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"Childe Roland to the dark tower came" and the landscapes of the anthropocene.

IN HER CRITICAL WORK ON Emily Dickinson and nineteenth-century poetry, Susan Howe comments that, "for the Robert Browning of 'Childe Roland' [...] velocity, mechanics, heat, thermodynamics, light, chaos of formulae, electromagnetic induction must be called back into the Sublime, found and forgotten." (1) It is a passing observation, but it suggests something of the way Brownings 1855 poem, despite its medieval setting and fantastical trappings, seems to offer a strangely modern and perhaps unsettling vision of the material world. (2) And yet, as Ivan Kreilkamp has argued, the poem's dreamlike quality seems to have discouraged critics from taking the kind of historical approaches that would contextualize Howe's insight, and, in his words, "situate the poem in the particular cultural conditions of the 1850s." (3) Such situating work offers intriguing possibilities; he comments that "to consider Browning in such a super-charged realm of electricity, speed, heat, and light might yet lead to a provocative new vision of him as a prophet of the 'shocking encounters' produced within a technologically mediated nineteenth-century modernity." (4) In an essay on what he terms Browning's "optical unconscious," he persuasively discusses the impact of emergent photographic media technologies on "Childe Roland." In this essay, I would like to follow Kreilkamp's lead, but focus on a different aspect of the poem's "technologically mediated modernity": its depiction of widespread environmental collapse. This feature of the poem is salient and unmistakable: Browning describes a land of "bog, clay, and rubble, sand and stark black dearth" (150) where the grass grows "scant as hair in leprosy" (73-74), and the earth looks used up, "desperate and done with" (147). (5) Indeed, the ruined landscape is perhaps the single most memorable thing about the poem. Yet the common assumption is that this landscape is not real, that it functions as a projection of some aspect of, or conflict within, Childe Roland himself. For most critics, the external environment is "a world of his own imagining" (Carol Christ); a sign of "the unconscious mind projecting itself in the action of the poem" (John Willoughby); or the representation of an "apocalyptic consciousness" (Harold Bloom). The search for the dark tower thus becomes a form of "interior questing" (Edward Strickland)." (6)

But the assumption that the environment is reducible to the inner state of the protagonist has perhaps prevented us from reckoning with the ways in which the poem might express anxiety about actual degraded material environments during a period when they were of undeniable interest to the culture. After all, the poem was written at a time of acute ecological crisis, on display most spectacularly in cities like London and Manchester, but also in ostensibly "rural" territories and the outskirts of populated areas. Consider Dickens's description in The Old Curiosity Shop (1841): "they came, by slow degrees, upon a cheerless region, where not a blade of grass was seen to grow, where not a bud put forth its promise in the spring, where nothing green could live but on the surface of stagnant pools, which here and there lay idly sweltering by the black road-side." (7) Or F. R. Conders account of his journey into the "carbonised landscape" of South Staffordshire and North Worcester in 1868: "a pair of lofty cupolas vomiting flame. All around the earth is black [...] The cranks and wheels of the gaunt, skeleton-like steam-engines, working without shelter and without rest, raise a dismal clatter." (8) These are the kinds of "mean landscapes" that G. K. Chesterton saw reflected in the world of Brownings poem. (9) For Chesterton, "Childe Roland" evoked at once the "grey mean street" of the Victorian city and "the shabby and hungry aspect of the earth itself," that is, a world poised uncertainly between the urban and the rural, the natural and the industrial. (10) But although we now read works by Dickens, Ruskin, Gaskell, Kingsley, Disraeli, and many of Brownings other Victorian contemporaries in such terms, (11) as texts deeply concerned about the strange new material environments produced by a rising industrial modernity, Brownings wasteland has received, since Chesterton, almost no such attention. (12)

Indeed, despite sharing literary borders with Romantic poetry and Victorian prose--both fertile territory for ecocritical analysis in recent years--Victorian poetry is seldom discussed in terms of its engagement with environmental questions. There are a few exceptions (Hopkins is perhaps the most well-known); but, in general, nature in the Victorian poetic imaginary is often understood as a frightening Lyellian or Darwinian world about which the poet despairs or feels anxious, from which he or she urges a retreat into some private form of consolation, or through which he or she works to subvert sclerotic cultural norms. For many Victorian poets, it seems, nature is not often imagined as under threat, because it is the threat. But, as I hope to demonstrate, considering "Childe Roland" through the lens of what would come to be termed the "Anthropocene" might allow us to see how both may be true at once. As many Victorians were discovering, reckless resource consumption, unchecked pollution, rapid forest-clearing, and other destructive incursions could set off extensive, unpredictable consequences that, in turn, imperiled human communities, vital ecosystems, and even, for some, the biosphere itself. Crucially, the development of this ecological awareness partly depended upon the displacement of the human from its ontological priority in natural history, the idea that biotic systems could undergo irreversible changes resulting in the mass extinction of species, and a vision of the human as subject to the same environmental pressures and hazards as those other species. In other words, it depended upon the same threatening new vision of the natural world that Lyell, Darwin, and others propounded, but with an emphasis on the complex, reciprocally shaping dialectic between natural and human systems. The dawn of the Anthropocene, as it was both overtly theorized and more inchoately imagined in nineteenth-century texts, involved a recognition not simply of industry's growing power to exhaust, pollute, and render uninhabitable, but also of troubling, disruptive changes to the conceptualization of humans' relationship to natural history and to the earth. "Childe Roland" emerges during a moment in social and environmental history when the strange epistemologies of the Anthropocene were first becoming thinkable, and the poem uniquely expresses the complex dialectic of recognition and estrangement that would become a hallmark of the new epoch.

Key to these expressive possibilities is the poem's genre. The dramatic monologue, with its idiosyncratic character studies and interest in the contortions of individual self-fashioning, may seem an unlikely place to find a consideration of environmental crisis. But it is an ideal vehicle for representing the fissures and contradictions of an epistemological crisis, and, as I discuss below, the Anthropocene necessarily involves both. In its unmatched ability to dramatize the complex psychological dynamics of rationalization and self-concealment, and to make palpable the tension between immediate experience and the various cultural systems that would press that experience into meaningful patterns and teleological narratives, the dramatic monologue can engage with the cultural blind spots that made (and continue to make) these interlocking material and epistemological crises so intractable. The sense of unreality, alienation, threat, mutability, and metamorphosis that "Childe Roland" generates, the uncertainty about whether we are inside or outside the speaker's mind, the submission to a structuring telos that is simultaneously acknowledged to be unavailing--the things, in other words, that have led critics to treat the landscape as an internal state, a nightmare, hallucination, or vision--are, I will argue, the very qualities that make the poem such an intriguing exploration of the issues raised by the environmental crisis unfolding at this time.

