Looking at six poems you have studied, discuss how they are typical of the Romantic genre
The Romantic Era was from 1789-1832. During this period, the Industrial Revolution was changing Britain. Architecture, Literature and Art had to be formal, so imagination and emotion were suppressed.
Reason and logic were the only way to think.The Romantics were a group of ‘rebels’ who were against what was happening to Europe. The Romantics expressed their feelings through their work. When looking at work from the Romantic Era, we can see clear themes and characteristics: Pantheism is an obvious theme; Some poets believed that God is in nature, as well as the church; All work is individual and clearly expressed; Imagination and emotions were always valued; Mysterious, Medieval and Oriental Cultures can be found; The belief that the city was impure, and the countryside was pure is a very common belief of the time; Interest in the supernatural; Revolt against political authority and social conventions and Idealism.Poets who show these characteristics in their work are Wordsworth (I shall look at four of his poems), Keats (I shall study one), Hopkins (I will analyse one), Blake, Coleridge, Browning and Shelley.
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Wordsworth is a Pantheist – someone who believes God is in nature, this is a key feature shown in Romantic poetry. His belief is clearly presented in ‘Upon Westminster Bridge’: ‘A sight so touching in its majesty’. Wordsworth is creating a positive image of the view from Westminster Bridge. Symbolism is used: ‘glittering in the smokeless air’ – the air is clean, not polluted. ‘All that mighty heart is lying still!’ – The population is happy, and in love with the view, because it is described as a heart. ‘The river glideth at his own sweet will’ – the river does what it wants.
It is personified, to add to the effect that it is alive, and that God is in nature. This is Pantheism.Sibilance is used to add the soft tone of the poem: ‘houses seem asleep’. This adds to the slow rhythm and makes the reader fell drowsy, like the houses in the poem.Wordsworth portrays his feeling as fact: ‘Earth has not anything to show more fair’. This metaphor shows another feature of Romanticism – choosing emotion over fact.
Another feature of Romanticism presented in this poem is the co-existence of nature and man. Wordsworth does this by putting them in the same situation: ‘temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky’. This links religion and nature, which explains the belief of the worship of nature, thus this is Pantheism. They can merge together successfully.This poem is in sonnet from.
It has fourteen lines, with ten syllables per line. The continuity of the poem flows because Wordsworth uses enjambment.’Lines Written in Early Spring’ by William Wordsworth, is a very positive poem, much like ‘Upon Westminster Bridge’.In this poem, Wordsworth tells us how nature brings so much joy and harmony to mankind. As I explained in ‘Upon Westminster Bridge’, Wordsworth is a Pantheist.
This is clearly shown in ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’: ‘The birds around me hopped and played’. Wordsworth feels that man and nature should be united, but they aren’t: ‘Have I not reason to lament What man has made of man?’ Man is causing pain and sorrow to fellow man.The structure used has alternate lines rhyming. There are four lines per stanza. The first three lines have eight syllables, the last has six.
Wordsworth is pondering and lamenting about life. The tone is sensitive and caring about nature, but he is sad when he thinks about the state of mankind.Nature is personified in this poem, to make it more real: ‘To her fair works did nature link The human soul that through me ran.’ This shows a very positive image of nature, a typical characteristic which the Romantics portrayed.Another of Wordsworth’s poems is ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey’.
Nature and Pantheism are again the themes in this poem, but Wordsworth explains his beliefs more thoroughly: ‘Once again I see These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild.’ The explanation and description that Wordsworth presents shows his strong emotions and beliefs about nature – he finds nature a religion, and that it is a temple.The poem uses enjambment and is written in blank verse – no rhyme is present.The tone is calm, relaxed and content. It is a very positive outlook of nature.
The co-existence of nature and man is clearly presented in this poem: ‘Green to the very door; and wreathes of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!’ This shows that nature and man are entwined; the green (nature) is close right up to the door (manmade), and Wordsworth says that the two are so close that it looks like the smoke from the chimney is coming from the trees! This shows a strong relationship between them, unlike in ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’.’The Solitary Reaper’ is another of Wordsworth’s poems, but in contrast to the others I have studied, it is quite melancholy. In this poem, Wordsworth uses simple, natural language to convey his ideas: ‘Alone she cuts and binds the grain, And sings a melancholy strain’. This quote is very affective to the meaning that Wordsworth is portraying – it tells us that the girl is working and singing alone.