Search This Blog

Sep 19, 2010


The period which start with the French Revolution (1789) or the publication of Lyrical Ballads (1798) is known as the romantic movement—which Victor Hugo calls “liberalism in literature”—is simply the expression of life as seen by imagination, rather than by prosaic “common sense”, that is why Arnold says “Romanticism knows nothing”; and Hoxie N. Fairchild calls it “Devil’s Advocate”.

This supreme movement in English letters was Renaissance, which transformed not only English but the European life; but very great impulse on Art and Life.  “Five Pillars”—Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats—are known as the best romantic poets—they think that the poetry was the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” as well as the lava of imagination. It has also been variously described as “a reflection of light that was never on the land or sea”,  and presentation of the: “magic casements, opening the foam Of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn.” It was during this period that woman assumed, for the first time, an important place in English literature, the chief among them were Anne Radcliffe, Jane Austin. As first romantic age (in Elizabethan age) was full of dramas but the second lacks of drama—no dramas were composed during this period to perform on the stage—but this age developed a new kind of drama, poetic drama, which can be read and enjoyed by the reader in his own closet or study-room without any external aid. In conclusion, the poetry of romantic age suggests the Elizabethan days and caused this age to be known as the second creative period of English literature. After Keats’ death Romanticism begins to decline and ends with the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, but the effect of this movement remains in the poetry of Victorian age—especially in Tennyson.

Theory of Poetry
“Poetry is the thought and the words in which emotion  spontaneously embodies itself.” Thoughts on Poetry and its Variations by Mill. Wordsworth took the hint and produced the theory of poetry which is contained in Preface to Lyrical Ballads wherein, at least two places; he points out: “All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling,” to this statement, however, Wordsworth has added that “It takes its origin from the emotion recollected in tranquility”. At first glance, these two are quite opposite to each other—the one is coming on a sudden, and the other deliberately called to memory—but Wordsworth makes no difference between two and tries to explain one by the other. For Wordsworth, a poet writes only when he is inspired because only then his ideas spontaneously flow out of his mind and he creates poetry of high order and which is: “nothing less than the most perfect speech of man, that in which he comes nearest to being able to utter the truth”. According to Wordsworth, deep emotion is the basic condition of poetry that can be written on any subject which is of human interest—this stress on spontaneity is a clear disavowal of Neo-Classical tents. Wordsworth’s own typical poems—A Moving Sight, Skylark, A Solitary Reaper— were composed in his own manner. The group of Daffodils was also seen during a walk, stored in the memory and recalled in the moments of calm contemplation to be bodied forth into the poem. Despite all criticism, including Eliot’s, who said “poetry is not the turning loose of emotions but an escape from emotions,” Wordsworth’s theory of poetry can hardly be over-estimated or over-praised, thus,  through the breathless efforts, Wordsworth gives a new trend to poetry, which was in 18th century considered as “a hopeless product of intelligence playing upon the surface of life”.

Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth with Coleridge was, says Hudson, “an ‘epoch making little book, and it is universally admitted that a new chapter in the history of English poetry opens with the publication” in 1798. According to Coleridge, the design of the collaborators was to include in it two different kinds of poetry: in the one “the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least supernatural’; in the other, ‘subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life.” Mill once said in Thoughts on Poetry and its Variations Poetry is the thought and the words in which emotion spontaneously embodies itself.” Wordsworth took the hint and produced the theory of poetry which is contained in Preface to Lyrical Ballads wherein, at least two places; he points out: “All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling,” to this statement, however, Wordsworth has added that: “It takes its origin from the emotion recollected in tranquility”. At first glance, these two are quite opposite to each other—the one is coming on a sudden, and the other deliberately called to memory—but Wordsworth makes no difference between two and tries to explain one by the other.