Intimations of the Anthropocene

In 2000, the chemist Paul Crutzen and the biologist Eugene Stoermer proposed the term "Anthropocene" to classify the epoch when Homo sapiens rose to the status of geological agent. (13) They suggest a start date to the era--1784, James Watts invention of the steam engine--and mention a number of nineteenth-century writers who recognized that something fundamental in the relationship between humans and the environment had changed. In 1879, as Crutzen and Stoermer show, the Italian geologist Antonio Stoppani proposed the term "anthropozoic era" to describe humanity's rise to a "telluric force" on the planet. (14) In the same year, the Scottish geologist Archibald Geikie wrote in The Encyclopaedia Britannica:

No survey of the geological workings of plant and animal life upon the surface of the globe can be complete which does not take account of the influence of man--an influence of enormous and increasing consequence in physical geography, for man has introduced, as it were, an element of antagonism to nature. (15)

If, as Bronislaw Szerszynski puts it, "the human is the first geological force to become conscious of its geological role," the nineteenth century witnessed the stirrings of that consciousness. (16) But such a notion represented a significant break from the anthropo- and theocentric geology that dominated the early nineteenth century. In 1795, the influential Scottish geologist James Hutton could take it as an article of faith that "the globe of this earth is evidently made for man," assuming both human domination of the globe and the divine intention sponsoring it. (17) Many writers in the natural theology tradition imagined the entire natural world as a homeostatic system designed to provide a secure and stable home for humanity; as William Buckland puts it in his Bridgewater Treatise: "each individual movement has contributed its share towards the final object, of conducting the molten materials of an uninhabitable planet, through long successions of change and of convulsive movements, to a tranquil state of equilibrium; in which it has become the convenient and delightful habitation of man." (18)

This anthropocentric, teleological model of natural history was decisively undermined by Darwin in The Origin of Species (1859), although it was dealt a significant blow earlier, by Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830-33). Lyell's popular text described what we would now call "deep time," a vision of geological history emphasizing its unfathomable duration and indifference to human concerns. But although they were important precursors, Lyell and Darwin cannot be claimed as early theorists of the Anthropocene. Interested as they are in subverting the dominant canons of natural theology and challenging many anthropocentric assumptions, their emphasis, understandably, falls on cutting the human down to size. Lyell imagined the earth as shaped by an interlocking array of powerful inorganic forces: tidal, volcanic, tectonic, gravitational, and the like, and did not (initially) believe human activity could have any impact upon such a vast system: "the aggregate force exerted by man is truly insignificant, when we consider the operations of the great physical causes, whether aqueous or igneous, in the inanimate world." (19) For Darwin, likewise, minimizing human influence played an important argumentative role in the Origin. To make his case for the astonishing transformative power of natural selection, he had to show how completely it eclipsed the changes that could be wrought by artificial selection: "how fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will his products be, compared with those accumulated by nature during whole geological periods." (20) For both writers, the significance of Homo sapiens as a unique force on the planet is dwarfed by the immensity of geological time, and, in Darwin, is leveled by its extensive ties of kinship with so-called lower life forms.

This seems a far cry from concerns about outsized human influence that characterize the discourse of the Anthropocene, but it's worth noting that although evolutionary theory and deep time may have minimized the human, their assault on anthropocentric assumptions also made a world of irreversible environmental change conceivable. If the earth was not specially created for the realization of human purposes, then there was no reason to think it must always remain a suitable habitat for human life. T. H. Huxley, for example, imagines that: "the time must come when evolution will mean adaptation to a universal winter, and all forms of life will die out, except such low and simple organisms as the Diatom of the arctic and antarctic ice and the Protococcus of the red snow." (21) Darwin also described the complex enmeshment of all forms of life, the vulnerability of habitats to even minor changes, and the powerfully determinative effects of resource availability. Thus his work helped engender an ecological imaginary that could trace the ramifying impact of industrial growth upon various ecosystems and even the biosphere itself. Paul Alberts argues that the Anthropocene "signifies] a critical juncture for received anthropocentric values," and we can see in Darwin and Lyell the kinds of crucial revisions to those values that would help make it thinkable. (22)

Lyell later revised his opinion about the geomorphic power of humans, thanks, in part, to the influence of the American statesman and linguist--and friend of the Brownings--George Perkins Marsh. (23) Marsh's 1864 Man and Nature is an extensive study of (as the subtitle has it) "Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action" and, in the words of Jan Zalasiewicz et al., "the first major work to focus on anthropogenic global change." (24) In recent years, Marsh has become something of a touchstone for historians of the Anthropocene not just because he recognizes the impact of human activity upon the biosphere, but because he calls attention to how unpredictable the side effects of seemingly innocuous modifications can be: "I propose to examine only the greater, more permanent, and more comprehensive mutations which man has produced, and is producing, in earth, sea, and sky, sometimes, indeed, with conscious purpose, but for the most part, as unforeseen though natural consequences of acts performed for narrower and more immediate ends." (25) Marsh also vividly expresses something of the uncertain status of the human species in this new geological epoch. On the one hand, he sometimes aggrandizes humanity in what seems a conventionally anthropocentric manner: "The earth is fast becoming an unfit home for its noblest inhabitant," he argues, suggesting a sense of human preeminence that, many would argue, is at the very root of the problem. But the perspective shifts significantly as he continues: "another era of equal human crime and human improvidence, and of like duration with that through which traces of that crime and that improvidence extend, would reduce it to such a condition of impoverished productiveness, of shattered surface, of climatic excess, as to threaten the depravation, barbarism, and perhaps even extinction of the species." (26) Over the course of the passage, the special nobility of Homo sapiens is steadily undermined by "crime" and "improvidence," until, by the end, it is reduced to just one more "species" facing extinction. Marsh is not so much denying the centrality of human beings, as formulating a bracing new vision of the contingency and precariousness of its position. (27)

If writers like Marsh, Geieke, and Stoppani were beginning to theorize explicitly the onset of a new geological epoch, others registered its effects in more inchoate ways. Perhaps most striking are those representations of landscapes that emphasized the immense, almost magical power with which a science-driven industrial modernity was reshaping the physical environment. Sometimes this took the form of a kind of technological triumphalism, as in this description by the engineer Robert Stephenson in 1850:

Hills have been cut down and valleys filled up [...] if mountains stood in the way, tunnels of unexampled magnitude have pierced them through, bearing their triumphant attestation to the indomitable energy of the nation, and the unrivalled skill of our artisans. (28)

