The Romantics

The Romantics
1780 – 1830
I.The Romantic Age brought a more
daring, individual, and imaginative
approach to literature and life. The
writers of this time turned away from
the ideas of the Age of Reason and
valued the individual rather than
society. The Romantics were
optimists who believed in the
possibilities of progress and social /
human reform.
I. An Age of Revolution
• A. The French Revolution was a
tremendously important influence on the
Romantic writers. William Wordworth
probably would have moved to France
and sided with the revolutionaries had
he not been barred from traveling there
by the government.
A. While the writers from the Age of
Reason regarded evil as a basic part of
human nature, the Romantics saw
humanity as basically good, but corrupted
by society and its institutions.
• B. While it inspired the Romantic writers,
the outcome (Reign of Terror) contributed
to a sense of disillusionment because the
oppressed classes became as violent and
corrupt as their former rulers.
I. The Industrial Revolution
• A.It took place in England from 1750
– 1850, and changed England from
and agricultural to an industrial
• B.Housing problems resulted
because villagers moved to the cities
in search of work and wound up
living huddled together in slums.
• A.Labor laws were not yet developed
so many children were exploited in
the coal mines and textile factories.
• B.Church and government officials
and social reformers brought about
positive change in the lives of the
working classes by organizing
Sunday schools, building hospitals,
and reforming the prisons and
regulating the conditions of child
• I.Revolution Elsewhere in the World
• A.The Age of Revolution also
affected Latin America.
• B.In the 1780s colonists revolted
against 300 years of foreign rule in
Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and
• C.The first successful revolt which
led to independence was the Haitian
revolt in 1803.
• A.Simon Bolivar fought for more than twenty
years to win independence for what later
became Venezuela, Colombia, Panama,
Bolivia, and Ecuador.
• B.The U.S. population was growing and
moving west. Settlers from all different ethnic
backgrounds were leaving the cities in the
east to get their piece of the American dream
through the acquisition of land to farm or
otherwise develop.
• C.Increase in land area (Louisiana Purchase)
and industry led to a tremendous boom time
in the United States
• I.A New Spirit in Life and the Arts
• A.The favorite subject matter for Romantic
writers was nature. Nature was the
principle source of inspiration, spiritual
truth, and enlightenment.
• B.Poets of the Romantic Age focused on
the ordinary person and common life in
order to validate the worth of all people,
an d to condemn the evils of an artificial
class system that only valued the elite.
• A.There was an increased interest in
medieval ballads, Gothic-styled
romances filled with castles, secret
passageways and supernaturalism of
all kinds.
• B.The writers of the Romantic Age
emphasized the past, nature, and the
Gothic tale of horror.
• I.Two Generations of Poets
• A.Seven Major poets have come to
epitomize this era in England
– 1.The First Generation (1786 – 1830):
Blake, Burns, Wordsworth, and
– 2.The Second Generation (1810 – 1824):
Byron, Shelley, and Keats
• A.The First Generation
– 1.William Blake - His vision is the
concept of “contraries”, meaning it is
necessary to experience opposites in
order to understand life (i.e. pain and
joy, success and failure, prudence and
• A.The First Generation
• 2. Robert Burns – His lyrics on love,
nature, patriotism and the nobility of the
common man, and the spontaneous
emotions of the heart are expressed in
native dialect.
• 1. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor
Coleridge – Together they wrote the Lyrical
Ballads, which set forth a formula for a new type
of poetry. The poetic principles they believed in
are as follows:
• a.Ordinary life is the best subject for poetry because the
feelings of simple people are sincere and natural
• b.Everyday language of common people best conveys their
feelings and is therefore best suited for poetry.
• c.the expression of feeling is more important in poetry than
the development of an action or storyline
• d.poetry is the “spontaneous overflow of powerful
emotion,” and “it takes its origin from emotion recollected in
• A. Second Generation
– 1.Lord Byron – the most popular English poet abroad.
He was reckless, bitter and in constant revolt against
society. He is also regarded as one of the greatest
satirical poets since Alexander Pope. He was
unswervingly dedicated to the cause of freedom and
– 2.Percy Shelley – He was rebellious, scandalous and
charismatic. The keynote of Shelley’s character was
his revolt against tyrannical influences. He believed
that the church, state and commerce of his day led to
superstition, selfishness, and corruption. He wanted
to reform the world.
– 3.John Keats – His most famous line was “Beauty is
truth, truth is beauty,” which explores the relationship
between art and life.
• I.Overall, the literature of the Romantic Age is
about the uniqueness of the individual, a deep
personal earnestness, sensuous delight in
both common and exotic things of this world,
a yearning for ideal states of being, and an
interest in things mysterious and mystical.
Any bitterness noted in these writings is
simply the writers’ reactions against an
increasingly mechanical and materialistic
Introduction, from Songs of
1. Who is the speaker of the poem?
The piper, who is the poet
2. What kind of songs does the piper play?
Cheerful and happy songs; songs of
pleasant glee
Introduction, from Songs of
3. What is unusual about line 18, “And I stained
the water clear”?
this is a reversal because staining water
implies a marring with a dark color
4. What is the tone of the poem?
The tone is light, joyful
Introduction, from Songs of
5. What is the effect of the repetition in lines 16
– 19?
The repetition in lines 16-19 suggests the
breathlessness of an excited or happy
Introduction, from Songs of
1. In the first line, who is the reader instructed
to listen to?
The Bard (a poet of olden times)
2. What can the Bard do?
He can see the past, present and future
Introduction, from Songs of
3. To whom does the “Holy Word” refer?
4. In stanza 2, the setting is described as being
in the evening. How has the setting changed
in stanza 4?
It is now daybreak
Introduction, from Songs of
5. In stanza 4, what does the Bard call upon
the Earth to do?
To “Turn away no more”
The Lamb, from Songs of
1. How is the Lamb’s wool described in the first
It is “clothing of delight / softest clothing,
wooly bright”
2. What has the Lamb been given that makes
“all the vales rejoice”?
A tender voice
The Lamb, from Songs of
3. How does the repetition of “Little Lamb”
throughout the poem reflect its content?
It emphasizes the innocent, childlike
qualities being addressed in the poem
4. Who or what does the Lamb represent?
Jesus Christ
The Lamb, from Songs of
5. How is Jesus described in lines 15 – 17?
His childlike qualities are described; He is
meek, he is mild
The Tyger, from Songs of
1. In your own words, what question is asked in the first
Who could have created an animal as
frightening as the tyger?
2. What “fire” is referred to in stanza 2?
The fire of the tyger’s eyes is referred to,
as it was reflected in the distant deeps
or skies
The Tyger, from Songs of
• 3. In stanza 4, what further suggestion is
given concerning the creation of the Tyger?
That it was forged like iron in a smithy
4. In stanza 5, what question is asked about
the Tyger and the Lamb?
Did the same creator make them both?
The Tyger, from Songs of
5. How are the Lamb and the Tyger different?
The Lamb is described as soft, innocent; the
Tyger is described as fearful, deadly
Holy Thursday, from Songs
of Innocence
1. Where are the children walking in stanza 1?
They are walking to St. Paul’s Cathedral
2. To what is the parade of children compared?
It is compared to the flow of the Thames
Holy Thursday, from Songs
of Innocence
3. In stanza 2, what metaphors are used in connection
with the children?
They are called “flowers of London town”
and “multitudes of lambs”
4. What quality about the children is
emphasized in the poem?
Holy Thursday, from Songs
of Experience
1. The tone of this poem is evident in stanza
What is it?
The tone is one of harshness and anger
2. In stanza 1, what makes the speaker angry
about the care given to the “Babes reduced to
They are “Fed with cold and usurious
hand; their caretakers are unfeeling and
Holy Thursday, from Songs
of Experience
3. How is London described in the second
As a “land of poverty”
4. For whom is it “eternal winter”?
for the children of poverty
Holy Thursday, from Songs
of Experience
5. How does this poem contrast with “Holy
Thursday” from Songs of Innocence?
