Romantic Movement (1780-1837): A Note
The period of 1780-1837 is known as the Age of Romanticism. It is known as the age of Romantic Revival too. It is often called the golden period of English poetry. William Wordsworth can be safely called forerunner of this epoch-making period.
The Romantic Revival means the re-birth of Romanticism in English poetry. During the 18th century the classical school of poetry had been predominant. Thompson, William Blake and Thomas Gray re-acted against the classical school of poetry. All these poets tried to rise above the fixed literary conventions and artificial laws. They upheld that the poet should write as he pleases. He should allow his fancy to roam.
The French Revolution influenced poets like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. They gave a deathblow to classicism by publishing Lyrical Ballads in 1798. This book was the official manifesto of the Romantic School of Poetry. William Wordsworth, P.B. Shelley, John Keats, Lord Byron, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are the important poets of this school of poetry.
The Romantic poets asserted their individuality in their poetry. Wonder was revived. Nature and Super-naturalism were brought into poetry. Lyricism came to the forefront. The humbler aspects of life were treated sympathetically. New and untried meters were used. The romantic poets wrote the poetry of emotion or of imagination. The Romantic Poetry reveals the following characteristics:
1. Love of Nature: All the Romantic poets were lovers of Nature. They minutely observed it. They discovered a new beauty and wonder in the world of Nature. They tried to spiritualise it.
2. Mystery: In Romantic poetry the subtle sense of mystery is found. Samuel Taylor Coleridge described the feeling of wonder and mystery of supernatural. Wordsworth revealed the inherent mystery in the common objects of Nature and human life. P.B. Shelley spiritualised nature.
3. Interest in the Past and Childhood: The Romantics had interest in the past and childhood. They went back especially to the Middle Ages. Lord Byron presented the romance and enchantment of the East. William Wordsworth showed his interest in his Childhood.
4. Interest in Humanity: The Romantic poets took great interest in humanity too. They dealt with the lives of common men and women. They showed sympathy for the poor and the downtrodden. The ideals of the French Revolution attracted them. Thus all the Romantic poets were humanists.
5. Love of Imagination: Imagination is the cardinal characteristic of Romanticism. In fact, all the Romantic poets were fond of imagination. Romanticism is the expression of sharpened sensibilities and heightened imaginative feeling. To the Romantic poets poetry was the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. Fondness for new meters and simplicity of style are also important features of this poetry.