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Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Coleridge
Transcript of Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Coleridge
The Road Ahead
Byron, Shelley, Keats, (Coleridge)
He was said to have been extremely good-looking. Coleridge said of Byron that he had scarcely ever seen "so beautiful a countenance". BUT, he had a club-foot, which probably contributed to his drive to become a consummate athlete as a swimmer, horseman, boxer, cricket player, and fencer.
"Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage"
"She Walks in Beauty"
He inherited his title when he was ten years old. He lived a flamboyant lifestyle, had affairs with married ladies that caused scandal, separated from his wife (big no-no), and was said to have an incestuous relationship with his half-sister (even bigger no-no). He also engaged in homosexual relationships, but never identified himself by his sexuality.
After he caused many scandals, he imposed an exile on himself at the age of 28 and never returned to England. He went on to train Greek troops fighting for their independence from Turkey and died of a fever in Greece at the age of 35.
Byron's biggest contribution to the Romantic Era was the Byronic Hero.
What, you may ask, is a Byronic Hero?
Byronic hero: a mixture of good and bad, a brooding, silent hero who is an aloof wanderer, a moody, smoldering individual who is isolated from the common run of humanity; an outsider, silent, passionate, gloomy, and mysterious.
He's the rebel, the "bad boy." Examples?
Percy Bysshe Shelley
"Ode to the West Wind"
A rebel throughout his life, Shelley spent his time bucking the system. He was kicked out of Oxford for writing "The Necessity of Atheism", and he married Harriet Westbrooke to "rescue her from her father's tyranny". The marriage fell apart. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (author of
) was his second wife. He was said to have a sensitive nature, but his motives were generally misunderstood. He said of himself that all his good impulses backfired on him and were the source of all sorts of mischief. (Remember that first marriage?)
Shelley was viewed as a "Radical" and was not socially accepted everywhere. He, like Byron, exiled himself from England. He was drowned off the coast of Italy at the age of 29. In his coat pockets were two books, the Bible and Keats's poetry.
Byron said of Shelley, " he was the best and least selfish man I ever knew. I never knew one who wasn't a beast in comparison."
In contrast to Byron, who was known more for his social life, Shelley is considered one of the greatest Romantic poets, though no one appreciated his poetry until after his death.
John Keats (1795-1821)
"Ode On a Grecian Urn"
"When I Have Fears
That I May Cease to Be"
"La Belle Dame Sans Merci"
(All three of these Second Generation of Romantic Poets died young. Keats at 25, Byron at 35, and Shelley at 29.)
Keats never married. Most of his greatest works were done in a single year. He had TB and knew that he was dying.
While Byron and Shelley were both born into old, aristocratic families which gave them an opportunity to devote their time to poetry, Keats's father was a hostler (someone who grooms horses) at a London stable.
Keats was actually a medical student. His father having died when he was 8, he was sent by his guardian to private school. Then his mother died when he was 14 and his guardian removed him from the college tracked education and put him into medical school to work for a living, as opposed to writing poetry, for instance.
His mother had died of TB, as had a younger brother. His friends took him to Italy in hopes the drier climate would help him, but he died the year before Shelley. They were buried in the same cemetery.
He is considered another great Romantic Poet; many consider him the best. While other poets (like Wordsworth and Shelley) described objects, Keats
them with his energetic voice and style.
Ode on a Grecian Urn
"ever wilt thou love, and she be fair"
The Second Generation of Romantic Poets
(technically 1st gen. Romantic)
Romantic poet, literary critic, and philosopher.
Good friends with William Wordsworth. Major influence on American Transcendentalism; coined phrases like "suspension of disbelief" that are still used in popular criticism today. Clearly had an enormous influence on other Romantic writers (like Mary Shelley).
He suffered from bouts
of anxiety and was most
likely bipolar. These issues
contributed to his lifelong
opium addiction; they also
explain the dark themes in
the majority of his poetry.
known as a critic during his
lifetime, but his poems,
including "Rime of the
Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla
Khan", have been lauded as
some of the most influential
poetry of all time.*
"...Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.
About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.
And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.
And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.
Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung."