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Chapter 4 - Thinking Rivers

The Flow of Influence, Wordsworth–Coleridge–Shelley

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2021

Jeffrey Cox
Affiliation:
University of Colorado Boulder
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Summary

Wordsworth’s sonnets on the River Duddon appeared in 1820 to almost universal applause and marked a shift in his reputation and status as a poet. What has not been understood is how imbricated these poems are in a dialogue with Coleridge, whom Wordsworth alludes to, and with Shelley, whose “Mont Blanc” appears to be echoed throughout the series. This chapter provides a key instance of the complex interactions between these writers, as Shelley in “Mont Blanc” echoes in order to critique both Wordsworth and Coleridge and as Wordsworth then responds in these sonnets. Various paratexts, including the notes to the poems and Wordsworth’s postscripts, help us see how Wordsworth explicitly alludes to minor poets and to Coleridge’s unfinished “The Brook” while masking his debt to his younger competitor, whom Wordsworth would later call “one of the best artists of us all.” Offering readings of individual poems as well as the series as a whole, this chapter shows how Wordsworth, in answering Shelley, the famous agnostic, resituates his earlier nature poetry in a more clearly religious frame.

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William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
Contesting Poetry after Waterloo
, pp. 129 - 156
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Thinking Rivers
  • Jeffrey Cox, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
  • Online publication: 10 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108946698.005
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  • Thinking Rivers
  • Jeffrey Cox, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
  • Online publication: 10 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108946698.005
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.

  • Thinking Rivers
  • Jeffrey Cox, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
  • Online publication: 10 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108946698.005
Available formats
×