Essays in Romanticism

Invitations and Withdrawals: Queer Romantic Ecologies in William Blake's The Book of Thel and John Clare's "The Nightingale's Nest"

Essays in Romanticism (2013), 20, (1), 1–18.

Abstract

Through close readings of William Blake's The Book of Thel (1789) and John Clare's "The Nightingale's Nest" (1833), this article examines the concept of "queer ecology," attending both to how these poems explore queerly ethical imperatives posed by the world and to the ways in which queer desires surface, in these poems, as fissures in their ecological imaginaries. Patterns of invitation and withdrawal in both texts confront the reader with their desirous, enmeshed, yet alienated relation to an inherently other world. Blake's and Clare's poems engage their readers in both a desire to enter an enclosed space, a habitat, and a recognition of the enclosure of that space as a textual effect—ecologically, these texts open out and destabilize a moment in which the human becomes aware of its interdependent relation to the nonhuman. As such, both poems trouble ecocritical tendencies to postulate "queer" and "Romantic" as ethical terms.

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Author details

Hannah, Daniel