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date: 06 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The response of the major Romantic poets to Shakespeare is multifaceted. But recognition of Shakespearean vitality and suggestiveness is pervasive. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of Blake’s colour-print ‘Pity’ and an account of pre-Romantic responses to Shakespeare (notably in the criticism of Henry Mackenzie and Samuel Johnson, and the poetry of Thomas Gray). It then explores, in turn, the responses of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats to Shakespeare, discussing how the Romantics use Shakespearean resonances in their poetry: Wordsworth, for example, echoing a number of plays to suggestive effect in the concluding movement of Tintern Abbey; Coleridge alluding to Twelfth Night at the close of ‘The Nightingale’; Keats drawing on various texts in shaping the mingling of romance and anti-romance in The Eve of St. Agnes. The essay seeks to intimate the range and depth of Romantic poetry’s orchestration of the Shakespearean bequest.

Keywords: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Jonathan Bate, echo, allusion, genre

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