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Poetic Innovation in Wordsworth 1825–1833

Poetic Innovation in Wordsworth 1825–1833

Fibres of These Thoughts

By Jeffrey C. Robinson

"Poetic Innovation in Wordsworth 1825–1833" uses extensive manuscript study of Wordsworth’s poems to present, for the first time, an account of his poetics during the supposedly "fallow" years, 1825–1833. The poetry of this period appears in a "landscape" that includes manuscripts, streams and pathways, and Wordsworth’s house and garden at Rydal Mount.

The book’s design, by Karen Jacobs, echoes Robinson’s argument that Wordsmith’s late poetry both involves and evokes multi-layered responses.

PDF, 368 Pages


July 2019

£35.00, $60.00

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EPUB, 368 Pages


July 2019

£35.00, $60.00

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About This Book

"Poetic Innovation in Wordsworth 1825–1833" uses extensive manuscript study of Wordsworth’s poems to present, for the first time, an account of his poetics during the supposedly "fallow" years, 1825-1833. Wordsworth wrote no manifestos during the later years and as a result the book turns to a manuscript page, unique among his dozens of notebooks, that when read spatially and in conjunction with other manuscripts and poems from the same period reveals a poetics in the making. ‘Poetic Innovation in Wordsworth 1825–1833’ develops a radical process of reading and interpreting, relying less on discursive prose and more on the conscious acknowledgement of the play of signifiers on the manuscript page that has led Robinson to capture a "world" of Wordsworth (1825–1833) beginning with the manuscript and spreading outwards to include the geography and topography relevant to his writing, the dwellings in which he worked, the well-known cottage industry of amanuenses who helped him produce his poems, the contemporary journals and poems of his sister Dorothy Wordsworth, and the social issues (Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform) that often occasioned them. Finally, the book presents a cluster of more-or-less unread poems but most worthy of inclusion in the Wordsworth canon.

In order to emulate for readers Wordsworth’s spatial vision of poetry and the poetic process, and the often-playful experience of reading these manuscripts, Robinson has, with the collaboration of book designer and award-winning scholar of the image in modern fiction Karen Jacobs, developed a book design that stresses a paratext (including footnotes) so that the reader is asked to read across as much as to read vertically. The poems presented and discussed in the text appear with an image background to enhance the idea that poems themselves are events in space. Images, both of geographical and architectural space and of highlightings of manuscript detail, saturate the text as a whole. Finally, the intensity and simultaneous playfulness of Wordsworth’s nearly obsessive revisionary process has dictated the production of twenty-two original ‘found’ poems based on materials from Wordsworth’s manuscripts; these also appear throughout the book against an image background.

The book’s design, by Karen Jacobs, echoes Robinson’s argument that Wordsmith’s late poetry both involves and evokes multi-layered responses.


“This is a book by a scholar and a poet, a rare combination. It is also a book that gets far past the reigning ideas about ‘Romantic Imagination’ to show how one might reimagine the Romantic Imagination.”
—Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan Professor, University of Virginia, USA

“With clarity of thought, grace of expression and intensity of insight, Jeffrey Robinson gives us a fiercely original study of Wordsworth’s manuscripts. In Robinson’s hands, a two-page ‘tangle’ of drafts comprises an entire poetic world. Few critics are as innovative as Robinson; fewer, as open and generous; fewer still, as wise. Prepare for an adventure in poetics.”
—Esther Schor, Professor, Department of English, Princeton University, USA

Author Information

Jeffrey C. Robinson is a Romanticist with an interest in Romantic and twentieth-century avant-garde poetics. After teaching for many years at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, he is now an honorary senior research fellow at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Robinson’s recent books include "Unfettering Poetry: The Fancy in British Romanticism"; "Poems for the Millennium, Volume Three: The University of California Book of Romantic and Postromantic Poetry" (coedited with Jerome Rothenberg); "Untam’d Wing: Riffs on Romantic Poetry"; and "Active Romanticism: The Radical Impulse in Nineteenth-Century and Contemporary Poetic Practice" (coedited with Julie Carr).


Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Prefatory Fibres; Introductory Thoughts; Terracing; I. Nightly Streams; II. A Day’s Ramble; III. Walks on the Terrace Attending; I. Artifice of Absorption; II. Surface Miracles; III. Scenes of Attention; IV. Season of Fancy and of Hope; Coda; Notes; Index.

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