Ode may be defined as “a rimed (rarely unrimed) lyric, often in form of an address; generally dignified or exalted in subject, feeling and style” (New English Dictionary), or as “any strain of enthusiastic or exalted verse, directed to a fixed purpose, and dealing progressively with a dignified  theme” (Gosse in English Odes). The prototype was established by the Greek poet Pindar, whose odes were modeled on the songs by the chorus in Greek drama. The complex stanzas were patterned in sets of three: moving in a dance rhythm to the left, the chorus chanted the strophe; moving to the right, antistrophe; then standing still, the epode. The ode has a long history. For instance, Pindar in Greece and Horace in Rome were two of the most distinguished writers of the odes. The Regular or Pindaric ode in English is a close imitation of Pindar’s form, with the all strophes and antistrophes written in one stanza pattern, and all the epodes in another. This from was introduced in England by Ben Jonson and the typical construction can be conveniently studied in Thomson Gary’s “The Progress of Poesy” (1757). The Irregular ode was introduced in 1656 by Abraham Cowley, who imitated the Pindaric style and matter but disregarded the recurrent stanzaic pattern in each strophic triad; instead, he allowed each stanza to establish its own pattern of variable line lengths, number of lines, and rhyme scheme. Wordsworth’s “ode: intimation of immorality” (1807), is representative. Finally when ode form came to Keats it reached the height of perfection and subjectivity. It was primarily under the influence of Shakespeare’s negative capability. He wanted to attain that perfection in negative capability which Shakespeare had achieved in his dramas.

Negative Capability
The poet John Keats introduced this term in a latter written in December 1817 to define a literary quality “which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean negative capability, that is, when man is capable of being inuncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”. Keats contrasted to this quality of writing of Coleridge, who, “would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude…from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge,” and went on to express the general principle “that with a great poet the sense of beauty over comes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.” When Ode form came to Keats it reached the height of perfection and subjectivity under the influence of Shakespeare’s negative capability. He wanted to attain that perfection in negative capability which Shakespeare had achieved in his dramas; but Keats found that instead of drama, the ode verse was best suited to his purpose. To put it in the language of a lay man, negative capability is a capacity to negate one’s individual self and to assume the very personality of the person whom the writer wants to portray. It is a capacity to be like water, which has no colour of its own, but capable of assuming any colour that put into. Keats has been able to acquire this negative in his odes. It involves the ability to identify oneself with the subject of one’s poetry or art. Shakespeare could enter and merge into the personality of Lear in his madness or the clown in his fun-fury. It is what makes the drama great. He, of all the great poets, possessed the “negative capability”, to create an Iago or an Imogen; dark villainy or pure, innocent with equal perfection. Thus, according to Keats, "a poet must unpoetical of anything inexistence, because he has no identity—he is continually in for and filling some other body.”

Women Writers of the Age
Aphra Behn (1640–89) was the first English woman to earn her living by her pen and one of the most inventive and versatile authors of the Restoration Age, wrote poems, highly successful fifteen plays in which most famous is The Rover (1678) and Oroonoko or the History of the Royal Slave (1688) the tragic story of a noble African slave, an important precursor of the philosophical novel. But it was during the Romantic period that woman assumed, for the first time, an important place in English literature, the chief among them were Anne Radcliffe, Jane Austin.

Poetic Play
“Romantic age is a commonplace, and, something of a mystery, that the vitality of the time fails in one field, that of drama.”     W.R. Renewick. As first romantic age (in Elizabethan age) was full of dramas but the second lacks of drama—no true prose dramas were composed during this period to perform on the stage—but this age developed a new kind of drama, poetic drama,  a special type of play which is basically different from the normal stage play. The Poetic Play is complete in itself. It can be read and enjoyed by the reader in his own closet or study-room without any external aid. The principle writers of poetic plays were practically all the Romantic poets.  Though the age, for sure, did not produce any great writers of poetic drama, however, it did produce great number of dramatists including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Southey, Shelley, Keats and later on Tennyson and Browning. Coleridge’s Orsio, produced on the stage in 1813 as Remorse, was the first modern poetic drama. Byron wrote more plays than did any of the great romantic poets.  For the first time in the history of English drama emerged, during the romantic age, the tradition of “closet drama” which is largely autobiographical, and highly lyrical, making powerful impact as poetry, but leaving little scope for stage performance. The drama of Romantic Movement belongs largely to literature rather than theatre. With its abundance of creativity and transcendental imagination, the romantic age could not succeed on the stage because all the poets wrote powerful dramatic poems rather than poetic dramas, which, although mostly unstageable, make powerful reading as dramatic literature in verse. Thus, the poetic play today belongs more to the literature than to the stage, and even the prose plays are more read than staged.

