By Daniel P. Watkins

In this primary serious learn of Anna Letitia Barbauld’s significant paintings, Daniel P. Watkins unearths the singular function of Barbauld’s visionary poems: to recreate the realm in accordance with the values of liberty and justice.

Watkins examines in shut aspect either the shape and content material of Barbauld’s Poems, originally released in 1773 and revised and reissued in 1792. in addition to cautious readings of the poems that situate the works of their broader political, historic, and philosophical contexts, Watkins explores the relevance of the introductory epigraphs and the significance of the poems’ placement through the quantity.

Centering his learn on Barbauld’s attempt to boost a visionary poetic stance, Watkins argues that the planned association of the poems creates a coherent portrayal of Barbauld’s poetic, political, and social imaginative and prescient, a far-sighted sagacity born of her deep trust that the foundations of affection, sympathy, liberty, and pacifism are precious for a safe and significant human fact. In tracing the contours of this attempt, Watkins examines, specifically, the stress in Barbauld’s poetry among her wish to interact at once with the political realities of the area and her both powerful eager for a pastoral global of peace and prosperity.

Scholars of British literature and ladies writers will welcome this significant research of 1 of the eighteenth century’s most effective writers.

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This effort means examining each element of the volume as closely as possible—including the many epigraphs, the textual allusions, and the arrangement of the poems—in relation to the overarching organization of the volume and in relation to the many sources and literary contexts that shape Barbauld’s poetic vision. It also means examining the poems in order of their appearance to better account for their place among, and their relation to, other poems in the volume. By proceeding in this manner, it becomes possible to make a credible determination about the cohesiveness of Barbauld’s poetic thought and the degree to which she aspires to construct a unified visionary statement.

Instead, she situates her visionary understanding within a context of multiple poetic strategies—in this case, satire—to awaken readers to the limitations of consciousness that trap them in ignorance. At the conclusion of the second satire, and through the use of a cryptic poetic strategy, Hands informs any reader who is capable of subtlety and understanding of her real purpose in writing. After imagining the nastiness and sardonic mockery directed toward her by the landed class, who, for instance, make fun of her poetic volume for including a poem about “a mad cow” (54), Hands describes a rector who is present at the scene and who comments to his companions on 14 Anna Letitia Barbauld and Eighteenth-Century Visionary Poetics Hands’s inadequate poetic and biblical understanding.

It also means examining the poems in order of their appearance to better account for their place among, and their relation to, other poems in the volume. By proceeding in this manner, it becomes possible to make a credible determination about the cohesiveness of Barbauld’s poetic thought and the degree to which she aspires to construct a unified visionary statement. With respect to the epigraphs, for instance, it is necessary not only to consider the relation of each epigraph to the poem that it introduces but also look to the larger work from which the epigraph itself is taken in order to determine whether Barbauld is working poetically with that larger text and not just with the epigraphic line or lines.

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