Aurality and Re-vision: The Case of Wordsworth and Tennyson

  • Joanna E. Rapf


The ‘romantic’ temperament has been defined in many ways since Schlegel talked about it as ‘the expression of a secret longing for the chaos which is perpetually striving for new and marvellous births, which lies hidden in the very womb of orderly creation’ (Thorlby 1966, p. 2). Early in our own century, although A. O. Lovejoy elegantly insisted that there was no ‘romanticism’, only ‘romanticisms’, Morse Peckham was able to encompass the term under the umbrella classification of a worldview based on becoming as opposed to a neo-classical emphasis on being. More recently, L. J. Swingle (1987) and Susan Wolfson (1986) have pointed to the interrogative mode as a defining element of ‘romantic discourse’, a rhetorical device that situates the poetry in the condition of doubt. But regardless of the source and manifestation of its temperament, there is something about ‘Romantic’ poetry that ideally aspires to silence, beyond the noisy chaos of aspiring births. In the Intimations Ode, Wordsworth writes:

But for those first affections,

Those shadowy recollections,

Which, be they what they may,

Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,

Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;

Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make

Our noisy years seem moments in the being

Of the eternal Silence….(152–9)2


Romantic Lyric Water Snake English Poetry Dominant Sense Ancient Earth 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

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  • Joanna E. Rapf

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