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Chapter 1 - The Death Zone

Wordsworth, Scott and Davy on Helvellyn

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2023

Tim Fulford
Affiliation:
De Montfort University, Leicester
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Summary

This chapter investigates a poem in its markedly different 1811 and 1842 versions: the epistle to Sir George Beaumont, a verse-missive addressed from the Cumbrian coast, where Wordsworth had gone with his family to benefit his children’s health. Supplementing the prose letters that Wordsworth and Beaumont exchanged, it continues a dialogue with his friend and patron. Colloquial and yet structured, it reveals Wordsworth forging verse conditions to reshape the country-house poems developed by Ben Jonson, in which the address of patron by poet had modelled a virtuous sociability exemplified in the moral community of the landed estate. Wordsworth transforms the Jonsonian model so that exemplary community takes the form of intimate, domestic sociability based on the dales family rather than the country house. Modelling chatty friendship and describing family life, his epistle is an alternative to the blank-verse celebration of rustic society that had stalled in ‘Home at Grasmere’ and to the rustic speech that, had formerly narrated the troubles of rural folk. It is a prime example of the ‘new’ later Wordsworth experimenting with a traditional form, and with the comic rather than the egotistical sublime, as he turned away from the solitary communion with nature he had explored in The Prelude.

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Chapter
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Experimentalism in Wordsworth's Later Poetry
Dialogues with the Dead
, pp. 11 - 35
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • The Death Zone
  • Tim Fulford, De Montfort University, Leicester
  • Book: Experimentalism in Wordsworth's Later Poetry
  • Online publication: 15 June 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009320771.002
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  • The Death Zone
  • Tim Fulford, De Montfort University, Leicester
  • Book: Experimentalism in Wordsworth's Later Poetry
  • Online publication: 15 June 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009320771.002
Available formats
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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.

  • The Death Zone
  • Tim Fulford, De Montfort University, Leicester
  • Book: Experimentalism in Wordsworth's Later Poetry
  • Online publication: 15 June 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009320771.002
Available formats
×