Role of Personal Experience in English Romantic Literature

1280 Words6 Pages
Despite their differences, each English Romantic writer’s personal experience functioned as a muse for their art at some point, resulting in works that describe observations they made, recall childhood moments, include other writers as either subject or addressee, detail moments of personal discovery and express an appreciation for their surroundings. In their writing English Romantic authors included observations they made about the world around them. Both of William Blake’s contrasting poems titled “Holy Thursday” reflect his observations of the tradition of poor children marching from charity schools to St. Paul’s Cathedral on Ascension Day. Blake expresses sympathy for the children in both pieces though his participation in the tradition was never beyond that of an observer. The children’s innocence is emphasized in the Songs of Innocence version with reference to “lambs” (86; line 7) and the use phrases such as “white as snow” (86; line 3); Blake’s feeling is again evident in the Songs of Experience version as the children are referred to as “Babes reduced to misery” (90; line 3). Similarly, Blake’s two works “Chimney Sweepers” were inspired by his observance of the regular practice of poor boys being sold by their parents into slavery as chimney workers. In his sonnet “The world is too much with us” William Wordsworth reflects on his first-hand observation of society’s materialism and the need to focus more on the natural and the spiritual. He sadly discerns that people are too concerned with “Getting and spending” (319; line 2), and that they have “given [their] hearts away” (319; line 4). English Romantic writers sometimes included reflections of their own childhood in their writing as well. Charles Lamb’s e... ... middle of paper ... ... 6. Letter “To Percy Bysshe Shelley” about Keats’ death 7. “So, we’ll go no more a-roving” 8. “Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos” 4. Coleridge, Samuel 9. “The Eolian Harp” 5. Hazlitt, William 10. My First Acquaintance with Poets” 6. Lamb, Charles 11. “Christ’s Hospital Five-and-Thirty Years Ago” 7. Shelley, Percy Bysshe 12. “Adonais” 13. “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” 14. “To Wordsworth” 8. Wordsworth, Dorothy 15. The Grasmere Journals 9. Wordsworth, William 16. “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” 17. “I wandered lonely as a cloud” 18. “It was a beauteous evening” 19. “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” 20. “Lines Written in Early Spring” 21. “My Heart Leaps Up” 22. “Surprised by joy” 23. “The world is too much with us”
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