ROMANTIC STRAIN IN AMERICAN AND BRITISH POETRY: A VIEW

United Arab Emirates, ID LLCE2015-104

    The romantic strain in American literature, as a natural corollary of the American experience, pre-dates the Romantic Movement in Europe.  The sense of wonder and awe before nature's majesty was a universal response in America. Unlike the romantic view of nature in Europe, the American portrayal of nature has never been one of unmixed approval.  The sinister and destructive elements in nature which, often escape the notice of the British Romantics, form an essential part of the American response. Rarely does the American poet visualize himself coalescing with nature. The romantic has a choice, either to see nature as bearing an affinity to man or to see it without affinity.  His realization of nature thus becomes an act of will and of awareness. A poet's attitude towards nature is shaped by his personal experience and outlook. It regards history not as a predetermined course of vast, impersonal forces but as a stream of events man can direct and dominate. The greater the hiatus between the social norms and the self-awareness of the romantic individual, the more did they rely on their own impulses and intuitions.

    The romantic poets uphold passionately the cause of the Revolution. Wordsworth sympathizes instinctively with the poor dwellers of the countryside.  Blake and Shelley create potent, cosmic symbols in their schemes for the liberation of the whole mankind.  Even Keats, who was an unabashed aesthete in his early poetry, comes to realize the futility of by-passing important human issues in the sphere of art.  However, the romantic concept of happiness is not purely materialistic or mundane.  Inspired by Rousseau's ideas, the romantic poet holds up as his goal a state of life where man will achieve happiness by living in close contact with nature.  For the romantic poet there are no barriers between man's uncorrupted self and the pristine world of nature. While the romantic poet is enthusiastic about the political liberty of mankind, he also seeks spiritual freedom by going back to nature.  He explores hidden sources of strength in nature and in his own mind in order to resist the onrush of materialism and realize an ideal concept of humanity.

    The revolutionary ardour derived from the French Revolution could not act as a lasting source of inspiration for the Romantics owing to the partial failure and perversion of the ideal in the land of its origin and the inherent frailty of all such ideals pursued with blind passion. In the romantic credo, the individual, in his search for knowledge, truth or reality, must  pass through uncharted realms of experience, spurning all ready-made answers to multi-faceted problems.  The Romantics sought to explore reality as observed and perceived by the self. To the Romantics, nature has the ability to arouse and purify human emotions.  They discover an analogy between nature's gentle aspects and human disposition.

Keywords: corollary, sinister, affinity, hiatus, mundane, pristine, credo, spurning, analogy