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The poets of the Romantic period were a product of their times. There was a surge in expression of the individual and his experiences and ideas. The focus shifted from the exclusive to the ordinary and this showed in the language that was used and subject matter that was chosen. Politically, there were upheavals in governments across the world and revolutions were taking place in France and spread to other states. Socially, and economically, the industrialisation of major companies ensured the rise of a new monied class that could afford an education and that pushed the old way of life out of existence.
The Romantic Poets lived colorful lives attracting as much attention by their social activities as by their poetry. Wordsworth and Coleridge advocated that poetry should be within the reach of the common man and wrote in simple everyday speech of people anyone would meet. They showed that the english language could be beautiful without recourse to learned allusions and mythological inclusions and traditional devices. Wordsworth wrote prodiguously and through his method of 'emotion recollected in tranquillity' could turn the ordinary things of each day into something poetic. Coleridge was gifted with the ability to create rhythms with ease and introduce a dream-like quality to his work. Keats, probably the most sensitive poet of England, brought a sensuous sensibility of feeling that was straight from his heart and the unshaken belief that he would be among the great poets of England no matter what his critics said. Shelley was intellectual and inspired and lyrical. It is said that no one has explained the way a cloud forms and dissipates as well as he has. Byron lead a colorful life and was misunderstood and maligned more than he deserved in all probability. He took society by storm with his good looks and poetry. As a lord, he took care of his inheritance with acumen and was interested in making a contribution in the government. Finally for undisclosed reasons he left England, tired of its insularity and toured the Continent before joining the rebels in Greece. Keats, shelley and Byron died young. But they made a mark for all time.
So much of what is accepted in our culture derives from the efforts of the Romantics. We think nothing of expressing individual ideas or valuing the opinions of others without basing our judgments on issues of class or learning.
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