When Blake says that in Paradise Lost “Milton was at devil’s party without knowing it” the Romantic Age enters in criticism which became firmly establishment by the appearance of such magazines as Francis Jeffrey’s Edinburgh Review (1802), John Wilson’s The Quarterly (1808), John Gibson’s Blackwood (1817), Lockhart’s Westminster Review (1824)—violently abused Keats and the Lake poets in the name of criticism. Then Wordsworth gave us Preface to Lyrical Ballads wherein, he points out:     “All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings… (And) It takes its origin from the emotion recollected in tranquility”.Reacting against the neoclassical theory of “poetic diction” he declared “that there neither is, nor can be, any essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition,” thus, Wordsworth gave the manifesto of the Romantic criticism. The most elaborate and highly articulated criticism appears in Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria(1817) that transferred in English criticism the key concept of imagination which: “reveals itself in the balance of reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities: of sameness, with difference; of the general, with concrete; the idea with the image.” Continuing the debate on imagination as the primary and the principal agency of poetic creation, Shelley’s A Defence Of Poetry (1821), gives a further turn to the role of the poet, who become the “unacknowledged legislators of society,” so the: “Poets ... are not only the author of language … (but) the legislator of laws, and the founders of the civil society.” Beside theoretical writings, the Romantic poets and essayists also produced a large body of practical criticism in the form of lectures and essays, particularly on drama. Coleridge’s Seven Lectures On Shakespeare and Milton (1808), Hazlitt’s Lectures on English poets (1818), Lectures On English Comic Poets (1819), and Dramatic Literature of Elizabethan Age (1820); Lamb’s Character Of Dramatic Writes Contemporary With Shakespeare (1808); DeQuincey’s Knocking At The Gate In Macbeth; and The Letters of John keas (1816-20) are the most notable critical writings. Thus, the Romantics made great contribution to the development of literary criticism as a serious and complementary branch of literature.

Wordsworth as a Nature Poet
Wordsworth or “the Muse of Poetry” well known as “a priest of Nature”, who shows:
    “……………….the light of setting sun,      
    And the round ocean, and the blue sky,  
    The living air and the mind of man”.  
English poetry before Wordsworth was the poetry of town and drawing room but Wordsworth drew the attention of the readers towards rills and hills, skies and stars, rivers and trees. In his poetry he adopted Rousseau’s slogan “Return to nature” but in his return to her he never grew morbid like Rousseau or animal like D.H. Lawrence. He says “love he had found in huts where poor men lives”, and his poetry is the “language of conversation among middle and poor classes of the society”, and as a poet he is “a man speaking to men”. So, he today remains the living voice crying in its wilderness prophetic protest, not only against the unhealthiness civilization but also against the drop brutality of the machine world. The poem World is too Much With Us about the people who are out of tune with nature. In the present poem Wordsworth shows us a beautiful image of nature:    “…….sea that bares her bosom to the moon/The winds that will be howling all hours And now up gathered like the sleeping flowers”. Tintern Abbey is the complete philosophy of Wordsworth and the most reflective poem of English literature. In this poem he says that nature is:“……..the nurse/The guide and guardian of my heart and soulAnd all of my moral being”.  In the same poem he advices his sister Dorothy that nature takes us “joy to joy” and it “never betray the heart of that loves her”. In Immortality Ode, he says , when he was a boy his love towards nature was a thoughtless passion but now the object of nature takes sober colouring in his eyes because he sees the “still sad music of humanity” “To me the meanest flower that blows can give the Thought that often do lie too deep for tears”. Thus, we see that Wordsworth love for nature underwent various charges. It starts form the delight of childhood and culminated into the worship. In sum, nature was never dead for Wordsworth, but it is full if breath of infinite breath. One may add to it, we cannot see the Nature with Wordsworth’s eyes.

