Abrams Claims All Romantic Poets Are Centrally

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Abrams Claims All Romantic Poets Are Centrally Social And Political Essay, Research Paper Abrahams claims that the romantic poets are ‘centrally political and social poets’ discuss this claim with reference to at least two poets. When the background of the Romantic era is looked at, it can be seen that there were changes in thought and attitudes after 1780 that are closely linked with both the political and social attitudes of the time. We will be discussing how these changes were reflected in the works of the poets. Poets of all era’s have tended to write about what was happening in their own societies at the time. The word political seems to imply that things stand still, that the poets of the time wrote from the same stance all their lives, never changing their

views, however, Wordsworth who at one time dallied with the radicals, ended up campaigning for Tory politicians. For the purpose of this essay then, political and social will be taken to mean having an interest in the social democracy, freedom of thought and the surfacing moral conscience of the time. One of the key political changes of the time was a move to a democratic structure of society. This was fuelled by the American Revolution in 1776 and the French revolution in 1789. It was not only that England came under the influence of foreign revolutionary ideas there was also the rapid growth in population, urbanisation and periodic famines, social misery was enough to breed discontent and revolt. There was also a mixture of fear, misgivings and a growing social conscience among

the governing classes. The romantic era can be thought of as indicative of an age of crisis, even before 1789, it was believed that the ancient regime seemed ready to collapse (Harris 1969) Shelley gives us an idea of what is happening in the period leading up to the parliamentary reforms of the 1820’s in his poem England in 1819 he lists the flaws in England’s social fabric. Who and what he is referring to is blatantly obvious in the first five lines of the verse, if it is read in context with the time it was written. The “old, mad, blind, despis’d, and dying King” could be no other than King George, the “princes, the dregs of their dull race…” could possibly mean the Prince of Wales, however, this reader believes it to be referring to the old order, the nobility

of the time who Shelley says are “Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know, but leech-like to their fainting country cling…” again, if we read this in the context of the time the people were oppressed, hungry and hopeless. He goes on by commenting on the army as being a “two edged sword,” here he is obviously making reference to the Peterloo massacre in Manchester of 1819, thousands of people had met on St Peters fields for a meeting on parliamentary reform when mounted troops charged on them killing and maiming many people (Romantic Chronology, 2000). His use of metaphors ‘Princes as leeches in muddy water, the army as a two edged sword, religion as a sealed book’ leave the reader in no doubt as to how the speaker feels about the state of the nation. In the last

two couplet of the verse “are graves, from which a glorious phantom/may burst, to illuminate our tempestuous day” the speaker gives no clue as to what the phantom may be, however, given the blatant political bent of the poem its not hard to imagine that he is hinting at liberty through revolution. Wordsworth also wrote about the state of the nation in his poem London 1802 Wordsworth calls for the soul of Milton, saying that he should be alive at this moment of history, for England needs him. England is stagnant and seen to be selfish, Milton could raise her up again. Every institution is mentioned in the list of the vices of the era “England hath need of thee; she is a fen/of stagnant waters: altar, sword and pen” leaves the reader to believe that the altar represents