This poem is more critical of the treatment
of the poor children, while the other poem
takes a much more idealistic view of these
Proverbs of Hell from The Marriage
of Heaven and Hell
1. What do the proverbs in line 1 and line 20
have in common?
Each ascribes to a certain time of day or
time of life an appropriate activity
2. In line 4, what connection is implied between
Prudence and Incapacity?
The speaker implies that they often go
together; those who claim to be prudent
may be masking a lack of ability
Proverbs of Hell from The Marriage
of Heaven and Hell
3. How is Blake’s use of contrasting
experiences illustrated in line 23?
The contrasting experiences are “ enough”
and “more than enough”
4. What human quality is criticized in line 24?
Proverbs of Hell from The Marriage
of Heaven and Hell
5. Do these proverbs still have meaning for
people today?
Yes – they are universal truths
To a Mouse
1. What has happened at the beginning of the
poem to cause the mouse to be “cow’rin’ and
the mouse and her nest have been uprooted
by a plow
2. In stanza 2, how does the speaker indicate
his similarity to the mouse?
He calls him “earth-born companion” and
To a Mouse
3. For what action does the speaker excuse the
mouse in stanza 3?
The speaker excuses the mouse for thievery
of food, saying it must live
4. What does the speaker lament in stanzas 4
and 5? Why?
He laments the destruction of the mouse’s nest
because of the impending winter and the
lack of materials with which to build a new nest
To a Mouse
5. In stanza 7, what comfort does the speaker
offer the mouse?
He tells the mouse that he (the mouse) is not alone
in having his efforts prove fruitless, that both
mice and men suffer the same problem
6. According to the poem, how is the mouse
different from the speaker?
The mouse must deal with only the present,
whereas the speaker has regrets over the past
and fears the future
A Red, Red Rose
1. In stanza 1, to what things does the speaker
compare his “ luve”?
He compares her to a “red, red rose” and to
a “melodie …sweetly played in tune”
2. In stanza 2, to what exaggerated limit does
the speaker say he w ill love his “bonny
he says he will love her “Till a’ the seas
gone dry
A Red, Red Rose
3. Write down another use of hyperbole in
stanza 3.
The speaker says he will love her “Till…the
rocks melt wi’ the sun
4. What does his “fare thee well” in line 13
suggest as to the occasion for the poem?
It implies that he is leaving for a journey
and assuring her of this love for her
A Red, Red Rose
5. What does the poem imply about the age of
the lovers?
It implies that they are young. He describes
her as a “rose / that’s newly sprung in
Auld Lang Syne
1. According to the poem and the footnote,
what does “Auld Lang Syne” mean?
It means old times, former times, in the good
old days
2. What is the general tone of the poem?
The tone of voice is nostalgic, slightly
Auld Lang Syne
3. What takes place in stanzas 2 and 3?
The friends toast to old times and share
good memories
4. In stanzas 4 and 5, what specific shared
memories are mentioned?
Running together on the hillsides among
the flowers; paddling in the brook
Auld Lang Syne
5. What lines let you know that much time has
passed since they did those things together?
Line 15 – “but we’ve wandered monie a
weary fit…” line 19 – “But seas between
us braid hae roared”
6. What do the friends do in the final stanza?
They shake hands and take a goodwill
Lines Composed a Few Miles
Above Tintern Abbey
1. How long has it been since the speaker has
been at Tintern Abbey?
Five years
2. How do the first few lines of the poem
establish the physical setting of the poem?
The speaker refers to the “waters, rolling
from their mountain springs” and to
“lofty cliffs.” It is a “wild, secluded
Lines Composed a Few Miles
Above Tintern Abbey
3. Where does the speaker say he is, as he
describes the features of the landscape?
Sitting under a sycamore tree
4. Lines 9 – 22 describe the pastoral elements
of the scene. In lines 25 – 28, what does the
speaker say these scenes have given him?
“sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and
felt along the heart”
Lines Composed a Few Miles
Above Tintern Abbey
5. The natural surroundings of Tintern Abbey
have provided pleasant memories; according
to lines 62 – 65, what does the speaker
That the beautiful scenes are the cause of
“present pleasure” and “Life and food for
future years,” as well
Lines Composed a Few Miles
Above Tintern Abbey
6. Summarize the speaker’s reaction to nature
when he first “came among these hills.”
He was younger, more exuberant, less
pensive. Then, nature was like an
“appetite” or “passion” to him, based
solely on his sensual responses.
Lines Composed a Few Miles
Above Tintern Abbey
7. According to lines 88 – 102, how was the
speaker’s attitude toward nature changed?
He experiences nature with his whole self,
mind, and soul, rather than his senses
8. In line 115, who is referred to as “my dearest
his sister Dorothy
Lines Composed a Few Miles
Above Tintern Abbey
9. What is Dorothy’s attitude toward nature?
She is enjoying its sensual pleasures, much
as William Wordsworth did on his
previous visit
10. What memory does Wordsworth hope will sustain
Dorothy through “solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief” or
in the event of his death?
The memory of their being together in this
beautiful place
This World Is Too Much with Us
1. In lines 1-2, what specific worldly activity is
“Getting and spending” refers to the
preoccupation with the accumulation of
material possessions
2. According to lines 3 – 7, from what former
source of comfort are we estranged?
From nature
This World Is Too Much with Us
3. What does the speaker say he would rather
“a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn”
4. Why does he say that?
Because the “Pagan” takes a deep but
simple pleasure in nature
Kubla Khan
1. Who was Kubla Khan?
He founded the Mongol dynasty in China in
the 13th century
2. What does Kubla Khan order to be built?
A “pleasure-dome”
Kubla Khan
3. In lines 6 – 11, how does the speaker
describe the pleasure dome?
Ten miles of fertile ground, surrounded by
walls and towers; gardens where incensebearing trees grow; ancient forests with
sunny spots of greenery
Kubla Khan
4. Beginning with line 12, Colderidge uses
words and phrases to develop a feeling of
mystery, danger, or the supernatural. List
three of these.
A savage place, enchanted; haunted / By a
woman wailing for her demon lover;
ceaseless turmoil seething; lifeless ocean
Kubla Khan
5. In lines 29 – 30, what does Kubla Khan hear
“mid this tumult”?
“ancestral voices prophesying war”
6. Line 36 describes the pleasure-dome as a place of
opposites: “A sunny pleasure dome with caves of
ice.” Find two other opposites such as this in the
It is a place of calmness and tumult; It has
a tamed garden and a savage chasm; a
senseless sea is contrasted with sunny
spots of greenery
Kubla Khan
• 7. In lines 37 – 40, what vision does the
speaker describe?
An Abyssinian maid playing a dulcimer
8. What wish does the speaker express in lines
42 – 43?
That he could recreate the damsel’s song
Kubla Khan
9. The end of the poem is about the speaker
and the reaction he would expect of “all who
heard” him. How would you describe that
His audience would be frightened of him
(“hold dread”) but also in awe because of
the visionary, almost supernatural nature
of his “dome in air.”
She Walks in Beauty
1. Who is the “she” referred to in the poem?
To Byron’s cousin, Lady Wilmot Horton
2. In lines 1 – 2, to what is her beauty
To a cloudless, starry night
She Walks in Beauty
3. In what light is she best observed? Why?
She is best observed in starlight because
the light of day is too “gaudy” for her
4. List three things that the speaker says
describes her beauty.
She has “raven tresses”, “nameless
grace”, “smiles that win”
She Walks in Beauty
5. According to the speaker, what do her
“thoughts serenely sweet” express?
Her pure nature
6. What ideal of beauty, other than physical
beauty, is expressed in the poem?
Inner, spiritual beauty
She Walks in Beauty
7. What qualities of inner or spiritual beauty
does she represent?
Serenity (line 11); purity (line 12); goodness
(line 16); innocence (line 18)
8. How would you interpret the last stanza in
terms of physical beauty versus spiritual
Byron says that outward, physical beauty
is a reflection of inner, spiritual beauty
When We Two Parted
1. According to the first stanza, what must the
two lovers endure?
