The Romantic Movement

             1780 to 1830) was based upon the doctrine that an artist, whether in painting, sculpture or the written word, must constantly search out self-identity and seek for a reality deeper than convention and tradition, usually found hidden beneath the conscious mind. The freedom of inquiry and expression, hash criticism toward established forms and values, the use of symbols and metaphors to arouse pleasant emotions in the viewer or reader, and the power of the human imagination-all of these traits made up the Romantic Movement. And out of this came romantic poetry, drawn to a great degree from the above principles yet highlighted by an artistic reaction against all movements that sought to divide the mind from the soul. In essence, the romantic poet wished to return to the simplicities of nature and put aside the use of reason in his search for the absolute truth, being beauty itself.

             William Blake stood as England's greatest poet during the early years of the Romantic Movement, and his poem "The Tyger" symbolizes many aspects of Romanticism, especially through Blake's metaphorical arguments against the Industrial Revolution which many romantic poets considered as a quest to move away from man's status in the natural world. Blake compares the industrialized cities of England to a tiger "burning bright/In the forests of the night" (lines 1-2), a place filled with violence, poverty and loss amid the chaos of industrialization. Blake also refers to this "tyger" has having "fearful symmetry" (Lawall, line 4, 786), a reference to the architectural nature of the city with ancient buildings set against factories that belch out black smoke and "burn bright" in the darkness of the industrialized forest. Obviously, Blake, like his romantic contemporaries, wished for man to return to his natural roots and thus be able to bring together his mind and soul as one entity.

             William Wordsworth was another great English romantic poet, yet unlike Blake, his focus seems to have been on a desire to express his own emotional reactions to the world around him, thus bringing about pure symbolic representations of beauty in all its varied forms.

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