Supernatural in Coleridge
Coleridge /klrd/, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834), English poet, critic, and philosopher. His Lyrical Ballads (1798), written with William Wordsworth, marked the start of English romanticism. The collection included Coleridge's famous poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. His other well-known poems include the ballad 'Christabel' (1816) and the opium fantasy 'Kubla Khan' (1816). Coleridge's opium addiction is also recorded in his pessimistic poem 'Dejection: an Ode' (1802). During the latter part of his life he wrote little poetry, but contributed significantly to critical and philosophical literature. The Rime of Ancient Mariner is Coleridge’s masterpiece in which he shows his love for the remote, the mysterious, the strange and the supernatural. The poem was published in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads in 198. Here an old and quaint mariner tells the strange story of his sea-voyage to a wedding guest who is reluctant to listen to him. However, the mariner detains him and gives an account of his strange journey to the icy South Pole. The mariner belongs to the ancient times when people had faith in magic, mystery and the supernatural. The mariner and his crew pass through difficult conditions. The mariner kills a friendly albatross that hovers over the ship for no obvious reason. After this event, a curse falls on the ship and the mariner and his crew is subjected to punishment for this sin by the Polar Spirit. The members of the crew die in agonies of thirst: “Water, water every where,/Nor a drop to drink”. The mariner himself lives in a state of life-in-death. In the4 end, he unknowingly blesses some water snakes and the  punishment is withdrawn. The dead albatross which the crew had tied around his neck falls into the sea. The ship is magically driven into the mariner’s homeport where he is given absolution by a hermit.  Thereafter, he has been wandering about the world and tells his story compulsively to the people. The story gives the lesson that se should lead a holy life in communion with all the creatures. The language is simple and the music of the lines has the haunting quality. This is how the mariner describes the scene at the pole:   
         “The ice was here, the ice was there,  
          The ice was all around:  
          It cracked and growled, roared and howled,  
          Like noises in a swound.

Shelley as Revolutionary
Percy Bysshe Shelley 2 (1792–1822) one of the major poets of the English Romantic Movement. He is well known for the beauty of his verse. He was an atheist (= a person who believes that there is no God) and an anarchist (= a person who believes there should be no laws or government), whose love of freedom and left-wing political opinions influenced poems such as Prometheus Unbound (1820). He ran away twice with young women, and lived the last few years of his life with his second wife Mary in Italy, where he died in an accident at sea. His best-known poems include Ode to the West Wind and To a Skylark. Shelley Percy Bysshe (1792-1822), English poet. He was a leading figure of the romantic movement, with radical political views which are often reflected in his work. After the collapse of his first marriage in 1814 he eloped abroad with Mary Godwin and her stepsister, marrying Mary in 1816; they settled permanently in Italy two years later. Major works include the political poems Queen Mab (1813) and The Mask of Anarchy (1819), Prometheus Unbound (1820), a lyrical drama on his aspirations and contradictions as a poet and radical, lyric poetry (e.g. 'Ode to the West Wind', 1820), the essay The Defence of Poetry (1821), vindicating the role of poetry in an increasingly industrial society, and Adonais (1821), an elegy on the death of Keats. Shelley was drowned in a boating accident.

Keats as Romantic
“Romanticism” came as a revolt against the classical emphasis on intellectualism and correct taste. In poetry, the romanticists accepted the ideals of feeling in place of intellect, imagination in place of rules. There is a craving in the romanticists for the unknown and the remote. In this sense, John Keats (1795-1821), the youngest of all romanticists, was more fully committed to poetry than other romantic poet. As a poet, Keats is popularly known for the richest crop of his immortal Odes especially the following four: Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode on Melancholy, Ode to Autumn.  One great feature of Keats poetry is “Sensuousness”—in his poetry is so deep that Louis MacNeice calls him “a sensuous mystic”. Prominent Keats’ critics Arnold, F.W. Owen, Robert Bridges, Sidney Colvin, Selincourt, in a article on Keats in John Keats’ Memorial Volume (1922) come to the conclusion that Keats was not exclusively a sensuous poet but a literary artist whose interest began and ended with sensuous beauty. Beauty and Imagination and nature are other striking features of Keats’ poetry. In his early poetry he says:  
        “A thing of beauty is a joy forever  
         It’s loveliness increases, it will never  
         Pass into nothingness……..”(Endymion)       
and later in Ode to a Nightingale:  
        “Charm’d magic casements, opening the foam   
         Of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn”.  
The last example shows that like Wordsworth, Keats found imaginative inspiration in nature though unlike him, he did not find there a moral guide and teacher. Keats’ dedication to the poetry is total; all other questions, moral, political and religious were secondary. He had inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, Browning, Tennyson and Yeats, among others, have acknowledged their debt to him. His influence never ceased to grow. There is truth in George Saintsbury’s words  
          “Keats begat Tennyson and  
          Tennyson begat the rest”.

