ROMANTICISM is a great reaction against the formal order and controlled rationality of the "age of reason". In contrast with the neoclassical idea of poetry, romantic poetry was a "spontaneous overflow".
The literary production shows a shift in taste and beliefs throughout Europe in the latter part of 18th century:
• Romantic artist lost their confidence in the reason and in the scientific method to get the truth and to interpret reality they turned to imagination, intuitions and feelings.
• The French revolution and industrial revolution changed the view of life and society as a concentration of evils.
• A twofold interest in the natural and supernatural was born. Nature was seen as a manifestation of God , a world of innocence and goodness that could positively influenced the minds of men. Since nature is linked to God, like God nature became the world of goodness. (Wordsworth was interested in outer world). Supernatural was a mystical experience to go deeper and deeper under the surface of reality (Coleridge tried to explore the inner world with his dreams caused by opium).
• Romantic poet was considered a prophet, a teacher whose task is to mediate between man and nature. The poet is above common man because He could recreate the reality with symbols that men could easily understand. The poet had imagination a sort of inward eye or divine faculty that allowed to go beyond reality.
• Imagination was considered a living power and a way to see beyond the natural world, It was considered something linked with God and became a primary poetic subject.
Wordsworth and Coleridge belong to the first generation of romantic poets. They were called "lake poets" because They lived in the Lake District, it was a picturesque region in northern England, near the border with Scotland that was famous for its romantic landscape.
In 1800 the two poets published a second edition of their collection of poems "Lyrical ballads" with a Preface called "Observation". It was written by Wordsworth, this Preface was considered the Manifesto of English romantic movement. The Preface stated the theories of romantic poetry and explained that poetry should deal with simple matters and humble people and should be written in the simple language of everyday life.
The romantic poetry explore the field of extraordinary, supernatural or exotic events drawing inspiration from medieval legends or from the world of nightmares and dreams.
Wordsworth believed that poetry had the primary role of saving human from the evils of technological and increasingly urban society.