Rural Ruins: Clare, Wordsworth, and Southey
Clare attends to a range of rural ruins in his work. This chapter focuses on the way in which Clare’s lyric poems often deal with ruins in obscure rural locales, asking us to notice things going on in English culture that would otherwise remain unknown. As this chapter makes clear by a reading of Clare’s lyrics against poems by Wordsworth and a poem by Robert Southey, what we see in Clare is a sense of ongoing, active ruination: this effects a fundamental reconsideration of the visionary and narrative impulses that lie behind Romantic responses to ruins. But Clare is also interested in ruins as sites for aesthetic contemplation and imaginative engagement: such a range of complex responses make him a significant commentator on ruins.