Saturday, May 19, 2007

What made the Romantic poets Romantic poets?

From Andrew Marvell's "The Garden":

The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

I love the British Romantic poets of the early 19th century; Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley are among my favorite reads. However, as I look back at other poetry, I keep seeing the threads of the Romantics: love of nature, celebration of the imagination, joy of solitude. While I find the Romantics brilliant, I must delve harder to find just what it is that made the Romantics romantic. Was it something new, or was it a stronger point of emphasis? Was it a matter of style?

But so, too, with all intellectual or literary eras--the threads go back far.


  1. Who originally defined these writers as Romantics?

  2. Usually the era directly after defines the era directly before; if I had to guess, it was the Realists and Victorians who called the Romantics "the Romantics." Still, there are general trends in the particular time--reading Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats often seems like looking through different windows of the same house (and inside the house is Milton!). There is something unique in the Romantics, but I recognize that their big themes were but major points of emphasis that had been developed earlier.