Romantic poetry might not exactly come to your mind after reading the word. It’s actually poetry that originated in the Romantic Era in Britain towards the end of the 18th century. This form of literature was in opposition to the mannered and scientific inquiry of the era preceding it.
Romantic poetry and literature defined themselves as being inquisitive towards nature and one’s own feelings rather than technicalities. They dismissed logic and focused more on sentiments, emotions, and imaginations. What many great poets of that time did was find similarities between their emotions and nature and celebrate it.
Most romantic poems are written in the form of odes, lyrical ballads, and sonnets. Why? Because these forms of poetry gave them the freedom to explore, emphasize and let their creativity and praise for humanity, nature, and beauty run free.
Let us now look at some famous poems written by Romantic poets.
1. “The Daffodils” by William Wordsworth
Seen as a classic of English Romanticism, William Wordsworth’s “The Daffodils” is a beautiful poem inspired by the time he and his sister came across a belt of daffodils while wandering a forest.
Wordsworth’s contemporaries weren’t impressed with this poem, and it received harsh criticism upon its initial release. The tide turned, however, and it is now considered a classic piece of poetry.
One stanza of the poem reads:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
2. “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Image: Literary Ocean
S. T. Coleridge’s longest poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which spans over seven parts, was first published in Lyrical Ballads
The poem is about a mariner who, while on a voyage with his crew, kills an albatross in cold blood. He feels remorse for his actions as he wanders the world. Eventually, he stops a wedding guest to narrate this story.
One of the most famous lines of the poem are:
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
3. “To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelly
Percy Shelly’s “To a Skylark” was inspired by a walk he went on with his wife in Livorno. The couple came across the song of a skylark. In this poem, Shelly compares the skylark to various things. To himself, to a glow-worm, petals, and even rain showers.
The underlying theme of the poem is how the skylark is unfazed by the idea of death and how this represents nature. Whereas humans are constantly at war with their mortality, other creatures are at peace.
A popular stanza from the poem is:
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
4. “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats
Image: Discover Poetry
One of the most anthologized romantic poems, “Ode to a Nightingale,” describes the death of the songbird that lives on in the poem. Although Romantic poetry, the work details the conflict between reality and ideal life.
Including a myriad of themes, the nightingale’s song is said to be connected with the art of music, death, and pain. Through the nightingale’s song, Keats realizes he has lost touch with the physical world.
Some popular lines from the poem are:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
5. “The Tyger” by William Blake
Image: The Guardian
Another of the most anthologized poems, “The Tyger,” was written by William Blake in response to the rise of the Romantic era. The poem discusses the Christian religious paradigms of the late 18th century.
Like typical Romantic poetry, this piece puts nature in perspective through the presence of the Tyger and the Lamb. Not only that, but his central theme also highlights the contradictions between innocence and experience. The poem strives for awareness.
A famous part of the poem goes like this:
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
We hope this helps you reconnect with some of the best romantic poetry ever written!