Pre-Romanticism is a movement that spread in the late eighteenth century and which clearly opposes the Enlightenment. During enlightenment the people believed that the supremacy of reason was the only way to knowledge and progress, and this had led to the repression of emotion and feeling. As men studied their surroundings, they began to refer to the impressions of their senses and to give importance to their feelings. This caused the "sturm ut drang" movement, that want to take back the emotions that enlightenment put down. Besides the concept of nature changed. The classical view of nature as a set of laws established by God, which man could order and control thanks to reason, was slowly replaced by a new Pantheistic view, that describe the nature like a living force in which every element has a life of his own. The most remarkable work on the subject was certainly Edmund Burke's "a philosophical enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful", in which Burke say that the sublime is the strongest emotion that human mind can feel: it isn't a pleasure produced by beautiful forms, but a feeling similar to horror or fear created by what is infinite and terrible: while flower-beds are beautiful, obscurity, loneliness, silence, tall oaks are sublime, because causes in a man awe, astonishment, admiration, reverence and respect.
The great English Romantic poets are usually grouped into two generation: the first, often called "the lake poets", included William Wordsworth and S.T. Coleridge; the poet of the second generation are Byron, Shelley and Keats. The poets of the first generation are characterized by the attempt to theorize about poetry. While planning the Lyrical Ballads, they agreed that Wordsworth would write on the beauty of nature and ordinary things with the aim of making them interesting for the reader; Coleridge instead should deal with visionary topics, the supernatural ad mystery. The preface of this work became the manifesto of the romantic poetry. In it they explain the task of the poet, that is considered a vate, divinely inspired to see beyond surface of things; and they say that the nature will be the main feature of their poems and is no longer a decorative element but the main protagonist; that the language will be simple and close to the language really spoken by men; and that the object will be simple and rustic life.