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The Problems of Life and Death in Romantic Poetry
Dr. Salah Mahajna Romanticism is essentially the emphasis upon the individual effort to
escape from the world of conventions and social control. There are two great avenues of such escape - External nature on the one hand, and man's nature and imagination on the other.
In the age of Romanticism literature springs from two main sources: emotion and imagination. Emotion is a feeling of the human heart when intensely stirred by sad, beautiful, comic or tragic happenings. Imagination is the ability of the mind to picture vividly scenes or happenings that either do not exist or have never actually been seen.
Romanticism is associated with vitality, powerful emotions, dreams like ideas and unusual individualism. The key word for romanticism is freedom to give reign to one's emotions and dreams. Wordsworth is an example of the romanticist whose main concern is himself .He wrote in his famous Preface: "all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings". The poet to a romanticist is "a man pleased with his own passions ". Keats knew this when he cried " O far a life of sensations rather than of thought". Pierre Charles Baudelaire, the French romanticist, expressed his own point of view saying" one should always be drunk ……. it is time to seek intoxication. That you may not be the slave of time , drink without ceasing ……. of wine , of poetry, of virtue , as you may wish ."
Death was one of the main problems occupying romantic poets. They were struggling with the idea of life and death, and trying to solve
the problem of the mystery of death. Wordsworth is the one with whom death seems to dominate poetry less
than with the others, though in "Intimations of I Mortality " you find this problem the subject of the Ode. Death, as the poet explained in this poem, is then nothing but a return to a more complete and more satisfactory existence. Life is an existence of isolation, and of no intrinsic value, whereas death is
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perfection, and man can submerge himself again in nature, and become part of the universe.
With Shelley the obsession of death was extraordinary. He saw in it the perfect state, the stage of ultimate and peaceful happiness, and his short life saw him occupied with the thought of death in every poem he wrote. In his "Ode to the Westwind " this longing for death -is one of the chief motives. Death promises what life cannot give, a submerging into nature, complete disintegration with it , and thus a return to the true sources of life.
Shelley is a deeply sensitive poet; at a time he has been heart-sick and hopeless, weakened and discouraged; he has hated life and conventional societies and quit even faith in God. However, and before the Westwind can perform such a job and assist the poet with a new hope. The poet, radically enough, allows free range for his wild uncontrollable...