How did the poetry of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, and Shelley reflect the attitudes, values, and issues of the Romantic age?
The Romantic Age reconnected human experience with Nature’s rhythms, which after the so-called Age of Reason had been neglected in favor of human will power and human capabilities of thinking (reasoning). These five poets gave voice to Nature’s power over the emotions of Man, over the feelings that Man brought to the social mix of human activities. Starting with Wordsworth and Coleridge’s manifesto of Romanticism, the Preface to Lyrical Ballads states that “Poetry is the overflow of powerful emotion recollected in tranquility.” Every poem in that first collection can be cited as an example of that tenet. Shelley and Keats (and with some minor variations, Byron) voiced the application of those principles in their lifelong output, using close contact with Nature, especially the sea and the English countryside, to express the feelings people have for each other (which is why “romantic” took on the connotation of love attraction). A classic example of “Romantic poetry” is Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality.”