Romantic Poetry

What is…
Radical Poetry?
“I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's”
- William Blake
Like musical forms such as Big Band,
Jazz, Rock, Hip-Hop, and Rap, radical
poetry upsets the norms and
conventions of the previous generation.
2. Oftentimes, critics of the era will argue
that Radical Poetry isn’t “Poetry” at all.
History judges differently.
Who isn’t a radical?
He sought to emulate classical
forms, such as:
a. The Tragedy
b. The Comedy
True Radicals reject or subvert
previous forms, while
borrowing what works well.
Isaac Newton:
• “If I have seen farther than others, it is
only because I have stood on the
shoulders of giants.”
• Radicals appreciate the works of the past,
but believe each time deserves it’s own
Who is a Radical?
• Radicals often become the
“founding fathers” of new
movements in Literature,
Music, and Society. A few
radicals are:
Benjamin Franklin, Jackson Pollack,
Dr. Dre, William Wordsworth, Count
Basie, Thomas Pynchon, Luis
Bunuel, Pablo Picasso, Miles Davis,
John Lennon, Lord Byron, Mary
Shelly, Catallus, Heronamous Bosch,
Elizabeth II, Francis Ford Copola,
and John Keats amongst others…
What will we learn?
• In this unit, we’ll explore a few key
moments in the history of radical poetry
a. The Romantic Movement.
b. The Modernist Movement.
c. The found poem.
We’ll discuss what makes a poem a poem
and what makes it a “radical” poem.
What will we do?
• Compose: a found poem.
• Practice: Interpretation of poetry.
• Evaluate: The philosophies of various
movements of Poetry.
• Apply: the literary elements to our
discussion of poetry.
• Present: Our interpretation of a poem in
the form of a drama, poster, paper, or ?
• Debate: what is radical TODAY.
Radical Poetry
1. The Romantics
Romantic Movement: Beginnings
• Romantic Poetry was
born out of the
Romantic Movement
in Europe during the
late 18th and early
19th Centuries.
The movement was a reaction against the birth of
industrialization, which created more urban environments, and
the philosophical movement “The Enlightenment,” which
promoted “reason” as the solution to humankind’s problems.
• Above all, however,
it was the impact of the
French Revolution which
gave the period its most
distinctive and urgent
concerns. Following the
Revolution itself, which
began in 1789, Britain
was at war with France
on continental Europe
for nearly twenty years
while massive repression
of political dissent was
implemented at home.
• Against this background much of the major writing of
the period, associated with the term Romantic, takes place
between 1789 (when the French Revolution began) and 1824 and
can be seen as a response to changing political and social
conditions in one respect or another.
"Romanticism is precisely situated neither
in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in
a way of feeling."
- Baudelaire
Core beliefs:
Strong Feeling
Though from its title Romantic Poetry may seem to be about love, it is instead
simply about strong feeling or emotion, especially in regards to nature.
Romantic poets believed that the best tool they had for understanding the
world was not science, but subjective experience.
The Common Man:
• The Romantic movement marked a shift the use
of language. Attempting to express the
"language of the common man," Wordsworth
and his fellow Romantic poets focused on
employing poetic language for a wider audience.
• In Shelley's "Defense of Poetry," he contends
that poets are the "creators of language" and
that the poet's job is to refresh language for their
• The Romantic movement emphasized the creative
expression of the individual and the need to find and
formulate new forms of expression.
“I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's”
- William Blake
• To the Romantics, the moment of creation was the most
important in poetic expression and could not be
repeated once it passed. Because of this new emphasis,
poems that were not complete were nonetheless
included in a poet's body of work.
The “Noble Savage”
• The term "noble savage" expresses a
romantic concept of humankind as
unencumbered by civilization; the natural
essence of the unfettered person. Since
the concept embodies the idea that
without the bounds of civilization, man is
essentially good, the basis for the idea of
the "noble savage" lies in the doctrine of
the natural goodness of man
Many romantic poets reference the god-like power
inherent in nature. This is often depicted as a
spiritual force.
“And I have felt
a presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth . . . “
[Tintern Abbey, 93-105 (1798)]
The Sublime:
The quality of
transcendent greatness,
whether physical, moral,
intellectual or artistic.
The term especially refers to a
greatness with which nothing else
can be compared and which is
beyond all possibility of
calculation, measurement or
This greatness is often used when
referring to nature and its
Poetic Philosophy
• “ I have said that poetry is the
spontaneous overflow of powerful
feelings: it takes its origin from emotion
recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is
contemplated till, by a species of
reaction, the tranquillity gradually
disappears, and an emotion, kindred to
that which was before the subject of
contemplation, is gradually produced,
and does itself actually exist in the
• William Wordsworth, Preface to
Lyrical Ballads