Romantic Poets

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William Wordsworth
WORDSWORTH, WILLIAM (1770-1850) born at Cockermouth. His boyhood was full of
adventure among the hills, and he says of himself that he showed “a stiff, moody,
and violent temper.” He lost his mother when he was 8, and his father in 1783 when
he was 13. The latter, prematurely cut off, left little for the support of his family of
four sons and a daughter, Dorothy (afterwards the worthy companion of her
illustrious brother). With the help however, of uncles, the family were well educated
and started in life. William received his earlier education at Penrith and Hawkshead
in Lancashire; and in 1787 went to St. John’s Coll., Cambridge, where he
graduated B.A. in 1791.
His uncles were desirous that he should enter the Church, but to this he was
unconquerable averse; and indeed his marked indisposition to adopt any regular
employment led to their taking not natural offence. The beginning of his friendship
with Coleridge in 1795 tended to confirm him in his resolution to devote himself to
poetry; and a legacy of £900 from a friend put it in his power to do so by making
him for a time independent of other employment.
He settled with his sister at Racedown, Dorsetshire, and shortly afterwards removed
to Alfoxden, in the Quantock Hills, to be near Coleridge, who was then living at
Nether Stowey in the same neighborhood. One result of the intimacy thus
established was the planning of a joint work, ‘Lyrical Ballads’, to which Coleridge
contributed ‘The Ancient Mariner’, and Wordsworth, among other pieces, ‘Tintern
Abbey’. The first edition of the work appeared in 1798. With the profits of this he
went, accompanied by his sister and Coleridge, to Germany, where he lived
chiefly at Goslar, and where he began the ‘Prelude’, a poem descriptive of the
development of his own mind. After over a year’s absence Wordsworth returned
and settled with Dorothy at Grasmere. Two years later Wordsworth’s circumstances
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enabled him to marry his cousin, Mary Hutchinson, to whom he had been long
In 1804 he made a tour in Scotland, and began his friendship with Scott. The year
1807 saw the publication of ‘Poems in Two Volumes’, which contains much of his
best work, including the “Ode to Duty,” ” Intimations of Immortality,” “Yarrow
Unvisited,” and the “Solitary Reaper.” In 1813 he migrated to Rydal Mount, his
home for the rest of his life; and in the same year he received, through the
influence of Lord Lonsdale, the appointment of Distributor of Stamps for
Westmoreland, with a salary of £400. Wordsworth had now come to his own, and
was regarded by the great majority of the lovers of poetry as, notwithstanding
certain limitations and flaws, a truly great and original poet. In 1843, he succeeded
Southey as Poet Laureate. His long, tranquil, and fruitful life ended in 1850. He lies
buried in the churchyard of Grasmere.
The work of Wordsworth is singularly unequal. When at his best, as in the
“Intimations of Immortality,” “Laodamia,” some passages in ‘The Excursion’, and
some of his short pieces, and especially his sonnets, he rises to heights of noble
inspiration and splendor of language rarely equaled by any of our poets. But it
required his poetic fire to be at fusing point to enable him to burst through his
natural tendency to prolixity and even dullness. He has a marvelous felicity of
phrase, an unrivalled power of describing natural appearances and effects, and
the most ennobling views of life and duty. But his great distinguishing characteristic
is his sense of the mystic relations between man and nature. His influence on
contemporary and succeeding thought and literature has been profound and
lasting. It should be added that Wordsworth, like Milton, with whom he had many
points in common, was the master of a noble and expressive prose style.
“Not seldom clad in radiant vest
Deceitfully goes forth the dawn,
Not seldom evening in the west
Sinks smilingly forsworn.”
- W. Wordsworth
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On the Poetry of William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was one of the key figures in the Romantic Movement, his early
poems helping to define the new movement of Romanticism. Wordsworth sought
to bring a more individualistic approach, his poetry avoided high flown language
however the poetry of Wordsworth is best characterized by its strong affinity with
nature and in particular the Lake District where he lived. The early nineteenth
century was a time of rapid change and industrialization, but like his
contemporaries, Blake and Coleridge, Wordsworth was often dismayed by what
he saw and he sought solace in the grandeur and beauty of nature. Wordsworth
offered not just a beautiful picture of nature but also illustrated the healing power
of nature on the spirit of man.
