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Is Coleridge's poem "Love" the best example of the Romantic Movement of that...

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het | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 10, 2009 at 11:50 PM via web

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Is Coleridge's poem "Love" the best example of the Romantic Movement of that time?

Colreidge was started English romantic movement with William Wordsworth.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 11, 2009 at 12:11 AM (Answer #1)

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I certainly think that Coleridge's poem has many thematic elements associated with the Romantic Period.  The stress on emotions over reason, and the lauding of personal feelings is a critical component in this poem.  The lengths to which the speaker goes to woo the heart of his beloved is the driving force behind the poem.  This is evident from the opening lines and is its concluding note, as the speaker sings of his love and the feelings associated with her.  Another theme of Romanticism in the poem is the nostalgic view of past traditions such as Medieval times, as signified in the poem with the discussion of the knight, fighting for chivalry, honor, and "for ten years he wooed the lady of the land"  (8th stanza).  Throughout out the poem, there are references and allusions to the power of the natural world, another theme of the Romantic period of thought.

While it is a fair representation of the time period, I think there are other poems that capture the essence of Romanticism in a stronger manner.  One reason why this poem might lack in this regard is that it speaks of a love that exists between the speaker and Genevieve.  One of the critical elements of Romantic thought is the direct and universal expression of emotions.  In the Romantic period, subjective expression was released into objective reality.  The poem speaks primarily of the love of one person for another, while there can be universal application, it is not something entirely present in the direct reading of the poem.  For example, Wordsworth's poem "Daffodils" contains a personal and subjective experience (The speaker observing a field of daffodils.)  Yet, the theme of the poem is how this individual experience can be connected and reflected in a larger and wider scope.  This idea is not as prevalent in Coleridge's poem, "Love."  Additionally, I would submit that, contrary to its name, the best examples of Romantic Poetry are not so driven by the love between two individuals.  Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey," Shelley's "Ozymandias," or even Coleridge's own "Kubla Khan" are considered to be standard Representation of Romanticism and Romantic thought because these works do not focus so much on the individual experiences of one person in love, as much as they seek to broaden the experiences of life and living to a context that can be appreciated by many.  William Blake, a Romantic poet in his own right, wrote, "To see a world in a grain of sand."  This idea is critical to the Romanticist movement and is something that is not as directly apparent in "Love" as it might be in other poems of the time period.

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