How is Romanticism used in William Wordsworth's poem "Perfect Women?"

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

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Wordsworth's Romanticism is evident in nearly everything he wrote.  "Perfect Woman" is no exception.  Consider the opening lines of the poem:

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleam'd upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;

In these opening lines, a couple of Romanticist tenets are evident.  The belief in the supernatural and a "negative capability"  of a world that lies beyond the sensory realm is evident in the idea of a "phantom of delight" and "lovely apparition."  The second line brings to light the subjective experience that was such a strong part of Romantic thought.  The placement of the personal experience as the defining element to construct reality was of vital importance to the Romantic thinkers who sought to personalize the expression of the world.  The ability to draw the parallel between love and subjective experience being both a part of this world and existing outside of it is another Romantic configuration of time where rational temporality is suspended in favor of the personal experience that configures time much differently.  The last stanza brings this out in using the present tense in the first line ("And now I see with eye serene") and the closing sentiment, "something of angelic light."  In this idea, the subjective experience that is such a part of Romanticism is evident.

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