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My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
In this poem My Heart Leaps Up, Wordsworth also uses another concept that
becomes a theme throughout his poetry; the importance of childhood. For many
of the Romantics, the memories or visions of an idyllic childhood become a
powerful emotive force as they aspired for life of greater harmony and simplicity.
Worsworth’s poetry does include passages of great hope, optimism and joy best
summarized through his famous poem ‘Daffodils’
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
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For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
However Wordsworth’s life was on many occasions touched by tragedy. His
sorrows and awareness of humanity’s varied sufferings inevitably led to passages
where the beauty of nature contrasted with the fate of man. In this poem
Wordsworth suggests that man’s inhumanity appears even darker when
compared to the pristine beauty and purity of nature that Wordsworth moved
Lines Written In Early Spring
I HEARD a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
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Especially in his early years Wordsworth was a genuinely radical poet, perhaps
influenced to some extent by the American and French Revolution and the new
ideas of democracy sweeping the world. (For some time he lived in France but
had to leave when the revolution made it dangerous) His poem London 1802 is a
strong advocacy for social change. These sentiments were shared by other
contemporaries such as Blake, although Blake and Wordsworth were mostly
unknown to each other.
London 1812
Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet the heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
As Wordsworth grew older he became more conservative and his poetry lost its
‘radical’ edge however he was still held in high regard and in 1848 was appointed
to be Poet Laureate.
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William Blake
William Blake was a poet, painter, visionary mystic, and
engraver. During his life the prophetic message of his writings were understood by
few and misunderstood by many. However Blake is now widely admired for his
soulful originality and lofty imagination. The poetry of William Blake is far reaching in
its scope and range of experience. The poems of William Blake can offer a
profound symbolism and also a delightful childlike innocence. Whatever the inner
meaning of Blake’s poetry we can easily appreciate the beautiful language and
lyrical quality of his poetic vision.
“To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.”
From ” Auguries of innocence “
William Blake was born in London, where he spent most of his life. His father was a
successful London hosier and attracted by the doctrines of Emmanuel
Swedenborg. Blake was first educated at home, chiefly by his mother. His parents
encouraged him to collect prints of the Italian masters, and in 1767 sent him to
Henry Pars’ drawing school. From his early years, he experienced visions of angels
and ghostly monks, he saw and conversed with the angel Gabriel, the Virgin Mary,
and various historical figures. These memories never left him and influenced his
poetry throughout his life
His early poems Blake wrote at the age of 12. However, being early apprenticed to
a manual occupation, journalistic-social career was not open to him. His first book
of poems, POETICAL SKETCHES, appeared in 1783 and was followed by SONGS OF
INNOCENCE(1789), and SONGS OF EXPERIENCE (1794). His most famous poem,
‘The Tyger’, was part of his Songs of Experience. Typical for Blake’s poems were
long, flowing lines and violent energy, combined with aphoristic clarity and
moments of lyric tenderness.
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In 1790 Blake engraved THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL, a book of
paradoxical aphorisms and his principal prose work. “If the doors of perception
were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” (from The
Marriage of Heaven and Hell) The work expressed Blake’s revolt against the
established values of his time: “Prisons are built with stones of Law, brothels with
bricks of Religion.” Radically he sided with the Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost and
attacked the conventional religious views in a series of aphorisms. But the poet’s
life in the realms of images did not please his wife who once remarked: “I have
very little of Mr. Blake’s company. He is always in Paradise.” Some of Blake’s
contemporaries called him a harmless lunatic.
The Blakes moved south of the Thames to Lambeth in 1790. During this time Blake
began to work on his ‘prophetic books’, where he expressed his lifelong concern
with the struggle of the soul to free its natural energies from reason and organized
religion. He wrote AMERICA: A PROPHESY (1793), THE BOOK OF URIZEN (1794), and
THE SONG OF LOS (1795). Blake hated the effects of the Industrial Revolution in
England and looked forward to the establishment of a New Jerusalem “in
England’s green and pleasant land.” Between 1804 and 1818 he produced an
edition of his own poem JERUSALEM with 100 engravings.
“Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of Fire.”
