1st Edition

Writing the Poetry of Place in Britain, 1700–1807 Self in Landscape

By Elizabeth R. Napier Copyright 2023
    214 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book discusses the intrusion, often inadvertent, of personal voice into the poetry of landscape in Britain, 1700– 1807. It argues that strong conventions, such as those that inhere in topographical verse of the period, invite original poets to overstep those bounds while also shielding them from the repercussions of self-expression. Working under cover of convention in this manner and because for many of these poets place is tied in significant ways to personal history, poets of place may launch unexpected explorations into memory, personhood, and the workings of consciousness. This book thus supplements past, largely political, readings of landscape poetry, turning to questions of self-articulation and self-expression in order to argue that the autobiographical impulse is a distinctive and innovative feature of much great eighteenth-century poetry of place. Among the poets under examination are Pope, Thomson, Duck, Gray, Goldsmith, Crabbe, Cowper, Smith, and Wordsworth.

    List of Figures




    I. Pervious Landscapes: Pope, Wordsworth, Cowper

    Chapter One The Weather Underground: Pope in "Ode on Solitude"

    Chapter Two Bearing It Away: "The Solitary Reaper"

    Chapter Three "What Can It Signify?": Finding the Subject in "On the Ice-Islands Floating in the Germanic Ocean"



    II. Landscapes of Loss: Duck, Goldsmith, Crabbe

    Chapter Four "Lost, drown'd": The Problem of the Imagination in "The Thresher's Labour"

    Chapter Five Road to Nowhere: The Poetics of Absence in "The Deserted Village"

    Chapter Six Lost Cause: The Village and the Place of the Manners Tribute



    III. Vanishings: Thomson, Gray, Smith

    Chapter Seven "Conning Nature's Book": Body, Soul, Self, and Poetic Vision in The Seasons

    Chapter Eight Vanishing Point: Gray in the Eton Ode

    Chapter Nine "Bearing the Cor’se to Land": Beachy Head


    Works Cited


    Elizabeth R. Napier is Professor Emerita in the Department of English, Middlebury College. She has published on, among other subjects, eighteenth-century English Gothic fiction, problems of embodiment in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English fiction, and narrative strategies in the work of Daniel Defoe.

    "This exemplary study of eighteenth-century landscape poetry explores the complex relationship of self and place to present new, original, and intelligent readings of a range of authors from the period." 

    -Dr Carol Bolton, Senior Lecturer in English, Loughborough University, UK.