Romanticism, a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era which began in the mid/late-18th century as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day (Romantics favored more natural, emotional and personal artistic themes), also influenced poetry. Inevitably, the characterization of a broad range of contemporaneous poets and poetry under the single unifying name can be viewed more as an exercise in historical compartmentalization than an attempt to capture the essence of the actual ‘movement’.
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 colloquial language. Wordsworth himself in the Preface to his and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads defined good poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” though in the same sentence he goes on to clarify this statement by asserting that nonetheless any poem of value must still be composed by a man “possessed of more than usual organic sensibility [who has] also thought long and deeply;” he also emphasizes the importance of the use of meter in poetry (which he views as one of the key features that differentiates poetry from prose). Although many people stress the notion of spontaneity in Romantic poetry, the movement was still greatly concerned with the pain of composition, of translating these emotive responses into poetic form. 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”. 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 removing that work from its real historical context" at the expense of equally valid themes (particularly those related to politics.)
The six most well-known English authors are, in order of birth and with an example of their work:
- William Blake – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
- William Wordsworth – The Prelude
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Rime of the Ancient Mariner
- George Gordon, Lord Byron – Don Juan "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
- Percy Bysshe Shelley – Prometheus Unbound "Adonais" "Ode to the West Wind" "Ozymandias"
- John Keats – Great Odes "Hyperion" "Endymion"
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. Notable female poets include: Mary Shelley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Charlotte Turner Smith, Mary Robinson, Hannah More, Alice Trickey, and Joanna Baillie.
Major Romantic poets
- Albania: Naim Frashëri, Sami Frashëri,
- Brazil: Álvares de Azevedo, Castro Alves, Casimiro de Abreu, Gonçalves Dias, Fagundes Varela, Junqueira Freire, Gonçalves de Magalhães
- Bulgaria: Hristo Botev
- Croatia: Petar Preradović
- Czech Republic: Karel Hynek Macha
- Denmark: N. F. S. Grundtvig, Adam Oehlenschläger, Hans Christian Andersen
- France: Alphonse de Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier, Alfred de Musset, Charles Baudelaire
- Georgia: Nikoloz Baratashvili
- Germany: Heinrich Heine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Novalis, Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, Clemens Brentano, Joseph von Eichendorff, Achim von Arnim
- Hungary: Sándor Petőfi
- India: Mirza Ghalib, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Satyendranath Dutta
- Italy: Giacomo Leopardi, Ugo Foscolo, Alessandro Manzoni
- Poland: Three Bards (Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński), Cyprian Kamil Norwid
- Portugal: Alexandre Herculano, Almeida Garrett, António Feliciano de Castilho
- Romania: Ion Heliade Radulescu, Dimitrie Bolintineanu, Vasile Alecsandri, 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
- United Kingdom:
- United States: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe
Minor Romantic poets
- Brazil: Laurindo Rabelo, Sousândrade, José Bonifácio the Young, Aureliano Lessa, João Cardoso de Meneses e Sousa, Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre
- 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
- Pakistan: Jaun Elia, Parveen Shakir, Mohsin Naqvi
- 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
- Slovakia: Andrej Sládkovič
- Spain: Mariano José de Larra, Ramón de Campoamor
- Sweden: Erik Johan Stagnelius
- United Kingdom:
- England: Robert Southey, Walter Savage Landor, Ebenezer Elliott, James Henry Leigh Hunt, Thomas Chatterton, John Clare, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Charlotte Turner Smith, Henry Kirke White, George Crabbe, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Bryan Waller Procter, Thomas Hood
- Ireland: James Clarence Mangan, Thomas Davis
- Scotland: William Knox, James Hogg, James Montgomery, Anne Lindsay
- Wales: Iolo Morganwg
- United States: William Cullen Bryant, Joseph Rodman Drake, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., George Sterling
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