(from ‘Jerusalem’ in Milton, 1804-1808)
In 1800 Blake was taken up by the wealthy William Hayley, poet and patron of
poets. The Blakes lived in Hayley’s house at Felpham in Sussex, staying there for
three years. At Felpham Blake worked on MILTON: A POEM IN TWO BOOKS, TO
JUSTIFY THE WAYS OF GOD TO MEN. It was finished and engraved between 1803
and 1808. In 1809 Blake had a commercially unsuccessful exhibition at the shop
once owned by his brother. However, economic problems did not depress him,
but he continued to produce energetically poems, aphorisms, and engravings.
“The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction,” he wrote.
Independent through his life, Blake left no debts at his death on August 12, 1827.
He was buried in an unmarked grave at the public cemetery of Bunhill
Fields. Wordsworth’s verdict after Blake’s death reflected many opinions of the
time: “There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in
the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and
Walter Scott.” Blake’s influence grew through Pre-Raphealites andW.B.
Yeats especially in Britain. His interest in legend was revived with the Romantics’
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rediscovery of the past, especially the Gothic and medieval. In the 1960s Blake’s
work was acclaimed by the Underground movement. T.S. Eliot wrote in his essay on
Blake that “the concentration resulting from a framework of mythology and
theology and philosophy is one of the reasons why Dante is a classic and Blake
only a poet of genius.”
William Blake was both a mystic and visionary poet and the poetry of Blake is a
reflection of his own inner vision. Throughout his life William Blake composed many
poems -far reaching in both their scope and range of experience.
As a young boy Blake had an illumining mystical experience. Throughout his life he
maintained this otherworldly quality and most significantly was able to experience
and see the divine in and through ‘ordinary’ human experiences. For example in
the poem ‘Divine Image’
‘And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk, or jew;
Where Mercy, Love, & Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.
-From: The Divine Image – Songs of Innocence
This ability to see the divine in all is best summarized in Blake’s immortal poem from
Auguries of Innocence
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” To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.”
- from ‘Auguries of Innocence
The poetry of Blake offers the extremes of human experiences, which is richly
portrayed in Blake’s poem “The Tyger”. The poem ‘The Tyger was written during the
French Revolution and so alludes to the violent and threatening forces of the time.
However the Tyger is much deeper than a symbolic commentary. It encapsulates
the darkest forces of ignorance which are transcended by the divine,
transcendental consciousness which combines both polarities of light and
” Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? “
- From: “The Tyger” – Songs of Experience
‘The Tyger” is humanity’s invaluable treasure. Here we see that ignorance-energy,
which threatens to devour the entire world, finally discovers its transformationsalvation in the realization of the absolute One. This absolute One embodies both
ignorance-energy and knowledge-energy and, at the same time, far transcends
them both.’
- Commentary by Sri Chinmoy (William Blake, Philosophy Thinkers)
The poetry of Blake covers many different angles and perceptions. Poems from
Songs of Innocence are quite unique in their genuine innocence, yet free of
overbearing sentimentality.
‘Smiles on thee, on me, on all;
Who became an infant small.
Infant smiles are his own smiles;
Heaven & earth to peace beguiles.’
On the other hand In Songs of Experience Blake testifies to the harsh realities of life
that can be experienced. For example the poem ‘London is a stark reminder of life
in the 18th Century.
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“I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear: “
The introductory poem to Milton (commonly called Jerusalem) incorporates some
of the best aspects of Blake’s poetry. It is rich in symbolism and the polarities
between the ‘darkness’ of the ‘Satanic Mills’ and the promised land of ‘Jerusalem’
‘ A state of innocence and beauty.
“And did those feet in ancient time,”
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
“And was the holy Lamb of God,”
On Englands pleasant pastures seen
“And did the Countenance Divine,”
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
“And was Jerusalem builded here,”
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Blake was a great visionary who saw mystical worlds beyond the ordinary
perceptions of many people. For this, many of his contemporaries though of him as
insane or at least eccentric. During his lifetime he lived in relative obscurity and
was never rich. However with the passing of time the world has come to recognize
his poetry as having extraordinary vision and imagination and he is rightly revered
as a great Seer Poet.
