19. Spontaneity, Immediacy, and Improvisation in Romantic Poetry

  1. Charles Mahoney Associate Professor of English
  1. Angela Esterhammer Professor Literature

Published Online: 3 MAY 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444390650.ch19

A Companion to Romantic Poetry

A Companion to Romantic Poetry

How to Cite

Esterhammer, A. (2010) Spontaneity, Immediacy, and Improvisation in Romantic Poetry, in A Companion to Romantic Poetry (ed C. Mahoney), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444390650.ch19

Editor Information

  1. University of Connecticut, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Zurich, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 MAY 2012
  2. Published Print: 26 NOV 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405135542

Online ISBN: 9781444390650



  • Romantic Poetry - contemporary contexts and perspectives;
  • spontaneity, immediacy and improvisation in Romantic poetry;
  • spontaneity, of Romantic poetry - Wordsworth's definition of “all good poetry” as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”;
  • Romantic ideal, poetic genius - creating poetry naturally, without long labor or study;
  • poet, a scene of spontaneous composition - recollecting and theatricalizing the scene;
  • Blake's “Introduction” to Innocence - to Songs of Experience (1794), juxtaposes encounter between the Piper and the child;
  • poet's re-creation of Kubla's dome springs - with equal spontaneity, from his vision of the mysterious damsel with a dulcimer;
  • Wordsworth, setting himself - in opposition to Robinson's poetics in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads;
  • Shelley's Defence, valorizing an instantaneous inspiration - the mind in creation, as a fading coal with some invisible influence;
  • self-conscious, artificial performance style of Italian improvvisatore - contrast to Wordsworthian or Keatsian idea of natural genius


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • References and Further Reading