They will be parting for a long time
2. What signs of foreboding does the speaker
mention in stanza 1?
He notes the paleness of his lover’s cheek
and the coldness of her kiss
When We Two Parted
3. What has happened in the second stanza?
He has discovered that she has broken her
vows to him, and that people are
gossiping about her
4. Why does a “shudder” come over the
Because she is so distasteful to him now
that he cannot imagine how she w as
once “so dear”
When We Two Parted
5. In the third stanza, with what experience is
the speaker having difficulty?
People bring up his lover’s name in front of
him assuming he did not know her and he
has to pretend that that’s the case
6. Why must he grieve in silence?
Because their relationship was secret
When We Two Parted
7. How does the speaker say he would greet
her after “long years” apart?
“with silence and tears”
8. What is the mood of this poem?
1. In line 1, what adjective is used to express
the ancient nature of the land from which the
traveler came?
2. What objects does the traveler tell of having
seen in lines 2 – 4?
A broken statue
3. How is the face of the statue described in
lines 4 – 5?
It is “shattered”, bears a frown, a “wrinkled
lip” and “sneer of cold command”
4. In lines 6 – 8 , what does the speaker say
about the “passions” that seem evident on the
face of the statue?
The speaker says the passions on the
statues’ face have survived beyond the
sculptor and the Pharaoh himself
5. According to the words on the pedestal, what
did Ozymandias call himself?
King of Kings
6. In lines 13 – 14, what words does the
speaker use to describe the desolation of the
“boundless and bare” / “lone and level”
Ode on a Grecian Urn
1. Who or what is the “still unravished bride of
quietness” of line 1?
The urn
2. Why might the speaker call the urn the
“foster child …. Of Time”?
the urn has remained young despite the
passage of time whereas all living
creatures age and die
Ode on a Grecian Urn
3. According to stanza 1, what type of scene is
pictured on the urn?
Men are chasing maidens through the
woods accompanied by pipe players. It is
a scene of “wild ecstasy”.
4. What does the speaker say about “Heard
melodies” as compared to “those unheard”?
he says that imagined songs are sweeter
than real songs
Ode on a Grecian Urn
5. In stanza 2, what paradoxes (statements
which seem to be contradictory but have
meaning) are evident?
The speaker tells the lover not to grieve
because they can never kiss – at least she
cannot change or grow less attractive
Ode on a Grecian Urn
6. Why would scenes of happy lovers leave
Keats with a “heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
a burning forehead, and a parching tongue”?
He has suffered through love and is ill and
dying at a young age
Ode on a Grecian Urn
7. How does the speaker describe the scene
on the other side of the urn?
He described a priest with a sacrificial heifer
and the people from a town
8. What point does the speaker make in lines
46 – 48?
He makes the point that the urn will remain
the same though its observers grow
old; the urn will see new woes
Ode on a Grecian Urn
9. How would you describe Keat’s concept of
Beauty is truth, truth beauty. The urn is
beautiful in the glimpse of eternal truth
which it affords to the viewer.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
1. In stanzas 1 and 2, what causes the speaker
to ask the Knight was is wrong with him?
He looks very sick; he’s described as pale,
haggard, woe be gone
2. What time of year is it? List three things in
stanzas 1 and 2 that establish the time of
Late Fall – the sedge has withered; no
birds sing; the squirrels granary
(storehouse) is full and harvest is done
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
3. Who is the speaker in stanza 4 and in the
rest of the poem?
The Knight
4. How does the Knight describe the Lady he
She was beautiful and graceful with long
hair and wild eyes; she seemed like
some sort of fairy spirit
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
5. In stanza 5, what did the Knight make for the
He made garlands of flowers for her hair,
wrists and waist
6. What did the supernatural Lady do in
stanzas 8 and 9?
She took him to her “elfin grot” (grotto /
cave) and caused him to fall asleep
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
7. Why does the Knight remain on the hillside?
He is physically and emotionally unable to
get away from her
8. What does this poem say about the nature of
It implies that love is cruel and somewhat
hopeless – a connection is also made
between love and death
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