Romantic Spenserianism: Clare, Byron, and Sublime ‘Time’
The sublime is one of the most important aesthetic categories in the Romantic period, but Clare’s extensive concern with it has largely been ignored. One particular aspect of Clare’s sublime can be located in the Spenserian stanzas of his ‘The Triumphs of Time’; here ‘Time’ is imagined as destructively sublime, wrecking and ruining the vain endeavours of civilisations. This brings Clare close to Byron; ‘The Triumphs of Time’ is, this chapter shows, formally, tonally, and thematically influenced by Canto IV of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Contrary to existing critical debate, what we see is that Clare was positively influenced by Byron’s poetic example. With ‘The Triumphs of Time’, then, Clare makes a significant contribution to writing about time and the sublime and also to Romantic Spenserianism.