October text archive update: Romantic poetry

Wild birds hasten south, fields turn to amber, tree branches brush the sky: when better than against the sublime backdrop of Autumn to read Romantic poetry?

This month, we've assembled 20 poems by nine great Romantic poets to spark your imagination and keep your spirit fed. Here, you'll encounter works from across the English-language Romantic tradition, exemplifying its central tenets of love of nature and beauty, individual self-expression, and embrace of intense emotion.

William Blake, the visionary poet-artist who presaged the shift to British Romanticism, is represented by "Auguries of Innocence" and "The Sick Rose." Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, Romanticism founders and joint authors of 1798's seminal volume Lyrical Ballads, are also here—the former with his classic poems "Kubla Khan" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and the latter with "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways," "The Tables Turned," and "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802." Plus, read "Floating Island" by Dorothy Wordsworth, a nature writer unpublished during her lifetime who made up a tight triad with her brother and Coleridge.

There's more to explore, starting with "Ozymandias" and "To a Skylark" by Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the larger-than-life members of the second generation of Romantic poets. And don't miss out on "Casabianca" and "The Rock of Cader Idris" by Felicia Hemans or "Life" and "Washing Day" by Anna Lætitia Barbauld: poems by two women widely read in their day but now often excised from the Romantic canon.

Juliet Stevenson reads Emily Dickinson's "'Hope' is the thing with feathers'"

On the other side of the Atlantic, visit with Edgar Allan Poe in "Fairy-Land," "Sonnet—To Science," and "The Raven" and Emily Dickinson via her poems "Good morning—Midnight," "It was not Death, for I stood up," and "Much Madness is divinest Sense." These two wildly original American poets both drew from Romanticism's ethos, though in markedly different ways.

For even more, discover the Romantic works already on our site, including poems by John Keats such as the timely "To Autumn," and further poems by Emily Dickinson, including a performance of her poem "'Hope' is the thing with feathers" by celebrated British actress Juliet Stevenson.

We hope you'll continue to enjoy this fall harvest of Romantics all year round!