A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival 1750-1850

By Paula R. Feldman; Daniel Robinson | Go to book overview

in the sonnet tradition. Millay's sonnets, in particular the sequences Sonnets from an Ungrafted Tree and Fatal Interview, pick up where Barrett Browning leaves off, further revising the woman lover's stance in the amorous and erotic negotiation. Despite not being particularly well suited for modernist experimentation, the sonnet has persisted in the poetry of e.e. cummings, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and John Berryman, among others.The sonnet remains an important part of any good poet's training. Even a contemporary poet such as James Dickey, who is not known for sonnets, made the sonnet an integral part of the teaching of poetry composition because he believed poets should learn the received forms of the craft. This is what the poets included in this collection knew as they set out to become poets and to improve their skills by meeting the demands of the form. Reading these sonnets now helps us to understand the cultural climate that produced them and the other poetic works that form their context. In the pages that follow, we offer this century of sonnets in the hope that today's readers, like those of the past, will find much to ponder, to discuss, and to enjoy.

For example, R. F. Brewer's 1928 book The Art of Versification and the Technicalities of Poetry asserts that “After Milton's time the sonnet was scarcely cultivated at all by our poets for upwards of a hundred years, till… Wordsworth revived its flickering flame, and caused it to break forth again with a new beauty and sweetness peculiarly his own” ([Edinburgh: John Grant, 1928], p. 211).
The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Later Years, ed. Ernest de Selincourt. Vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1939), p. 653.
Walter Savage Landor. The Last Fruit off an Old Tree (London: Edward Moxon, 1853), p. 473.
Alexander Pope. Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Davis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 76, lines 418–9.
Samuel Johnson. A Dictionary of the English Language (London: W. Strahan, 1755).
James Boswell. Life of Johnson, ed. George Birkbeck Hill, Vol. 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971), p. 305.
Nathan Drake. Literary Hours: Or Sketches Critical, Narrative, and Poetical, Vol. 1., 3rd. ed. (London: T. Cadell, 1804), p. 108.
John Fuller. The Sonnet (London: Methuen, 1972), p. 9.
R. D. Havens. The Influence of Milton on English Poetry, 1922 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1961), p. 492. Havens's book still contains the most authoritative and comprehensive study of the eighteenth-century sonnet published to date.
Havens, pp. 495–7.
John A. Vance. Joseph and Thomas Warton (Boston: Twayne, 1983), p. 50.
Drake, p. 113.
Stuart Curran. Poetic Form and British Romanticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 30–1.
For a more detailed discussion of the ways in which poets claimed legitimacy through writing sonnets and of the revival of the sonnet, see Daniel Robinson, “Reviv-


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A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival 1750-1850
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 18
  • Suggested Further Reading 21
  • Editorial Principles 23
  • Thomas Edwards(1699–1757) 25
  • Thomas Warton(1728–90) 26
  • John Codrington Bampfylde (1754–96) 27
  • Charlotte Smith (1749–1806) 29
  • Samuel Egerton Brydges(1762–1837) 39
  • William Hayley (1745–1820) 40
  • Helen Maria Williams(1761–1827) 42
  • William Lisle Bowles(1762–1850) 44
  • Thomas Russell(1762–88) 48
  • Mary Locke(Fl. 1791–1816) 50
  • Ann Radcliffe(1764–1823) 51
  • Anna Maria Jones(1748–1829) 54
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge(1772–1834) 55
  • Amelia Opie(1769–1853) 65
  • John Thelwall(1764–1834) 66
  • Mary Julia Young(Fl. 1789–1808) 68
  • Charles Lamb(1775–1834) 70
  • Mary Robinson(1758–1800) 73
  • William Beckford(1760–1844) 91
  • Charles Lloyd(1775–1839) 91
  • Robert Southey(1774–1843) 94
  • Edward Gardner(Fl. 1770–98) 97
  • Joseph Hucks(D. 1800) 98
  • Anna Seward(1742–1809) 99
  • Ann Home Hunter(1742–821) 106
  • Eliza Kirkham Mathews(1772–1802) 106
  • William Cowper(1731–1800) 107
  • Henry Kirke White(1785–1806) 108
  • Mrs. B. Finch(Fl. 1805) 109
  • Anna Maria Smallpiece(Fl. 1805) 110
  • William Wordsworth(1770–1850) 111
  • Mathilda Betham(1776–1852) 133
  • Susan Evance(Fl. 1808–18) 134
  • Martha Hanson(Fl. 1809) 136
  • Mary F. Johnson(Fl. 1810; D. 1863) 138
  • Mary Tighe(1772–1810) 141
  • Leigh Hunt(1784–1859) 145
  • Mary Bryan(Fl. 1815) 148
  • George Gordon, Lord Byron(1788–1824) 150
  • John Keats(1795–1821) 151
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley(1792–1822) 163
  • Jane Alice Sargant(Fl. 1817–21) 167
  • Thomas Doubleday(1790–1870) 168
  • Horace Smith(1779–1849) 170
  • John Clare(1793–1864) 170
  • Thomas Lovell Beddoes(1803–49) 176
  • Charles Johnston(D. 1823) 177
  • Elizabeth Cobbold(1767–1824) 178
  • John F. M. Dovaston(1782–1852) 180
  • Sarah Hamilton(C. 1769–1843) 181
  • Thomas Moore(1779–1852) 182
  • Mary Russell Mitford(1787–1855) 183
  • Barry Cornwall (Bryan Waller Procter)(1787–1874) 184
  • Joseph Blanco White(1775–1841) 185
  • Thomas Hood(1799–1845) 186
  • Edward Moxon(1801–58) 187
  • William Roscoe(1753–1831) 188
  • Charles Tennyson Turner(1808–79) 189
  • Alfred Tennyson(1809–92) 192
  • Agnes Strickland(1796–1874) 193
  • Frederick Tennyson(1807–98) 195
  • Hartley Coleridge(1796–1849) 196
  • Letitia Elizabeth Landon(1802–38) 199
  • Jane Cross Simpson(1811–86) 200
  • Felicia Hemans(1793–1835) 201
  • Caroline Norton(1808–77) 204
  • Ebenezer Elliott(1781–1849) 206
  • Frederick William Faber(1814–63) 206
  • Frances Anne Kemble(1809–93) 208
  • Eliza Cook(1818–89) 209
  • Arthur Hugh Clough(1819–61) 210
  • William Bell Scott(1811–90) 211
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti(1828–82) 213
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning(1806–61) 215
  • Appendix - Mary Robinson's Preface to Sappho and Phaon 233
  • Notes 239
  • Notes to the Poems and Sources 241
  • Index of Titles, Authors and First Lines 265


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