Wordsworth's Poetical Works
Homoerotics of Romantic Poetry
In the work of the Romantic poets, there is a clear disparity in the representation of male and female homoerotics. While male homosexual poetry is generally characterised by a careful synthesis of personal feeling and an imagined homosocial tradition in Hellenism, female homoerotics are typically torn between an extreme degree of sexual sublimation into the ‘romantic friend’ ideal and a voyeuristic male heterosexual fantasy that is nevertheless pervaded by a sense of panic induced by the presentation of female sexuality. That is, ostensibly lesbian poetry undergoes a process of heterosexualisation that dilutes (and may in fact, entirely undo) any liberating potential the poem would have otherwise possessed. Moreover, while gay male narratives are privileged within a mythologised Hellenistic context and become purified and validated therein, specifically lesbian poetry is denied access to Sapphic tradition. Thus, lesbians become de-Hellenised in Romantic poetry and the reader is alienated from a positive tradition of female homoerotics.
In ‘To lady Eleanor Butler . . .,’ Wordsworth describes the romantic friendship of the Ladies of Llangollen. The poem is pervaded by a sense of sisterhood and close friendship without being...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 883 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6891 literature essays, 1859 sample college application essays, 279 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in