Other writers emphasized the disruption and chaos of such activity, as in Dickens's account of urban railway construction in Dombey and Son (1848):

There were a hundred thousand shapes and substances of incompleteness, wildly mingled out of their places, upside down, burrowing in the earth, aspiring in the air, mouldering in the water, and unintelligible as any dream. Hot springs and fiery eruptions, the usual attendants upon earthquakes, lent their contributions of confusion to the scene. Boiling water hissed and heaved within dilapidated walls; whence, also, the glare and roar of flames came issuing forth. (29)

Despite the obvious differences, both passages resize the geological world into human dimensions in order, paradoxically, to emphasize the greater-than-human scale on which industrial work occurred. For Stephenson, a mountain that "stood in the way" like some obdurate rival is vanquished at a single stroke, simultaneously transforming the mountain into a character in a human-sized drama and the human into a mountain-sized actor. Dickens, meanwhile, describes the coming of the railway as a volcanic event, and elides the distinctions between industrial and geological forces. Of course, Dickens's metaphors always cut both ways: the power of the comparison resides as much in the jarring dissimilarity between the phenomena as in the unexpected and revealing areas of contiguity. The point is not so much that Dickens or Stephenson presciently grasped that humans had acquired geological agency, but that such conceits register the confusion of scale and proportion that arises as humanity begins exerting an unprecedented power to make and unmake its environment.

Timothy Clark argues that the Anthropocene is the "moment in the history of the earth at which humanity's material impact and numbers become such that the set of discrete and once unconnected individual acts across the globe transmogrifies itself into an entity that is also geological and climatological, transgressing given distinctions of human and inhuman." Victorian writers recruited a variety of quasi-human figures to try to come to terms with this "entity" and the strange new form of agentless agency that was reshaping the environment. (30) The physicist John Tyndall, for example, describes industry in terms of the cosmic energy of a personified sun, endowing it with both intention and will: "He builds the forest and hews it down, the power which raised the tree, and which wields the axe being one and the same [...] The sun digs the ore from our mines, he rolls the iron; he rivets the plates, he boils the water; he draws the train." (31) Other writers invoked classical gods, magicians, and fairy tales to describe the world-transforming agencies of modernity. (32) Such tropes are clearly vulnerable to the kind of analysis practiced by Raymond Williams, Walter Benjamin, and other Marxist critics who identify the way they obscure the actual laborers who perform this work--the miners, for example, who do the dangerous work of blasting through a mountain--and help fashion a coercive rhetoric of helplessness before the forces of capitalism. But we might also read in the recourse to these more-than-human entities a struggle to find appropriate organizing figures through which to comprehend humanity's newfound power, its "peculiar and unprecedented agency," to borrow a phrase from Lyell. (33) For some, this agency presents a bitter paradox, since the discrepancy between what a given individual would no doubt want his or her environment to be like, and what, collectively, humans are actually turning the environment into, seems to be widening into a possibly impassable divide. Consider the description in Our Mutual Friend (1865) of an area of London "which looked like a toy neighbourhood taken in blocks out of a box by a child of particularly incoherent mind, and set up anyhow [...] As if the child had given the table a kick and gone to sleep." (34) Here, the forces of transformation are gathered together in a single being possessed of a chaotic willfulness but nothing resembling a rational will. In "The Two Paths" (1859), Ruskin turns this paradoxical condition back upon his audience:

How would you like the world, if all your meadows, instead of grass, grew nothing but iron wire--if all your arable ground, instead of being made of sand and clay, were suddenly turned into flat surfaces of steel--if the whole earth, instead of its green and glowing sphere, rich with forest and flower, showed nothing but the image of the vast furnace of a ghastly engine--a globe of black, lifeless, excoriated metal? (35)

Ruskin exploits the seemingly schizophrenic split between the limited radius of individual human actions, and the enormous scale on which those actions, in the aggregate, take effect. An individual reader will no doubt recoil from the vision of a lifeless metal globe; but considered collectively (Ruskin makes clear elsewhere) his audience is part of an emergent commercial culture that, with its degraded aesthetic tastes, its desire for profit and convenience, and its stunted moral imagination, actively brings such a world into being. In different ways, the Victorians struggled to represent a strange situation in which humans have become, in Alberts's words, "agents of a situation that currently escapes available means of control." (36)


The wasteland of Brownings poem expresses something of this simultaneously aggrandized and evacuated agency, where everything seems marked by the imprint of human activity, but nothing seems under anyone's control. Childe Roland repeatedly speculates on the causes of the violence and devastation he sees--"What made those holes and rents / In the dock's harsh swarth leaves?" (69-70); "what war did they wage [...]?" (129); "What penned them there with all the plain to choose?" (134); "What bad use was that engine for" (140)--and responds with grotesque speculations: "'tis a brute must walk / Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents" (71-72); "Toads in a poisoned tank, / Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage" (131-32); "Mad brewage set to work / Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk / Pits for his pastime" (136-38); "to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel" (144). The answers are incomplete and inadequate, in part, because the questions are framed in the language of intention and choice, as if every sign of destruction must have the will of an identifiable actor behind it. Even the fantastical images bear the traces of conscious agency: the imaginary toads and cats are penned, heated, and poisoned in human-made structures, and the idea of collective madness--the "mad brewage"--is likewise anchored in a situation brought about by human design, and embedded in the us-versus-them dualism of the crusading past. Like the quest narrative, Childe Roland's moral imagination is something of an anachronism in this landscape, since environmental breakdown is not traceable to an organized will in the ordinary sense; instead, it is the indirect product of complex network of human actions motivated by an even more complex array of desires, objectives, imperatives, and reactions to environmental pressures.

