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Love Through the Ages

15. The Romantic Period

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About this Lecture


The late 18th Century saw the emergence of a group of poets whom the Victorians would later call the Romantic poets. In reality, while some of the poets were friends, the themes and ideas that they explored in their poetry developed more or less independently – and they are considered as such here. Firstly, we look at Coleridge, whose description of a parent’s love for their child in the poem ‘Frost at Midnight’ is unparalleled in the English language. Wordsworth, by contrast, speaks of love with a kind of breathless wonder, while Byron often returns to the idea of time’s effect on love – not least in his poem ‘So We’ll Go No More A-Roving’. Byron might also be said to be responsible for the image of the Romantic hero, both in his own actions fighting for Greek independence, but also through his narrative poem ‘Don Juan’. Keats is as altogether different figure again. As a apothecary’s apprentice, he knew that was going to die young – and death looms over much of his writing – not least the poem we explore here: ‘When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be’


This course explores the theme of love from the earliest English literature to the present day – from authors that you have likely heard of, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron and Keats, to authors that are perhaps less well-known. This is a course that celebrates love in all it forms and between all kinds of people.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2018, August 15). Love Through the Ages - The Romantic Period [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Love Through the Ages – The Romantic Period." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,