Byron (2nd generation of romanticism)
Byron had a full life and was known as an unconventional aristocrat. He was a friend of Shelley, who met in Mary’s father house (he was a radical thinker like him).
In Milan he joined the patriotic plots against the Austrian rule, and after he went in Greece, where is considerate a national hero.
He never considerate himself like a romantic poet, but was the only one that achieved an European reputation.
He popularized the figure of the Byronic hero, a passionate, moody and restless man that has an unknown past, success with women and is envy by other men. This kind of hero is originated in his complex personality. He believed in individual liberty and didn’t want any compromise.
For Byron nature is not a source of consolation and haven’t any message to convey.
He used a lot of meters, and also the colloquial language.
Shelley (2nd generation)
Born in 1792, Shelley was the eldest son of a conservative Member of Parlament and heir of a big fortune. He was expelled from Oxford because of his radical pamphlets about the necessary of atheism, in which he challenged the existence of God.
With his first wife he moved from place to place and made propaganda against Catholicism and English rules.
He rebelled against religion, laws and customs. He was a supporter of free love, a republican and vegetarian. He was also interested in occult sciences and experiments. After the divorce from Harriet he married Mary Godwin, daughter of a radical philosopher. They travelled a lot and met Byron. He drowned in 1822.
He refused social conventions and political oppression, he had a strong faith in future. He believed in principles of love and freedom: through love men could overcome any convention.
Shelley thinks poetry is the expression of imagination and sees the poet like a prophet and a titan with the task of reaching an ideal world where dominate love and beauty.
Keats (2nd generation)
He was born in 1795 in a humble but comfortable family. He had an ever frail health and after his mother’s and brother’s death because of consumption he also became ill.
He fell in love with a girl, but because of his health and his devotion to poetry they never married. He travelled to Italy in order to recover, but died in Rome in 1821.
He wasn’t known outside of his literary circle when he died, and only many years later Arnold made a reversal of judgement.
*The Eve of St. Agnes: written in Spenserian stanzas, there’s a symbolic atmosphere of Middle Ages
*the great Odes: the poet explores relationship between happiness and melancholy (Ode on melancholy), or between real and imaginary world (Ode on a Grecian urn).
*La belle dame sans merci: displays again taste for medieval themes.
*in Hyperion he shows the influence of Milton.
His poems are not fragments of a spiritual autobiography (like Shelley’s and Byron’s ones were) but the significant fact is that experience isn’t the substance of the Odes, but their “background”. The lyrical I stands for a universal one.
He rarely respects the romantic way of identify landscapes with mood, and there isn’t any pantheistic conviction or sense of mystery.
The thing that made him a romantic poet s his belief in supremacy of imagination. In his poems imagination create a vision of what life would be like.
Central theme of his poetry is beauty. He perceives physical beauty with all his senses, and thinks that is mortal and linked to life. There’s also another kind of beauty called spiritual beauty which is immortal and deeper linked to a deeper experience. Future member of aestheticism consider Keats as their precursor, art is an aesthetic valour (for Keats beauty is one way through which man can find truth, for aestheticism is only “art for art’s sakes”).
Keats has a new view of the poet’s task: he has to deny himself and identified with the object of his inspiration.