How do the poets of the Romantic Movement work upon the imaginations of their readers and with what aims
The Romantic period is generally considered to be between 1780 and 1830.
During this period there were tumultuous changes in Europe which greatly affected the artists of this time, and as far as this essay is concerned, the poets for whom the agricultural and industrial revolutions were destroying the country and humanity within it.
There are traditionally considered to be the ‘big 6’ canons of this period; namely Blake, Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth. (Chantler Higgins 2010)
However, there are many other writers who also come under this banner of Romantic, which perhaps describes the fact that they were dreamers and idealists.
During the Romantic period there was a tangible shift in the employment of the population. Many traditional trade workers and farmers were now employed in the machinations of industry and had moved from their rural lives into the expanding cities.
By using the natural world and simple words in their poems, Romantic poets could evoke feelings and memories, and transport the reader back to a simpler time. And by using such methods, they felt that they were able to make poetry more accessible to all classes of people.
It is also possible that they were recording the disquiet of the world wrought by these changes, and trying to communicate their ideals to a wider audience by using something that all could relate to – nature.
Poets such as Blake were fearful that these changes would destroy the humanity that existed in every person; the stifling nature of the cities shackling imagination and free thought, as depicted in the poem ‘London’ second verse where he describes ‘the mind-forg’d manacles (line 8) of the population. This line is extremely powerful and sounds like a call to arms almost, a desire to make people think for themselves and not become automatons. This demonstrates Blakes revolutionary ideas at the time, and his anger at what he perceived to be the destruction of humanity.
Wordsworth wrote in his preface for his publication in collaboration with Coleridge - Lyrical Ballads (1800) that the books object was to ‘choose incidents and situations from common life and relate or describe them … in a selection of language really used by men’. (Lietch 2010).
This publication is thought by many to be the first of the Romantic Movement.
An example of the above ideals I feel is illustrated in the poem ‘She dwelt among untrodden ways’.
Here Wordsworth uses uncomplicated structure and language to convey his feelings for the subject; comparing her to a ‘violet by a mossy stone’ (line 5) when describing her beauty which is seen only by him due to her isolation (perhaps physical and intellectual) as illustrated in the first stanza. A simple and romantic verse in the modern sense of the word, of love, loss and longing, to which we can all relate.
In contrast to the starkness and anger of ‘London’, I shall now look at how Autumn is a season used by poets, who use evocative visual imagery to bring nature to life. It also serves to underline the perceived end of the blossom of humanity (summer) and the coming of winter and the changes it brings, perhaps comparing this to the changes that industry is bringing to the world. Seasons are something that every reader could understand and relate to, especially people from the farming community. They are also symbolic of change, of life cycles, and of the world.
Keats poem ‘To Autumn’ has fabulous visual imagery and clever adjectives really bringing the season to the reader. For example, line 5 ‘to bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees’ simply and effectively describes the fruitfulness and plentiful bounty that the season has brought. This poem feels like the long languid days of Autumn to the reader, and the narrator is revelling in the season.
Autumn is also referred to in Hartley