The Later Romantics

Live Fast, Write Young

The early 19th century produced many enduringly appreciated but short-lived poets: notably Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, and Lord Byron (a close friend of the former). Considered to be the second phase of ‘Romantic’ poets, these men tend to be somewhat unfairly judged together. Keats was a fragile and ill-starred poet, much of whose poetry such as Hyperion was inspired by travels in the rugged landscapes of the Lake District (also associated with Wordsworth). The finest of his passionate and beautiful poems were written between 1818 and 1819: "The Eve of St Agnes", "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" and "Ode to a Nightingale" stand out particularly. At his death he had not even reached thirty.

Shelley lived only slightly longer and died the year after Keats in 1822. An exceptionally gifted young man, Shelley experimented with the Gothic horror prose form (more associated with his second wife, Mary) before turning to the revolutionary poetry of Queen Mab (1813) etc. Faced with the horror of his first wife’s suicide by drowning and financial difficulties he wrote most of his best poetry in a one year period after the summer of 1919, including Prometheus Unbound and The Mask of Anarchy as well as lyric poetry of note such as "To a Skylark". Although frequently intellectually arrogant and often immersed in melancholy and self-pity (not always without reason), Shelley is still highly regarded.

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