I'm trying to understand the difference between Symbolism and Romanticism as literary movements. As I understand it, the symbolists explicitly wanted to distance themselves from the romantics.
But if I compare Stephane Mallarme's "Afternoon of a Faun" (founder of Symbolism) with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" (founder of Romanticism), both poems seem to embody the same literary philosophy?
Both poems are about painting an imaginary, pastoral scene that has little connection to reality for the sake of the beauty of the poem itself. Both are concerned with dreams and visions and the creative imagination. Obviously, the poems are very different in many ways, but not in any way that relates to the philosophies of Romanticism and Symbolism?
Compare excerpts from the poems below:
These nymphs, I would perpetuate them.
Their crimson flesh that hovers there, light
In the air drowsy with dense slumbers.
Did I love a dream?
My doubt, mass of ancient night, ends extreme
In many a subtle branch, that remaining the true
Woods themselves, proves, alas, that I too
Offered myself, alone, as triumph, the false ideal of roses.
O Sicilian shores of a marshy calm
My vanity plunders vying with the sun,
Silent beneath scintillating flowers, RELATE
‘That I was cutting hollow reeds here tamed
By talent: when, on the green gold of distant
Verdure offering its vine to the fountains
An animal whiteness undulates to rest:
And as a slow prelude in which the pipes exist
This flight of swans, no, of Naiads cower
Or plunge ...’
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.