Happy National Poetry Month!
(And thank you Janga, for the lovely reminder!)

In THE DESIRE OF A DUKE (you all convinced me not to mess with the title just yet), I’ve given my heroine a much-cherished family home on the banks of the River Wye, not far from Tintern Abbey. And I’ve been reading and re-reading Wordsworth’s famed description of the area for inspiration:

The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
‘Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!

(From Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey)

Of course, Tintern Abbey itself never appears in the poem, but this 1794 watercolor by Turner captures the ruins as they might have looked to my heroine, in her youthful rambles.

One thing I love about writing romance set in the Regency period is that the period overlaps with the beginnings of true Romanticism, as an artistic, literary, and musical era. I don’t know that it’s especially historically probable, but I love imagining my characters to be influenced, subtly or overtly, by the capital-R Romantics of the day, Wordsworth and Turner among them. In the case of this book, my two main characters (though different in so many respects) share Wordsworth’s affinity for Nature, and in particular this setting. Though sadly, since I’m the one writing their dialog, they won’t express that affinity in such beautiful language.

I shall do my best. Or when in doubt, just quote:

O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer through the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!

Are you a romantic? A Romantic? Both?

6 comments to “Capital-R Romance”

  1. Janga
    · April 5th, 2009 at 1:00 pm · Link

    You’re welcome, Tessa. 🙂

    I can find poets whose work I love in almost any period. My poetry reading ranges chronologically from the ancient Greeks to Natasha Tretheway, “literarily” from Dr. Seuss to Shakespeare, Milton, and Dante (in translation). I love what poets do with words.

    The Academy of American Poets for several years asked people to share the lines from poems they carry in their minds. I’m convinced that we all have such lines, and I love it when a book I’m reading evokes some of the lines I carry. It’s one of the things I always look forward to in Eloisa James’ books. Now I’ll look forward to thinking of Wordsworthian lines when I read The Desire of a Duke. 🙂

  2. terrio
    · April 6th, 2009 at 11:09 am · Link

    Janga sent me that lovely reminder as well so thanks from me too!

    That is a wonderful description of your location. I haven’t spent much time studying poetry but I have a couple of very old poetry collections that belonged to my grandmother. The books are falling apart but I love them and look through them every once in a while. It’s been some time since I did that so I’ll add it to my list for the month.

  3. Darcy Burke
    · April 6th, 2009 at 12:20 pm · Link

    I visited Tintern Abbey when I was in Wales and it’s just breathtaking. I have many, many pictures (alas, none digital – it was 1999 – or I would send them to you) and a print that is very similar to what you posted. Great setting!

  4. Tessa
    · April 6th, 2009 at 11:37 pm · Link

    @Janga: Janga, I love poems from all periods, too. But writing romance set in the Regency just puts me in mind of the Romantics, in particular. And I completely believe that we carry certain lines of poetry in our heads – at least, I know I do. They come out at the strangest times. 🙂

  5. Tessa
    · April 6th, 2009 at 11:41 pm · Link

    @terrio: Terri, I wouldn’t claim to have spent a lot of time studying poetry, either. Now that I’m not in school anymore, I just read it when the mood strikes. But isn’t there something special and tactile about leafing through an old, well-thumbed book? I bought a book of poems at the bookstore last night…thanks for reminding me to have a look at it before I go to bed.

  6. Tessa
    · April 6th, 2009 at 11:43 pm · Link

    @Darcy Burke: Ooh, Darcy, I’m so jealous! I would love to go there. Thankfully, in these days of the Internet, it’s so much easier to research what places look like. But in this case, I think Wordsworth’s words do more for me than a thousand photographs. 🙂

    You’re so sweet to offer your photos – I’d love to see them someday. But actually, my characters never get to Tintern in the book. They’re just in that general area.