Critical Purview of Romanticism: Renaissance of Wonder, Subjectivity, Emotional and Imaginative , Free Human Spirit

The term ' Romanticism ' has been variously defined by different critics Walter Pater calls it ' the addition of strangeness to beauty '. Watts Dunton defines it as the renaissance of wonder. Abercrombie, on the other hand, stresses the subjective element of romanticism, and writes, ' Romanticism is a withdrawal outer experience to concentrate upon inner experience '. Legouis and Cazamian emphasize both the emotional and imaginative aspects of romanticism and point out the ' accented predominance of emotional life, provoked and directed by the exercise of the imaginative vision '. The Romantic Movement, says W. J. Long, ' was marked and is always marked by a strong reaction and protest against the bondage of rule and custom which in science and theology as well as in literature, generally tend to fetter the free human spirit '. So victor Hugo rightly defines romanticism as ' liberalism in literature '.

Romantic Movement made a reaction against the 18th century tradition of pope, Dryden and Johnson both in matter and manner. It made a revolt against the so - called classical poetry which. Delighting in order, grace, clarity and precision forgot the one thing that alone makes tune poetry, that is, inspiration and imagination. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Byron broke away from the artificial tradition of certain convention, stereotyped expressions, capitalized personifications, uninspired imageries, rhetorical arguments, and rebaptised English poetry with the fire of inspiration and the essence of emotion and sentiment. Revolt against rules, imaginative recreation of Nature and human be, Love of Nature and re -interpretation of it as an important part of comic drama, increased interest in elemental feelings of common human beings, subjective emotion and subtle elasticity in style are the predominant features of romantic poetry.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Romantic Movement is the increased attention paid to Nature. Previous poets either entirely ignored nature introduced it occasionally as a background to man. Wordsworth and Shelly saw something more than the mere objective phenomena. They saw an inner spirit; they felt a vital personality; they realized a super sensual sense in Nature. Or along with a subtle perception of natural beauty there grow up a desire to seek the remote and the christen which is showed with the haze of a strangely mysterious atmosphere. It is this which led Coleridge to lose himself in the supernatural atmosphere of the Ancient Mariner, or the haunting mystery of kubla khan, and which made Keats construct with intense imaginative power the mediaeval magic world of La Della Dame Sans Merci. To a romantic poet, every single fact is veritably unique. While he is contemplating it, there is nothing like it. To Wordsworth, there is no bridge like the Westminster Bridge; to Keats there is no so like that of the Nightingale. A romantic poet colours the world with is own glorious fancy, and then contemplates it with a childlike wonder at its freshness and beauty.

The romantic element in Keats appears in his handing of subjects, whether taken from Greek mythology or mediaeval legend. His most classical poem Ode on a Grecian Urn combines the elements of romance and Hellenism in a fine manner; and everywhere his worship of beauty adds a peculiar element of attraction. Again, his Ode to a Nightingale mixes Romance and Nature in an equally characteristic manner, Give the song of the bird is heard thrilling through ' fairy Lands for long '. Like Scott, Keats was fascinated by the spectacular aspects of the Middle Ages --their pomp , pageantry , magic , enchantment , adventure ,love , Chivalry, etc . Among his poems giving a vivid recreation of medieval life is The Eve of St. Agnes, The Eve of St. Mark and La Belle Dame Sans Merci . Besides medievalism, it was the religion of beauty he shared with the Greeks that gave him their artistic sense required to incarnate the spirit of Nature. The Greek mythologies exerted a rare fascination over him and inspired him to his best works --Endymion , Lamia, Hyperion , and to plentiful allusions to classical themes . The influence of Greek sculpture is evident in the sonnet on the Elgin Marbles. There was more than one channel though which Hellenism style into Keats’s work --literature, sculpture and instinct.

Keats also represents the Return to Nature. He loves nature for the sensuous pleasures she gives, and not for the spiritual significance or intellectual message she bears. Where Wordsworth spiritualizes, and Shelly intellectualizes Nature, Keats is content to express her through the senses. The colour , the scent , the touch , the pulsing music -- these are the things that steer him to his depths ; there is not a mood of Earth that he does not love , not a season that will not cheer and inspire him . To him as to the ancient Greeks, holy are the haunted boughs; holy are the water, air and fire. This Nature appreciation is best recorded in his Ode to Autumn.

Keats adds to the basic quality of romance sensuousness, a yearning for beauty in all its concrete shapes and farms, a sense of regret and frustration more poignantly felt because rooted in his personal experiences. He suggests a contrast between the real world of suffering and the imaginative ideal world of dreams and desires. His romanticism lies in suggesting the thrill of beauty through sensuous pictures and expressions. His Lamia,The Eve of St. Agncs , Ode to a Nightingale , Ode on a Grecian Urn and Ode to Autumn show his romantic aspiration his sensuous appreciation of beauty and the pictorial quality of his poetic art .   

Ardhendu De