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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 late 18th century,[2] as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day. Romantics favored more natural, emotional, and personal artistic themes.[3][4] Romanticism influenced all the arts, perhaps especially poetry.

In Britain[]


The roots of romanticism in poetry go back to the middle part of the 18th century.[5] Early pioneers include Joseph Warton (headmaster at Winchester College) and his brother Thomas, 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 1st Romantic poet in English.[6] 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.

In 1783 was published Poetical Sketches, the debut volume from Romantic poet William Blake: the 1st English-language collection of poetry in which (as Blake expert S. Foster Damon has noted), "All the principles of Romanticism are to be found."[7]

Sonnets began began appearing with increasing regularity from the 1740s.[8] 1784 saw the publication of the 1st book of sonnets in more than 100 years, Charlotte Turner Smith's Elegiac Sonnets.[9] Smith's book achieved immediate success;[10] its unprecedented success set the stage for the appearance of sonnets in newspapers and magazines throughout the English-speaking world.[8]

5 years later, in 1789, appeared Fourteen Sonnets by Rev. William Lisle Bowles,[11] a former pupil of Joseph Warton.[12] Bowles's sonnets influenced many of the next generation of Romantic writers, including Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, and Southey.[11] The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica says of them that: "The Sonnets even in form were a revival, a return to the older and purer poetic style, and by their grace of expression, melodious versification, tender tone of feeling and vivid appreciation of the life and beauty of nature, stood out in strong contrast to the elaborated commonplaces which at that time formed the bulk of English poetry."[13] – a description that can be equally well applied to Smith's book.

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 2nd edition of his and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads(1800), declared that "all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” – although he adds: "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.”[14] 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).[15]

Although many people seize unfairly upon the notion of spontaneity in Romantic Poetry, it must be realized 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”.[16] 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 for removing that work from its "real historical context" at the expense of equally valid themes (particularly those related to politics.)[17]

Romantic canon[]

The 6 most well-known Romantic poets are, in order of birth, and with an example of their work:

Although chronologically earliest among these writers, Blake was a relatively late addition to the list; prior to the 1970s, romanticism was known for its "Big Five."[18]

Notable female poets[]

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.[19] Notable female poets include: Mary Shelley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Anna Seward, Charlotte Turner Smith, Mary Robinson, Hannah More, and Joanna Baillie.

Minor Romantic poets[]

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

Outside England[]

Major Romantic poets[]

Writing in English[]

Writing in other languages[]

  • Albania; Naim Frashëri, Sami Frashëri, Jeronim De Rada
  • Brazil: Álvares de Azevedo, Castro Alves, Casimiro de Abreu, Gonçalves Dias
  • Bulgaria: Hristo Botev
  • Czech Republic: Karel Hynek Macha
  • Denmark: Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig, Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger, Hans Christian Andersen
  • France: Alphonse de Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier, Alfred de Musset, Charles Baudelaire
  • Georgia: Nikoloz Baratashvili
  • Germany: Goethe, Novalis, Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, Clemens Brentano, Joseph von Eichendorff, Achim von Arnim
  • Hungary: Sándor Petőfi
  • India: Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Satyendranath Dutta
  • Italy: Giacomo Leopardi, Ugo Foscolo, Alessandro Manzoni
  • Montenegro: Petar II Petrović Njegoš
  • Poland: Three Bards (Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński), Cyprian Kamil Norwid
  • Portugal: Alexandre Herculano, Almeida Garrett, António Feliciano de Castilho
  • Romania: Mihai Eminescu
  • Russia: Golden Age of Russian Poetry – Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Fyodor Tyutchev, Evgeny Baratynsky, Vasily Zhukovsky, Konstantin Batyushkov
  • Serbia: Branko Radičević, Đura Jakšić, Laza Kostić, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj
  • Slovakia: Janko Kráľ
  • Slovenia: France Prešeren
  • Spain: Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, José de Espronceda, Rosalía de Castro, José Zorrilla, Jacint Verdaguer
  • Ukraine: Taras Shevchenko

Minor Romantic poets[]

Writing in English[]

Writing in another language[]

  • Brazil: Qorpo Santo, Sousandrade
  • France: Alfred de Vigny, Gérard de Nerval, Leconte de Lisle, Aloysius Bertrand
  • Georgia: Alexander Chavchavadze, Grigol Orbeliani, Vakhtang Orbeliani
  • Germany: Gottfried August Bürger, Ludwig Tieck
  • Hungary: Mihály Vörösmarty
  • Iceland: Jónas Hallgrímsson
  • Italy: Silvio Pellico
  • India: Suman Hossain
  • Nepal: Bhuwan Thapaliya
  • Norway: Henrik Arnold Wergeland, Johan Sebastian Cammermeyer Welhaven
  • Poland: Kornel Ujejski, Antoni Malczewski, Tomasz Zan, Wincenty Pol, Seweryn Goszczyński, Władysław Syrokomla, Kazimierz Brodziński
  • Portugal: Almeida Garrett, Alexandre Herculano
  • Russia: Anton Delvig, Wilhelm Küchelbecker, Pyotr Olenin, Nikolay Gnedich
  • Serbia: Sima Milutinović Sarajlija
  • Spain: Mariano José de Larra, Ramón de Campoamor
  • Sweden: Erik Johan Stagnelius
  • Wales: Iolo Morganwg

See also[]


  5. 5.0 5.1 Sidney Colvin, John Keats. Elibron Classics, 106.
  6. Thomas Chatterton, Grevel Lindop, 1972, Fyffield Books, page 11.
  7. Damon, S. Foster. A Blake Dictionary: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake Hanover, NH: Brown University Press, 1965 (revised edition 1988), 332.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Notes to Charlotte Smith, Sonnet XLII. Composed during a Walk on the Downs, in November, 1787, English Poetry, 1579-1830. Center for Applied Arts and Humanities, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. Web, June 23, 3018.
  9. Charlotte Turner Smith, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Aug. 9, 2015.
  10. Elegiac Sonnets and Other Poems, Loyal Books. Web, June 23, 2018.
  11. 11.0 11.1 William Lisle Bowles 1762-1850, Poetry Foundation, Web, Aug. 11, 2012.
  12. Notes to William Lisle Bowles, Sonnet by Mr. Bowles, Gentleman's Magazine 58 (December 1788) 1104. English Poetry, 1579-1830. Center for Applied Arts and Humanities, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. Web, June 23, 3018.
  13. Bowles, William Lisle," Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, 4, 344. Web, June 18, 2018.
  14. Wordsworth, William. Preface, Lyrical Ballads, 1800,, Web, Oct. 22, 2011.
  15. Wordsworth, William. The Poetical Works of Wordsworth. Oxford University Press. London, 1960.
  16. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. On Poesy or Art. Harvard Classics, 1914.
  17. Hume
  18. Wu, Duncan and David Miall (1994). Romanticism: An Anthology. London: Basil Blackwell, xxxvi.
  19. The Romantic Period.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. D. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt, 8th Edition. New York: Norton, 2006.1.

External links[]



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