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The Romantic
Movement
1785 - 1830
2 Significant Historical Events
 American Revolution 1775 1783
 French Revolution 1789 1799
 1789 assembly of the StatesGeneral; storming of the
Bastille (July 14)
 1793 King Louis XVI executed;
England joins alliance against
France
 1793-94 Reign of Terror under
Robespeirre
 1804 Napoleon crowned
emperor
 1815 Napoleon defeated at
Waterloo
 1798 Lyrical Ballads
published
England during Romantic
Period
 Economic Changes
 Social Changes
Economic change
 Industrial Revolution
 move away from agricultural
society (wealth and power in
land holding aristocracy
 industrial nation (power rests
in large-scale employers)


creates cycles of inflation and
depression
creates “Two Nations”: 2
classes of capitol and labor
(rich and poor); noncommunal
Social Change
 Imported revolutionary
ideology
seen as threat to social
structure
 ruling class responds with
repressive measures

Napoleonic wars put end to
reform for 3 decades
Laissez-faire: general welfare
ensured by economic laws
Women still inferior to men in
all but domestic talents
Romantic Poetry
 Lyric Poem
main Romantic form
 “I” of poem has recognizable
traits of poet

• history and philosophy
• Wordsworth’s “Prelude” specific
example
Concept of Poetry
Until now poetry regarded as a
high art form
very contrived & controlled
to elicit certain effects/affects
Wordsworth poses that poetry
arises from impulse
Imagination has free activity
based on instinct, intuition, &
the feelings of “the heart” over
that of logic (head)
Emphasis on nature
Synonymous with nature
Use of a natural scene as an
impetus toward meditative
insight
Landscape is endowed with
human life, passion, and
expressiveness
Natural objects correspond to
an inner or spiritual world
(mostly symbolic)
Focus on commonplace
Elevated the humble & rustic life,
and the plain style of poetry
Try to instill a sense of divinity in
the everyday, commonplace,
trivial, and lowly
*Power of the imagination is that it
makes the old world new again*
Nonconformity
 Age of radical individualism
higher belief in human potentialities
& powers
 mind is itself creator of the universe
it sees
 human being refuses to submit to
limitations; therefore, the poets
accepted no limitations in style and
form

William
Blake
1757 - 1827
Most eccentric of
Romantic poets
Engraver and poet
Self-published poetry
Little recognition until
1960’s
psychedelic drug users
bring him to prominence
 preached free love; did not
practice it

Born and raised in
London
Lived in urban middle
class
Studies formal art; drawn
to engraving
Very pious Protestant
Christian
Self-educated in poetry
hated Virgil and Homer
 creates own mythology

Excelled in several poem
types
epic, satire, children’s
literature, epigrams, hymns,
and lyrics
Blake’s Philosophy
 2 contrary states of human
soul
Warring contraries
 Exist in a sequence


Ex. Songs of Innocence (1789) &
Songs of Experience (1791)
3 ways to think of Blake
 revolutionary
 dialecticion
 ironist