Sir William Jones’s and the Romantic Imagination

Sir William Jones

Sir William Jones

Sir William Jones’s, though not a Romantic poet himself, discussed some of, what would later be, the defining characteristics of Romanticism in “On the Poetry of Eastern Nations” and “On the arts, commonly considered imitative.” One of the most defining Romantic characteristics Jones discusses is the exaltation of imagination and its transformative, creative powers. This idea is something that runs throughout Romantic poetry, from Blake, to Wordsworth, to Keats. Jones suggests that this “rich and creative invention is the very soul of poetry.” Jones further suggests that “contemplation of the most delightful objects” and contemplation of nature inspires the creative imagination, and thus the creation of poetry. These ideas would later become fundamental in the Romantic movement and essential to Romantic poetry.

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