The French and American Revolutions had an enormous impact on the early Romantic thinkers like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The aristocracies that had been controlling Europe were beginning to fall, the middle class began to grow and power was increasingly falling into the hands of the common people. This may explain why the poetry that Coleridge and Wordsworth produced was aimed at the common man, rather than the educated aristocrats. This meant a shift from elevated language and subject matter, a common trait throughout the "age of reason", and a turn toward spontaneity and emotion, otherwise known as the Romantic period (Spartacus. school net).
The Romantic period, which consisted of the time between 1785 - 1830, can in a sense be synonymous with "nature poetry." Romantic poets often wrote about the beauty of nature, both physically and spiritually. A common theme throughout the Romantic period expressed how an individual must become one with nature.
The Romantics believed that: "ordinary language was the proper vehicle for communication of the soul, for a poet was ‘a man speaking to men.’ For Wordsworth, this meant rural and pastoral language, for he believed that the most important knowledge came from communing with nature. For Coleridge, it simply meant the language spoken by most people at ordinary times" (Abrams 8).
During this time, people began to question what the aim of poetry was. Previous generations had believed that poetry existed solely to change people’s behavior. The Romantics, however, felt poetry should exist as a pure form of expression, especially the expression of intense emotion. According to Wordsworth, in his preface to Lyrical Ballads, the defini...
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... in promise but not in performance" (Abrams 325).
Abrams, M.H., et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. 2 vol.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993.
Hill, John Spencer. "Critical Approaches to: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
Kubla Khan and Frost at Midnight." A Coleridge Companion. 1983: http://
www.uottawa.ca/~phoenix/comp4e.htm (9 Dec 1999).
Literature Resource Center: "Overview of: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and
Kubla Khan." Gale Research. 1999: http://www.pace.edu (17 Dec 1999).
Lycos.com: "Coleridge, Samuel Taylor." 1999: http://infoplease.lycos.com/ce
5/ce011814.html (28 Nov 1999).
The Spartacus Encyclopedia. "Samuel Taylor." 1999: http://www.spartacus
Schoolnet.co.uk/Jcoleridge.htm (28 Nov 1999).
Wordsworth, William. "Preface to Lyrical Ballads." 1802. New York: W.W.
Norton & Company, 1993.
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