Writing rocks : restoration and excavation in 19th century scientific georgic
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This is a paper about Canto IV of Lord Byron's long narrative poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. It demonstrates the ways in which that poem makes use of both georgic themes and the theories of Catastrophist geology current at the end of the eighteenth century. In short, these two lenses create a mode of poetry in which Byron can view the ruins of Italian culture being consumed by nature in a positive, revolutionary, regenerative light. The paper concludes by contrasting this attitude of Byron's to Victorian attitudes toward ruins in the wake of Uniformitarianism. Readings of the archaeological site at Pompeii, Matthew Arnold's "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse," and Darwin's later work demonstrate that late-19th-century scientific georgic cultivates an ethos of preservation and a desire for human agency.