Romanticism was a movement in art and literature that began on the European continent in the course of the eighteenth century and then quickly spread to the British Isles. The period was defined by a new interest in the natural world as a source of inspiration and a cultivation of aesthetic experiences referred to as the "sublime." The philosophy of these artists and writers, building off of the foundation set by the Enlightenment, shifted even further from the value of a collective society, instead focusing on the importance of the individual through emotion and imagination. These two elements, the sublime and the individual, led to dramatic changes in art and poetry infused with interpretations of natural imagery by the creator's own mind.
In England, the poetic movement occurred in two waves. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were at the heart of the first movement. The second movement centered on the writings of John Keats, George Gordon Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
It is no accident that this period in writing occurred in tandem with the very dramatic changes in poetic form and style. Poets moved not only away from traditional subject matter in their works, but also in the form. Where earlier poets were very concerned with the importance of adhering to traditional rhythms, rhymes, and formulas, the Romantics focused their attention on their feelings in the poetry, often using less confining structures instead of the more rigid forms dictated by tradition.