Romanticism is a literary, artistic, musical and intellectualmovement which took its source from Europe toward the end of the 18th century.Romanticism emphasizes emotions and individualism as well as praising thebeauty of nature and past, including the medieval rather than the classical. Romanticismalso emphasizes religion, supernatural elements and idealization of women andchildren. William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley andWilliam Blake are known as the major figures of Romanticism in Englishliterature. Their romantic poems, “The Lamb” by William Blake, “I WanderedLonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth, “Kubla Khan” by Samuel TaylorColeridge, “Ode to The West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley and will be analyzedin this essay.
To start with William Blake, an English poet, printmaker andpainter, is one of the major figures of Romantic Age. His paintings and poetryhave been featured as part of the Romantic Movement. “The Lamb” is one of thepoems in his book Songs of Innocence andExperience.
“The Lamb” is Romantic in the sense that the speakerfinds the creations of the supernatural within the rhythms of nature. In the beginning of the poem, the speakeraddresses the lamb and asks questions about his creator. “Little Lamb who madethee, dost thou know who made thee…” Throughout the first stanza, the speakerrepeats his question in different ways.
Thecreator is the one who gave the lamb “clothing of delight”. The authordescribes the lamb having individual personality, a major theme of Romanticism.The lamb is said to have “…a tender voice, making all the vales rejoice” andhis clothing is described as “the softest” and “woolybright.” In the second stanzathere’s an association between the lamb, Christ, and the child.
The speakersays “He is called by thy name, for he calls himself a Lamb” because the lambis a symbol for Jesus Christ. In Bible Jesus is called “The Lamb of God”. The speaker associates himself with Christ bysaying “We are called by his name” because Jesus displays a special attentionfor children.
Secondly, WilliamWordsworth is a major English Romantic poet who has helped to launch the RomanticAge in English literature. William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as aCloud” is a lyric poem focusing on the poet’s reaction to the beauty of nature.This poem includes Romantic elements in its harmony of pleasure in both man andnature. The poet comes across a crowd of daffodils “fluttering and dancingin the breeze”.
He expresses his emotion and feelings hyperbolically, “Tenthousand saw I at a glance…” In thesecond stanza the speaker goes into more detail about the daffodils. He says, “Apoet could not but be gay, in such a jocund company…” The daffodil flowersymbolizes the nature that the poet has considered as “Jocund Company.” “For oft, when on my couch IlieIn vacant or in pensive mood,They flashes upon that inward eye”Later, though thehappy sight happened two years earlier, it is still remained fresh in the poet’smind and the happiness of the daffodils always cheers him up. This indicateslove for past which is another characteristic of Romanticism. Thirdly, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is an English poet, literarycritic, philosopher who is one of the founders of Romantic Movement. Coleridgenot only has developed a lot of themes and ides that are important in BritishRomanticism but he also have pushed the writing of poetry into new directions.
SamuelTaylor Coleridge revolutionized the concept of nature and how nature isreflected in one’s imagination in “Kubla Khan.” In the lines:”In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea…”The river is notgiven as a body of water; it is given with almost supernatural properties.Nature is given as sacred and alive. “But oh! that deep romantic chasmwhich slanted Downthe green hill athwart a cedarn cover! Asavage place! as holy and enchanted Ase’er beneath a waning moon was haunted Bywoman wailing for her demon-lover!..
.” A mysteriousatmosphere hangs over the place as a woman is heard lamenting for her deserteddemon-lover. The story derives its origin from the Gothic tales.
The nocturnalbeauty of the paradisal landscape is maligned by the “waning” lunar crescent.This is a morbid aspect of romanticism.Lastly, Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of the major English Romanticpoets, and is regarded by some as among the finest lyric poets in the Englishlanguage. In “Ode to the West Wind,” in which the speaker directly addressesthe wind and longs to fuse himself with it, exemplifies several characteristicsof Romantic poetry. Shelley observes that the West Wind can both destroy natureand preserve nature.
The wind can cause storms, erosion, and floods while alsobringing rain and scattering seeds. He eagerly yearns to be influenced by theWest Wind just as the trees in the forest, which are greatly touched by themovement of the West wind. The poet wants the West Wind to surround him andcreate beautiful things with him.
He says this by stating several things suchas “Make me thy lyre…”, “Oh! Lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!…”Apostrophe, common feature of Romantic poetry, is seen in “Ode to the WestWind”. The first words of “West Wind” are an apostrophe: “O wild West Wind “and”O thou who chariotest to their dark wintry bed/The winged seeds”is an exampleof Apostrophe too.