1. Emphasis on presentation of individual subjective self rather than on social conventions or institutions, on inner not outer authority;

assertion of significance and active power of the creative imagination:

e. g., W's poet sits alone in a natural setting, speaks of ability of mind to perceive--"The eye, it cannot choose but see"

2. Interest in psychological theories, conscious preoccupation with human development and therefore themes of childhood, growth, maturation

e. g., "Anecdote for Fathers," "Reverie of Poor Susan," The Prelude (first British autobiographical epic poem)

related phenomena:

a. interest in extreme states of psyche, people who have lost, passed beyond, or never acquired the usual concepts of time and space


the supernatural

extreme or exotic settings (in W settings are remote and primitive, in Keats exotic and fantastic)

the unconscious (W interested in minds of natural "primitives"; Keats in presenting dream states, visionary trances)

b. interest in narrative and history--a recognition of how we develop through time. Personality created and defined by its history, e. g. Prelude, Keats' narratives, Scott's historical romances, a great upsurge of historical research and writing.

3. assertion of the feeling, emotional self as opposed to the reasoning, analytical self, as in early Wordsworth, "We murder to dissect" ("The Tables Turned"). Later Wordsworth becomes more abstract, concerned with analyzing (!)/asserting the signficance of these more elemental states of feelings.

(The division betwen reason and feeling is clearer in some Romantic poets than others--Shelley, for example, is a romantic poet with futurist, scientific interests and a bent for psychological abstraction).

reiteration of themes of sincerity, directness, simplicity, truth, use of motifs of friendship, sympathy, personal bonding and affection or its rupture by death or desertion:

e. g.: "Anecdote for Fathers," "The Thorn," "Expostulation and Reply," "To My Sister," "We Are Seven," The Prelude

Wordsworth seems most interested in relations of parents and children, Keats in themes of friendship and sexual love.

4. Attraction to less populated landscapes--these invite projection of individual psyche, a sense of union with natural forces rather than the social and civilized organization of the city. Johnson had writen about London; by contrast Wordsworth sees the city as a place of evil and temptation; in the Prelude London becomes hell.

This is the period of great landscape paintings (Constable, Turner). In both poetry and painting, the interest in landscape was associated with descriptions of humble life and occupations--Constable painted farmworkers on a hay wain, men riding horses or mending a wagon; W was interested in the kinship of laboring people with the land, a leechgatherer, builders of stone walls, and shepherds.

5. A belief in the processes of fusion and synthesis; the use of metaphors of harmony; the sense that all the arts and processes of life are allied--frequent allusions to paintings and music, especially ballads, popular or folk songs, the song of birds (W's woodland linnet, Keats' nightingale--birds have deep meaning through Romantic poetry).

A sense that there is a spirit of unity and mingling which interpenetrates, suffuses, and links all objects and life--the animate and inanimate merge in the chain of being.

Recurrent moments of unitive experience harmonize or explain life--in Lyrical Ballads, the poet feels these in nature, as the child in "We are Seven." Later these recur more consciously and self-analytically to the poet of the Prelude, for whom they come to embody and justify the meaning of his existence.

6. Romantic political orientation is important but difficult to define. Most romantics felt an identification with some form of what they considered a humble, natural life, and ironically this could lead to a sympathy with revolutionary movments (brotherhood of man) or to reaction (retreat to nature away from middle-class life of cities, opposition to all change including progressive reforms). Scott, Burns, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Southey, and Byron all felt sympathy with nationalistic or revolutionary social movements of their time, yet Blake, Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge became sharply more conservative with age; sincce Keats and Shelley died young there is no way of judging their later beliefs.

The common viewpoint may be a defense of the individual self against the social self of cities, institutions, alienation, and corporate man's cruelty to man; both revolutionaries and reactionaries are repelled by what they saw as the bureaucratic, piecemeal, mechanistic, compromising nature of middle-class liberal democratic reformist agitation.

7. The organization of poetry around central myths, images, and recurrent cycles (expressing the unity, infinity, and timelessness of life). For example: Keats' nightingale in "Ode to a Nightingale"; the stones, mountains and lakes in the Prelude

Wordsworth is almost impervious to mythology, though he likes metaphors of creation and birth; Keats uses myths with motifs of charm, witchery, and the supernatural.

This feature of Romanticism is one of those which has most attracted readers of modern poetry, and is seen as anticipating modernism, imagism, and symbolism.

Romantic form: Forms of verse are varied, shifting in structure, musical, and designed to reflect psychological states and to break down the rigidity of genre distinctions. The Romantics held faith in an "organic form," and in the significance of the "fragment" as an image of life. W employed outer shapes and forms, Keats, color and melody.