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Georgian Era Poetry

The Georgian Era in the history of England is the time period between 1714 to 1830. It begins with the German speaking King George I taking the throne and ends with the death of King George IV. This period is highly relevant in the history of England not only for the political changes that were experienced but also the social and technological changes that made England a modern society.

The Georgian Era was a time of change and the change that was experienced by the people on a social level is very well documented by the literature of that time.

The satirical and didactic court poetry of Dryden and Pope had become a thing of the past and people were embracing the fresh style of expression. The poetry of the Georgian Era, hence, is highly inspired by the romantic movement and the social changes in England.

A Georgian Era Poetry Publication
A Georgian Era Poetry Publication

Romanticism in Poetry of the 18th Century

When King George I took the throne of England, Dryden had already died and Pope was in the final years of his life. This meant that the poetic legacy of these two writers was about to come to an end and a new wave of poetic ideas was beginning to take over the country. The developments in modes of transportation had made it possible for people to travel to other countries in Europe and also get ideas from there.

One of the ideas that the British men were able to learn from their travels to various European countries, especially France and Italy, was that of Romanticism. Romanticism is a concept that talks about a return to nature and towards the 18th century, it had become an intellectual movement in most European countries, including England.

Industrialization was a factor for the Return to Nature Movement
Industrialization was a factor for the Return to Nature Movement

The previous century had given technological advancements to the people. Industrialization was at its rise and there were many intellectuals that pointed out that the rate at which England is embracing modernization will mar the authenticity of the culture. The Romantic Movement emerged as a reaction against all of that and proclaimed that enlightenment cannot be obtained in isolation with nature.

As the Romantic movement started to spread across Europe as an idea, more and more people started to appreciate it. Consequently, by the 18th century, it had become a very important theme of the art and poetry that was being produced in England. Many writers came up that shaped this idea according to their own sensibilities and most of them were appreciated by the readers as well as critics.

Famous Poems written during the Georgian Era

Towards the concluding years of 18th century, Romanticism was a full-fledged movement in England. Many earlier poets had presented their ideas through their poems and by the end of the century, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley were born.

In 1798, Lyrical Ballads was published and became an overnight success. It was a collection of poems by the pioneers of Romantic poetry in English- Wordsworth and Coleridge. This collection had the most famous works of both of these poets and presented the idea of romanticism in poetry at its best.

Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads

The most famous poem of this collection was Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge. This long poem, along with the three others that he contributed to the collection, became an example of romantic poetry.

It narrates the story of a sailor and the mysterious circumstances that he had to face while on a sea voyage. The poem is acknowledged for its surrealism, metaphors and the writing style which reflects not only the external journey of the mariner but also the way it has helped him change as a person.

Wordsworth also made an important contribution to the poetry of these times through this collection. His 23 works of poetry and prose in the collection talk about poetry as a form of art that reflects life. He argues that because poetry is a representation of life, it should talk about the common people.

he demanded that poetry should talk about the rustic and common life of the lower classes that form the majority of the population of the country. He also proposed that the language in which poetry should be composed should not be formal. Instead, poems should be composed in the language of the masses.

These ideas proposed a new style of poetry. It was not dependent on words and vocabulary. Instead, it focused on creating a mood through developing scenes and by the use of metaphors. Gradually, many more poets came up and adopted this style and presented it in their own way.

As the Georgian Era approached an end, great poems like Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to the West Wind, Kubla Khan, Ozymandias and She Walks in Beauty had been composed. The style of poetry that was developed during this era was also followed by poets for many years even after the Georgian Era had come to an end.