The new poetries

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


What’s new?’ Something, anyway, was stirring. Whether polemical ‘experiment’, flaunted ‘innovation’ or coded ally of political ‘liberty’, a new poetry was refusing imposed or inherited forms as tyranny, as strictures of outworn prestige, institution or just plain old bad habit. The signs were everywhere. ‘I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Mans’, declared Blake’s Los (Jerusalem, plate 10). If Dryden argued that rhyme and metrical law were necessary to put ‘bounds to a wilde over-flowing Fancy’, Wordsworth, though hewing to metre and often rhyme, recoiled from ‘the bondage of definite form’. He went so far as to equate ‘all good poetry’ with ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’. This last axiom is from his Preface to the second, signed edition of Lyrical Ballads (1800), a document that declared a refusal of ‘known habits of association’ in the production of and judgements about poetry. Looking back in 1817, Coleridge marked a watershed in Wordsworth’s ‘awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom’ and from ‘the film of familiarity’ – not only in modes of perception, but in the very excitement of poetic events. Shelley would soon raise the stakes in A Defence of Poetry, celebrating the power of poetry to transform everything within and without: poetry ‘strips the veil of familiarity from the world’ and, in correspondence, ‘purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781139055970
ISBN (Print)9780521790079
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'The new poetries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this