5 tenets of Romantic poetry

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Last updated: April 25, 2019

The Concept of Poetry and the Poet
18th century theorists had regarded poetry as imitation of human life that the poet artfully renders and puts into an order designed to instruct and give artistic pleasure to the reader; “a mirror held up to nature”a. poetry should be “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth)b. the source of a poem be the inner feelings of the poetc.

Poetry should be “the embodiment of the poet’s imaginative vision” -expression/utterance/exhibition of emotion

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Poetic Spontaneity and Freedom
a. Wordsworth defined good poetry not merely as the overflow but as the “spontaneous overflow” of feelingsb. Coleridge wrote, “deep thinking is attainable only by a man of deep feeling, and all truth is a species of revelation; hence a metaphysical solution that does not tell you something in the heart is grievously to be suspected as apocryphal”

Romantic “Nature Poetry”
a. Because of the prominence of landscape in this period, “romantic poetry” has to the popular mind become almost synonymous with “nature poetry” b. the view that natural objects correspond to an inner/spiritual world underlay a tendency, esp in Blake and Shelley, to write a symbolist poetry in which a rose, sunflower, mtn, cave, or a cloud is presented as an object imbued with a significance beyond itself; Shelley said “I always seek in what I see the likeness of something beyond the present and tangible object”

The Glorification of the Ordinary and the Outcast

Coleridge said, “to combine the child’s sense of wonder and novelty with the appearance, which every day for perhaps 40 years had rendered familiar… this is the character and privilege of genius”b. Shelley said, “poetry reproduces the common universe” but “purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being,” and “creates anew the universe, after it has been blunted by reiterations”

The Supernatural and “Strangeness in Beauty”

Keats and Shelley will often establish a setting for events that will violate our sense of realism and the natural orderb. Byron made repeated use of the fascination with the forbidden and the appeal of the terrifying Satanic heroc. Keats also was often extraordinarily sensitive to all aspects of the human experience and to the longings of death

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