Often when reading Blake’s poetry we may not be aware or perhaps
misunderstand his symbolism and hidden meaning. But the beauty of his lyrical
poetry means that doesn’t matter we can enjoy his poetry even without fully
‘understanding’ his prophetic message.
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Lord Byron
George Noel Gordon was born January 22, 1788 in London. He attended grammar
school in Aberdeen, Scotland where he lived with his mother as a child. Lord Byron
inherited the title of “lord” at the age of ten from his great-uncle. He attended
many famous schools including, Cambridge and Trinity College.
Lord Byron privately printed his first book of poetry, The Fugitive Pieces, in 1806.
Shortly following in 1807 his first volume of poetry, Hours of Idleness, was published.
Many volumes followed including, Childe Harold’s Pilgrammage, The Maid of
Athens, The Prophecy of Dante, and Don Juan.
Byron had many affairs throughout his lifetime and gained a reputation as quite
the womanizer. He had two daughters; Augusta Ada, born to his wife and Allegra,
born to a mistress. Byron was friends with many famous writes of the day, most
notable are Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife, Mary.
Lord Byron was exiled from England and lived out the remainder of his life after this
event in Italy and Greece. He died in Greece in April of 1824. His remains were
refused burial at Westminster Abbey in London and he was buried at Newstead.
His heart was buried in Greece. Although, at the time of his death he was refused
burial at Westminster Abbey today, a memorial has been placed in his honor at
the Abbey.
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Ottery St. Mary on 21 October 1772, youngest
of the ten children of John Coleridge, a minister, and Ann Bowden Coleridge. He
was often bullied as a child by Frank, the next youngest, and his mother was
apparently a bit distant, so it was no surprise when Col ran away at age seven. He
was found early the next morning by a neighbor, but the events of his night
outdoors frequently showed up in imagery in his poems (and his nightmares) as
well as the notebooks he kept for most of his adult life. John Coleridge died in
1781, and Col was sent away to a London charity school for children of the clergy.
He stayed with his maternal uncle. Col was really quite a prodigy; he devoured
books and eventually earned first place in his class.
His brother Luke died in 1790 and his only sister Ann in 1791, inspiring Col to write
“Monody,” one of his first poems, in which he likens himself to Thomas Chatterton.
Col was very ill around this time and probably took laudanum for the illness, thus
beginning his lifelong opium addiction. He went to Cambridge in 1791, poor in
spite of some scholarships, and rapidly worked himself into debt with opium,
alcohol, and women. He had started to hope for poetic fame, but by 1793, he
owed about £150 and was desperate. So he joined the army.
His family was irate when they finally found out. He’d used the improbable name
of Silas Tomkyn Comberbache and had escaped being sent to fight in France
because he could only barely ride a horse. His brother George finally arranged his
discharge by reason of insanity and got him back to Cambridge. It was there that
he met Robert Southey, and they became instant friends. Both political radicals,
they began planning Pantisocracy, their own socio-political movement5. Robert
was already engaged to a woman named Edith Fricker, and introduced Col to her
sister Sara. Within a few weeks, Col was willing to marry Sara, which he did in
October of 1795. Robert and Col had started arguing over Pantisocracy, and
finally Robert agreed to his family’s wish that he become a lawyer instead of
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emigrating. Robert’s best gift to posterity was the fact that he introduced Col to
William Wordsworth. It was Col’s misfortune that he met Sara Hutchinson through
William, who would eventually marry Sara H’s sister. Col fell in love with this Sara
almost immediately, putting an extra strain on an already iffy marriage.
With his marriage, Col tried very hard to become responsible. He scraped together
a fairly respectable income of £120 per year, through tutoring and gifts from his
admirers. His Poems, published in 1797, was well-received and it looked like he was
on the fast track to fame. He already had one son, David Hartley Coleridge, born
September 1796, followed by Berkeley Coleridge in May 17989. In 1798, the famous
Lyrical Ballads was published, the collaboration between Col and William which
pretty much created the Romantic Movement. The authors didn’t realize this at
the time, of course; they went to Germany with William’s sister Dorothy. Col’s son
Berkeley died while he was away; the baby had been given the brand-new
smallpox vaccination and died of a reaction to it. Col, as was typical of him,
returned home slowly so as not to have to deal openly with Berkeley’s death, and
got little work done.
