Introduction to the Romantic Period
The enlightenment, Augustan age, main principles, the age of reason: the ideal art was classical art, it's called Augustan age because the idea was the Roman Empire (perfection, harmony, balance, stability, order).
Talking about Pope, Swift they considered man to be an individual but an individual as a member of society, they lived in a city (London/Dublin), they were individual intellectuals belonging to a strict group of intellectuals who lived in a city too and who considered man to be a social unit part of society.
Then something changed, something as William Wordsworth would say in a famous quote from the first romantic poet “there was a felling after the Augustan period that the emotional side of life was getting lost” (p 239) there was a felling that the stress of reason had sort of draw of men's personality, instead of reason we now have emotion, feeling, imagination, creative part will be held in the romantic period.
Pope, Swift (…) have thought that England was the only place you could possible to live in, now the romantic period they chose to go back to the Middle Ages and to travel abroad of the British island (at least with their mind), imagining exotic places. Lord Bayron is the most adventurous spirit, travelled to Spain, France, Italy, Constantinople and his tales are called “oriental tales”.
Again because because it gave scope to the imagination, it was new and different and man instead of being a social unit (only a member of society), man was a unique individual.
Romantic poet now loves nature and the naturals world, are charmed with the beauty of the mystery of the power of nature and as individuals they went to the countryside to experience emotions and to achieve some sort of true about man itself and the human experience. Talking about the gardens in the romantic period we remembered that they were perfectly trimmed and perfectly order and it is nature organized by man, a romantic garden it's apparently wild, spontaneous because in opposite of formality of city life those poem came to the countryside to be on their own there to be at one with the natural world, to experience the power of nature. Because nature alphas something to teach, it's divine: much more powerful than man it is associated with God and natural entities and can teach man about what life is.
This is the first time that they were interested in simple people, peasants, ordinary people living their ordinary life, it's now: country people are not been corrupted and transformed by education and society and can better shown what man really is (the essential passion of a human part).
Another important subject is childhood, children become a source of poetry, wisdom because children are innocent and so they possess greater imagination and they are closer to the divine. They were considered to be young imperfect adults in the romantic period, now they are given a power that man looses up a bit, they're naïve, they have a different greater form of knowledge they are closer to a divine part, they understand something that later it's harder to understand
New themes, ideas, vision of the world and new poetic form. Augustine period was characterized by the heroic couplets, now they revolted against that and they went back to the Middle Ages and rediscovered the ballad but it wasn't naïve. They also reused traditional forms : Spencerian stanzas (Reinassance by spencer). Byron the most cosmopolitan used the Italian ottava rima, again exotic.
The also used odds written mainly addressed to elements from the natural world, a classical form is used to give importance to natural elements.
We divide romantic poets into two generation:
1) William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
2) George Gordon Lord Byron (spend lots of his years in Venice), P. B. Shelly was the husband of Mary Shelley (writers of Frankenstein), he was the most revolutionary, he really thought that poetry and art could change the world, it was the poet duty to show a path and a different world, John Keats was the greatest but he died of tuberculosis when he was 21/22 so his poetry was written in a very short and intense period an his ideal is an idea of beauty of nature.
It wasn't rejection against the Augustine conception of order and balance of the age of reason only, the romantic movement was also influenced, especially the first two (Wordsworth and Coleridge) by the French, American, industrial revolution: the French Revolution and the American Revolution were important because of their effects on society and politics, Wordsworth was actually in 1819 in Paris but then he was immediately called back in England but he lived the air of the transformation; the industrial revolution implies a great change as well on society (movement from countryside to the city, such as we found in Dickens’ novels) and also on the landscape (nature is a reaction against ugly industrialism) it's in opposition on the environmental transformation tigon, the land was being polluted and artists criticized the change.
We found the same concepts in paintings of that time.