualism within his poetry portrays the ideology that Romanticists sought to convey during this time period. The specialty of William Blake’s work is that he uses numerous literary techniques and devices to articulate his thoughts. He created such literary work because he was a creative thinker, fully conscious of the realities and complexities of experience, particularly the poverty and oppression of the urban world where he spent his most of his life. Still today, his artistic and poetic creations are valued in British culture.
The first generation Romantics accepted reality of the link between man and nature, and man as an individual, in the form of the human imagination as the basis of human understanding, rejecting the scientific world view of materialism. The Romantic writer’s attempted to discover hidden unity between man and nature. It is imagination –a force, or energy, that allows such a connection to be made. The realization of this interdependent relationship carries with it a kind of freedom for the individual. William Blake saw the human imagination as essential to human understanding of the world; he saw reality as a “mental construction. ” The Romantics asserted the importance of the individual. Brittani Powell Dr.
Matthew DeForrest ENG435/ TR 9:30-10:45 March 1, 2010 Individualism: First Generation Romantics An Annotated Bibliography Damrosch, David, and Kevin Dettmar*. * *The Longman Anthology of British Literature. * New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. Print. This texton British Literature describes the distinction and conviction the first generation of the Romantic writers felt on individualism. The authors give a fresh approach to the study of Romantic Literature edited by scholars in the field. Major prose works are included in their entirety, together with a wealth of poetry and drama, from Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience to Byron’s Manfred —and beyond.
The first generation Romantics and their Contemporaries of The Longman Anthology of British Literature is a comprehensive and thoughtfully arranged anthology that offers a rich selection of Blake’s commentaries and influences on the Romantic period. The text also includes Perspectives, Companion Readings, and “and Its Time” sections which show how major literary writings interrelate with and respond to various social, historical, and cultural events of Great Britain in the Romantic period. With a generous representation of fiction, drama, and poetry, the second edition includes major additions of important works and an expanded illustration program.
This text is distinctive in exploring the perspective of the first generation writers and their take on individualism. *Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H. Abrams. * *The Norton Anthology of English Literature. * New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. Print. The eighth edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature text comprises six volumes, sold in two sets of three. The first set includes the volumes “The Middle Ages,” “The Sixteenth Century and The Early Seventeenth Century,” and “Restoration and the Eighteenth Century;” the second set includes “The Romantic Period,” “The Victorian Age,” and “The Twentieth Century and After. ” The writings are arranged by author, with each author presented chronologically by date of birth.
Historical and biographical information is provided in a series of head-notes for each author and in introductions for each of the time periods. Dickinson, Kate Letitia*. *William Blake’s Anticipation of the Individualistic Revolution. * Philadelphia: R. West, 1978. Print. * This text on William Blake’s Anticipation of the Individualistic Revolution describes Blake’s struggle for individualism. The author describes Blake’s perspective and full descriptive criticisms on Blake’s works. Wordsworth, William, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Richey, and Daniel Robinson. Lyrical Ballads: and Related *Writings :* Complete Text with Introduction Contexts, Reactions. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Print. This collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel T.
Coleridge describes a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. Most of the poems in the 1798 edition were written by Wordsworth, with Coleridge contributing only four poems to the collection, including one of his most famous works, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. One of the main themes of “Lyrical Ballads” is the return to the original state of nature, in which people led a purer and more innocent existence. Wordsworth subscribed to Rousseau’s belief that humanity was essentially good but was corrupted by the influence of society.
This may be linked with the sentiments spreading through Europe just prior to the French Revolution. *Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, and J. C. C. Mays. **Poetical Works, II. Poems (variorum Text), Parts 1 & 2. * Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2001. Print. This text describes the three parts of Volume 16 confirm and expand the sense of the Coleridge who has emerged over the past half-century, with implications for English Romantic writing as a whole. This text is distinctive in exploring the works of Coleridge and is written with complete analysis of each poem. Shelley, Percy Bysshe*, Donald H. *Reiman*, and Neil *Fraistat*. * Shelley’s Poetry and Prose: Authoritative Texts, Criticism. New York: Norton, 2002. Print.
This collection of Shelley’s poetry and prose contains one of the fullest, and certainly the most accurately edited collections of Shelley’s poetry and prose available. Shelley is the wild child of English poetry and his determined opposition to tyranny produced a huge variety of poetry, ranging from the rending lament of Keats in Adonais, to the defiant and taut sonnet Ozymandias. The essays in this volume are generally helpful and explain the structures of the poems where useful. They are also refreshingly short. This text distinctively contains 15 brief critical essays, which are among the best explications you’ll find of Shelley’s work. *Chandler, James. The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature. * Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2009. Print.
In this text it describes the Romantic period as one of the most creative, intense and turbulent periods of English literature, an age marked by revolution, reaction, and reform in politics, and by the invention of imaginative literature in its distinctively modern form. This History presents an engaging account of six decades of literary production around the turn of the nineteenth century. Reflecting the most up-to-date research, the essays are designed both to provide a narrative of Romantic literature, and to offer new and stimulating readings of the key texts. One group of essays addresses the various locations of literary activity – both in England and, as writers developed their interests in travel and foreign cultures, across the world. A second set of essays traces how texts responded to great historical and social change. With a comprehensive