After a string of illnesses brought on by the damp climate of the Lake Country, Col
turned to newspaper work in 1801 to try and recover financially. He was convinced
he would die soon, and insured his life shortly after the birth of his daughter Sara in
1802. In 1804, he left for Malta in hopes of a cure from the warm climate. Here, he
spied a bit for his majesty, who wanted Malta as a British port, though officially Col
was the temporary Public Secretary. Col had also hoped for a release from his
addiction, but this was not to be. He returned to England in 1806, and, plucking up
his courage, asked for a legal separation from his wife. Though Sara was furious,
the separation happened. Col’s paranoia and mood swings, brought on by the
continual opium use, were getting worse, and he was hardly capable of sustained
work. His friendship with William was all but non-existent, and Col was again writing
newspaper articles to earn a living, further supplemented by various lecture
courses. Most of his remaining work was non-fiction, except for a play or two, and
included such works as Biographia Literaria(1817), a work on nearly everything.
He was still haunted by his failure to break free from opium, however, and to this
end he moved into the house of an apothecary named James Gillman, asking
Gillman to help cut back his opium dose. Like all addicts, though, Col quickly had
an alternate supply arranged. Col had apparently separated from his children as
well; his friends and relatives had to take up a collection to send Hartley to school,
and at one point, he went 8 years without seeing his children. His London friends,
though, loved his conversational skills and continually sought him out. His nephew,
Henry Nelson Coleridge16, published a collection of Col’s conversation called
Table Talk, and Col himself was not only publishing new works, like Aids to
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Reflection(1825), but was reprinting the old in hopes of finally making a real
financial contribution to his family. By 1830, the reviews of his work were becoming
more and more positive, and he was generally hailed as the finest critic of his day.
He still couldn’t reach financial security, however; a government reorganization
lost him his pension from the Royal Society of Literature, his one remaining reliable
source of income. He died, surprisingly peacefully, on 25 July 1834, leaving only
books and manuscripts behind.
Though he’s really only known today for his poetry, Col’s contributions to the field
of criticism and our language were many. For instance, he not only coined the
word ‘selfless,’ he introduced the word ‘aesthetic’ to the English language. Some
of Coleridge’s most famous lines from his poetry have also passed into common
“Water, water, everywhere
And all the boards did shrink
Water, water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink.”
Charles Lamb wrote one of my favorite descriptions of Col in 1817: “his face when
he repeats his verses hath its ancient glory, an Arch angel a little damaged.” Cole
summed himself up this way, in the epitaph he wrote for himself:
Beneath this sod
A Poet lies; or that which once was he.
O lift one thought in prayer for S.T.C.
That he, who many a year with toil of breath,
Found Death in Life, may here find Life in Death
Selected Poems of Coleridge
Duty Surviving Self-Love
Fears In Solitude
Human Life
Kubla Khan
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Time, Real and Imaginary – An Allegory
To Nature
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To William Wordsworth
What Is Life?
Work Without Hope
Coleridge Poetry
“If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented
to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower
in his hand when he awake – Aye, what then? “
-Samuel Coleridge
Poems of Coleridge
Duty Surviving Self-Love
Fears In Solitude
Human Life
Kubla Khan
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Time, Real and Imaginary – An Allegory
To Nature
To William Wordsworth
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Percy Shelley
The son of a prosperous squire, he entered Oxford in 1810, where readings in
philosophy led him toward a study of the empiricists and the modern skeptics,
notably William Godwin. In 1811 he and his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg
published their pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, which resulted in their
immediate expulsion from the university. The same year Shelley eloped with 16year-old Harriet Westbrook, by whom he eventually had two children, Ianthe and
Supported reluctantly by their fathers, the young couple traveled through Great
Britain. Shelley’s life continued to be dominated by his desire for social and
political reform, and he was constantly publishing pamphlets. His first important
poem, Queen Mab, privately printed in 1813, set forth a radical system of curing
social ills by advocating the destruction of various established institutions.
In 1814 Shelley left England for France with Mary Godwin, the daughter of William
Godwin. During their first year together they were plagued by social ostracism
and financial difficulties. However, in 1815 Shelley’s grandfather died and left him
an annual income. Laon and Cynthna appeared in 1817 but was withdrawn and
reissued the following year as The Revolt of Islam; it is a long poem in Spenserian
stanzas that tells of a revolution and illustrates the growth of the human mind
aspiring toward perfection.
