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English Romanticism Introduction Romantic poetry William


English Romanticism Introduction Romantic poetry William Wordsworth S.T. Coleridge G.G. Byron P.B. Shelley John Keats Introduction English Romanticism begins in 1798 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: English Romanticism Introduction Romantic poetry William

English Romanticism
  • Introduction
  • Romantic poetry
  • William Wordsworth
  • S.T. Coleridge
  • G.G. Byron
  • P.B. Shelley
  • John Keats

  • English Romanticism begins in 1798 with the
    publication of Wordsworth and Coleridges The
    Lyrical Ballads and ends in 1832 with Walter
    Scotts death. William Blake and Robert Burns
    also belong to this literary genre, though they
    live prior to the Romantic period.

English Romanticism is a revolt of the English
imagination against the neoclassical reason. The
French Revolution of 1789-1794 and the English
Industrial Revolution exert great influence on
English Romanticism. The romanticists express a
negative attitude towards the existing social or
political conditions. They place the individual
at the center of art, as can be seen from Lord
Byrons Byronic Hero. The key words of English
Romanticism are nature and imagination. English
Romantic tend to be nationalistic, defending the
greatest English writers. They argue that poetry
should be free from all rules.
Overview of Romantic literature
  • The romantic period is an age of poetry.
    Wordsworth and Coleridge are the most
    representative writers. They explore new theories
    and innovate new techniques in versification.
    They believe that poetry could purify individual
    souls and society.
  • For further study of their literary theory,
    please refer to Wordsworths Preface to The
    Lyrical Ballads Coleridges Biographia

Lake poets
  • Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey were known as
    Lake Poets because they lived and knew one
    another in the last few years of the 18th century
    in the district of the great lakes in
    Northwestern England. The former two published
    The Lyrical Ballads together in 1798, while all
    three of them had radical inclinations in their
    youth but later turned conservative and received
    pensions and poet laureateships from the

  • Other greatest Romantic poets are John Keats,
    P.B. Shelley and G. G. Byron.
  • Karl Marx likes Byron and Shelley very much. MU
    Dan(??/???),a renowned Chinese poet and
    translator , did splendid work to popularize
    Byron and Shelley in China.
  • Years ago, Wordsworth and Coleridge were labeled
    negative romantic poets while Byron and Shelley
    were hailed as positive (revolutionary) Romantic
    poets. Wordsworth and Coleridges literary
    achievements were underestimated for a long time.

Feminist works Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A
Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792.
Gothic novel is a type of romantic fiction that
predominates in the late 18th century and
continues to show its influence in early 19th
century. Its principal elements are violence,
horror, and the supernatural. Frankenstein (1818)
by Mary Shelley and The Mysteries of Udolpho
(1794) by Ann Radcliffe are masterpieces of
English gothic novel.
English fiction gropes its way amidst the
overwhelming Romantic poetry. It revives its
popularity in the hands of Jane Austen Walter
Scott. Walter Scott is noted for his historical
novel based on Scottish history and legends. He
exerted great influence on European literature of
his time. Jane Austen is the first and foremost
English women novelist. Following the
neoclassical tradition, she is unsurpassed in the
description of uneventful everyday life.
Essayists in English Romanticism
William Wordsworth Wordsworth is the most
representative poet of English Romanticism. He
was born into a lawyers family in 1770 at
Cockmouth, Cumberland. His parents died when he
was very young.
He was taken care of by his relatives. He got his
education at the Grammar School of Hawkshead and
then at St. Johns College, Cambridge. He was a
worshipper of nature from his childhood. He
frequently visited places of beautiful scenery. A
walking tour of the Swiss Alps heightened his
addiction to nature. He had great sympathy with
the French Revolution. He paid 2 visits to
France, during the second visit he fell in love
with Annette Vallon, who bore him a daughter.
Wordsworth was totally disillusioned by the
Jacobin dictatorship and the French invasion of
other European countries. He became conservative
in politics. He was labeled as negative
Romantic poet by Karl Marx and was severely
criticized by Byron. In 1795 he and his sister
Dorothy Wordsworth settled down in Racedown,
Dorsetshire. In 1797 he made friends with
Coleridge. The three persons became three people
with one soul in literary history.
Legend has it that Wordsorth and his sister lived
a kind of incestuous life during this period.
Dorothy helped Wordsworth turn his eyes to the
face of nature and preserved the poet in him.
She served as Wordsworths confidante and
inspirer. As Wordsworth put it in his poem
She gave me eyes, she gave me ears And
humble cares, and delicate fears A heart,
the fountain of sweet tears And love, and
thought, and joy.
In 1798, Wordsworth and Coleridge published their
Lyrical Ballads. In 1798 and 1799, he made a tour
around Germany. Upon his return to England, he
and his sister moved to Dove Cottage in Grasmere,
the most beautiful place in the Lake District.
Coleridge Robert Southey lived a stones throw
from their dwelling place. The three poets came
to be known as Lake Poets. In 1802, Wordsworth
got married to Mary Hutchingson. In 1813, he got
a sinecure job as distributor of stamps.
In 1842, he received the government pension and
in the following year, he succeeded Southey as
Poet Laureate. He died at Rydal Mount in 1850 and
was buried in the Grasmere churchyard.
His major works
  • Wordsworths fame lies chiefly in his short
    poems. His short poems fall into 2 categories
    poems about nature and poems about human life.
  • He is a worshipper of nature. It is nature that
    gives him strength and knowledge full of grace.