To push this point a bit further, take the moment after Childe Roland fords the river, and speculates about the causes of the devastation he sees:
   Who were the strugglers, what war did they rage
   Whose savage trample could thus pad the dank
   Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank,
   Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage--
   The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque.
   What penned them there, with all the plain to choose? (129-34)

David Erdman connects the imagery in this scene to "the dubious battles of history, including Roncevaux and the civil strife in Paris," but the vision of struggling masses crowded together in miserable, bestial conditions, as well as the imagery of warfare, also echoes the rhetoric commonly used to describe city slums during the period. (37) The question Childe Roland poses--"what penned them there"--was one of the mysteries of demographic trends often considered by urban reformers and critics. Dickens describes crowds of people migrating to London as if "impelled by a desperate fascination." (38) And George Augustus Sala asks: "what need was there for all this burrowing and swarming together?" (39) Salas question--like Roland's--suggests bewilderment at the organizing and disorganizing forces of modernity, the interlocking social and economic pressures that shape the world, but that do not yield in any straightforward way to questions of need, cause, and intention. "Childe Roland," it is worth noting, appears at roughly the same moment in literary history as the figure of the detective, who, as Richard Lehan argues, arose as an attempt to bring the forces of an urbanizing modernity "back to human scale." (40) We can see in the questions Childe Roland applies to the world around him something akin to a forensic procedure: at each new stage, he examines the evidence of violence, and attempts to reconstruct the crime and identify the culprits. But where, as Lehan notes, the detectives ability to reconstruct cause from effect serves as a "testimony to the power of [... ] scientific rationalism," Childe Roland's amateur sleuthing yields no clarity, only grotesque imaginings and further questions. Near the poem's end, he wonders how mountains could appear out of nowhere, but passes the investigation off to the reader: "solve it, you! / How to get from them was no clearer case" (167-68). The detective novel reassuringly resolved its "cases" through identifying the criminal, thereby circumscribing disorder in specific agents and recognizable motives; in "Childe Roland" no such circumscription is possible, because no easily identifiable agent is responsible. As Joseph Meeker argues: "environmental guilt is collective, distributed unevenly among the people now living, and those who have lived before. Without a personality to focus upon, ecological crisis presents merely a spectacle of catastrophe." (41) Throughout the poem, agency coalesces momentarily into phantom figures with malign intentions, and then disintegrates again, as Roland trudges on and encounters new scenes of damage demanding different explanations.

Near the end of the poem, Childe Roland presents the poem's most ecologically salient depiction of the kind of hypertrophied, uninhabited agency I have been describing:
   Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,
   Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth
   Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth,
   Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood
   Changes and off he goes!) within a rood--
   Bog, clay and rubble, sand and stark black dearth. (145-50)

The idea of a disordered mind capriciously "making and marring" recalls Caliban's vision of Setebos mutilating crabs on the beach--that is, of divinity run amok. But it also echoes Dickens's incoherent-minded child toying with London neighborhoods in Our Mutual Friend, and the improvident human mismanagement of the environment. Browning, like Dickens, posits an entity poised somewhere between the all-too-human ("so a fool finds mirth") and the decidedly more-than-human (with landscape-marring powers), a collective force of environmental recklessness coalesced in an imaginary being. As Erdman argues, "the focus here is upon the eclectic and irresponsible exploitation of natural resources," and he connects the scene to the period's laissez-faire economic ideology.42 Indeed, the poem's accelerated account of deforestation, "once a wood, / Next a marsh [...] now mere earth," would have resonated with Marsh, whose concerns about human-induced environmental change had their origins in the rapid, ramifying ecological effects of large-scale tree-clearing. Such exploitation, he argued, could cause the desertification of fertile regions, and even change the climate. He writes:

When the forest is gone, the great reservoir of moisture stored up in its vegetable mould is evaporated, and returns only in deluges of rain to wash away the parched dust into which that mould has been converted [...] the whole earth, unless rescued by human art from the physical degradation to which it tends, becomes an assemblage of bald mountains, of barren, turfless hills, and of malarious plains. There are parts of Asia Minor, of Northern Africa, of Greece, and even of Alpine Europe where the operation of causes set in action by man has brought the face of the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon. (43)

The logic that Marsh makes explicit here and elsewhere is implicit in Browning's sequence of images: a forest razed, a landscape mutating through dramatic changes until it gives way to "stark black dearth": exhaustion and desolation. The "sudden little river" that appears without warning in stanza XIX resonates with the mutable natural world Marsh often depicts: "Vast forests have disappeared"; "masses of water suddenly shoot forth from the mountain heights"; "the soils of those fair lands are turned to thirsty and inhospitable deserts." (44) The mountainous formations that suddenly arise near the end of the poem--"the plain had given place / All round to mountains--with such name to grace / Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view" (164-66)--suggest the volatility of the environment, and the strange sense that they are pursuing some kind of active design of their own. Human agency seems to be everywhere and nowhere at once. The word "heap," meanwhile, evokes the manmade: we might think of the London dust heaps memorably depicted by Dickens, Mayhew, and E. H. Dixon, or the "heaps of calcined shale and cinders" surrounding mining operations on the moors of Yorkshire and elsewhere. (45)

The fantastical elements of the poem--the metamorphic topography, the unexpected, out-of-nowhere eruptions of natural formations--have long been grist for critics who would read the poem's environment as a projection of Childe Roland's inner state. As Joyce Meyers puts it: "the many distortions of the natural world, the frequent use of the pathetic fallacy, and the ambiguous sense of time and space make it clear that Childe Roland is not telling an objective tale but is narrating a psychological experience." (46) I will return to the poem's use of the "pathetic fallacy" in a moment; for now, I would note that Victorian writers concerned with environmental damage frequently deployed "distortions"--fantastical conceits, outlandish or extreme figures of speech, dramatic warps in the space-time continuum--to convey something of the unprecedented strangeness of these new modern landscapes. We might think of the "Megalosaurus" trudging through the London mud in the opening of Dickens's Bleak House, or his comment in Dombey and Son that the urban landscape has become as "unintelligible as any dream." (47) Or consider the depiction of the Black Country, quoted above, that imagines a vision out of Dante's Inferno realized on earth. Such descriptions also communicate a "psychological experience," but it is the experience of total disorientation in the presence of startling new forms of environmental upheaval and degradation. In short, something dreamlike was happening, but it was a kind of collective dream being visited upon the world in tangible, material ways.

But the hallucinatory strangeness of the poem inheres not just in the distorted formations and objects that unexpectedly appear, but in the aggressive personification and conspicuous moral and emotional projection Childe Roland indulges in throughout. The natural world is not just stark and desolate, "Nature" speaks "peevishly" (63); the starving horse he encounters isn't simply malnourished, he "must be wicked to deserve such pain" (84); and the thistle stalks are not cropped by grazing animals, they have their "head[s] chopped" and feel "jealous" (69) of any who would attempt to grow taller than "its mates" (68). Examples can be found in almost any stanza: we are frequently invited to watch Childe Roland paint the landscape in the vivid hues of his own anguish and fatigue. Where Dickens's narrator tends to frame his eccentric flights in language that marks them off from "reality" ("if would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus"; "which looked like a toy neighbourhood taken in blocks out of a box by a child"), Childe Roland tends to favor the plainly assertive over the expressly counterfactual, thus rendering entirely unclear the distinction between fact and fancy, within and without.

