Study Guide

Romanticism Texts

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Romanticism Resources

Primary Resources

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)
This collection of illustrated poems showcases Blake's rebellious streak. The devil is a good guy here. Need we say more?

William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794)
A collection of poems that grapples with many of the big Romantic themes: the sublime, nature, rebellion. And it's illustrated. How cool is that?

William Blake, "London" (1794)
Blake's poem about how miserable everyone is in London during the industrial age.

William Blake, "The Chimney Sweeper" (1794)
Even little kids are miserable during the terrible transition to industrialization. The poor little boy in this poem has to work as a chimney sweeper, for crying out loud.

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (1798)
The publication of this collection of poetry by the two friends marks the official beginning of British Romanticism as a literary movement. Yes, it's that important.

William Wordsworth, "Tables Turned; An Evening Scene on the Same Subject" (1798)
Wordsworth's poem "Tables Turned" is all about how wonderful the natural world is.

William Wordsworth, "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798" (1798)
Wordsworth goes to visit Tintern Abbey, an old wreck of an abbey in the Welsh country in Britain, and it leads to a bunch of deep reflections on time and nature. Surprise!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798)
A sailor tells the spooky tale of his travels. Lots of ice, and cold, and death. Brrrr.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "This Lime-Tree Bower my Prison" (1798)
How wonderful is it to sit underneath the shade of a tree? Really wonderful, as Coleridge shows us in this famous poem.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem" (1798)
Coleridge, along with his friend William Wordsworth, revolutionized poetry by making it more "conversational" and simple. We can see Coleridge doing that in this poem about a nightingale.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge "Dejection: An Ode" (1802)
Boy those Romantics were emotional. Especially Coleridge, who suffered from depression (the speaker's suffering from something unpleasant in this poem).

William Wordsworth "I wandered lonely as a cloud (Daffodils)" (1807)
Another famous poem by Wordsworth written in the hallmark Romantic style: simple and conversational.

Lord George Gordon Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812 -1818)
Here's a great example of the "Byronic hero." Childe Harold's handsome and rebellious and he likes to party.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni" (1817)
Lots of sublime scenery in this poem about the alps.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
Thank you Mary Shelley for giving us the questionably lovable monster.

Lord George Gordon Byron, Don Juan (1819)
Don Juan was immortalized as the world's greatest lover by Lord Byron in this poem.

John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)
Those romantics loved ancient relics. The speaker of this poem gets all hot and bothered looking at an old Greek urn.

John Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale" (1819)
The speaker of this poem wants to turn into a bird and fly away into the branches. Don't we all?

Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind" (1819)
Are we tired of odes yet? Nope. Here's a poem praising the wonder of wind and air.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (1820)
Shelley's play about the titan who brought fire to humankind by stealing it from the gods. Based on an old Greek myth, it's all about heroism and courage.

John Keats, The Project Gutenberg eBook, Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends (2011)
Now we can spy on Keats' personal life in these letters. Ain't that fun?

Secondary Resources

Stuart Curran (Editor), The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism (2010)
Loads of super useful essays on all aspects of British Romanticism, including Romantic poetic language and Romanticism's relationship to revolution.

Michael Ferber, Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction (2010)
If you want a less dense, easy-to-read introduction to Romanticism, look no further than this book.

Stephen Hebron, The Romantics and the British Landscape (2006)
Nature is a big theme in Romantic literature, and this book untangles just how big it is.

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