Romanticism largely began as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day. Inevitably, the characterization of a broad range of contemporaneous poets and poetry under the single unifying name can be viewed more as an exercise in historical compartmentalization than an attempt to capture the essence of the actual ‘movement’.
Indeed, the term “Romanticism” did not arise until the Victorian period. Nonetheless, poets such as William Wordsworthwere actively engaged in trying to create a new kind of poetry that emphasized intuition over reason and the pastoral over the urban, often eschewing consciously poetic language in an effort to use more everyday or "real" language. Wordsworth himself in the Preface to his and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads defined good poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” though in the same sentence he goes on to clarify this statement by asserting that nonetheless any poem of value must still be composed by a man “possessed of more than usual organic sensibility [who has] also thought long and deeply;” he also emphasises the importance of the use of meter in poetry (which he views as one of the key features that differentiates poetry from prose). Although many people seize unfairly upon the notion of spontaneity in Romantic Poetry, one must realize that the movement was still greatly concerned with the pain of composition, of translating these emotive responses into the form of Poetry. Indeed, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, another prominent Romantic poet and critic in his On Poesy or Art sees art as “the mediatress between, and reconciler of nature and man”. Such an attitude reflects what might be called the dominant theme of Romantic Poetry: the filtering of natural emotion through the human mind in order to create art, coupled with an awareness of the duality created by such a process.
Leigh Hunt. Although chronologically earliest among these writers, William Blake was a relatively late addition to the list; prior to the 1970s, romanticism was known for its "Big Five."
For some critics, the term establishes an artificial context for disparate work and removing that work from its real historical context" at the expense of equally valid themes (particularly those related to politics.)