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Chapter 2 - Wordsworth’s “Thanksgiving Ode”

An Engaged Poetics and the Horrors of War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2021

Jeffrey Cox
Affiliation:
University of Colorado Boulder
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Summary

Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo sparked both a spate of cultural responses and a debate over the shape of post-revolutionary Europe. Wordsworth’s “Thanksgiving Ode” volume was his entry into this conversation. Cox creates the context for Wordsworth’s poems on Waterloo, as he takes up contemporary celebrations and religious services and explores theatrical responses to the British victory.Putting Hunt in conversation with Southey and his laureate poems, Cox shows how Wordsworth’s poems on Waterloo respond to Hunt’s earlier Descent of Liberty on Napoleon’s abdication. Wordsworth’s volume inspired its own set of responses, as there was a kind of media war in 1816 over Wordsworth, Waterloo, and Wellington. The most famous of these responses comes in Byron’s Childe Harold III.

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William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic
Contesting Poetry after Waterloo
, pp. 78 - 109
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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