Romantic Characteristics in Wordsworth’s Poetry

Romantic Traits in Wordsworth's Poetry

English Romantic Poets: Poetry the dominant literary form during this period

William Wordsworth/Coleridge – launched the Romantic Era  (in older years sank into conservatism and complacency)

Romantic Era: Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotions.  It takes its origins from emotions recollected in tranquility.  Emphasis on emotions was central to this era.

Characteristics of Wordsworth’s Romantic Poetry


  1. Simple ideals


  1. Reverence for nature (frequently described as a nature poet) Romantic poets view of natural – not to be tamed and analyzed scientifically (wild, free force that could inspire poets to spiritual understanding.  “Nature” poems natural scenes serve as a stimulus to the most characteristic human activity – thinking.  (Meditative poems – scene usually serves to raise an emotional problem or personal crisis).


  1. Intensity of feeling (younger years)


  1. Romantic poems, permeate the landscape with human life, passion, expressiveness.




II. Wordsworth


  1. Grew up in rustic society 4/7/1770


  1. Played outdoors in what he remembered as pure communion with nature.


  1. Troubled by Rationalism, Industrialism, and the French Revolution.  (This clashed with a softer more emotional side).


  1. This caused a revolution in English literature – formulated his own understanding of the world and human mind.


  1. Stressed importance of childhood in adult psyche (from childhood some memory of the former purity and glory in which they live remains in adulthood – this is best perceived in the solemn and joyous relationship between child and nature.)




III.  Wordsworth’s Style


  1. Plain spoken


  1. Easy to understand


  1. Images/metaphors mixed with natural scenery


  1. Religious symbolism


  1. Relics of Wordsworth’s rustic childhood


  1. Heart-felt emotions


  1. Iambic pentameter (sonnets), iambic tetrameter, and iambic trimester with varying rhyme schemes.


IV. Poetic Forms used by Wordsworth


  1. Lyric Poetry – expresses a great range of speaker’s personal thoughts or feelings (elegy-ode-sonnet are all lyric forms).  Originally sung by the accompaniment of a lyre.


  1. Lyrical Ballads – story told in verse usually meant to be sung.  First published in 1708 (1800-1802 different editions written).  Unlike anything before it.  Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotion.  Changed the course of English poetry.


  1. wrote in simple language of the common people rather than lofty and elaborate diction.


  1. telling concrete stories of their lives


  1. emphasis on feeling, simplicity, and the pleasure of beauty over rhetoric ornament


  1. poetry should access emotions constrained in memory


  1. feeling and instinct above formality and mannerism


  1. incorporated human passions with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature.


  1. Sonnets (Petrachan) Francesco Petrarch (Italian) – 300 poems to a woman named Laura.


  1. 4 line lyric poem usually written in rhymed iambic pentameter (lines of 10 syllables with a stress on every other syllable).  Shakespeare also used this technique.


  1. Petrarchan: originated in Italy in the 13thcentury.


–          2 parts: (octave) – 1st eight lines


(sestet) – last six lines


–          rhymed abba


abba   (octave)




cde     (sestet)


–          2 parts play off each other


  1. octave sometimes raises a question and sestet answers


  1. octave comments/sestet opposes or extends comment.


  1. Usually express a single theme or idea.

Also Read:

Other feet Other meters
1 = mono U/     – iambic
2 = di /U     – trochaic
3 = tri UU/  – anapestic
4 = tetra /UU  – dactylic
5 = pent
6 = hex
7 = hept
8 = oct


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