1 comment:

  1. very good, helpful, detailed article ......thanks :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

All Posts

A Fine Balance A House for Mr. Biswas Absurd Drama Achebe Across the Black Waters Addison Adiga African Ages Albee Alberuni Ambedkar American Amrita Pritam Anand Anatomy of Criticism Anglo Norman Anglo Saxon Aristotle Ariyar Arnold Ars Poetica Auden Augustan Aurobindo Ghosh Backett Bacon Badiou Bardsley Barthes Baudelaire Beckeley Bejnamin Belinda Webb Bellow Beowulf Bhabha Bharatmuni Bhatnagar Bijay Kant Dubey Blake Bloomsbury Book Bookchin Booker Prize bowen Braine British Brooks Browne Browning Buck Burke CA Duffy Camus Canada Chaos Characters Charlotte Bronte Chaucer Chaucer Age China Chomsky Coetzee Coleridge Conard Contact Cornelia Sorabji Critical Essays Critics and Books Cultural Materialism Culture Dalit Lliterature Daruwalla Darwin Dattani Death of the Author Deconstruction Deridda Derrida Desai Desani Dickens Dilip Chitre Doctorow Donne Dostoevsky Dryden Durkheim EB Browning Ecology Edmund Wilson Eliot Elizabethan Ellison Emerson Emile Emily Bronte English Epitaph essats Essays Esslin Ethics Eugene Ionesco Existentialism Ezekiel Faiz Fanon Farrel Faulkner Feminism Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness Ferber Fitzgerald Foregrounding Formalist Approach Forster Foucault Frankfurt School French Freud Frost Frye Fyre Gandhi Gender German Germany Ghosh Gilbert Adair Golding Gordimer Greek Gulliver’s Travels Gunjar Halliday Hard Times Hardy Harindranath Chattopadhyaya Hawthorne Hemingway Heyse Hindi Literature Historical Materialism History Homer Horace Hunt Huxley Ibsen In Memoriam India Indian. Gadar Indra Sinha Interview Ireland Irish Jack London Jane Eyre Japan JM Synge Johnson Joyce Joyce on Criticism Jumpa Lahiri Jussawalla Kafka Kalam Kalidasa Kamla Das Karnard Keats Kipling Langston Hughes Language Language of Paradox Larkin Le Clezio Lenin Lessing Levine Life of PI literary Criticism Luckas Lucretius Lyrical Ballads Macaulay Magazines Mahapatra Mahima Nanda Malory Mandeville Manto Manusmrti Mao Marlowe Martel Martin Amis Marx Marxism Mary Shelley Maugham McCarry Medi Media Miller Milton Moby Dick Modern Mona Loy Morrison Movies Mulk Raj Anand Mytth of Sisyphus Nabokov Nahal Naidu Naipaul Narayan Natyashastra Neo-Liberalism NET New Criticism new historicism News Nietzsche Nikita Lalwani Nissim Ezekiel Niyati Pathak Niyati Pathank Nobel Prize O Henry Of Studies Okara Ondaatje Orientalism Orwell Pakistan Pamela Paradise Lost Pater Pinter Poems Poetics Poets Pope Post Feminism Post Modern Post Structuralism post-Colonialism Poststructuralism Preface to Shakespeare Present Prize Psycho Analysis Psychology and Form Publish Pulitzer Prize Puritan PWA Radio Ramayana Rape of the Lock Renaissance Restoration Revival Richardson Rime of Ancient Mariner RL Stevenson Rohinton Mistry Romantic Roth Rousseau Rushdie Russia Russian Formalism Sartre Sashi Despandey Satan Sati Savitri Seamus Heaney’ Shakespeare Shaw Shelley Shiv K.Kumar Showalter Sibte Hasan Slavery Slow Man Socialism Spender Spenser Sri Lanka Stage of Development Steinbeck Stories Subaltern Sufis Surrealism Swift Tagore Tamil Literature Ted Hughes Tennyson Tennyson. Victorian Terms Tess of the D’Urbervilles The March The Metamorphsis The Order of Discourse The Outsider The Playboy of the Western World The Politics The Satanic Verses The Scarlet Letter The Transitional Poets The Waste Land The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction The Wuthering Heights Theatre of Absurd Theory Theory of Criticism Theory of Evolution Theory of Literature Thomas McEvilley Thoreau To the Lighthouse Tolstoy Touchstone Method Tughlaq Tulsi Badrinath Twain Two Uses of Language UGC-NET Ulysses Untouchable Urdu Victorian Vijay Tendulkar Vikram Seth Vivekananda Voltaire Voyage To Modernity Walter Tevis Webster Wellek West Indies Wharton Williams WJ Long Woolfe Wordsworth World Wars Writers WW-I WW-II Wycliff Xingjian Yeats Zadie Smith Zaheer Zizek Zoe Haller