Randall Adam Sessler


Randall Sessler's attachment to poetry and ardent faith in its power as a heursitic device arose out of his engagement with music. Music revealed the power of the written word and laid the groundwork for his interest in lyric poetry. Randall is studying 18th Century and Romantic verse at the University of Cambridge and plans to pursue a doctorate within the field. Ultimately, he hopes to show that the world will always need its poetic commentators. For, as Lord Byron tells us, “Words are things, and a small drop of ink, / Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces / That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.” triangle.gif (504 bytes)




The relationship between the British Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Lord Byron has been the topic of many critical studies. For most critics, the poets’ objectives are separated by a clear generational and ideological gap. Wordsworth, an architect of first generation Romantic ideology, creates and implements a poetic program that Byron reads, reacts to, and ultimately refutes. This research project enters the existing critical debate by suggesting that the gap dividing the two poets is not as wide as has been previously thought. By focusing exclusively on the poetry of these seemingly opposed figures, I reconstruct their formal relationship to expose an underlying commonality. Through a close reading of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” and Cantos I and II of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I show that Byron comes away from Wordsworth’s work with a specific understanding of the goals of his poetic predecessor. I argue that Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage represents Byron’s frustrated attempt to implement his own understanding of Wordsworthian ideology. This new approach suggests that Byron’s work should be seen as a negotiation of Wordsworth’s poetic enterprise and first generation Romantic thought. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Hugh John Roberts

School of Humanities

Many critics have explored the explicitly “Wordsworthian” passages in Canto III of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Randie set himself the more complex task of examining the ways in which, almost unconsciously, Byron’s locodescriptive poetry in the first two cantos set about testing certain kinds of Wordsworthian presuppositions about the relationship of the observer to the natural world. Particularly exciting in Randie’s thesis is its refusal of easy answers. He neither sets Byron up as the “anti-Wordsworth” correcting the “errors” in the Wordsworthian poetic, nor does he try to say that Byron is revealed as a “covert Wordsworthian.” Rather, he examines the ways in which Byron puts pressure upon certain kinds of Wordsworthian topoi, neither quite willing to declare them valid, nor quite willing to abandon them as “exploded.” triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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