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Chapter 1 - Cockney Excursions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2021

Jeffrey Cox
Affiliation:
University of Colorado Boulder
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Summary

Wordsworth published his Excursion in 1814 to stake his claim to being the Milton of his day: the poem was seen as the period’s most serious attempt at an epic poem. After briefly taking up Wordsworth’s goals in writing this long narrative poem, this chapter focuses on Hazlitt’s critique of the epic and on the efforts of Keats, Shelley, Byron, Peacock, Reynolds, and Hunt to rewrite it. Recognizing the power of The Excursion, the younger writers found it embracing a turn inward to the self rather than outward to sexual relations and also abandoning the attempt to reform society, whether through revolution or other means. These poets also contested the style of The Excursion, which they saw as abandoning the experimental turn of Wordsworth’s earlier poetry. The very mode of these responses to Wordsworth – the fantastic pagan romances of Endymion and Rhododaphne, the eastern quests of “Alastor” and Laon and Cythna, even the “romaunt” of Childe Harold – announce their distance from The Excursion. A "Coda" to the chapter shows how Wordsworth’s classicizing poems, particularly "Laodamia" and "Dion," can be read as a rebuke to young writers’ revolutionary take on politics and sexuality.

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William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
Contesting Poetry after Waterloo
, pp. 34 - 77
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Cockney Excursions
  • Jeffrey Cox, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
  • Online publication: 10 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108946698.002
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  • Cockney Excursions
  • Jeffrey Cox, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
  • Online publication: 10 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108946698.002
Available formats
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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.

  • Cockney Excursions
  • Jeffrey Cox, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
  • Online publication: 10 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108946698.002
Available formats
×