This of course is the "pathetic fallacy," the attribution of human qualities to nonhuman nature, famously theorized by Ruskin over a series of chapters in the third volume of Modern Painters (1856). Thomas Ford argues that because Ruskin finds examples of the pathetic fallacy in everyone from Dante to Pope, and because the concept was famously canonized in literary studies by the New Critics, "its historical dimension has been underplayed." (48) But Ruskin (he notes) makes the historical case that the pathetic fallacy is a sign of an ongoing shift in the relation between human beings and the natural world. It is, Ruskin says, "eminently characteristic of the modern mind" and expressive of "an extraordinary change in human nature." (49) If the crisis of the Anthropocene is partly a crisis about the conflicting ways in which the material environment is and is not--should and should not be--"humanized," then Ruskins attempt to calibrate the appropriate use of such a trope can be seen as implicitly connected to the ecological concerns he discusses more explicitly elsewhere. The pathetic fallacy is clearly a fraught concept: on the one hand, it may seem to express a sense of dynamic, sympathetic connection between humans and the environment; as Byron puts it: "I live not in myself, but I become / Portion of that around me; and to me / High mountains are a feeling." (50) Ruskin sees it this way and thus argues for its (limited) value, despite its evident falsity. On the other hand, the pathetic fallacy is not simply a falsification, but an imaginative expropriation of the natural world, often implicitly motivated by the assumption that the nonhuman achieves its purpose only by being processed through human structures of meaning and value. Such a verbal expropriation comes at a time when industrial culture was pursuing headlong a wholesale material expropriation of nature, when everything from forests to bird dung to thunderstorms were being reimagined as potential forms of motive power or profit. Consider the anonymous writer in The British Quarterly Review who laments, of all things, sunbeams because, like idle workers, they "play so unprofitably [... ] on many parts of our earth" when they could be "impounded" and "compelled to serve mankind in a very useful and lucrative capacity." (51) The article paints a picture of a fully personified cosmos, describing windmill sails "circling merrily," unused energy "slumbering," and the sun as a "he" and "him" throughout. (52) Like many popular Victorian discussions of energy technology, the vision of a fully exploitable world is matched by language that figuratively extends the domain of the human into mechanical, vegetative, and inorganic processes.

"Childe Roland" pushes this kind of personification to extremes, until the natural world is so fully saturated by the human that it no longer seems to possess an independent reality of its own. The poem thus poses semiotic and metasemiotic problems; as critics have long pointed out, Childe Roland functions as both reader and writer of his own text, narrating his quest for the Dark Tower while attempting to interpret the signs around him for clues to its meaning. For Harold Bloom, this dual position speaks to a certain anxiety over Browning's own post-Romantic poetic belatedness. For Andrew Stauffer, the "allegories of reading and writing" the poem offers can be productively historicized in relation to a mechanical Victorian print culture that privileged popular novels and periodicals over poetry. (53) And Herbert Tucker compellingly discusses the poems many textual puns that frame the landscape itself as a kind of page. (54) But I am suggesting we also might see in Childe Roland's mysteriously dialectical interaction with the "text" of the landscape a new set of concerns stirring about humanity's relationship to the so-called book of nature. That book is one humans have long been trying to decipher, but the Victorian era was the first in which they began to realize they were simultaneously writing the very pages they were trying to read. Szerszynski writes on the complex involutions of geological reading that emerge in this epoch:

What we as humans put down in the stone book is the disruption of other layers, a rifling through the pages, as we drill, mine and extract. We are volcanic, creating extrusive and intrusive formations that break the logic of superposition and burst the relation between space and time in the stone book [... ] we create pages at strange angles, generating a 'Rubik's book' that would need to be read through in all directions simultaneously. (55)

In such a context, John Willoughby's argument about Childe Roland's paradoxical agency--"the speaker thinks of himself as having no control over his destiny, yet in one interpretation of the poem he determines everything that happens"--might be reframed as a conflict in which the power humanity gains to write the book of nature--to shape the environment in its own image and according to its own desires--always also produces a threatening, paranoia-inducing illegibility and loss of power. (56) Childe Roland's strange predicament can clearly be read (as Willoughby mentions) as an anticipation of Freudian psychodynamics, where the conscious mind confronts its lack of control over the powerful and anarchic forces of the unconscious. But we might also read in it, I'm suggesting, a kind of political-ecological unconscious, where the human produces, through its putative rationality and fictions of order, bewildering environmental nightmares that bear its stamp, but have a chaotic life of their own. Friedrich Engels describes this tension in the Dialectics of Nature (1883):

Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human conquests over nature. For each such conquest takes its revenge on us. Each of them, it is true, has in the first place the consequences on which we counted, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which cancel out the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor, and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that they were laying the basis for the present devastated conditions of those countries, by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture. (57)

The phrase "never dreamed" of course means "never anticipated," but it also nicely expresses the way environmental breakdown exceeds forms of rational expectation and management. Just as Childe Roland's chivalric quest is an ineffective response to the devastation he sees, Engels suggests here that the straightforward notion of "conquest" has been emptied of its meaning by a newfound awareness of the unfathomably complex interconnections of the natural world. Fifty years after Wordsworth lamented that "little we see in nature that is ours," Childe Roland trudges through a world in which simultaneously too little and too much in nature are "ours." Recognition and identification are interarticulated with aversion and estrangement, and this double movement perhaps encourages critics to read the poem as the story of a man in conflict with the forces of his own psyche, and to understand the external environment as a projection of those forces. I would argue the environment in "Childe Roland" is a projection, but one that, at this moment, is increasingly being imagined as a materially realized projection of collective human desires, values, and imperatives. We cannot apprehend this zone as it is, because before we even reach it, we have already been there: using and trampling, making and marring. This is a central paradox of environmental epistemology in the nineteenth century, vividly expressed in Ruskins vision of "a globe of black, lifeless, excoriated metal" and throughout Browning's poem: the power to humanize the world is producing a world that is thoroughly inhuman.


As James Winter points out, the parts of Marshs Man and Nature that Victorian reviewers found most objectionable were not his vivid descriptions of deforestation or erosion, but his assault on teleological thinking. (58) Indeed, teleological narratives organized around providential design, technological development, evolutionary meliorism, or some mixture of these, were crucial expedients for those who would quiet alarms about environmental ruin, and restore human, Western, or English history to its place of cosmic centrality. Such narratives could serve to explain, justify, or rationalize out of existence the many forms of destruction involved in industrial and commercial enterprises. Consider the geologist Joseph Holdsworth, writing in the 1860s, about what he concedes is the inevitable exhaustion of English coal supplies: "we have the fullest faith, that the Power which made this wonderful provision for our manifold contingencies has, so to speak, amply provisioned us for triumphantly carrying out our glorious world-wide mission of humanising usefulness." (59) The problem with such teleological thinking was not just that it often served to absolve humans of responsibility for the environment, but that it came armored with a kind of unfalsifiable internal logic: when the end will ultimately justify whatever path was taken to achieve it, an appeal to that end always remains viable as long as it remains unachieved.

