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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Of Wordsworth’s 1,300 specific literary allusions (as reckoned by Edwin Stein) 40 are to Spenser, nearly 100 to Shakespeare and about 550, the overwhelming majority, to Milton. Why was Wordsworth so frequently drawn to these English precursors rather than to, say, Ariosto or Tasso? The answer this chapter proposes is that Wordsworth felt a sense of continuity, and responsibility to engage seriously, with the values and goals of earlier English poets and a corresponding need to fashion his own sense of a coherent personal identity in a national context. The chapter explores the role that English poets play in our understanding of Wordsworth’s verse, focusing on republicanism and commonwealth; the ‘rural-reflective’ or pastoral tradition; and the light of inner conviction and conscience. Wordsworth seldom alludes to any English poet without some form of coincidence with the spirit or geniusloci of England.

Keywords: English, literary allusions, Commonwealth, Pastoral, Epic, sonnets, conscience, Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton

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