Robert Browning

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How does Browning's work reflect Romanticism, particularly in terms of nature, the poet, self, and memory?

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Browning's relationship to Romanticism is a somewhat contentious subject but can be evinced in his fondness for nature, his focus on the individual, and the creativity and spontaneity in his poems for children.

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The relationship between Robert Browning and Romanticism can be contentious, with some critics, like Harold Bloom, judging Browning’s work in a Romantic light, and other critics doubtful about the association. Literary disputes aside, when one reviews his poems, it’s possible to make a link between Browning’s concerns and the primary tenents of established Romantic poets.

One element that connects Browning to Romantic poets is nature. In a poem like “Among the Rocks,” Browning expresses the kind of reverence toward the natural realm as standard Romantic poets such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Blake. “Among the Rocks” is charged with feeling and individual perspective. It’s a product of a specific viewpoint and moment as it’s occurring on a particular “autumn morning.” Emotion and subjectivity were key components of the Romantic aesthetic as well.

Poems like “Life in a Love” and “My Last Duchess” reinforce Browning’s interest in the self and feelings. As the poem’s title implies, “Life in a Love” focuses on the intense love between two individuals. Meanwhile “My Last Duchess” illustrates the distinct qualities of the Duke and the Duchess.

Even Browning’s work for children can be seen in a Romantic context. A poem like “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” expresses the creativity and spontaneity associated with Romanticism. Additionally, the poem features some remarkable individuals, like the Piper himself.

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