If, as Winter argues, Marsh's decidedly antiteleological environmentalism was "out of tune with the questing spirit of the time," we may recognize in "Childe Roland" a vivid realization of this metaphor. (60) The poem's conspicuously empty teleological drive--the journey to the dark tower--suggests the persistence of purpose-driven fictions in the face of environmental breakdown, even as such fictions are revealed to be entirely unavailing. Upon locating the path to the tower, Childe Roland tells us he has no illusions about achieving "success" (he has seen too much to fall for that); instead, his heart stirs, "finding failure in its scope" (24). And yet, despite this acquiescence, something in him remains susceptible to the notion that progress is still possible. Upon fording the gruesome river with its water rats shrieking like babies, he thinks to himself: "now for a better country" (128). Followed immediately (inevitably) by his exclamation: "Vain presage!" as he reaches the other bank and surveys the "dank soil" seemingly trampled by warring armies and, a bit further on, an engine with "rusty teeth of steel" (144). The "better country" is already compromised, a suggestion that there are no longer any places unsullied by human activity and, perhaps, by the world-exhausting work of industry. The image of the engine is also Browning at his most elliptically Ruskinian, as the description, "that engine [...] that wheel, / Or brake, not wheel--that harrow fit to reel / Men's bodies out like silk?" (140-42) anticipates the ghoulish representation of industrial workers in The Stones of Venice (1853): "the strength of them is given daily to be wasted into the fineness of a web, or racked into the exactness of a line." (61) Both passages give modern machinery the sinister gleam of medieval torture devices, collapsing distant time periods in order to suggest, in Charles Kingsley's words, how "we, with all our boasted civilisation, are, as yet, but one step removed from barbarism." (62) Ruskin's, of course, is an assured and commanding perspective, while Browning presents us with the microdrama of Roland's hesitant, self-revising attempts simply to identify the device. The uncertainty this generates--what is this thing, and why doesn't he recognize it?--is one of the ways that, as Erdman notes, the putatively pre-industrial landscape of "Childe Roland" takes on the feel of "a post-industrial era" (432). There is an "Ozymandias" quality to Childe Roland's encounter with such an artifact, but instead of the "lone and level sands" that will one day obliterate all trace of the human, the wasteland here seems entirely saturated with the residue of human civilization.

The idea that the earth might no longer contain any regions unmarked by human activity is something the nineteenth century first articulated and the twentieth and twenty-first centuries found increasingly troubling. The English-American ecologist Kenneth Boulding writes:

Over a very large part of the time that man has been on earth, there has been something like a frontier. That is, there was always some place else to go when things got too difficult, either by reason of the deterioration of the natural environment or a deterioration of the social structure in places where people happened to live. The image of the frontier is probably one of the oldest images of mankind, and it is not surprising that we find it hard to get rid of. (63)

We see in "Childe Roland" how tenacious that image is, as the river that arises out of nowhere is suddenly infused with significance, as if it is a consequential boundary that might separate the wasted land from somewhere better. Herbert Tucker writes that Browning's poetry "intensifies at moments when the negotiation of a frontier marks a new beginning," and this moment seems an ironic variation on that theme. (64) The intensified expectations occur only to be dashed, and thus ironically work to reconfirm an entrapping pattern of imagined renewal and inevitable frustration. In this way, Childe Rolands narrative self-fashioning doesn't merely involve the description of a wasted environment, it brings us inside the perceiving mind's ongoing response to such an environment, and dramatizes the stubborn persistence of modes of thinking and feeling that are no sooner demolished than they are elicited all over again.

This promise of the frontier was, of course, metaphorical as well as more literally geographical: the hope of radical, wholesale environmental rejuvenation sprung from the technoscientific imagination, as industry seemed always one breakthrough away from repairing the damage it had wrought. In his remarkable sermon "Human Soot," Charles Kingsley discusses the enormous waste involved in manufacturing, the reduction of human life to fuel and ash, and the toxification of the world through the spread of "poison gases." (65) But in a surprising shift, he then goes on to say:

I can conceive a time when, by improved chemical science, every foul vapour which now escapes from the chimney of a manufactory, polluting the air, destroying the vegetation, shall be seized, utilised, converted into some profitable substance; till the black country shall be black no longer [...] and the desert which man has created in his haste and greed shall, in literal fact, once more blossom as the rose. (66)

Childe Roland has nothing so technical in mind, of course, but his hope that "now" he is at last on the threshold of a better country resonates with the kind of magical thinking that became an almost reflexive response to environmental crisis. Although hope in a new country fades after this episode, the idea of the Dark Tower continues drawing him onward, becoming, at last, a kind of grim parody of end-directed striving. The tower will bring no solution, but with the present so entirely compromised and depleted, the future is all that is left, even if it has been reduced to little more than an empty phrase. "Childe Roland" may have its roots in Shakespeare's King Lear, but, in its paradoxical logic and absurdist forward drive, it also looks forward to Samuel Beckett's rewriting of Lear for the twentieth century, Endgame.

