The Byron Journal

'Churchill's Grave': A Response to Wordsworth's Excursion

The Byron Journal (2011), 39, (1), 11–18.

Abstract

Highlighting William Wordsworth's unsatisfying conclusion to The Excursion, this essay suggests that in 'Churchill's Grave: A Fact Literally Rendered' Byron directly addresses the problematic ending of Wordsworth's poem. While acknowledging Byron's claim that 'Churchill's Grave' is a serious imitation of Wordsworth, the essay argues that Byron's poem is simultaneously a pointed critique of The Excursion, concluding with a rejection of the Wordsworthian doctrine that graves offer access to a higher truth. In 'Churchill's Grave', Byron insists that we cannot gain any wisdom from the dead, but can and should instead find truth in the words of the living. The poem adds to our understanding of Byron's equivocal attitude towards Wordsworth, as a man and poet he greatly admired but also deplored.

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Bauer, Pearl Chaozon