Romanticism and Romantic Poetry Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1130 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

In the works of Blake and Wordsworth there is a conflict in their views of imagination and nature on one level and congruence on another more subtle level. On the one hand, William Blake radically rejected nature as part of the temporal and 'fallen' world and viewed nature as intrinsically inferior to the immutable and eternal forms of the imagination; while on the other hand, Wordsworth viewed nature as a conduit of the imagination; a means by which we can apprehend the eternal forms and power of the imagination.

William Blake's was vehemently opposed to the rationalistic and scientific empiricism of his time that was expounded in the views of Bacon, Locke and Newton. The mechanization and scientific understanding of reality was, according to Blake, a perversion of the 'holy energies of the imagination'. The vision of the imagination that Blake suggested was radical in that it was a total vision of reality through artistic imagination, without any mediation from nature or other sources. For Blake the power of the imagination enabled us

To see the World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an Hour" (Keynes 431)

While symbols of nature are used in the above extract, Blake was strongly opposed to any veneration of nature or the natural; as he saw this as counter to the appreciation of imagination in itself.

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In Songs of Experience, however, Blake is close to Wordsworth's perception of the developing industrial world and its view of reality. This is symbolized for Blake by the Image of the city.

In Songs of Experience he clearly states his perception of the modern city as representative of a world that has lost the essence of life and imagination. In London Blake views the pathos and tragedy of a city oppressed by laws and regulations that reduce its inhabitants to mere cogs in a machine:

wander through each chartered street

Near where the chartered Thames does flow,

And mark in every face I meet

Term Paper on Romanticism and Romantic Poetry Was Assignment

Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

Songs of Experience)

One way of understanding the differences between the two poets is to view Blake's understanding of the imagination as being more 'active', while Wordsworth had a more 'passive' notion of the imagination. For Blake, imagination was the primary activity of the artist and he viewed imagination as a tool to shape and construct the world of our perception. Wordsworth's comprehension of imagination on the other hand is more receptive rather than aggressive and allows the images and forms from nature to shape the poetic flow and content. Both poets produced their work from a combination of outer and inner influences.


Keynes, Geoffrey, Ed. The Complete Writings, with Variant Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.



Songs of Experience. July 14, 2004.

Wordsworth's "Michael." July 14, 2004

Wordsworth, William. Selected Poetry. Eds. Stephen Gill, and Duncan Wu. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Romanticism and Romantic Poetry.  (2004, July 16).  Retrieved July 10, 2020, from

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"Romanticism and Romantic Poetry."  July 16, 2004.  Accessed July 10, 2020.