Romantic Revival : in English Literature || Romantic Movement

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      The first half of the nineteenth century records the triumph of romanticism in literature and of democracy in Government. Newton's science and Locke's philosophy were important contributions to the eighteenth century ethos that made the literature of Pope and Dryden. The revolution of 1789 had violently shaken English thought and aroused liberal ideas in England. Moreover, Rousseau stirred up the red up the ideas which helped on a revolutionary movement in literature not less than in politics and in education. England assimilated the philosophical ideas of Kant and Hegal and the revolutionary ideas of the French philosophers which created the literary movement of Romanticism.

Romanticism in the broad sense meant individualism and the revival of imaginative faculty in the matter of literary compositions. Romanticism is described as return to Nature and 'the renascence of wonder'. It is the introduction of imagination and a sense of mystery in literature.
Romantic Revival Poet's

      Romanticism in the broad sense meant individualism and the revival of imaginative faculty in the matter of literary compositions. Romanticism is described as return to Nature and 'the renascence of wonder'. It is the introduction of imagination and a sense of mystery in literature.

      The Lyrical Ballads published by Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1798 inaugurated the romantic era. It is called the period of Romantic Revival because the glorious productions of the nineteenth century had a close kinship with those of the spacious age of Elizabeth. Unbridled imagination, the first joy of a new found power - the inevitable consequence of the Renaissance and Reformation characterised the Elizabethan and Caroline literature in the seventeenth century. But this spirit of imaginative enthusiasm was subjected to deep scrutiny and close criticism by the growing self-consciousness of the nation in the next age - the age of Pope and Johnson. During the eighteenth century, in society, in politics, in life and literature which is but a reflection of life, it stood for order, dignity, clarity and for a certain standard of grace and beauty of 'correctness' and decorum in expression, and for the smothering of all passions and emotions which came to be regarded as barbaric and genteel. Against this spirit the natural reaction was the second Romantic movement which was actually founded by William Blake and strengthened by William Wordsworth.

      Victor Hugo describes romanticism as 'liberalism in literature'. Wordsworth in his preface to the Lyrical Ballads boldly asserts "Those who have been accustomed to the guadiness and inane phraseology of modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to its conclusion will no doubt, frequently have to struggle with feelings of strangeness and awkwardness." Romantic movement thus made a reaction against the eighteenth century tradition of Pope, Dryden and Johnson both in matter and manner. It made a revolt against the so-called classical poetry which, delighting in order, grace, clarity and precision forgot the one thing which alone makes true poetry i.e, inspiration and imagination. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Byron broke away from the artificial tradition of certain conventions, stereotyped expressions, capitalised personifications, uninspired imageries, rhetorical arguments and rebaptised English poetry with the fire of inspiration and the water or emotion and sentiment. Revolt against rules, imaginative recreation or Nature and human life, love of the strange interest in the enchanting past, love ot Nature and re-interpretation of it as an important part of cosmic drama, increased interest in elemental feelings of common human beings, subjective emotion and subtle elasticity in style are the pre-dominant features of romantic poetry.

      William Wordsworth (1770-1850) endowed Nature with a' new meaning and significance. He wrote about familiar common subjects and gave them a light that was never on sea or land". He departed from the gaudy poetic diction and wrote in familiar language as far as practicable. His great contribution to English poetry was the re-interpretation of Nature as a vital entity, a speaking presence and an acting principle. Nature was regarded as exerting edifying influence on human life. Wordsworth through his poetry made a revolt against urban industrial civilisation and considered the evils of modern life as stemming from man's separation from Nature. He therefore made a fervent plea for return to Nature and wanted through his poetry to re-establish a spiritual kinship between man and Nature and thus to restore humanity to the glory and dignity which they had lost under the increasing impact of industrial revolution. In this nature poetry, he perceived the presence of a spirit that is immanent in Nature and the mind of man.

      His long poem, the Prelude and his poem like Lines Written on Tintern Abbey are eloquent expressions of his philosophy of nature. Wordsworth, again celebrated the dignity and beauty of common men. His poetry was written in the language of common men. In short, Wordsworth spearheads the movement against the neo-classical school.

      Coleridge (1772-1834) made the supernatural and thereby widened the scope of imaginative understanding. Coleridge introduced into romance a touch of dream and fantasy that increased its unreality and reduced the total living experience to the level of a mere groundwork for a supernatural thrill and a tenuous symbolism. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan are remarkable for evoking the thrill of the supernatural through suggestive details and witchery of language.

      John Keats (1795-1821) added to the basic quality of romance a sensuousness, a hunger and yearning for beauty in all its concrete shapes and forms, a sense of regret and frustration more poignantly felt because rooted in his personal experience. In his poetry he suggests a contrast between the real world of suffering and frustrations and the imaginative ideal world of dreams and desires and his poetry records his wistful yearning for the ideal world. Keats' romanticism lies in suggesting the thrill of beauty through sensuous pictures and expressions. His Lamia, the Eve of St Agnes, Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to Autumn show his romantic aspiration, his sensuous appreciation of beauty and the pictorial quality of his poetic art.

      Shelley (1792-1822) was the most vitally instinct with the pure essence of romantic spirit. He gave himself up most unreservedly to the impulse and inspiration of the romantic spirit. He had imbibed the explosive forces of the French Revolution and championed the cause of revolution and freedom in every sphere of human life. There is, however, a melancholy note in his poetry which springs from his frustrations and unfulfilled desires. He pined for an ideal world of beauty, love and freedom but he yearned in vain. His poetry is, however, imbued with optimism. He sang of millennium when evils of life would disappear like patches of clouds. Shelley's best qualities are revealed in his Prometheus Unbound, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark. He is a lyrical genius par excellence: His poetry is marked by melody and imagery.

      Lord Byron (1788-1824) is rightly described as a romantic poet only on the outer fringe of his consciousness. He was affiliated to the Popian tradition by his satiric spirit and adoption of couplet. Yet he possessed a romantic ardour which is manifested in his upholding the cause of freedom and liberty and in his zeal for expressing his ego-centric consciousness.

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