Undercurrents of Influence in English Romantic Poetry

Undercurrents of Influence in English Romantic Poetry

Undercurrents of Influence in English Romantic Poetry

Undercurrents of Influence in English Romantic Poetry

Excerpt

These essays, relating some of the imaginative interpretations of life in a few of the poets in the great period preceding our own to certain trends of thought, chiefly evolutionary, dominant in our own, and tracing, in informal fashion, the genesis of these ideas, as applied to aspects of intellectual and spiritual life, in the eighteenth century, are meant to be suggestive, not fully demonstrative. They in no way constitute a treatise, but are a series of appreciations, founded upon thought developed during work done for many years in a seminar in English Romanticism, and a course in nineteenth century English poetry in Wellesley College. No claim is made that the earlier writers were the first to state these ideas, only that they stated them well, and in a manner that became greatly influential. In suggesting the influence of an earlier author upon a poet's mind, no attempt is made to point out all the influences that may have affected him. If there is something of repetition, this is due to the fact that each essay was intended to stand by itself.

The word evolution and the word philosophy are used in their earlier, larger, not later and narrower meanings. Evolution, by its root meaning an unfolding, is as rightly applied to the inner life, to growth in matters intellectual and spiritual, as to the physical development of man and the universe. Philosophy, literally a love of wisdom, may well still be interpreted by us in the Greek sense, as an application of truth to life; fortunately not all wisdom is comprised in rationalized proof of abstract ideas.

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