Like many of Beckett's works, the Victorian dramatic monologue displays the ruminations and self-disclosures of a speaking subject, a potentially endless process that nevertheless must end in order to achieve a meaningful form. The will to finish speaking is forever frustrated by the fact that the final word cannot be spoken. Teleology is thus a generic concern--how does such a potentially endless poem end? what kind of conclusion will bestow coherent shape upon the whole?--that becomes thematized on the level of character as a struggle with endings and boundaries of various kinds. Tennyson's Tithonus may have "pass[ed] beyond the goal of ordinance" (30), but he will forever approach the final mortal bound only asymptotically, just as for Ulysses, the "margin fades / For ever and for ever when I move" (20-21). (67) Many of Browning's characters--the Duke of Ferrara, Porphyria's lover, the Bishop at St. Praxed--seek, in Carol Christ's words "to possess and control the world," but find their monstrously outsized desires thwarted by the limits imposed by that world. (68) Indeed, it is our implicit recognition of the limits they seek to surpass or evade that quietly reinscribes and even makes palpable the contours of an acknowledged "reality" in which the character seems to move and breathe. "Childe Roland," in contrast, puts the struggle with limits into an ecological context, not by dramatizing an individual's attempt to exceed the limits of his situation, but by showing an external reality that has been brought to the very edge of its limits by the wasting agencies of modernity. The starved horse, the headless thistle stalks, the river of rats and corpses all testify to an environment whose ability to sustain life is approaching a terminal point. With the world itself thus bent almost entirely beyond recognition, there is a felt lack of agreed-upon boundaries through which to take the measure of Childe Roland's experiences. The various ordering structures we are invited to apply--medieval allegory, fairy tale, Arthurian legend, Shakespearean tragedy, Romantic autobiography, biblical apocalypse--express, through their very multiplicity, a sense of deficiency rather than abundance. The quest for stabilizing generic precedents through which to understand this strange new world testifies to both how unprecedented it is, and how mired it remains in the processes, structures, and artifacts of the past. Some of these earlier generic models have as their subject environmental ruin and redress: the Fisher King legend, for example, which the poem's Arthurian quest obliquely evokes, centered on the mission of restoring fertility to a blighted land. And Tophet, which the poem references, is a Biblical city that, for the Victorians, was a resonant symbol of environmental degradation; according to one mid-century exegete, the historical Tophet was originally known as "the pleasant valley" which later became "a receptacle for the rubbish and filth of the city" where piles of trash were perennially burning. (69) But such references remind us of formerly coherent moral and physical worlds, where afflictions of the land arise from identifiable offenses, and can be rectified either through heroic individual actions (finding the holy grail), or through a divinely mandated system of punishment and reward. These various models from myth, religion, and history are all offered in a fragmentary and elusive way, and are entirely unequipped to account for, or diagnose, or set aright this particular wasteland. We are left contemplating a picture of nature that has entirely overwhelmed the resources of culture, because it has itself been pushed past its limits by that culture. Those patterns, myths, and narratives that might be used to contain or manage nature are not to be shored against the speakers ruins; they are themselves the ruins.

To see "Childe Roland" this way, as a poem of the Anthropocene is, I think, to see it as something of an anomaly in Brownings oeuvre. Nowhere else does he express this kind of environmental consciousness. In other poems--"Love Among the Ruins" perhaps most famously--the emphasis falls on natures indifference to the cares of humans or the works of civilization; as James Lees Wife ironically puts it, "nothing endures: the wind moans, saying so" (223). This is an altogether more familiar stance, one taken up (with varying degrees of despair, ferocity, and irony) by Shelley, Hardy, Tennyson, Arnold, and many others, and often associated, as I mentioned above, with developments in Victorian biology and geology. But Browning's interest in nature is also characterized by his insistence on mediation, on the way natural objects are necessarily refracted through, in Pater's phrase, the "thick wall of personality." We might think of Porphyria's lover imagining the storm outside as a version of his own turbulent emotions, or Fra Lippo Lippi's argument that natural things "are better, painted--better to us, / Which is the same thing" (303-5). Browning's interest in the many forms this mediation can take means not only that his work lacks a central organizing statement about nature, but that he seems uninterested in advancing one; hence we think of him as a poet more concerned with artifice, representation, and the warping pressures of human psychology than with the natural world itself. But it is also the case that such a provisional, exploratory, polychromatic approach allowed him to try out, as it were, an unusually wide variety of possible conceptions and configurations of the relationship between humans and the natural world. In "Childe Roland," I am suggesting, this exploratory spirit leads him to imagine an environment mediated not simply internally, by the peculiar psychology of a single strong personality, but externally, by the technological and industrial activity of an entire cultural order. Dipesh Chakrabarty writes that the Anthropocene means nature can no longer be treated as a "silent and passive backdrop" to human cultural narratives. (70) "Childe Roland," with its "peevishly" speaking natural world, suggests an environment that talks back, but with a voice that cannot be precisely located, that seems to come from within and without simultaneously. Mediation is here an inescapable material and epistemological condition, as much a function of the landscape itself as of the mind that perceives it, as the human struggles to make sense of the starved, blasted, used-up world it continues to bring into being.

University of Texas at Austin


This essay is for my daughter, Cecile MacDuffie, who was with me, often in a baby carrier and always in spirit, the whole time I wrote it.

(1) Susan Howe, My Emily Dickinson (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 1985), 116. Cited in Ivan Kreilkamp, '"One More Picture': Robert Browning's Optical Unconscious," ELH 73.2 (2006): 423.

(2) To be a bit more precise: "Childe Roland" was written in 1852, and published in the collection Men and Women in 1855.

(3) Kreilkamp, '"One More Picture,"' 423.

(4) Ivan Kreilkamp, "Victorian Poetry's Modernity," Victorian Poetry 41.4 (2003): 608.

(5) Robert Browning "'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,"' Robert Browning's Poetry, ed. James Loucks and Andrew Stauffer (New York: Norton, 2007). All references to Browning's poems come from this edition, and are cited parenthetically by line number throughout.

(6) Carol Christ, Victorian and Modern Poetics (Chicago U. Press, 1986), 27; John Willoughby, "Browning's 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,"' Victorian Poetry 1.4 (1963): 297; Harold Bloom, A Map of Misreading (Oxford U. Press, 1975), 107; Edward Strickland, "The Conclusion of Browning's 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,"' Victorian Poetry 19.3 (1981): 301.

(7) Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop (New York: Penguin, 1998), 330.

(8) P. R. Conder Personal Recollections of the English Engineers (Hodder and Stoughton, 1868), 211-12. Cited in Janies Winter, Secure from Rash Assault: Sustaining the Victorian Environment (U. of California Press, 2002), 113.

(9) G. K. Chesterton, Robert Browning (London: Macmillan, 1908), 159.

(10) Chesterton, Robert Browning, 159.

(11) See, for example, John Parham, '"For You, Pollution.' The Victorian Novel and Human Ecology: Benjamin Disraeli's Sibyl and Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton" Green Letters, Studies in Ecocriticism 14.1 (2011): 23-38; Jesse Oak Taylor, "The Novel as Climate Model: Realism and the Greenhouse Effect in Bleak House" Novel 46.1 (2013): 1-25.

(12) One notable exception is David Erdman, "Browning's Industrial Nightmare," Philological Quarterly 36 (1957): 417-35. Erdman tends to read the landscape in sociopolitical, rather than environmental, terms, discussing the way it reflects despair over the failed republican efforts of 1848 and the "baffling aberrations of a nation destroying itself "(428).

(13) Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer, "The Anthropocene," IGBP Newsletter 41 (May 2000): 17-18.

(14) Crutzen and Stoermer, "The Anthropocene," 41.

(15) Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th ed. "Geology" by Archibald Geike (New York, 1879): 291.

(16) Bronislaw Szerszynski, "The End of the End of Nature: The Anthropocene and the Fate of the Human," The Oxford Literary Review 34.2 (2012): 171.