After Harriet Shelley’s suicide in 1816, Shelley and Mary officially married. In 1817
Harriet’s parents obtained a decree from the lord chancellor stating that Shelley
was unfit to have custody of his children. The following year Shelley and Mary left
England and settled in Italy. By this time their household consisted of their own
three children and Mary’s half-sister Claire Claremont and her daughter Allegra
(whose father was Lord Byron). On July 8, 1822, Shelley was drowned while sailing
in the Bay of Spezia, near Lerici.
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Poetry of Shelley
Shelley was one of the main Romantic Poets, who combined powerful poetic gifts
with a questioning of the existing social order of the day. He offered an emotive
and passionate appeal to the social improvement of society.
“Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!”
This quote from Ode to the West Wind is symbolic of his style and aspirations and
also the sorrows and sufferings of life he frequently encountered.
Shelley Poems
Percy Bysshe Shelley Poems
“Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?”
From: Love’s Philosophy by Shelley
Ode To A Skylark
Ode To The West Wind
Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats
Alastor: Or The Spirit Of Solitude
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Song Of Proserpine
Stanzas Written In Dejection
When The Lamp Is Shattered
To Night
The Cloud
Queen Mab
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John Keats
KEATS, JOHN (1795-1821) He was sent to a school at Enfield, and having
meanwhile become an orphan, was in 1810 apprenticed to a surgeon at
Edmonton. In 1815 he went to London to work in different hospitals. However he
was not at all enthusiastic in this profession. Instead he became immersed in
literature, meeting like minded poets such as Shelley, William Wordsworth and
His first work some sonnets appeared in Hunt’s ‘Examiner’, and his first book,
‘Poems’, came out in 1817. This book, while containing much that gave little
promise of what was to come, was not without touches of beauty and music, but it
fell quite flat, finding few readers beyond his immediate circle. His next work
‘Endymion’ appeared in 1818 but received harsh criticism from leading magazines.
Despite Keats’ own self confidence in his poetic powers these harsh criticism took
their toll. Because of this and other factors his health broke down leading him to
suffer from heredity consumption for the rest of his life. In the hope of restored
health, he made a tour in the Lakes and Scotland, from which he returned to
London none the better. The death soon after of his brother Thomas, whom he had
helped to nurse, told upon his spirits, as did also his unrequited passion for Miss
Fanny Brawne.
In 1820 he published ‘Lamia and Other Poems’, containing ‘Hyperion’ and the
odes to the ‘Nightingale‘ and ‘The Grecian Urn‘, all of which had been produced
within a period of about 18 months. This book was warmly praised in the
‘Edinburgh Review’. His health had by this time completely given way, however
Keats was kindly looked after by close friends, the Hunts and the Brawanes.
At last in 1821 he set out, accompanied by his friend Severn, on that journey to
Italy from which he never returned. After much suffering he died at Rome, and was
buried in the Protestant cemetery there. On his desire the following lines were
engraved on his tombstone.
‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water’
T. Enas Fawzy
Friends of Keats described him as “eager, enthusiastic, and sensitive, but
humorous, reasonable, and free from vanity, affectionate, a good brother and
friend, sweet-tempered, and helpful.” In his political views he was liberal, in his
religious, indefinite. Though in his life-time subjected to much harsh and
unappreciative criticism, his place among English poets is now assured. His chief
characteristics are intense, sensuous imagination, and love of beauty, rich and
picturesque descriptive power, and exquisitely melodious versification.
Quotes from Poetry of Keats
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; ‘
“In spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. “
- Keats
T. Enas Fawzy
The Poetry of John Keats
“All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink. “
-From Endymion by Keats
Poems of John Keats include:
When I have fears That I may cease to be
The Human Seasons
Happy Insensibility
Ode on a Grecian Urn
Ode To A Nightingale
Ode To Psyche
To Sleep
Bright Star
A Thing of Beauty
This Living Hand
Ode on Indolence
Ode on Melancholy
To Autumn
On Fame
Robin Hood, To A Friend
To Hope