Why do Romantic poets use supernatural elements in their poetry?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem, "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey," focuses on natural elements rather than supernatural elements. The speaker returns to this natural landscape after having been gone for five years. Despite being gone so long, the speaker remembers the place well: 

Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me,
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: 

The speaker recalls how carefree he was in his youth. Now, he is burdened with some harsh lessons of life, but he is also more wise and able to appreciate, more thoughtfully, the beauty of this natural world. 

While here I stand, not only with the sense

Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts

That in this moment there is life and food 

For future years. 

The speaker will use these current memories for future inspiration just as he used his memories of five years ago. For him, the connection between the self and nature is a transcendent experience. It is one that he hopes will sustain him and his sister throughout their lives. 

In other works of Romanticism, there are elements of the supernatural. Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is such a poem. Some of the tenets of Romanticism are subjective experience, the primacy of the individual, and self expression. Coleridge creates a supernatural world where a mariner tells his tale again and again, as if in some wandering exile of an afterlife. In this way, Coleridge is able to present man's connection with nature (the sea and the albatross) in a dramatic way. 

Another Romantic work that uses elements of the supernatural is Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven." Poe's work is often considered to be Gothic or "dark romanticism." This is in contrast to Romantic and Transcendentalist works which focus more on the wonder of nature. What all of these types of Romanticism have in common is the focus on the individual experience. In Poe's case, he used elements of the supernatural to probe the dark depths of the human mind. Here again, we have a focus on the psychology of the "self." Romanticism is broad in this way of incorporating optimistic and pessimistic investigations of the human mind. 

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