The interrelationship of the ideas of apocalypse and millennium is a dominant concern of British Romanticism. The Book of Revelation provides a model of history in which apocalypse is followed by millennium, but in their various ways the major Romantic poets - Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, and Shelley - question and even at times undermine the possibility of a successful secularization of this model. No matter how confidently the sequence of apocalypse and millennium seems to be affirmed in some of the major works of the period, the issue is always in doubt: the fear that millennium may not ensue emerges as a significant, if often repressed, theme in the great works of the period. Related to it is the tension in Romantic poetry between conflicting models of history itself: history as teleology, developing towards end time and millennium, and history as purposeless cycle. This subject-matter is traced through a selection of works by the major poets, partly through an exposition of their underlying intellectual traditions, and partly through a close examination of the poems themselves.
`there is much that is familiar in these analyses, yet much that is new, subtle, and unsettling. It provides an admirable example of what careful scholarship, untainted by tendentious purposes, can unveil both in the poems and in previous schemes of their interpretation ... Paley ... has encyclopedic knowledge of the particulars of literary and political history; and he has the imagination to arrange them in revealing patterns. Anyone interested in the
historical location of these works, in their responsiveness to and echos of the discourses of their day, and in their answerability must mine this book.'
`impressive mastery of recent research. ... The overall process indicated in Professor Paley's study, by which the imagery of Revelation dissolved over a few years from an organized biblical pattern for the understanding of current events to a range of images for less coherent subsequent interpretations emerges as a fascinating phenomenon, for which he has provided the first - and definitive - guide.'
John Beer, March 2001
`Paley writes in a clear jargon-free style.'
Choice May 2000