The Romantic Period began in 1798 and lasted until 1832. The Romanticism movement originated in Europe and is characterized by a heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the individual’s expression of emotion and imagination, departure from the attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion against established social rules and conventions. It is said that this period started with the publication of “Lyrical Ballads” written by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. William Blake and William Wordsworth are two of the most influential of all of the romantic writers.
They grew up with very different lifestyles which greatly affected the way they viewed the world and wrote about it. Both play an important role in Literature today. William Blake and William Wordsworth both wrote about the city of London, though they presented their views from totally different angles. William Blake wrote about the dreary ugliness of London life by taking a stroll down London’s streets, while, William Wordsworth wrote more about the beauty in London. This could be due to the fact that Blake lived in London most of his life and that Wordsworth did not.
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Both Blake and Wordsworth like to emphasize children in their poetry, for example, Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” appears to treat childhood as a symbol of the human condition according to his perspective. Wordsworth writes in a much different way about his physical surroundings and childhood, but nevertheless, still describes nature and youth as representing something more than simple trees, rivers or scarcity of years. In his poem Michael we read: “Careless of books, yet having felt the power Of nature, by the gentle agency Of natural objects, led me on to feel
For passions that were not my own, and think (At random and imperfectly indeed) On man, the heart of man, and human life” Wordsworth is suggesting in these lines that nature associates or leads to certain thoughts or understandings about human life. They both had hard lives at one point or another, Wordsworth when he lost his parents at a young age and Blake later on in his life when he had to sometimes live in poverty. This reflected upon their writing styles a great deal for example, Blake expresses happy childhood in his earlier poems and then they grow much darker as they progress and his “characters”, get older.
I believe this has to do with the fact that he had a happy, easy childhood and a harder adulthood. Wordsworth was probably a little stronger since he had to deal with the hardships of losing both his parents at a young age and they lessened the sting of other problems down the road. In all, Blake and Wordsworth have many similarities and differences. They have both used their life experiences to inspire their writings. By studying their lives and poetry it helps to show us not only the way they are alike and different, but also, how ones childhood can affect their whole life.