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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article reports that the elegy in the Romantic period ‘is seldom the expression of grief per se’. It also outlines the march of elegy through the period, beginning with Anna Seward's epic elegies, to Charlotte Smith's highlighting of affect and psychological realism, to William Wordsworth's indebtedness to Smith's influence. Seward's epic elegies introduce the tradition of what Anne K. Mellor has aptly called ‘Mothers of the Nation’. Smith's Elegiac Sonnets map existence itself as something recessive, predetermined according to a calculus of loss. If Smith and Wordsworth employ the elegiac to probe psychological resources and vulnerabilities, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Shelley deliberately cast their poems as statements with every bit of the public resonance with which Seward invested her encomia to cultural icons.

Keywords: Romantic period, elegy, grief, Anna Seward, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley

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