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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Publication details for Professor Mark Sandy

Sandy, Mark (2016). "Lines of Light": Poetic Variations in Wordsworth, Byron, and Shelley.'. Romanticism 22(3): 260-268.

Author(s) from Durham


Recognising the importance of Wordsworth's sense of nascent light (elegised in his ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality’), the essay traces how influential this idea was on later Romantic poetic treatments of light. Wordsworth's qualitative distinction between the ‘fountain light of all our day’ and the ‘light of common day’ reveals his alertness to the revelatory and blinding effects of light and establishes the terms of Byron's and Shelley's imaginative engagement with the transformative aspects of light in their depiction of Italian cityscapes and coastal scenes. This transformative quality of light, for Byron and Shelley, is inextricable from those utopian aspirations to recapture future edenic states, which are configured in terms that consign such future idylls to the irrecoverable past. Finally, Shelley's The Triumph of Life is read as avowing an apocalyptic, rather than transformative, light whose ‘severe excess’ is still reimagined in terms familiar to the reader of Wordsworth's ‘Ode’.

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