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Romantic Poetry Influences the Esates Of The British Aristocrats
Taylor Speer-Sims November 13, 2011
Poetry Influences the
Estates of the British Aristocrats
While the Romantic
period of poetry lasted until 1830 when the last of the Romantics died, the
Romantic architectural movement lasted until the 1860s (Norton Anthology, 1;
Speer-Sims, 3). Feelings were an important part of Romantic poetry (Ross). Not
only that, but getting closer to nature and the beginnings of humanity were
very important aspects that other Romantics pursued (Romanticism). These were
the same aspects that the Aristocrats began to incorporate into their estates
that they built, or refurbished in the nineteenth century (Gelernter, 102).
Obviously the Romantic poets directly influenced the Romantic movement of the
British aristocratic estates.
The Romantic poets influenced more than just each other.
Artists of the day keenly felt what the poets portrayed in their writings
(Anderson, 175). Artists in fashion clothing felt the power of the English
Romantic as it took over the fashion industry from Paris (Anderson, 176). The
next great art that had been influenced by these writers were the landscape
designers who changed the grounds of everything from governmental buildings to
grounds of great estates. This intern created a further change in the buildings
themselves, not to mention the interiors of these great domiciles (Moffett,
these estates become intertwined with the Romantic ideals? A quote from William
Wordsworth“Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your
teacher.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge comments, “Examine nature accurately, but
write from recollection, and trust more to the imagination than the memory”
which was a statement of using one’s imagination (Stewart McConathy, 7; Drake,
3). As these authors became popular, so too did their points of view. Many a
noble person had Lord Byron to their parties. In fact, it was considered a success
if indeed he did arrive. Popularity of such a celebrity creates a type of
following that can be emulated and then pursued in other forms of art.
Not only were poets popular people to have around, the educated
became writers themselves (Ross). Not very many people could afford to go to
college, so it was usually the wealthy that sent their children to school.
Therefore, the elite themselves began to create this art form and considered it
an “intellectual challenge to read and write poetry” (Ross). Because it had
been an intellectual pursuit of the elite, it became a very simple matter of
having the ideals of the poetry move from one form of art to another,
especially if it had to do with the environment of the writer.
The intellectual elite that had been
writing the poetry were not always famous, nor were they all willing to give up
their money. They had, however, been interested in keeping with the ideals of
the Romantic poets. The feelings involved in the poetry had also been very much
in keeping with what the owners wanted to portray in their grand estates. They
wanted a feeling of beauty to capture the imagination, not have it keep in tune
with what the previous decade expected, which was considered too orderly.
Whimsical fantasy had been a fashion in the Romantic domiciles, and the
aristocrats had the money to create that appearance. Horace Walpole was one
such Romantic follower who built his whimsical Strawberry Hill based upon the
ideals of feeling (Lecture).
Nature was another ideal in the Romantic poets’ repertoire.
As some poets, such as Coleridge, removed themselves from city life, so too did
the aristocrat who followed the Romantics (Norton Anthology, 424). Their
houses, however, were quite a bit larger than what Coleridge could afford.
Their grand estates would sometimes rival the appearance of a cottage, but be
much grander. An example was Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet that was built at
Versailles (Moffett, 417). Another way of pursuing the Romantic feeling would
be to make the grounds appear as if they had “never been touched by human
hands” (Moffett, 416). Lancelot “Capability” Brown became a famous grounds
architect because of his many successes in turning pristine, edged, formed
types of gardens into areas that looked like God had created them, instead of
just a man.
God not only created landscapes, He (or She) created the
rest of nature as well. One natural phenomenon was the wind that would either
whisper through trees or water, or create music through manmade instruments.
Trees with soft arms would be planted closer to the house to create whispers,
or the manor was built near the sound of the sea. Plants were brought inside to
create an “outdoor” environment indoors (Putzier). Another way that the
aristocrats would romanticize their home was to include wind chimes and Eolian
Harps. Coleridge speaks of wind, sea and Eolian Harp sounds in his poem “The
Eolian Harp.” “The Stilly murmur of the distant sea, Tells us of silence… Where
the breeze warbles, and the mute still air, Is music slumbering on her
instrument” (Coleride, 426-427). How could a Romantic follower not copy this in
their homes, no matter the size?
Romantic poets came in all different income brackets.
Many were British elites that wrote poems that were not as famous as Keats,
Byron, Wordsworth or Coleridge. Ideals of feelings and nature were paramount in
this movement, no matter the income or notoriety of the writer. Romantics, and
their followers, began to feel that their homes should encapsulate these
beliefs. The British aristocratic elite used ideals of the Romantic poetry to
transform their unimaginative manors into their grand Romantic estates.
written for class at American Military University.
Anderson Black, J. and Madge Garland. A History of
Fashion. New York: William
Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “The Eolian Harp.” The Norton