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ENGL404: English Romantic Poetry

Unit 2: Mindscapes, Moods, and the Inner World   In Unit 1, we attended to the Romantic poet’s figuration of the outer world. We will now turn inward, discussing not only why the innermost thoughts and feelings of the individual seemed so central to Romantic poetry but we will also attend to the ways in which that inner life is represented and figured in language.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 11.25 hours.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 4.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 1.25 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 5.5 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
  - explain the Romantic focus on mindscapes, moods, and inner worlds; - list the defining characteristics of Romantic interiority and the Romantic subject; and - identify and describe Romantic interests in spontaneity, imagination, dejection, melancholy, solitude, mourning, innocence, experience, and memory.

2.1 The Inner World   2.1.1 Interiority and the Romantic Poet   - Reading: Romantic Circles Praxis Series: Dr. Theresa M. Kelley’s “Romantic Interiority and Cultural Objects” Link: Romantic Circles Praxis Series: Dr. Theresa M. Kelley’s “Romantic Interiority and Cultural Objects” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Dr. Kelley’s essay on the role of interiority in the Romantic period. Focus on how interiority comes to be realized by Romantics in their obsession with objects of nature, specifically ideas and discoveries within the field of botany, and how plants and the ecological systems were given more human qualities and features.
 
Reading the article should take approximately 40 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above, which may be found here.

2.1.2 The Legacy of the Revolution and the Romantic Subject   - Reading: Romantic Circles: Dr. Betty T. Bennett’s British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793–1815: “Introduction, Sections 1 and 2” Link: Romantic Circles: Dr. Betty T. Bennett’s British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793–1815: “Introduction, Sections 1 and 2” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Dr. Bennett’s Introduction as well as Sections 1 and 2 (paragraphs 1-52). What range of emotions did British poets register toward France before and after the French Revolution? What brought about the changes regarding the French Revolution? How did the French Revolution affect British politics in its own country?
 
Reading this article should take approximately 40 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above, which may be found here.

2.1.3 Spontaneity and Emotion   - Reading: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” Link: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Shelley’s poem. Focus on Shelley’s use of irony by which Intellectual Beauty comes to mean more than just the perception of aesthetic beauty. Also notice how the perception of Intellectual Beauty allows man to connect to the world beyond him.
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 20 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: William Wordsworth’s “Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree” Link: William Wordsworth’s “Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read William Wordsworth’s poem. In their poems, both Shelley (resource above) and Wordsworth depict the immediacy of one’s experiences in nature and life. How do you think the poems mediate and represent the spontaneity of emotional life?
     
    Reading this poem should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.1.4 The Concepts of Fancy and Imagination   - Reading: John Clare’s “To Elia” Links: John Clare’s “To Elia” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Clare’s poem. The imagination was a major topic of concern for the British Romantic poets. In what ways do these poems focus on the interiority of imagination? Why do Romantic poets tend to privilege the imagination over the intellect?
 
Reading the poem should take approximately 10 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: William Wordsworth’s “Peter Bell: A Tale” Link: William Wordsworth’s “Peter Bell: A Tale” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read William Wordsworth’s poem. How does Peter Bell’s tale speak to Romantic values and questions? What does Peter Bell perceive and feel, and why are those things important to Romantic poetry?
     
    Reading this poem should take approximately 35 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.1.5 A New Type of Hero: Byronic Heroism   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Byronic Heroism” Link: The Saylor Foundation's “Byronic Heroism” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the article. What are the prevailing qualities of the Byronic hero? Why did he appeal to people at this time who shared the same concerns with Romantic writers?
 
Reading the article should take approximately 20 minutes.
 

  • Reading: Lord Byron’s “Manfred” Link: Lord Byron’s “Manfred” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read Byron’s play Manfred. What qualities of the Byronic hero does the character Manfred portray? What are the motivations of Manfred? What are his struggles? How does he see himself as cursed or miserable?
     
    Reading the play should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.2 The Pleasures of Melancholy: Dejection and the Romantic Poet   - Reading: John Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” Link: John Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the ballad “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” This poem is modeled on a typical medieval romance wherein a knight yearns for the love of a woman. In what way, though, does Keats’ poem also represent the struggles and desires of the romantic poet? How is the romantic poet like the knight in his struggles to achieve something more idealized and abstract in his poetry? Even further, how is Keats’ knight like man himself, representing the more universal desire to attain something more infinite and ideal? How does the cold, terse apathy of the woman in Keats’ poem represent the failure for the romantic poet, or even just man in general, to achieve his desired goals?
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 10 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.2.1 The Beauty of Melancholy   - Reading: John Keats’ “Ode on Melancholy” Link: John Keats’ “Ode on Melancholy” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the poem “Ode on Melancholy” by John Keats. In this poem, how is melancholy a state of greater awareness?
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.2.2 Dejection and Solitude   - Reading: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode” Link: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Coleridge’s poem. How does the speaker’s emotional struggle register with the philosophical assumptions of Romantic poetry?
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 25 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: P. B. Shelley’s “Stanzas Written in Dejection Near Naples” Links: P. B. Shelley’s “Stanzas Written in Dejection Near Naples” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem. The Romantics were obsessed with solitude and individual experience. In what ways do the poems of both Shelley and Coleridge capture these Romantic concerns?
     
    Reading this poem should take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.2.3 Mourning and Loss   - Reading: William Wordsworth’s “The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman” Link: William Wordsworth’s “The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Wordsworth’s poem. How does this poem represent the ideas of loss and mourning - two themes that often surface in Romantic art objects?
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.3 Innocence, Experience, and Memory   2.3.1 Childhood: The Romantic Poet’s Invention?   - Reading: William Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” and “Lines Written in Early Spring” Links: William Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” (PDF) and “Lines Written in Early Spring” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read both of Wordsworth’s poems. Many of Wordsworth’s poems focus on childhood experience and the innocence and purity of children. How do these poems depict what it’s like to experience life as a young person?
 
