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Wordsworth's Monastic InheritancePoetry, Place, and the Sense of Community$
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Jessica Fay

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198816201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198816201.001.0001

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Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Heritage

Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Heritage

(p.168) 5 Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Heritage
Wordsworth's Monastic Inheritance

Jessica Fay

Oxford University Press

Ecclesiastical Sketches (1822) is an attempt to promote national ecclesiastical unity at a time when Wordsworth considered the Anglican Establishment to be threatened by the prospect of Catholic Emancipation. In preparation for this sonnet series, Wordsworth engaged closely with the work of the Anglo-Saxon scholar, St Bede. This chapter explores the importance of Bede’s eighth-century Ecclesiastical History of the English People as both a model for Wordsworth’s sonnets and as a channel through which he became particularly aware of his heritage as a descendent of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. In this light, the chapter argues for an expanded view of what constitutes Wordsworth’s ‘local’ region, noting that Grasmere was once part of a powerful Kingdom that stretched across the breadth of England. In order to balance his local attachments and appreciation for monasticism with his political opinions, Wordsworth shifts the sonnet form towards the loco-descriptive inscription.

Keywords:   Catholic Emancipation, national unity, local attachment, St Bede, ecclesiastical history, Anglo-Saxon, Northumbria, inscriptions, sonnets

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