Read this article to know about the characteristic features of Romantic Poetry in English Literature.
Main Features of Romantic Poetry
Following are the main characteristics of Romantic Poetry-
1. Back From Set Rules
The poetry of the Romantic Revival is indirect contrast to that of Neoclassical. In the 18th century, poetry was governed by set rules and regulations.
There were well prepared lines of poetic composition. And any deviation from the rules was disliked by the teachers of poetic thought.
The first thing that we notice in the poetry Romantic age is the break from the slavery of rules and regulations.
The poets of Romantic Age wrote poetry in free style without following any rules and regulations.
2. Interest in Rural Life
Poetry of the 18th century was concerned with clubs and coffee houses, drawing rooms and social and political life of London. It was essentially the poetry of town life. Nature had practically no place in Neo-classical Poetry.
In the poetry of Romantic Revival, the interest of poets was transferred from town to rural life and from artificial decorations of drawing rooms to the natural beauty and loveliness of nature.
Nature began to have its own importance in the poetry of this age.
Wordsworth was the greatest poet who revealed the physical and spiritual beauty of nature to those who could not see any charm in the wild flowers, green fields and the chirping birds. (Read A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth)
3. Presentation of Common Life
Romantic Poets started taking interest in the lives of the common people, the shepherds and the cottages and left the gallant lords and gay butterflies of fashion to the care of novelists.
A renewed interest in simple life marked the poetry of the poets of Romantic Age.
A feeling of humanitarianism coloured the poetry of Wordsworth, Shelley and Byron. (Read Summary of The Indian Serenade by P.B. Shelley)
Thus Romantic Poetry was marked by intense human sympathy and a consequent understanding of the human heart.
4. Love of Liberty and Freedom
In Romantic Poetry, emphasis was laid on liberty and freedom of individual. Romantic poets were rebels against tyranny and brutality exercised by tyrants and despots over humans crushed by poverty and smashed by inhuman laws.
5. Escape to the Middle Ages
Some Romantic poets felt irritated with the tyranny and ugliness of materialistic life of their age and to avoid the life of uneasy restlessness, they escaped from the problems of world to a world of beauty and joy which their poetic definitions had pictured.
In many ways, Romantic Poetry proved to be the poetry of escape from the sorrows and sufferings of worldly life and their times to the Middle Ages, where they found the eternal bliss.
The enthusiasm for the Middle Ages satisfied the emotional sense of wonder on the one hand and the intellectual sense of curiosity on the other hand.
6. Predominance of Imaginations and Emotions
In Romantic Poetry, reason and intellect were subdued and their place was taken by imaginations, emotions and passion.
In the poetry of all the Romantic Poets, we find heightened emotional sensibilities and imaginative flights of genius bordering on heavenly heights uncrossed by the poets of previous age.
Supernaturalism is another outstanding quality of Romantic Poetry. Poets like Coleridge and Scott gave a sense of wonder and mystery to poetry.
It was this supernaturalism that gave the atmosphere of wonder and mystery to the Romantic Poetry.
8. Endless Variety
In Romantic Poetry, we come across endless variety. Poetry of this age is as varied as the character and moods of different writers.
Subjectivity began to have its full play in the poetry of this age. The poets of this period were in favour of giving subjective interpretation to the objective realities of the life. “The Romantic Movement”, says William J. Long “was the expression of individual genius rather than of the established rules.”
In Romantic Poetry lyricism predominates and the poets of this school have, to their credit, a number of fine lyrics excelling the heroic couplet of the Neoclassical Age in melody and sweetness of tone.
11. Simplicity in Style
The style of the Romantic Poets is varied but stress was laid on simplicity. Instead of artificial mode of expression of classical poets, we have a natural diction and spontaneous way of expressing thoughts in Romantic Poetry.
Also read: Neoclassical Poets List