Reading these poems should take approximately 20 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.3.2 Concepts of Innocence   - Reading: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” Link: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Coleridge’s poem. How do the subjective recollections relate to the natural environment the speaker witnesses? How does this poem unite subjectivity and nature?
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s “To a Little Invisible Being Who Is Expected Soon to Become Visible” Link: Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s “To a Little Invisible Being Who Is Expected Soon to Become Visible” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read Barbauld’s poem. Innocence was a major theme of this era’s art. How does her work depict the innocence of youth?
     
    Reading this poem should take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

2.3.3 The Language of Innocence   - Reading: William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” Link: William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Wordsworth’s ode. How does the speaker differ from the shepherd boy he observes? How does the speaker respond to the perception of his loss of innocence? What does innocence represent to the speaker, and what replaces such innocence?
 
Reading the poem should take approximately 25 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience” Links: William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence” (PDF) and Songs of Experience” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read Blake’s Songs of Innocence: Introduction, The Shepherd, The Echoing Green, The Lamb, The Little Black Boy, The Blossom, and The Chimney-Sweeper. Next, read Blake’s Songs of Experience: Introduction, Earth's Answer, The Clod and the Pebble, Holy Thursday, The Little Girl Lost, and The Little Girl Found. How do Blake and Wordsworth (previous resource) differ from each other in terms of style and attitude?
     
    Reading both sets of Blake’s songs should take approximately 35 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the terms of use displayed on the documents above. These resources are in the public domain.

2.3.4 Legends of Innocence   - Reading: PoemHunter.com: Mary Tighe’s “Psyche; or, the Legend of Love: Canto I” Link: PoemHunter.com: Mary Tighe’s “Psyche; or, the Legend of Love: Canto I” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read through the Preface and Canto I of Mary Tighe’s epic poem Psyche; or, the Legend of Love. The poem was very influential at the time, first for its lush imagery but later for its heroine who emblematized mankind, for she is thrust into a powerful position in life without the proper knowledge or understanding of what to do with that position in life.
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 35 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above, which can be found here.

2.3.5 Experience and Self-Formation   - Reading: William Wordsworth’s *The Prelude - Book Fifth* Link: William Wordsworth’s The Prelude - Book Fifth (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read The Prelude - Book Fifth. What statements does the speaker make about his own personal history, and how do they relate to the notions of subjectivity that Romantic poets shared?
 
Reading this poem should take approximately 35 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience” Links: William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence” and Songs of Experience” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read the Songs of Innocence titled, The Little Boy Lost, The Little Boy Found, Laughing Song, A Cradle Song, and The Divine Image. Next, read the Songs of Experience titled, The Chimney-Sweeper, Nurse's Song, The Sick Rose, The Fly, The Angel, and The Tiger. The Romantic period is often depicted as the age in which the self-authenticating individual bourgeoned and flourished. How do the poems from Wordsworth (resource box above) and Blake focus on the self-determining developmental subject?
     
    Reading both sets of Blake’s songs should take approximately 25 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the terms of use displayed on the documents above. These resources are in the public domain.
     

2.3.6 The Function of Memory in the Poetry of William Wordsworth   - Reading: William Wordsworth’s “The Simplon Pass” Link: William Wordsworth’s “The Simplon Pass” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Wordsworth’s poem, which is an excerpt from his work called The Prelude. How does nature register the subjectivity of the speaker in this poem?
 
Reading the poem should take approximately 10 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: The University of Alberta: Dr. David S. Miall’s “The Alps Deferred: Wordsworth at the Simplon Pass” Link: The University of Alberta: Dr. David S. Miall’s “The Alps Deferred: Wordsworth at the Simplon Pass” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Dr. Miall’s critical essay concerning the text. Relate Miall’s discussion to your own reading of the poem (from the previous resource box).
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 35 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: RapGenius.com: William Wordsworth’s “The Ruined Cottage” Link: RapGenius.com: Wordsworth’s “The Ruined Cottage” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Wordsworth’s poem. How does Wordsworth depict memory and grief more negatively in this poem? How does the wife suffer by living solely within her memories of the past? What are the repercussions from the wife’s inability to live within the present? How does the setting of the family cottage reflect the grief and sorrow of the family dwelling within the cottage? How is nature represented here in this poem?
     
    Reading this poem should take approximately 25 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above, which can be found here.

2.3.7 Love, Death, and Art: The Odes of John Keats   - Reading: John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode to Psyche” Links: John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (PDF) and “Ode to a Nightingale” (PDF) and “Ode to Psyche” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read all three poems by Keats. In “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” what does Keats suggest about the nature of art and time? In “Ode to a Nightingale,” what does the nightingale serve to symbolize? How is the goddess Psyche emblematic of romantic love, and how does love come to represent more than just the yearning for a specific person? In what ways do the three odes comment upon similar themes and ideas? Note: John Keats’ odes are considered to be among the finest English odes ever written, not to mention some of the most psychologically complex and insightful poems from the entire English Romantic Movement. These three odes are from a series of six odes that Keats wrote in 1819.
 
Reading these poems should take approximately 25 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: Dr. David Collings’ “Suspended Satisfaction ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ and the Construction of Art” Link: Dr. David Collings’ “Suspended Satisfaction ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ and the Construction of Art” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read Dr. David Collings’ essay. Relate your own reading of Keats’ poem (from the resource box above) to Dr. Collings’ discussion.
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 35 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource has been reposted with the kind permission of Dr. David Collings, and the original version can be found here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.