His best known poems of nature include The
Daffodils (I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud), Tintern
Abbey, To the Cuckoo, My Heart Leaps up, To a
Butterfly, An Evening Walk, The Sparrows
Nest. His best known poems about human life
include Lucy Poems, The Solitary Reaper and The
Old Cumberland Beggar, Michael, To a Highland
Wordsworth wrote many sonnets. His famous sonnets
are Earth Has Not Anything to Show More Fair
(Written Upon Westminster Bridge), On the
Extinction of the Venetian Republic, Thought of
a Briton on the Subjugation of Switzerland. His
best known long poem is The Prelude. In this poem
Wordsworth analyses the growth of his poetic
genius during his childhood and youth, and
recalls the lessons he owes to nature.
Wordsworths greatest contribution to English
literature is his poems and his Preface to The
Lyrical Ballads. Though The Lyrical Ballads is
known as the collaborated work of Wordsworth and
Coleridge, all the poems but one (The Rime of The
Ancient Mariner) are written by Wordsworth. Most
of his most quoted poem are taken from this
Preface to Lyrical Ballads
  • Wordsworths Preface (1800) to Lyrical Ballads is
    the manifesto of English Romanticism. It is one
    of the revolutionary works of criticism, helping
    usher in the Romantic Age in literature (Dutton,
  • He is primarily concerned to justify the kinds of
    his poems which he had contributed to Lyrical

Key points in his Preface
  • Definition of a poet
  • He ( poet) is a man speaking to men a man, it
    is true, endowed with more lively sensibility,
    more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater
    knowledge of human nature, and a more
    comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be
    common among mankind.
  • Norton Anthology of English Literature??????????

Creative process of authentic poetry Poetry is
the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling it
takes its origin from emotion recollected in
tranquility the emotion is contemplated till, by
a species of reaction, the tranquility gradually
disappears, and an emotion, kindred (similar) to
that which before was the subject of
contemplation, is gradually produced, and does
itself actually exist in the mind. In this mood
successful composition generally begins
Subject matter poetic language The principal
objectwas to choose incidents and situations
from common life, and to relate or describe them,
throughout, as far as was possible in a selection
of language really used by men , and at the same
time, to throw over them a certain coloring of
imagination, whereby ordinary things should be
presented in an unusual aspect (cf. Liu Yong in
Song Dynasty. ?????,?????)
Humble and rustic life was generally chosen,
because, in that condition, the essential
passions of the heart find a better soil in which
they can attain their maturity The language,
too, of these men has been adopted (purified
indeed from what appear to be its real defects,
from all lasting and rational causes of dislike
or disgust) because such men hourly communicate
with the best objects from which the best part of
language is originally derived.
Brief Comments
  • Wordsworth is the representative poet of English
  • Wordsworths poetry is distinguished by the
    simplicity and purity of his language.
  • Wordsworths theory on versification has exerted
    profound influence on later poets.
    (mimesis??--imaginative recreation)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Coleridge was born into a clergymans family in
    1772. He was a great genius. At the age of six,
    he had read the Bible, Robinson Crusoe and
    Arabian Nights. He was a mentally precocious boy,
    full of fantasy and dreams in his mind. During
    his Cambridge years, he made friends with Charles
    Lamb, the great essayist of English Romanticism.

