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Early Romantic Poetry (1760-1789) John Constable, Stoke Poges Church, 1833, London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Presentation on theme: "Early Romantic Poetry (1760-1789) John Constable, Stoke Poges Church, 1833, London, Victoria and Albert Museum."— Presentation transcript:

1 Early Romantic Poetry ( ) John Constable, Stoke Poges Church, 1833, London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

2 The AGE OF REASON Realism and rationalism Reason Satire Common sense Imitation Interest in the known Interest in Ancient Rome and Greece Interest in towns Nature no more as something functioning according to set principles and ordered by man’s intellect ( remember the geometrical symmetry of the garderns) The AGE OF SENSIBILITY Imagination and symbolism Feelings Sentimentalism Pathos Creativity and originality Interest in the unknown Interest in the Middle Age and folk traditions Interest in the countryside Nature as something with its own soul, something to live in harmony with, a source of inspiration to be described as it was Relationship between man and nature Augustan vs. Early Romantic Age

3 Twilight of Classicism POETRY The poets still used an elevated language : the Poetic diction, but on the other hand they introduced new tendencies in contrast to Neoclassicism. only towards the end of the century it had a new lyrical impulse which led to the revolution of poetry at the turn of the century with Romanticism

4 Poetry was essentially reflective. New feelings, more intimate as Melancholy,coming from the disproportion between dream and reality, pervaded poetry. Early Romantic poets reacted to the social changes taking place in the country with a re-evaluation of rural origins and poor, humble people Meditation on death ( favoured by Methodism, that although based on hard work, also preached an awareness of the vanity of life) Main characteristics J. Constable, The Church Porch, East Bergholt (1810)

5 The “ Elegy” The poets were characterized a reflective mood, a melancholy that favoured long solitary walks in the woods or on the hills. Elegy is a kind of poem lamenting someone’s death or meditating on death in general In contrast to the most of the neo-classical writers only interested in Man as a social being rather than an individual with his own soul, they escaped in nature or in the humble life of the country people, rediscovering the pleasure of meditation.

6 Main representative: William Cowper ( ) with his main work The Task (1785). “ God made the country, man made the town ” Pastoral poetry George Morland, Door of a village inn, Late 18th century They Celebrated and praised country life for its simplicity, free from the corruption of urban life Described landscapes and reflected upon them. Nature seen as a source of innocence and delight

7 Nature was seen in its physical, rather than abstract details, no longer as static but in motion. The observation of nature included wild sceneries and led to reflections on the character of primitive man who was contrasted with civilized man. Rousseau: with progress man loses his condition of “bonne savage” and his state of harmony with nature John Martin, The bard, ca Nature

8 James Macpherson ( ) collected and published some of Ossian’s works in Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760). The authenticity of the work was controversial. A cycle of poems by a legendary Irish warrior, called Ossian, who lived in the 3rd century Wild, gloomy landscapes. Sense of melancholy and suffering produced by war or contrasted love. François Pascal Simon Gérard, Ossian, Ossianic poetry

9 The most important poet of this school was Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard ( ) Melancholy, death Choice of cemeteries, ruins, stormy landscapes as the setting of poems Time : twilight The tomb as a symbol eliciting contemplation of death and immortality. Interest in the humble people Nature- man relationship Graveyard poetry A hand coloured steel plate engraving from a painting by William Henry Bartlett of St Michael’s Church, Dumfries

10 Thomas Gray Well-educated he travelled a lot inspired by his best friend’s death of tuberculosis he wrote his masterpiece “Elegy written in a country churchyard” ” he was a neoclassic in his style : poetic diction, in imitation of Greek and Latin models. For him everyday language can not be the language of poetry But a pre-Romantic in his idealization of poor country life that conceals the denunciation of what poverty meant in terms of hardship, a meditation on destiny, equality, ambition.

11 Elegy – the style He uses the poetic diction(classical style):  Poem divided in quatrains  Fixed rhyme scheme  Iambic pentameter · Ernst Ferdinand Oehme ( )Ernst Ferdinand Oehme

12 Foscolo / Gray It inspired Foscolo’s Sepolcri ( ), but Foscolo, unlike Gray, concentrated on the function of the grave as a link between living and the dead, as a symbol of glory and a source of poetry and inspiration. Foscolo believed in the life after death through the memories of the living( corrispondenza di amorosi sensi), while Gray laments the hopeless transience of man and things.

13 Theme : Death destroying everything Gray interested in humble people, unknown with no chance of developing their talent Foscolo : famous people tombs encourage to imitate them

14 Solitary wandering, Melancholy contemplation Gray ‘s Pessimistic Melancholy looking at the men’s vices is softened in Foscolo who warned against the danger of surrendering oneself to Melancholy and loosing all power for action, but he also sang the “ voluttà del dolore” in Ortis, a pleasure in suffering Foscolo’s aim was to write a philosophical and political work in verses influenced by the wish of independence from foreign domination ( 1st half of 19th c.; Gray had published his Elegy about 50 years before)

15 Graveyard seen as a source of inspiration and teaching for the living Gray’s interest was to rural churchyards and showed sympathy towards poor People, unknown poets Foscolo ‘s interest was to the tombs in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence, he felt A communion with great poets ( Dante), a more heroic attitude towards death, a symbol of glory.

16 Communion Man - Nature Foscolo concentrates much more on the function of the grave as a link between the living and dead. This new theories came by Jean Jacques Rousseau: it is in primitive society that originality and inspiration flourished, free from the modern society Rousseau (1762) worked out theories which paved the way for most of the cults which were to characterize Romanticism: Childhood = wisdom and happiness The savage: man is naturally good, made bad by institutions, so a return to nature was advocated

17 In Germany “Sturm und Drag”(1770s) Goethe and Schiller


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