Romanticism largely began as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment
ideals of the day. Inevitably, the characterization of a broad range of contemporaneous poets and poetry under the single unifying name can be viewed more as an exercise in historical compartmentalization than an actual attempt to capture the essence of the actual ‘movement’. Indeed, the term “Romanticism” did not arise until the Victorian
period. Nonetheless, poets such as William Wordsworth
were actively engaged in trying to create a new kind of poetry that emphasized intuition over reason and the pastoral
over the urban
, often eschewing classical forms and language in an effort to use ‘real’ language.
Wordsworth himself in the Preface to his Lyrical Ballads defined good poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” though in the same sentence he goes on to clarify this statement by asserting that nonetheless any poem of value must still be composed by a man “possessed of more than usual organic sensibility [who has] also thought long and deeply”. Thus, though many people seize unfairly upon the notion of spontaneity in Romantic Poetry, one must realize that the movement was still greatly concerned with the pain of composition, of translating these emotive responses into the form of Poetry. Indeed, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, another prominent Romantic poet and critic in his On Poesy or Art sees art as “the mediatress between, and reconciler of nature and man”. Such an attitude reflects what might be called the dominant theme of Romantic Poetry: the filtering of natural emotion through the human mind in order to create art, coupled with an awareness of the duality created by such a process.
English Romanticism of the Age
The movement was, in a sense, formalized with the joint publication by Wordsworth and Coleridge of Lyrical Ballads in 1798. The work emphasized what would become the key tenets of Romanticism, namely the reconciliation of man and nature, along with an attempt to abandon the high language of 18th century English poetry and to attempt to convey poetic ideas via a common vernacular. Their work is deeply rooted in the tradition established by Edmund Spenser and John Milton. They, along with William Blake, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron, believe that they were reviving the true spirit of English poetry by pursuing the "romance" and the sublime that was lost since Milton.
John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron then comprised the latter half of the movement, largely continuing in the same tradition, though deviating slightly into more metaphysical matters.
Perhaps due to the perceived personal nature of Romantic poetry (one which the Romantic Poets themselves are not entirely innocent of encouraging), there has often been a fascination with the lives of the Romantic poets. This view is often reinforced by the imagery conjured up in contemporary discourse because a number of them died before reaching thirty, notably Percy Bysshe Shelley (29) and John Keats (25). This has led to a conflation of the lives of the Romantic poets with the poetry itself.
The "Big Six"
The "Big Six" of English romantic literature pertains to the six figures who are historically supposed to have formed the core of the Romantic movement of late 18th and early 19th century England. The term, though widely used as an easy term for the canonical Romantic poets, is just as widely known to be both anachronistic and unduly exclusive.. Reconstructing centered around Leigh Hunt. Although chronologically earliest among these writers, William Blake was a relatively late addition to the list; prior to the 1970s, romanticism was known for its "Big Five.
For some critics, the term establishes an artificial context for disparate work and removing that work from its real historical context") at the expense of equally valid themes (particularly those related to politics.)
The six authors are, in order of birth and with an example of their work:
The "Three Bards"
Term The "Three Bards
" (Trzej Wieszczowie
) pertains to the three major poets of Romanticism in Polish literature
. Word Wieszcz
in English means a prophet
and is according to a figure of legendary Ukrainian
bard Wernyhora, so The "Three Bards" were considered as Ralph Waldo Emerson
called it to be "Representative Men" of nations
. Moreover, their verses for a long time were considered to be a moral typified, historiosophical
prophecy according to Christianism
and ideals of Freedom
. It was heavy influenced by 1 Corinthians 14
: "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort" (1 Cor 14:3).
:::His memory was
- Written upon, and deeply, but, because
- It had long rotted in the dark, my friend
- Could not read what was written: "We'd better send
- For God. He will remember and tell us all.
- (Adam Mickiewicz)
Sometimes Cyprian Kamil Norwid or Kornel Ujejski are called The "Fourth Bard".
Major Romantic poets
- Brazil: Álvares de Azevedo, Castro Alves, Casimiro de Abreu, Gonçalves Dias
- Denmark: Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig, Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger, Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard
- England: William Blake, George Gordon Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, John Keats
- France: Alphonse de Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier, Alfred de Musset, Charles Baudelaire
- Georgia: Nikoloz Baratashvili
- Germany: Novalis, Heinrich von Kleist, Clemens Brentano, Joseph von Eichendorff, Achim von Arnim
- Hungary: János Arany
- Ireland: Thomas Moore
- Italy: Giacomo Leopardi, Ugo Foscolo
- Poland: Three Bards – Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński
- Portugal: Alexandre Herculano, Almeida Garrett, António Feliciano de Castilho
- Romania: Mihai Eminescu
- Russia: Golden Age of Russian Poetry – Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Fyodor Tyutchev, Evgeny Baratynsky
- Scotland: Robert Burns, Joanna Baillie, Walter Scott
- Slovenia: France Prešeren
- Spain: Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, José de Espronceda,
- United States: Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson
Minor Romantic poets
- Brazil: Qorpo Santo, Sousandrade
- Czech Republic: Karel Hynek Macha
- England: Robert Southey, Ebenezer Elliott, James Henry Leigh Hunt, Thomas Chatterton, John Clare, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Lady Anne Lindsay, Charlotte Smith, Henry Kirke White, George Crabbe
- France: Alfred de Vigny, Gerard de Nerval, Leconte de Lisle
- Georgia: Alexander Chavchavadze, Grigol Orbeliani, Vakhtang Orbeliani
- Germany: Gottfried August Bürger, Ludwig Tieck
- Hungary: Sándor Petőfi, Mihály Vörösmarty
- Iceland: Jónas Hallgrímsson
- Ireland: James Clarence Mangan, Thomas Davis
- Italy: Silvio Pellico
- Norway: Henrik Arnold Wergeland, Johan Sebastian Cammermeyer Welhaven
- Poland: Kornel Ujejski, Antoni Malczewski, Tomasz Zan, Wincenty Pol, Seweryn Goszczyński, Władysław Syrokomla
- Portugal: Almeida Garrett, Alexandre Herculano
- Russia: Vasily Zhukovsky, Konstantin Batyushkov
- Spain: José de Espronceda, Ramón de Campoamor
- Scotland: James Macpherson, William Knox, James Hogg
- Slovenia: France Prešeren
- Sudan: Rashad Hashim
- Sweden: Erik Johan Stagnelius
- Ukraine: Taras Shevchenko
- United States: William Cullen Bryant, Joseph Rodman Drake, John Greenleaf Whittier
- Wales: Iolo Morganwg