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'That Ill Opinion': Robert Burns and the British Romantic Tradition

PHIPPS, JAKE,ROWAN (2021) 'That Ill Opinion': Robert Burns and the British Romantic Tradition. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 06 July 2024.


My thesis examines the influence of Robert Burns’s poetry on the poetry of several major British Romantic poets, specifically William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Lord Byron. Burns’s debut volume of poetry, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, published in 1786, became an immediate success in Scotland and England. My thesis offers the first sustained analysis of the self-conscious echoes of Burns by Wordsworth, Keats and Byron, where close readings of Burns’s poems alongside their works unearth moments of allusion and intertextuality, as well as shared poetic techniques and aesthetic approaches.
My first chapter looks at Burns’s influence on Wordsworth. Wordsworth was profoundly moved by Burns’s sensitivity to nature and to his sincere attention to low and rustic subjects. Here, I examine Burns’s influence on poems such as Peter Bell, The Ruined Cottage, and ‘Michael’, as well as some of Wordsworth’s poems inspired by his 1803 tour of Scotland, which included visiting Burns’s grave.
My second chapter begins by charting the complicated network of tributes paid to Thomas Chatterton and Robert Burns, where these seemingly disparate poets were often paired together by writers such as Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Hazlitt, and John Keats. This chapter also focuses on Keats’s poems and letters produced during his 1818 tour of Northern England and Scotland, where he, like Wordsworth, made a pilgrimage to Burns’s grave, as well as to his birth-place cottage in Ayrshire.
My final chapter looks at the many shared qualities between the poetry of Burns and Byron. Both poets were adept at manipulating their perceived biographical personae within their poems and so this chapter looks at poems such as ‘Tam O’Shanter’ and Burns’s verse epistles alongside some of Byron’s major works, including The Giaour, Don Juan, and The Vision of Judgment, as well as Byron’s shorter lyrics.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Robert Burns, Romantic Poetry, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Lord Byron, Romanticism, Influence
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jul 2021 14:05

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