First Generation of Romantic Poets• Definition: a literary movement that completes the definition of pre-Romanticism in the first part of the 19th century.
• Themes: It is characterised by a heavy use of individualism, which makes known the emotions, and all the irrational feelings of the author or the subject of a poem. There is often the filter of the sublime and the vision of the poet as a hero who is misunderstood by the society, and because of that a new way of considering the role of man in the universe. Another important fact is the rediscovery of Middle Age as the most religious age of human history when people believed in magic, myths and supernatural. In fact, there is a new taste for the exotic, the ruins and the desolate of castles, abbeys, but also a serious concern about childhood, considered the uncorrupted age of man which places them closer to God. This implies that adulthood is on the contrary spoilt by civilisation and full of rules and limits and there’s no free flow of fantasy or feelings allowed.
• Lyrical device: the ballade is the most used type of poetry, which comes from the medieval literature.
• William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
• Life: took part of the Grand Tour going on a walking tour of France and the Alps. His experience in Revolutionary France filled him with enthusiasm for democratic ideals, which he hoped could lead to a new and legitimate social order, and which brought him to the emphasis of the poet as a rebel and an outcast in the society: too intelligent, sensitive and introspective to be understood by common people.
• Believes: recollection in tranquillity, a technique to write the poems. In front of the Nature nobody can describe it, because it’s too powerful and sublime, so the writer has to go home, sit and then, in tranquillity, he can write down his feelings through the filter of his memory. “Nature” to Wordsworth means something that includes men as active participants of the same whole and a teacher of love and morality, so that we have to perceive it through sense perceptions, important because allows people to discover what they truly are.
• Works: -most famous is a collection of poems Lyrical Ballads (1798) written with his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge
-Daffodils is a poem divided in stanzas that records the experience of a walk and Wordsworth’s love for nature. The first line is the summary of the Romantic ideals: I imply the individualism, wandered the importance of travel around the world, lonely so isolated like the figure of the poet, and as a cloud so a symbol of freedom and also a personification that links to the identification with the nature, like Panismo affirmed. The flowers of daffodils are the metaphor of human beings, supported by the frequent use of terms referred to men. Both of them are essential in the universe to have an ordered state of harmony, which may bring, according to William Blake, mankind to the state of the ‘natural’ Man of Rousseau, closer to nature and to God like children. Wordsworth concludes his poem explaining that he is writing it on his couch at home: in front of the Nature he had a spontaneous flow of feelings that he transforms into poetry during the recollection in tranquillity.
• Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
• Life: as his friend Wordsworth he was heavily influenced by French Revolutionary ideals and together they published the collection called Lyrical Ballads, yet they are the two faces of the “romantic medal”. In fact Coleridge is its dark side: his own task was to write about extraordinary, supernatural events and obscure religion in a credible way.
• Believes: like Blake and Wordsworth, Coleridge stressed the role of imagination, which he distinguished in primary and secondary imagination. The primary is the power to produce images and belongs to common men because it gives the causes a certain order. The secondary is typical of the poets, because is the power to build new worlds. These were more important than fancy, though on a higher level of perception, because is the capability the poet has to put different ingredients, taken from the nature, blame them together and produce beautiful images. Unlike Wordsworth, Coleridge did not view nature as moral guide or a source of sensations. He was strongly influenced by the Christian faith and as Plato he thought that the things on Earth are the reflections of the ideal things, and that’s why the real things contain also an abstract meaning, which could be seen by everyone, but understood by poets only.
• Works: we have a small contribution in number, because he wrote only three poems, but they are very important
Example: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which is a ballad, made up of seven parts. The ballad opens on a village of seamen with an old man, the Ancient Mariner, who stops a wedding guest, who is going on a wedding party, and tells him a story. At the end, we discover that it was a flashback, the end and not the beginning of the poem, because to tell his story everyone is the Mariner’s punishment. This until he accepts his sin and begins to pray for redemption: so we have a moral message too, what makes The Rime of the Ancient Mariner a Romantic ballad. It is introduced by an “Argument”, a short summary, and consists of two narratives: one is made up of the captions to the right of the stanzas, which introduce the protagonist and his listener; the other is obviously the poem itself. This combination of dialogue and narration in a dramatic scene associates the poem to traditional ballads together with the four-line stanzas, the archaic language, the richness in alliterations, repetitions and onomatopoeia, the theme of travel and the dream-like elements.