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Amorous AestheticsIntellectual Love in Romantic Poetry and Poetics, 1788-1853$
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Seth T. Reno

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940834

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940834.001.0001

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John Clare and Ecological Love

John Clare and Ecological Love

(p.87) Chapter Two John Clare and Ecological Love
Amorous Aesthetics

Seth T. Reno

Liverpool University Press

This chapter traces Clare’s development of a more fully ecological love in contradistinction to the poetry of Wordsworth. Clare often appears more Wordsworthian than Wordsworth himself, and he follows the trail of ecological thought and its companion love to their necessary conclusions: the erasure of human subjectivity. While Wordsworth insists on the necessity of subjectivity, Clare shows that love of nature eclipses the human self through detail-oriented, ecocentric poems in which subjectivity vanishes. I focus specifically on Clare’s poetry of the middle and later periods, with an emphasis on his sonnets, manuscript fragments, and shorter lyrics. These works offer formal embodiments of the affective movement that informs ecological love in Clare’s work, and they shed new light on the continuities between the middle and later periods, which often draw a stark division in the study of Clare. By attending closely to Clare’s ecological love across his range of work, we can begin not only to recover the philosophical, political, and formal elements of intellectual love in Clare’s writing, but also to rethink the Romantics’ love of nature as a deeply material, ecological enterprise.

Keywords:   John Clare, William Wordsworth, Ecocriticism, Sonnets, Ecophilia, Love

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