Individualism, reverence for nature, exoticism and an emphasis on intuition over reason are all elements of Romantic poetry. Some poets whose work embodies these traits are William Wordsworth, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley and George Gordon, Lord Byron.Continue Reading
The Romantic movement arose as a response to the rationalism and materialism embodied in the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment. Eschewing such rationality, Romantic writers sought meaning in the emotion of the individual. Wordsworth famously expressed this idea when he characterized good poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" is an incantatory distillation of the power of the artist to create individualistic, irrational, alluring worlds.
The rise of industry also began a process of natural destruction that Romantics reacted against in their poetry. William Blake's poetry rails against the "dark Satanic mills" of the new textile industry and bemoans the slums that mass urbanization entailed. Wordsworth also lamented the disconnect between humanity and nature, most notably in his sonnet "The World Is Too Much With Us." This emphasis on the natural world contrasts with the poetry of the previous era, which focused largely on the world of human interactions.
Growing trade with and travel to other parts of the world also inspired Romantic poets, who loved the exotic treasures of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Poems such as Coleridge's "Kubla Khan," Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and Shelley's "Ozymandias" reflect this obsession with the exotic.Learn more about Poetry