The Romantic Age

The Romantic Age
English 12: British Literature
Ms. Nash
A Definition of “Romanticism”
“A literary movement, and profound shift in sensibility,
which took place in Britain and throughout Europe
roughly between 1770 and 1848. Intellectually it marked a
violent reaction to the Enlightenment. Politically it was
inspired by the revolutions in America and
France…Emotionally it expressed an extreme assertion of
the self and the value of individual experience…together
with the sense of the infinite and the transcendental.
Socially it championed progressive causes…The stylistic
keynote of Romanticism is intensity, and its watchword is
‘Imagination’” (Drabble 842-843 [The Oxford
Companion to English Literature])
A Map of England
Put It In Context
• Before
Restoration (or
Order, reason, clarity,
logic, scientific,
universal experiences
Gulliver’s Travels
• After
The Victorian
1833 – 1901
Depicting realism and
naturalism (detailloaded), optimism
education, morality
A Tale of Two Cities
Restoration versus Romanticism
Scientific observation of
outer world; logic
Pragmatic (practical)
Science, technology
General, universal
Optimistic about present
Moderation, self-restraint
Aristocratic; society as
Nature controlled by
Examine inner feelings,
emotions, imagination
Idealistic (optimistic)
Mysterious, supernatural
Concerned with the
particular (very specific)
Romanticizing the past
Excess, spontaneity
Concerned with common
people and individuals
Felt nature should be
Important Dates
• 1775-1783: American
Revolution (fighting
ended in 1781)
• 1789-1815: French
• 1798: Publication of
Lyrical Ballads
• 1798-1832: Romantic
“The Big Six” Romantic Poets
• William Blake
• William Wordsworth
• Samuel Taylor
• Percy Bysshe Shelley
• John Keats
• George Gordon, Lord
Other Romantic Writers
Jane Austen
Leigh Hunt
Mary Shelley
Mary Wollstonecraft
Sir Walter Scott
Robert Southey
Schools of Romantic Poetry
Lake School
Samuel Taylor
Robert Southey
Cockney School
Leigh Hunt
John Keats
Other Londoners
Radcliffe School
Imitators of the
gothic style
(Anne Radcliffe
pioneered gothic
“Young Poets”
Percy Bysshe
John Keats
Notable Romantic Painters
• John Constable
(painting of “Flatford
Mill” [1817] to the
• J.M.W. Turner
• William Blake
• Claude Monet
• Eugene Delacroix
Notable Romantic Musicians
Franz Schubert
Claude Debussy
Franz Josef Haydn
Lyrical Ballads
First published
anonymously in 1798 as
Lyrical Ballads, with a
Few Other Poems
by Wordsworth and
Includes “Tintern Abbey”
and “Rime of the Ancient
In the Preface,
Wordsworth writes that
good poetry is the
“spontaneous overflow of
powerful feelings”
Key Romantic Themes
The particular
The remote
The primitive
The medieval
The East
The sublime
Irrational experiences
(dreams and drugs)
Awareness of process
and current conceptions
of art and introspection
Longing for the infinite
encounter through intense
experiences of sublime
nature (storms,
mountains, oceans)
Key Events of Romantic Age
1798: Lyrical Ballads published
1812: Byron publishes Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
1813: Jane Austen publishes Pride and Prejudice
1818: Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein
1819: Percy Bysshe Shelley publishes “Ode to the West
1820: John Keats publishes “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
1832: First Reform Act extends voting rights and end of
the Romantic Age
• Definition: “An elegy is a lament setting out the
circumstances and character of a loss. It mourns
for a dead person, lists his or her virtues, and
seeks consolation beyond the momentary event. It
is not associated with any required pattern,
cadence, or repetition.”
• Examples: “Elegy Written in a Country
Courtyard” by Thomas Gray and “Adonais” by
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Thomas Gray, from “Elegy”
The curfew tolls the knell of
parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly
o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward
plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to
darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering
landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn
stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels
his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the
distant folds:
Save that from yonder ivymantled tower
The moping owl does to the
moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her
secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary
Shelley, from “Adonais” (I)
• I weep for Adonais - he is dead!
O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!"
• Definition: “The pastoral is a mode of
poetry that sought to imitate and celebrate
the virtues of rural life (a nature poem).”
• Examples: “To My Sister” by William
Wordsworth and “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
by John Keats
Wordworth, from “To My Sister”
It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.
There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field.
My sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
Now that our morning meal is done,
Make haste, your morning task resign;
Come forth and feel the sun.
Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
• Textbook – page 726
• Definition: “An ode is a formal address to
an event, a person, or a thing not present.
There are three types: Pindaric, Horatian,
and Irregular.”
• Examples: “Ode to the West Wind” by
Percy Bysshe Shelley and “To Autumn” by
John Keats
• Definition: “An ancient subdivision of
poetry. One of poetry’s three categories,
the others being narrative and dramatic.
The poet addresses the reader directly and
states his own feelings.”
• Examples: “Frost at Midnight” by Samuel
Taylor Coleridge and “To Spring” by
William Blake
Coleridge, from “Frost at Midnight”
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud--and hark, again ! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings : save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed ! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village ! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams ! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not ;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Blake, “To Spring”
O THOU with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!
The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!
Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.
O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.
• Definition: “A sonnet is a poem of fourteen
lines, usually iambic. There are two
prominent types: the Petrarchan and the
• Examples: “Composed upon Westminster
Bridge, September 3, 1802” by William
Wordsworth and “Ozymandias” by Percy
Bysshe Shelley