(17) James Hutton, Theory of the Earth (Edinburgh, 1795), 17.

(18) William Buckland, Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, vol. 1 (London, 1836), 49-50.

(19) Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology vol. 2 (London, 1832), 207.

(20) Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (London, 1859), 80.

(21) T. H. Huxley, "The Struggle for Existence in Human Society," The Nineteenth Century 23 (1888): 163.

(22) Paul Alberts, "Responsibility Towards Life in the Early Anthropocene," Angelaki 16.4 (2011): 7.

(23) The Brownings hosted Marsh and his wife in their residence in the Casa Guidi, Florence, in 1853. See Life and Letters of George Perkins Marsh, vol. 1 (New York, 1888), 324-25. For Lyell's debt to Marsh, see Clarence Glacken, "Reflections on the History of Western Attitudes to Nature," Geojournal 26.2 (1992): 109.

(24) Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams, Alan Haywood, and Michael Ellis, "The Anthropocene: A New Epoch of Geological Time?" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369 (2011): 835.

(25) George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature, ed. David Lowenthal (U. of Washington Press, 2003), 19.

(26) Marsh, Man and Nature, 43.

(27) Marsh draws directly on Lyell and Darwin, especially the latter's account of the complex interconnections between plants, animals, topography, and climate.

(28) Robert Stephenson, quoted in Samuel Smiles, The Life of George Stephenson (New York, 1868), 495.

(29) Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son (New York: Penguin 2002), 79.

(30) Timothy Clark, "What on World Is the Earth?: The Anthropocene and Fictions of the World," The Oxford Literary Review 35.1 (2013): 5.

(31) John Tyndall, Heat Considered as a Mode of Motion (New York, 1863), 447.

(32) See for example Ralph Waldo Emersons description of industrial technology as akin to "a magician's rod in its power to evoke the sleeping energies of the world." Nature Addresses and Lectures (Boston, 1904), 364. And John Sterling's wonder at the seemingly sudden appearance of thousands of miles of railroads, "by which myriads of men are perpetually traveling like the heroes of fairy tales." Essays and Tales (London, 1848), 424.

(33) Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. 1, 10th ed. (London, 1867), 173. Cited in Glacken, "Reflections," 109.

(34) Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (New York, 1868), 295.

(35) John Ruskin, The Works of John Ruskin, ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (London, 1903-12), 16: 378.

(36) Alberts, "Responsibility Towards Life in the Early Anthropocene," 7.

(37) Erdman, "Browning's Industrial Nightmare," 431. Edwin Chadwick, in his famous sanitary report of 1842, compared the deaths caused by overcrowding to the battle of Waterloo. See Report to Her Majesty's Principle Secretary of State for the Home Department (London, 1842), 3. Hugh Miller, decrying the commercial development of the Highlands in 1843, describes the fields: "like those ruins which eastern conquerors leave in their track, still scathed with fire." Sutherland as it was and is; or, How a Country May Be Ruined (Edinburgh, 1843), 6.

(38) Dickens, Dombey and Son, 523.

(39) "The Streets of the World," Temple Bar 10 (March 1864): 335.

(40) Richard Lehan, The City in Literature (U. of California Press, 1998), 84.

(41) Joseph Meeker, The Comedy of Survival (Los Angeles: Guild of Tutors Press, 1980), 58.

(42) Erdman, "Brownings Industrial Nightmare," 430.

(43) Marsh, Man and Nature, 42.

(44) Marsh, Man and Nature, 9, 212, 19.

(45) Frederick Head, A Home Tour Through the Manufacturing Districts of England (New York, 1836): 113.

(46) Joyce Meyers, '"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came': A Nightmare Confrontation with Death," Victorian Poetry 8.4 (1970): 335.

(47) Charles Dickens, Bleak House (New York: Penguin, 1996), 13; Dombey and Son, 79.

(48) Thomas Ford, "Ruskin's Storm Cloud: Heavenly Messages and Pathetic Fallacies in a Denatured World," International Social Science Journal 62 (2011): 290.

(49) Ruskin, Works, 5.221, 5.196.

(50) Lord Byron, "Childe Harolds Pilgrimage" (3.72), The Works of Lord Byron (Paris, 1828).

(51) "The Place Where Light Dwelleth," The British Quarterly Review 51 (April 1870), 413.

(52) "The Place Where Light Dwelleth," 412,410.

(53) Andrew Stauffer, "Childe Roland's Literate Despair," in Alan Rawes and Jonathan Shears, eds., Reading, Writing, and the Influence of Harold Bloom (Manchester U. Press, 2010), 179.

(54) Herbert Tucker, "Of Monuments and Moments: Spacetime in Nineteenth-Century Poetry," Modern Language Quarterly 58.3 (1997): 291-92.

(55) Szerszynski, "The End of the End of Nature," 180.

(56) Willoughby, "Brownings 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,'" 295.

(57) Friedrich Engels, Dialectics of Nature, trans. J. B. S. Haldane (New York, 1940), 291-92. Cited in Florence Boos, "An Aesthetic Ecocommunist: Morris the Red and Morris the Green," in Peter Faulkner, ed., William Morris: Centenary Essays (Exeter U. Press, 1999), 25-26.

(58) Winter, Secure from Rash Assault, 32.

(59) Joseph Holdsworth, On the Extension of the English Coal-Fields (London, 1866),111-12.

(60) Holdsworth, On the Extension of the English Coal-Fields, 32.

(61) Ruskin, Works, 10.193.

(62) Charles Kingsley, "Human Soot: Preached for the Kirkdale Ragged Schools, Liverpool, 1870," All Saints Day and Other Sermons, ed. W. Harrison 3rd ed. (London: Kegan Paul, 1878), 309.

(63) Kenneth Boulding "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth," in Herman Daly and Kenneth Townsend, eds., Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics (Cambridge U. Press, 1993), 297.

(64) Herbert Tucker, Browning's Beginnings: The Art of Disclosure (U. of Minnesota Press, 1980), 15.

(65) Kingsley, "Human Soot," 306.

(66) Kingsley, "Human Soot," 306-67.

(67) Alfred Tennyson, The Major Works, ed. Adam Roberts (Oxford U. Press, 2009).

(68) Christ, Victorian and Modern Poetics, 20.

(69) "Golgotha," Museum of Classical Antiquities: A Quarterly Journal of Ancient Art. 2 (1852-53): 454, 457.

(70) Dipesh Chakrabarty, "The Climate of History: Four Theses," Critical Inquiry (winter 2009): 203.
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Date:Jun 22, 2014
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