The later poetry of William Wordsworth, popular in his lifetime and influential on the Victorians, has, with a few exceptions, received little attention from contemporary literary critics. In Wordsworth's Poetry, 1815-1845, Tim Fulford argues that the later work reveals a mature poet far more varied and surprising than is often acknowledged. Examining the most characteristic poems in their historical contexts, he shows Wordsworth probing the experiences and perspectives of later life and innovating formally and stylistically. He demonstrates how Wordsworth modified his writing in light of conversations with younger poets and learned to acknowledge his debt to women in ways he could not as a young man. The older Wordsworth emerges in Fulford's depiction as a love poet of companionate tenderness rather than passionate lament. He also appears as a political poet—bitter at capitalist exploitation and at a society in which vanity is rewarded while poverty is blamed. Most notably, he stands out as a history poet more probing and more clear-sighted than any of his time in his understanding of the responsibilities and temptations of all who try to memorialize the past.
List of Abbreviations Introduction
PART I. PRODUCING A POET FOR THE PUBLIC Chapter 1. Learning to Be a Poet of Imagination: Wordsworth and the Ghost of Cowper Chapter 2. The Politics of Landscape and the Poetics of Patronage: Collecting Coleorton
PART II. SPOTS OF SPACE: MATERIALIZING MEMORY Chapter 3. Memoirs of Scott-land, 1814-33 Chapter 4. Textual Strata and Geological Form: The Scriptorium and the Cave
PART III. THE POLITICS OF DICTION Chapter 5. The Erotics of Influence: Wordsworth as Byron and Keats Chapter 6. Wordsworth and Ebenezer Elliott: Radicalism Renewed
PART IV. LATE GENRES Chapter 7. Narrow Cells and Stone Circles: Sonnet Form and Spiritual History Chapter 8. Evanescence and After-Effect: The Evening Voluntaries
Coda. Elegiac Musing and Generic Mixing
Notes Bibliography Index Acknowledgments
Tim Fulford is Professor of English at De Montfort University. He is author of many books, including The Late Poetry of the Lake Poets: Romanticism Revised and Romantic Poetry and Literary Coteries: The Dialect of the Tribe. He is coeditor of Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1811-38 and the online publication The Collected Letters of Robert Southey.
"The idea that we might be able to blow the dust of thirty years' worth of neglected Wordsworth poems and find them wonderful is deeply appealing, and Fulford's encouragement, along with his diligent readings of several little-known poems ('The Brownie' might be an example), is impressive in its endeavor."—The Times Literary Supplement
"Wordsworth's Poetry, 1815-1845 should be read as an important corrective to our ingrained prejudice against the later poetry. Through its deft combination of historicist critique and laser-sharp formal analysis, the book displays the richness of Wordsworth's oeuvre while highlighting the meagreness of thought that, all too often, has prevented readers from experiencing the full range of the poet's accomplishments.."—The Review of English Studies
"[R]evelatory . . . This is certainly the best book yet published on the late Wordsworth. It will be turned to gratefully by future students of Wordsworth's later work; it will also, I hope, attract a new generation of readers to this extraordinarily rich body of work."—European Romantic Review
"Fulford's sensitive attention helps us to see the verse of the late Wordsworth with fresh eyes . . . Wordsworth's Poetry, 1815-1845 is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the long arc of Wordsworth's career."—Modern Language Review
"Tim Fulford offers a richly textured account of thirty years of verse that fell out of favor with the elevation of the "Great Decade" in the 1960s and 1970s . . . the entire book, makes a convincing case for reading Wordsworth's poetry to the very end."—Modern Philology
"The best and most complete work on the later poetry of William Wordsworth. Tim Fulford's readings are thoughtful, frequently brilliant, and at times border on the luxurious in their willingness to unpack the pleasures of the verse."—Michael Gamer, University of Pennsylvania
"It is exciting to watch Tim Fulford's Wordsworth enter into dialogue with other poets, from the classics to his younger contemporaries, refiguring his own works from his evolving later perspectives, vital as opposed to fossilized, and so reshaping the conventional literary history of nineteenth-century British poetry. This is a field-altering book."—Peter J. Manning, Stony Brook University
Winner of the Robert Penn Warren-Cleanth Brooks Award for literary scholarship and criticism for 2019
This book’s publication is supported by the Haney Foundation, a fund established by a generous gift from Dr. John Louis Haney, one-time chair of the English department at the University of Pennsylvania.