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Chapter 5 - Violent Waters

The River Duddon and Ecclesiastical Sketches

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 July 2023

Philip Shaw
Affiliation:
University of Leicester
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Summary

The poems Wordsworth composed in the years just prior to and immediately after Peterloo bear the imprint of the poet’s concern for the degraded state of Britain and are marked by his fear of social insurrection. Introduced by a reading of Wordsworth’s Autumn poems, ‘September, 1819’ and ‘Upon the Same Occasion’, this chapter proceeds to trace the recurrence of patterns of violent imagining in The River Duddon sonnets, which discover, through their adaptation of the ostensibly pacific but deeply conflicted poetics of the sacred fount tradition, a fitting analogue for the times. The chapter concludes with an account of how the material contradictions underpinning the fluvial tradition are displayed in the arrangement of the three-volume Poems (1820) and four-volume Miscellaneous Poems (1820) and in the sequencing of the Ecclesiastical Sketches (1822). If the river sequence offers the promise of recuperation, it is a genre that inevitably reveals its origins in bloodshed and ruin. Yet, it is from such ruins, as Ecclesiastical Sketches go on to suggest, that forms of peaceable life may once again be salvaged.

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Wordsworth After War
Recovering Peace in the Later Poetry
, pp. 145 - 173
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Violent Waters
  • Philip Shaw, University of Leicester
  • Book: Wordsworth After War
  • Online publication: 06 July 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009363150.006
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  • Violent Waters
  • Philip Shaw, University of Leicester
  • Book: Wordsworth After War
  • Online publication: 06 July 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009363150.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Violent Waters
  • Philip Shaw, University of Leicester
  • Book: Wordsworth After War
  • Online publication: 06 July 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009363150.006
Available formats
×