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Romance & Romantics

Literary tradition

Keats is now considered one of the key English poets of the Romantic period, forming part of the 'canon' of literature in English that spans several centuries.  Romantic poetry is a loose term for a varied body of work that has some common themes, not necessarily related to the modern meaning of the term 'romantic': these include nature, beauty and the sublime; the imagination; spirituality and the supernatural; individual liberty and the self.

Classical mythology and folk tale play a large part in Keats' narrative verse and he was keen to show and share his love of the classics, even if he couldn't read them in the original Greek. The Medieval Romance is another part of the literary heritage that Keats draws on in his writing. This style of verse may feature a quest narrative, chaste or frustrated lovers and knights on errands amongst other motifs. Elements of Keats' 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Eve of St Agnes' could be said to derive from Romance literature.


Use the contextual information on this site, and the student task sheet on this page to answer the following questions:

  1. How important is an understanding of the Romantic era to approaching this film, and Keats' poetry in general?
  2. To what extent does Bright Star's narrative structure follow the conventions of Romance literature?
A handwritten copy of Keats' poem 'To Fanny' in faded brown calligraphy on a cream parchment

Student Task Sheet: