Lives and Works of the English Romantic Poets
Willard Spiegelman, Ph.D. Professor, Southern Methodist University
The verse of the English Romantic poets is as daunting in its scope and complexity as it is dazzling in its technique and beautiful in its language. Professor Willard Spiegelman illuminates masterpieces of English literature by poets Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron, as well as women Romantic poets.
His emphasis is on technique, on how a poem accomplishes its objectives, and on “how it means.” To this end, he meticulously dissects the poems, directing you to points of interest that merit close observation.
What Is Romanticism?
A much-abused term, Romanticism has at times been shorthand for “wild,” “irregular,” “gothic,” and “modern.” It has been associated with love of the exotic, revolt against reason, vindication and defense of the individual, liberation of the unconscious, reaction against science, worship of the emotions, return to nature, and so on.
These generalizations are not particularly helpful. Romantic poets never even identified themselves as “Romantic.” But we can describe some common concerns among them:
- They wrote about Man’s relationship to nature, which, with the universe, they considered active, dynamic entities. There is, though, a counter-desire to escape from nature and to deny Man’s connection to it.
- There is a concern with society and politics, and an idealistic notion that humanity can transcend its enslaving traditions.
- The Romantics were conscious of consciousness itself—of the power of the mind as a force for self-glorification and a seed of self-destruction.
The lectures focus on the poems themselves, and they also tell the story of six great poetic souls and the impact of their personae on their age.
These lectures are from The Teaching Company. Courtesy: Chinni Krishnan J B