Towards a Reading of Wordsworth’s ‘Now ye meet in the cave’

Hughes, John D ORCID: 0000-0002-2187-2911 (2018) Towards a Reading of Wordsworth’s ‘Now ye meet in the cave’. Romanticism on the Net (71). pp. 1-24. doi:10.7202/1074534ar

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Wordsworth’s very early “Now ye meet in the cave” (dating from 1786 or a little later) is a strange fragment. It emanates from a desperate, unidentified speaker and bears on the burial of a mysterious female whose death is yet uncertain. It has been largely passed over by critics, with the exception of Duncan Wu - who suggested the poem might be about Wordsworth’s mother. This article follows this intuition, and explores common features of language and theme with a range of works of Wordsworth’s early youth. The conclusion is that “Now ye meet in the cave” is a significant document, and expresses fundamental, yet inevitably covert, facets of Wordsworth’s sensibility. In broadening this case, the article relates a final close reading of the poem to two important, inter-related contexts. The first is Stanley Cavell’s discussion of Romantic scepticism as a metaphysical fantasy involving the refusal of finitude, and a suspended sense of the world’s existence. The second references recent research in Child Psychology that demonstrates the automatic unconscious fantasy of a young orphaned child who affectively bargains his knowledge of his parent’s death for the belief that she still somehow is incorporated, within himself, and within nature.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: Journal title on acceptance: Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wordsworth, William 1770-1850; Literature; REF2021
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR401 Modern > PR451 19th century
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR500 Poetry
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2015 11:34
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:54

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