I've had a stormy relationship with the Romantics (which is a hilarious joke if you think about it). Mostly, I hate them. Every now and then they'll write something and I'll think 'Oh, now that's pretty,' but overall they're a bunch of emo 20somethings who need to get over how much they like to FEEL. If I want to read about young people weeping over how much they love something, I'll go look at Tumblr (Tumblr is comprised almost entirely of teenage girls writing that 'seriously you guys, my keyboard is covered in tears -- emma watson looked SO pretty tonight'). Because honestly, I'd prefer that to some 25-year-old man crying because a mountain is really really big.
What set this off was seeing this picture of Thomas Chatterton:
He's apparently considered the first English Romantic poet. He, of course, committed suicide (it was maybe an accident) at age 17. Of course. But look at that picture! Look at it! Can you BLAME the Victorians for reacting against this? No! Upright posture, social strictures, restrictive clothing, please. No loafing about, lounging against messy desks in your loose robe with probably rotting food on that cabinet behind you. That sort of character shall be made fun of (why hello, Harold Skimpole, Child of Nature).
My French poetry TA said I was heartless, but WHO cries at Sylvan Learning Center commercials? (it's me.) I think I've made my point. No, I just don't like self-centered emotional idiots who take their feelings much too seriously. And that is practically ALL the Romantics. I make some allowances for Keats, because aw, Keats.
Did the Enlightenment need a giant reactionary movement to get things a little less focused on rationality? Yeah, probably. Too bad it had to come in the form of overcome young men writing about the beauty of a swallow and then shooting themselves.
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