Five Questions: Madeleine Callaghan on Eternity in British Romantic Poetry

By Matthew Sangster

Madeleine Callaghan is a Senior Lecturer in Romantic Literature at the University of Sheffield. Her work focuses on poetry, poetics, culture and philosophy, with a particular focus on Romantic-period writing. Her book-length publications include Shelley’s Living Artistry: Letters, Poems, Plays (Liverpool University Press, 2017), The Poet-Hero in the Work of Byron and Shelley (Anthem, 2019), Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry: Hardy to Mahon (co-edited with Michael O’Neill; Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and The Romantic Poetry Handbook (co-authored with Michael O’Neill; Wiley 2017). Her new monograph, Eternity in British Romantic Poetry (Liverpool University Press, 2022), will be released on June 1st; we discuss this book below.

1) How did you first become interested in the relationship between the mortal and the eternal in Romantic poetry?

I think it’d always been there in the way I read poetry, and perhaps it explains my enduring love of Shelley, whose work is so often that of a poet balancing the claims of the visible and invisible world. I think it sharpened into an actual idea when the more I read Romantic period poetry, the more I saw that tension or negotiation between the mortal and the eternal playing …read more