THE ROMANTIC MODE
WHOM shall we call the romantics? Was there actually a sufficient number of poets in agreement at the turn of the century to make what one would call a style or mode? Certain traits of attitude, or of material, or of structure, could take us back as far as Addison with his sense of a new world, or Thomson, to whom Wordsworth went for images, or the stanzaic experiments of Collins, or any poet any time for a certain cut of jib. I think we should not answer theoretically, but look to see if there was indeed in England any whole group of poets who agreed together, if only tacitly, in abandoning the full complex of the earlier mode, its epic and panoramic pentameters, for a new complex of attitude, terminology, and construction. Did any new meter take over the poetry of 1800 any new vocabulary, any whole new sort of statement?
We know that throughout the eighteenth century there had been a