John Clare, herbalism, and elegy

Journal article


Lafford, Erin 2020. John Clare, herbalism, and elegy. Romanticism. https://doi.org/10.3366/rom.2020.0465
AuthorsLafford, Erin
Abstract

Discussions of Clare’s engagement with botany often trace his fraught relationship with taxonomy, exploring his admiration for common names over the ‘dark system’ of Linnaean classification. This essay expands understanding of Clare’s botanical imagination by considering how he brings his botanical ‘taste’ to bear on the flower as a key figure of elegiac consolation. I refocus attention on his formative preference for pre-Linnaean herbalism and explore how it informs his engagement with elegiac tradition and imagery, especially in relation to Gray’s ‘Elegy’. I attend to how herbalism is brought into relationship with poetic representations of the floral, focussing especially on the connection between Clare’s preference for herbals and Elizabeth Kent’s Flora Domestica. I then discuss ‘Cauper Green’ and ‘The Village Doctress’ (Clare’s most sustained poetic discussions of herbalism) as elegies that try to reconcile the finite temporality of human life with the regenerative life cycles of plants and their flowers.

KeywordsJohn Clare; herbalism; elegy; Thomas Gray
Year2020
JournalRomanticism
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
ISSN1354-991X
1750-0192
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3366/rom.2020.0465
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/624717
hdl:10545/624717
Publication dates2020
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Apr 2020, 10:52
AcceptedJan 2020
Rights

'This is an Author’s Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Edinburgh University Press in Romanticism. The Version of Record is available online at: https://doi.org/10.3366/rom.2020.0465

ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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