‘In Mental as in Visual Darkness Lost’: Southey’s Songs for a Mad King

  • David Chandler
Part of the Literary Disability Studies book series (LIDIST)


Chandler locates interest and importance in Robert Southey’s (largely unread and ridiculed) Laureate poetry by considering its responses to George III, mentally ill, blind, and virtually deaf. To discuss the King at all in the difficult situation of a Regency was audacious, and reflects Southey’s strong identification with the King rather than the Regent. The focus is on Southey’s A Vision of Judgement, in which the stricken George III acquires the status of a national myth. In this final statement as George III’s Laureate, Southey turns the King into a redemptive Christ-like figure whose blindness and ‘madness’ metonymically represent the blindness and madness of the whole generation, Southey included, who had been seduced by the promise of Wilkesite or French ‘liberty’. Chandler attempts to recuperate a sense, not just of the importance of Southey’s Laureate poetry, but of the role of George III and his illness in the public imagination.


Royal Family National Affair Young Writer Prince Regent Extensive Circulation 
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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Chandler
    • 1
  1. 1.Doshisha UniversityKyotoJapan

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