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Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry$
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James Williams and Matthew Bevis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198708568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198708568.001.0001

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‘One of the Dumms’

‘One of the Dumms’

Edward Lear and Romanticism

(p.51) 2 ‘One of the Dumms’
Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry

Michael O’Neill

Oxford University Press

This chapter will argue that Romantic delight in particularity as well as suggestiveness–a suggestiveness inseparable from particularity, and often demonstrated through attention to the specificity of sound and syllable–offers itself as a point of origin for Lear’s hilarious and affecting departures. Romantic melodies surface in many of Lear’s poems. Lear shapes a remarkably new mode of poetic speech out of his dealings with that aspect or essence of Romantic poetry that longs or threatens to be autonomous. Such autonomy, in Lear’s case, never grows wholly hermetic. His love of puns and coinages conveys words into a newly existent and verbal universe, one that is, to borrow a word coined by Lear in ‘The Cummerbund: An Indian Poem’, ‘meloobious’ and also poignantly tragic-comic.

Keywords:   Edward Lear, romantic, nonsense, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, Blake, Byron

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