Sunday, February 04, 2007

Chief Characteristics of Romantic Poetry (2)

d. Melancholy
A romantic is a dissatisfied individual. The poet may be dissatisfied with the circumstances of his own life, with his age, with literary conventions and traditions of the day, or with the general fate humanity. Romantic poetry is, therefore, often pessimistic in tone. A romantic may revolt against the existing conditions and may seek to reform them, or he may try to escape into an imaginative world of his own creation. Often the poet escapes into the past. The middle ages have a special fascination for him for they not only provide him with an escape from the sordid realities of the preset but also delight his heart by their colour pageantry and magic.

b. Love of Nature
Zest for the beauties of the external world characterizes all romantic poetry. Romantic poetry carries as away from the suffocating atmosphere of cities into the fresh invigorating company of the out-of door world. It not only sings s of the sensuous beauty of nature, but also sees into the ”heart of things” and reveals the soul that lies behind.

c. The Democratic Note: Emphasis on the inherent dignity and nobility of man
‘The romantics have an instinct for the elemental simplicities of life’. Their hearts overflow with sympathy for the poor and the down-trodden. They glorify the innocence and simplicity of the common man. They try to see the divine in Man, plead for this emancipation from all bondage, and claim equal rights and liberties for the humblest ‘The romantic poetry is democratic’.

d. A revolt Against All Artificiality: It stands for simplicity in theme and treatment
Not only do the romantics treat of the common man, they also use his language for their purposes. Thus, Wordsworth raised his voice against the inane and artificial diction of the 18th century classics, and advocated the use of the language of the common man for purposes of poetry. Wordsworth went to extend of remarking that there is no essential difference between the language of poetry and that of prose.

e. Their Interest in the Past Leads the Romantics to Experiment with Old Metres and Poetic Forms
The 18th century had confined itself to the use only of one metre, i.e. the Heroic Couplet. With the coming of the romantics there is a revival of a number of ancient metres, such as: the Spenserian stanza, the ballad metre, the blank verse, the lyric, the ode, and the sonnet. The revival of ancient metres is accompanied with a renewed interest in ancient English masters, Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, etc. who had suffered an eclipse during 18th century

English romanticism is thus both a revolt and a revival; it is a revolt against 18th century tradition and convention; it is a revival of old English literary models of the poets.