How to Write a Romanticism-Style Poem
Romanticism as a literary movement had its heyday from the mid-1700s through the late 1800s. Its emphasis on emotion, imagination and intuition over logic and reason was a reaction against Classicism. Romanticism was imbued with a deep affection for nature and the simple life, as well as a deep appreciation for self-expression and individuality. Study those traits -- and works of Romantic poets such as Byron, Shelley and Keats -- as you try to write like the Romantics.
Emotion Over Logic
A Romantic poem overflows with emotion. Romantic poets prided themselves on flamboyance and going to extremes. Poems were often extravagant expressions of love. In writing about your beloved, you might say: “She is Wonder Woman, Xena and Athena rolled into one.”
Romantics emphasized the importance of individual experience. Similarly, the Beat poets of the mid-20th century made it a habit to write about their personal lives. When Jack Kerouac wrote about having the best apple pie a la mode in the world, he was exaggerating as a good Romantic should. Writing about your own life fits with the Romantic tradition, such as Lord Byron’s praise of his loved one in “She Walks in Beauty.”
Nature and the Simple Life
Romantic poets were critical of the bourgeois society of their day. Today, that attitude might be expressed in poems critical of bland suburban or urban life. Romantic poets liked living simply, a preference often reflected in praise of rural living and the natural world. When you take time out to relax at the beach, you are in a perfect environment for writing a Romantic poem. If such a scene inspires you, remember to keep the language emotional and personal. Rather than gray clouds rolling in, you might talk about an “oppressive cast iron sky.”
Edgar Allan Poe’s Eldorado, a mythological city of gold, is a Romantic notion. Adding imagination to the other characteristics of Romantic poetry might lead you to write about a dream of living the simple life in a glorious natural setting with a lover you praise extravagantly. Any one of these elements would be enough to classify a poem as Romantic. To go even further, write the poem in the form of a sonnet, the challenging form frequently used by Romantic poet William Wordsworth, who wrote more than 500 sonnets.
Charlie Rossiter is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications such as Milwaukee Journal, Science Digest" and the Robb Report as well as online. He received an NEA Fellowship for creative writing and is profiled in "Contemporary Authors." His advanced degree is in communication and he's been writing professionally for more than 30 years.