Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Romantic Poetry Influences the Esates Of The British Aristocrats

Taylor Speer-Sims
November 13, 2011

                            Romantic 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, 415-416).
            How did 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.

Originally written for class at American Military University.

Works Cited:

Anderson Black, J. and Madge Garland. A History of Fashion. New York: William

Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980. Print.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “The Eolian Harp.” The Norton Anthology: English

Literature. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt.New York: W.W. Norton & Comapany, 2006. 258-262. Vol 2. Print.

Drake, Alfred. E212: British Literature Since 1760. n.d. Cal State Fullerton. Web. 13

November 2011. http://www.ajdrake.com/e212_sum_04/index.htm.

Gelernter, Mark. A History of American Architecture: Buildings in their Cultural and

Technological Context. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2001. Print.

Lecture: The Enlightenment and the Romantic Era. Stockton University. N.d. Web. 13

            November 2011. http://www.stockton.edu/~fergusoc/romantic/romantic.htm.

Moffett, Marian, Michael Fazio and Lawrence Wodehouse. Buildings Across Time: An

            Introduction to World Architecture. London: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Print.

Norton Anthology, The: English Literature. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York:

            W.W. Norton & Comapany, 2006. Vol 2. Print.

Putzier, Jennifer. Personal interview. 1 November, 2011.

Romanticism. 2005. Web. 13 November 2011.

Ross, Brandy. “Re: Shelley Poems.” 23 October, 2011. APUS, Discussion Board reply to

            student. Web. 13 November 2011.

Speer-Sims, Taylor. “An Italianate Called Longwood.” 25 August, 2011. APUS,

            Research Paper for Effectiveness in Writing.

Stewart McConathy, Kelly. “English Romantics” Teacher’s Bruch for Powerpoint. 2007.



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