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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Although Wordsworth is known for some of the most famous sonnets in the English language, Wordsworth the sonneteer remains a shadowy figure because most of the more than 500 sonnets he wrote are from his later career, when the sonnet became Wordsworth’s preferred public form. The shift from would-be epic poet to prolific sonneteer is definitively marked by Wordsworth’s 1820 sonnet series The River Duddon, one of his more popular publications during his lifetime. Drawing upon the tradition of the eighteenth-century river sonnet, Wordsworth in The River Duddon transfers his ambitions for writing the great philosophical poem of his age and creates a new poetic identity for himself as a sonneteer. Here Wordsworth shows a new interest in the sequencing of sonnets to create an ambitious and coherent long work that would lead him to the most ambitious project of his later career—Ecclesiastical Sketches.

Keywords: River Duddon, sonnet, poetic form, river, loco-descriptive, geography, landscape, travel, sonneteer, Ecclesiastical Sketches

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