“On the Discrimination of Romanticisms”
In the essay “On the Discrimination of Romanticisms” Arthur O. Lovejoy calls attention to idea that the term Romanticism may not be attributed to one distinct meaning. The term “Romanticism” encompasses many meanings that may be distinguished by genres and periods. Romanticism is characterized and influenced by topics like nature, the challenging of social and political norms, and religion. Lovejoy believes that romanticism should not be a general term used to describe the movement because it embraces so many concepts. Lovejoy then tries to further assess this by giving a historical analysis of the term “romanticism.”
Based on Lovejoy’s argument, it is clear that Romanticism is a term that is not easily defined. This makes sense because there are many authors that are included in the romanticist category but they are all different. If the authors were all writing and perceiving the world in the same way romanticism could be considered a general term. Since romanticism is fueled by the way the author perceives the world, romanticism as a general term does not encompass all that romanticism is described to be.
“The Structure of Romantic Nature Imagery”
According to W. K. Wimsatt, images of nature and life, and imagination are a part of the “specific blend” that makes up Romantic poetry. The nature images in the poetry are enhanced by the imagination to present a more expressive work. In this way Romantic poetry separates itself from neoclassical poetry which is considered but not constrained to logical expression. Nature in romantic poetry is free without restraints and artists are not hindered by rules. Because of this romantic poetry embraces emotion and brings the internal feelings of the author to the surface through metaphoric structure.
W.K. Wimsatt provides examples that present the distinctions between the Neoclassical, logical poetry and the poetry of romantics. By doing so he affirms his idea that romantic poetry is fueled by the expression and perception of the author. Wimsatt’s essay points out the way romantic poetry refutes logic and presents nature through the eyes of the beholder.
A Feminist Introduction to Romanticism
Elizabeth Fay’s A Feminist Introduction to Romanticism calls attention to women writers during the Romantic period. She does so by using a feminist approach that allows her to question women’s role in romantic writing and their lack of acknowledgment as romantic writers. With this in mind Fay believes that the most important works by women during the romantic period take the form of critique. Their political or social critique was different than males writers at that time because they invoked an emotion that allowed the effects of gender in relation to the critique to be included. She also states the idea that male poets got inspiration from female muses as females were considered in relation to nature. This causes a setback for women writers who were criticized for not being able to describe and express something that they were. Fay refutes this by saying that the women claimed that nature inspired them.
One thing that I was particularly drawn to in Fay’s first section was the way women writers of the period took on the form of critique. Fay points out how male romantic writers of the time tended to seclude themselves to write. As women, the female writers probably did not do much seclusion because as women they were secluded from societal and political workings of that time. Since they were already separated from society they could pose questions based on their social position that the male writers could not.
“Third Anniversary Discourse”
In “Third Anniversary Discourse” William Jones presents the idea that there is a connection between the Asiatic countries through the origin of the Indo-European languages. He explains that language originated in one place and spread through movement, experiencing a change in each place. Their connection is inherent in sounds and articulation. In relation to romanticism this discovery shows how languages connect people in an intimate way which is what romanticism professes to do.
Although the language relationship between some countries seems more valid to me than others, Jones’s connection makes sense because of the migration and nomadic lifestyle of early humans. The connection is also shown through the way some aspects of religions mirror others like the gods and goddesses sharing similar abilities.
“On the Poetry of the Eastern Nations”
William Jones argues that the poetry of Eastern Nations is more beautiful than others because of the beautiful environment that the poet is surrounded by. He explains that “beautiful expressions rise with beautiful images.” According to Jones not only is the beautiful landscape a factor, the lifestyle and languages also enhance the poetry. Poets that are not in the Eastern Nations are limited by their surroundings which makes their natural expression less attractive than that of poets from Eastern Nations. He also points out that through the exploration of Eastern poetry, Western poetry will be enriched which will open new areas of knowledge.
One thing that really stands out to me is his argument regarding the beautiful landscape and nature of the Middle East working in favor of the poets. Beautiful images may work in favor of the poet but the expression of that beauty is based on what they are able to experience or their imagination. The romantic period is one that may be characterized by the poet’s expressional perception of nature. The definition of beautiful poetry should not be dependent on the poet’s surroundings and instead on the way the author expresses and perceives their surroundings.
“The Correspondent Breeze: A Romantic Metaphor”
M.H. Abrams’s essay “The Correspondent Breeze: A Romantic Metaphor” analyzes the presence of air-in-motion in Romantic poetry. He draws on the idea that Romantic poets blur the distinction between imagination and nature. The correspondent breeze refers to the way air-in-motion like “breathing,” “breeze,” “wind,” and “respiration” function in Romantic poetry as not only natural forces but as metaphors for the poet’s inner expression. For example, Abrams calls attention to the way wind-harps are an instrument used in romantic poetry as a symbol of outer motion and inner emotion. He also refers to one of Shelley’s poem that is addressed to the wind. It moves from addressing literal wind to metaphorical wind of inspiration. As a means of comparison Abrams goes on to point out the way air-in-motion is used in mythological and religious texts in a way similar to how it is used in Romantic poetry.
I feel that Abrams’s essay goes along with the way Romantic poetry is described as a combination of nature and artistic expression. He essentially makes the point that air-in-motion ties man back to nature. Through the use of the poetic examples, he presents a compelling argument that expresses a connection between human imagination and nature.