Wordsworth's Poetical Works

Forms of Psychoanalysis in Keats, Smith and Wordsworth

While oftentimes viewed as contributing to the development of Freudian psychoanalysis, the psychological discourse, and specifically that which deals with the unconscious (the part of the psyche which subjects are actively unaware), of Romantic poetry can also be seen as possessing various methods of its own for examining the psyche. Romanticism is frequently seen as lacking the critical tool of psychoanalysis, rather than perhaps first putting into action the schema which Freud later codified. However, there is at work within the poetry of Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth and John Keats an individual struggle to understand the machinations of the unconscious which represents an early alternative to classical psychoanalysis.

In the Romantic canon, the psychoanalytic project takes on various forms, most of which would be deemed heretical by Freud-olatry. Charlotte Smith’s texts use narrative commentary on the surroundings as an attempt at auto-analysis(in which either poet or narrator becomes both analyst and analysand). She describes her version of the unconscious as, “…mournful, sober-suited Night!/ When the faint moon, yet lingering in her and,/And veiled in clouds, with pale uncertain light…”(Smith 1-3). This act of...

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