Contracting Obi: Shelley’s Cosmopolitanism and the Curse of Poetry
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‘And now I have a little Boat,’ William Wordsworth fancifully boasts, in the prologue that goes on for almost two hundred lines before the narrator embarks on the ‘promised Tale’ of Peter Bell (1819).1 Sailing through the clouds in a boat shaped like the crescent-moon was only the first of the perceived offenses for which this poem took criticism. To come were infractions at once stylistic (abba quatrains flattened into five-line ballad stanzas, the hero riding an ass) and political (a back story of polygamy and conversion through the example of Methodist ‘Ranters’). Even after the bounteous ‘Detraction Which Followed the Publication of a Certain Poem,’ though, Wordsworth continued to exhort his fictional hero not to hear all the satirical and outraged responses.
KeywordsGenerous Enthusiasm Lyric Poetry Outrage Response Perpetual Peace Regressive Error
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