The Funeral of Shelley by Louis Edouard Fournier

The Funeral of Shelley by Louis Edouard Fournier, 1889. Pictured in the center are, from left, Trelawny, Hunt and Byron.

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Romantic poetry is poetry written under the impact of Romanticism. Romanticism was a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era[1] which began in the mid/late-1700s[2] as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day. Romantics favoured more natural, emotional and personal artistic themes.[3][4] Romanticism influenced all the arts, perhaps especially poetry.

In EnglandEdit

The roots of romanticism in poetry go back to the time of Alexander Pope (1688–1744).[5] Early pioneers include Joseph Warton (headmaster at Winchester College) and his brother Thomas Warton, professor of Poetry at Oxford University.[5] Joseph maintained that invention and imagination were the chief qualities of a poet. The "poet's poet" Thomas Chatterton is generally considered to be the first Romantic poet in English.[6] The Scottish poet James Macpherson influenced the early development of Romanticism with the international success of his Ossian cycle of poems published in 1762, inspiring both Goethe and the young Walter Scott.

By the dawn of the 19th century, poets such as William Wordsworth were actively engaged in trying to create a new kind of poetry that emphasized intuition over reason and the pastoral over the urban, often eschewing consciously poetic language in an effort to use more common language. Wordsworth himself in the Preface to the second edition of his and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads(1800), declared that "all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” -- though he adds in the same sentence: Poems to which any value can be attached, were never produced on any variety of subjects but by a man who being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility had also thought long and deeply.”[7] Wordsworth also emphasizes the importance of the use of meter in poetry (which he views as one of the key features that differentiates verse from prose).[8]

Although many people seize unfairly upon the notion of spontaneity in Romantic Poetry, one must realize that the movement was still greatly concerned with the pain of composition, of translating these emotive responses into the form of Poetry. Indeed, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, another prominent Romantic poet and critic in his On Poesy or Art sees art as “the mediatress between, and reconciler of nature and man”.[9] Such an attitude reflects what might be called the dominant theme of Romantic Poetry: the filtering of natural emotion through the human mind in order to create art, coupled with an awareness of the duality created by such a process. For some critics, the term establishes an artificial context for disparate work and removing that work from its real historical context" at the expense of equally valid themes (particularly those related to politics.)[10]

Romantic canon Edit

The six most well-known Romantic poets are, in order of birth, and with an example of their work:

Although chronologically earliest among these writers, William Blake was a relatively late addition to the list; prior to the 1970s, romanticism was known for its "Big Five."[11]

Notable female poetsEdit

Although the "Big Six" male poets remain the principal figures in English romantic literature, some of the best-regarded poets of the time were in fact women.[12] Notable female poets include: Mary Shelley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Anna SewardCharlotte Turner Smith, Mary Robinson, Hannah More and Joanna Baillie.

Minor Romantic poetsEdit

Other Romantic poets in England include Robert Southey, Charles Lamb, Walter Savage Landor, Ebenezer Elliott, James Henry Leigh Hunt , Thomas Chatterton, John ClareHenry Kirke White, George Crabbe, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Bryan Waller Procter, and Thomas Hood,

Outside EnglandEdit

Major Romantic poetsEdit

Writing in EnglishEdit

Writing in another languageEdit

Minor Romantic poetsEdit

Writing in EnglishEdit

Writing in another languageEdit

See alsoEdit


  5. 5.0 5.1 John Keats. By Sidney Colvin, page 106. Elibron Classics
  6. Thomas Chatterton, Grevel Lindop, 1972, Fyffield Books, page 11
  7. Wordsworth, William. Preface, Lyrical Ballads, 1800,, Web, Oct. 22, 2011.
  8. Wordsworth, William. The Poetical Works of Wordsworth. Oxford University Press. London, 1960.
  9. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. On Poesy or Art. Harvard Classics, 1914.
  10. Hume
  11. Wu, Duncan and David Miall (1994). Romanticism: An Anthology. London: Basil Blackwell, xxxvi.
  12. The Romantic Period.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. D. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt, 8th Edition. New York: Norton, 2006.1.

External linksEdit


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