Scaling Histories and Relating Systems: Figurations of Deep Time in the Poetry of Thomas Lovell Beddoes

  • Ute BernsEmail author


Thomas Lovell Beddoes left the British literary scene in 1825 in order to study medicine and a wide range of natural sciences at the University of Göttingen. This article argues that his literary work, informed by the contemporary naturalist discourse, grapples with the scaling of deep time and envisions entangled ecological systems—issues which have recently been foregrounded in discussions of the Anthropocene. The argument focuses on Beddoes’s poetry and his neglected poem ‘Tree of Life’ in particular, tracing how it deploys collisions and ambiguities of scale as it models interrelations between different historical dimensions as well as geophysical, atmospheric-chemical, and biological systems. The analysis demonstrates that Beddoes’s poem can be read—and historicised—as a multi-scalar sign and model which stages the Tree of Life as scientifico-poetical earth systems ecology.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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