  • But the campus life bored him. He ran away from
    the university and enlisted in the army but
    discharged after a few months and he returned to
    Cambridge. He joined Robert Southey in a utopian
    plan of establishing an ideal democratic
    community (named Pantisocracy) in America. The
    plan resulted in nothing but his marriage to Sara
    Fricker, which turned out to be an unhappy
  • In 1797 he began his friendship with Wordsworth.
    In 1798 they published The Lyrical Ballads.

In 1798 he traveled to Germany with Wordsworth
and began to take to Germany philosophy. Upon his
return to England, he became addicted to opium
with a view to relieving his headache. He
quarreled seriously with Wordsworth in 1810.
Though they were reconciled to each other later,
their friendship had never reached its former
intimacy. In his later years, he turned
conservative and resorted to theology for his
spiritual support.
Major works
  • Demonic poems
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  • Kubla Khan
  • Christabel
  • Conversational poems
  • Frost at Morning
  • Dejection An Ode (??)
  • Essays
  • Biographia Literaria
  • Lectures on Shakespeare.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  • It is Coleridges contribution to The Lyrical
    Ballads. It tells us a strange story in ballad
    meter. Three guests are on their way to a wedding
    party when an ancient mariner stopped one of
    them. The mariner tells of his adventures on the
    sea. When his ship sails towards the South Pole,
    an albatross (???) comes through the snow-fog and
    alights on the rigging.

  • The mariner shoots at it quite thoughtlessly.
    Then misfortune befalls. The whole crew, with the
    only exception of the old mariner, die of thirst
    as punishment for the act of inhospitality. The
    spell breaks only when the mariner repents his
  • The poem is famous for its beautiful cadence(??)
    and wonderful imagery. The combination of the
    natural and supernatural, the ordinary and
    extraordinary makes it one of the masterpieces of
    Romantic poetry.

Kubla Khan
  • During an illness in 1797 Coleridge retired to a
    lonely farmhouse. One day he fell asleep as he
    was reading a passage about Kubla Khan from
    Pilgrimage by Purchas. While dreaming he composed
    a poem about 200 or 300 lines. On waking he began
    to write down the poem. But he was interrupted by
    a person on business from Porlock and the vision
    faded. He left a fragment of only 54 lines and
    never finished the poem.

  • It tells a story of a sorcerer (??) who casts a
    spell over a pure young girl. It is written in
    ballad meter. Its mysterious atmosphere and the
    Gothic horror may freeze our blood. It is not
    wholesome to read the poem.

Biographia Literaria
  • It is Coleridges most influential book of
    literary essays. The main ideas can be summed up
    as follows.
  • A poem should not be judged as a mirror of
    truthas we judge science--but as a thing in
    itself, almost as a living organism.

Poets are born and not made. Poems should be
judged only according to their own lights and
not according to any established precept or
precedent. Coleridge envisages that the poet as a
man of great integrity as well as of special
gifts, producing poems which would offer profound
insights into mans imaginative, psychological,
and ultimately, moral being.
  • Coleridge is a great Romantic poet. His poetic
    imagination is unique. He is fond of unusual and
    supernatural things.
  • Coleridge is one of the first critics to pay
    close attention to language of poetry. He
    maintains that the true end of poetry is to give
    pleasure through the medium of beauty.

George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)
Biographical Introduction
  • Byron was born into an aristocratic family. His
    father is a profligate. His mother was a
    passionate Scotswoman.
  • He was born with a clubfoot, which made him feel
    sore and unhappy all his life.
  • He was a radical supporter of workers movement.

  • In 1811, Byron took seat in the House of Lords.
    He made vehement speeches to attack English
    governments policy for the Luddites (workers who
    destroy machinery).
  • Byron left England for ever in 1816.
  • He first visited Switzerland, where he made
    acquaintance with Shelley. He wrote Sonnet on
    Chillon in Switzerland.
  • Then he moved to Italy, where he finished Childe
    Harolds Pilgrimage and wrote his masterpiece Don

Upon hearing the news of the Greek revolt against
the Turks, Byron plunged himself into the
struggle. The Greeks made him commander in chief
of their forces in 1824. Due to months hard work
under bad weather, he fell ill and died. The
Greek people mourned over his premature
death. Byron was regarded as the satanic poet
by the English government when he died. It was
not until 1969 that a white marble memorial to
Byron was erected in Westminster Abbey. Nowadays
his name is put in the Poets Corner.
Major works
  • Long Poems or Collections
  • Hours of Idleness
  • English Bards and Scotch Reviewers
  • Childe Harolds Pilgrimage
  • Don Juan
  • Best known single poems in China
  • When We Two Parted
  • She Walks in Beauty
  • The Isles of Greece (from Don Juan)
  • Sonnet on Chillon

Brief comments
  • Byrons poetry is based upon his own experience.
    His heroes are more or less pictures of himself.
    His hero is known as Byronic Hero, a proud,
    mysterious rebel figure of noble origin. For such
    a hero, the conflict is usually one of rebellious
    individual against outworn social systems and

  • The figure is, to some extent, modeled on the
    life and personality of Byron.
  • Byrons poetry exerts great influence on the
    Romantic Movement. He stands with Shakespeare and
    Scott among the British writers who exert great
    influence over the mainland of Europe.

P. B. SHELLEY (1792-1822)
Life story
  • Shelley was born into an affluent family at
    Sussex. He got a very good school education,
    first at Eton and then at Oxford.
  • In 1811, while he was still a student at Oxford,
    he wrote a pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism,
    repudiating the existence of God.

He was expelled from Oxford for his seditious
pamphlet. Then he eloped with Harriet Westbrook
to Edinburgh. When he returned to London, he
became a disciple of William Godwin, a radical
social philosopher. He fell in love with Godwins
daughter. Harriets drowning enabled him to marry
Godwins daughter, but left him a bad reputation
as an immoralist. He left England and went to the
He made friends with Byron while they were in
Geneva, Switzerland. He wrote his best poems
during this period. On July 8, 1822, while he was
sailing in a small boat along the coast of Italy,
a tempest struck her boat and he was drowned. He
was buried in Rome. The inscription on his
tombstone reads Percy Bysshe Shelley, COR
CORDIUM. ( meaning heart of hearts)
Upon his untimely death, one of his opponents
writes, Shelley, the writer of some infidel
poetry, has been drowned now he knows whether
there is a God or not. Engels thinks highly of
Shelley and Byron, He writes, Shelley, the
genius, the prophet, Shelley, and Byron, with his
glowing sensuality and his bitter satire upon our
existing society, find most of their readers in
the proletariat.
Major works
  • Ode to the West Wind???
  • To a Skylark???
  • The Cloud?
  • Prometheus Unbound ?????????
  • Queen Mab ????
  • The Masque of Anarchy ?????????
  • The Necessity of Atheism???????
  • A Defence of Poetry??

Brief Comments
  • Shelley grew up with revolutionary ideas under
    the influence of Hume and Godwin. He held a life
    long aversion to cruelty, injustice, authority
    and institutional religion.
  • Shelley is one of the greatest English lyrical
    poets. He expresses his love for freedom and his
    hatred towards tyranny.

His poems abound with personification, metaphor
and other figures of speech. Shelley is one of
the most important dramatists of English
Romanticism. His greatest achievement in theater
lies in his poetic drama Prometheus Unbound.
Keats life story
  • Keats was born into a stable keepers family. He
    got little school education. He was apprenticed
    to a surgeon though his interest was in poetry.
  • With the aid of Shelley, Keats first collection
    of poems was published in 1817.
  • He was severely criticized by leading literary
    magazines such as Blackwoods Magazine and
    Quarterly Review.

Keats contracted consumption (pneumonia) while he
was taking care of his brother. He died in 1821
in Rome, Italy. His grave in Rome bears the the
epitaph Here lies one whose name is writ in
water. Shelley and Byron wrote elegies for his
premature death. (cf. Liu Bingshan 293)
Major Works
Major Works
  • Long poems
  • Endymion
  • Isabella
  • The Eve of St. Agnes
  • Lamia
  • Hyperion
  • Odes and sonnets
  • Ode to Autumn
  • Ode to a Nightingale
  • Ode on Melancholy
  • Ode on a Grecian Urn
  • Bright Star
  • When I Have Fear
  • The Grasshopper and The Cricket.

  • Keatss poetry is always sensuous, colorful and
    rich in imagery, which expresses the acuteness of
    his senses.
  • He draws diction, style and imagery from works of
    Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton and Dante. With
    vivid and rich images, he paints poetic pictures
    full of wonderful color.

Comments 2
  • Keats produced a variety of works, including
    epic, lyric and narrative poems. The mythic world
    of the ancient Greece and the English poetry of
    Renaissance period provide Keats with the most
    imaginative resources.
  • Keats poems present us with an everlasting
    poetic beauty. His motto is Beauty is truth,
    truth beauty.
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