In his poem The Tables Turned, William Wordsworth wrote the following lines: “One impulse from a vernal wood/May teach you more of man, /Of moral evil and of good, /Than all the sages can.” Like Wordsworth, John Constable saw more in the natural world than any book learning could provide. In his chapter on Constable in his The Romantic Rebellion, Kenneth Clark distinguished between two different aspects of the goddess Nature: “Byronic” which he identified with the fierce and vengeful side of the natural world; secondly, the tranquil mood of the countryside was thought to be “Wordsworthian.” Clearly Turner with his avalanches, snowstorms, and angry seas would fall into the first “Byronic” category; Constable however with the serenity of his mills, ponds and vales would fit the “Wordsworthian” type. While Turner (who was one year older) became an associate of the R.A., Constable made mediocre copies of Reynolds, and Turner became a Royal Academician before Constable had painted any picture of note. Unlike Turner who went to nature for the sublime terror to be found in its territories, Constable went to rural life because – like Wordsworth, he divined moral and spiritual qualities in the fields, hedgerows and streams. It was the quiet, contemplative vision of nature that Constable sought, and if romanticism can be identified with a feeling of being one with nature then Constable was a romantic painter. What Constable occasionally shares with the mainstream romantic artists is a sense of melancholy which is clearly present in his The Cenotaph (above) which is a picture of a monument erected to Sir Joshua Reynolds by Sir George Beaumont in his park. It is flanked by busts of Michelangelo and Raphael.
 Kenneth Clark, The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic verses Classic Art (John Murray, 1975), 265.
In addition to being one of the greatest romantic painters of the era, Turner also tried his hand at poetry as in the pessimistic “Fallacies of Hope” which accompanied the showing of such apocalyptic canvases as Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps (1812) and the deeply gloomy Slavers throwing Slaves Overboard which was printed in the catalogue with another extract from “The Fallacies of Hope.” Though the poem was never finished, excerpts from it would attend the exhibition of many of Turner’s subsequent paintings. One of Turner’s favourite poets was Byron because he may have identified with the poet’s persona of isolation, aesthetic contemplation and the romantic ideal in general. Turner may have heard Byron make an impassioned speech against the laws calling for the death penalty for frame breakers in the House of Lords in 1812, coinciding with the publication of the first two cantos of Childe Harold which was to inspire an Italianate painting from the poem in the 1830s (above). Later Turner illustrated volumes of poetry during the 1820s and 1830s like the highly successful new edition of Samuel Roger’s Italy (1830). Though a meeting between Turner and Byron in these literary circles is probably apocryphal, the artist’s watercolours for this project suggest that Turner was viewing Byron and Roger’s views of Venice through the lens of his own visit to the city in 1819. Actual words in Rogers Italy may have inspired last week’s Juliet and her Nurse which was stoutly defended by John Ruskin. Like Turner, Ruskin shared a love of Byron, Shakespeare and the romantic literary tradition. As Ruskin noted, “Byron was to be his master in verse, as Turner in colour.”
 “The returning sun/Exhaled earth’s humid bubbles, and emulous of light/ Reflected her lost forms, each in prismatic guise/Hope’s harbinger, ephemeral as the summer fly/Which rises, flits, expires and dies.”
 Jack Lindsay, Turner: His Life and Work (Panther, 1966), 181.