What Are the Characteristics of the Romantic Era of Poetry?

Romantic poetry focuses on imagination, appreciation of nature, emotion, individuality and passion. Two of the most notable poets of the Romantic era are John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

A focus on the imagination is central to Romantic poetry. For example, in Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale," the poet examines nature in a bird’s song. The song inspires the poet to think about otherworldly things. To do so, he must let go of the trappings of the everyday world. When he delves into his imagination, his heart aches and his senses become numb.

Nature appreciation is another popular subject of the Romantic poets. In "Ode to the West Wind," Shelley explores the changing seasons, which causes him to consider autumn’s being. He writes that the winds are “driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,” and the poet’s thoughts are like “winged seeds” of each passing season. Each stanza of the poem represents a stage of life, including death. As Keats dreams of flying away with the nightingale, Shelley desires to become a part of his poetic experience.

Romantic poets attempt to break free from the constraints of traditional poetry through experience, nature, imagination and the emotional connection between all three.