Richard Howitt, Australia and the Power of Poetic Memory

Judith Johnston

Abstract


In 1839, with his brother Godfrey and other family members, Richard Howitt (1799-1869) emigrated to Australia as a settler but returned to England in 1844, disillusioned. His experiences are recorded in Impressions of Australia Felix, during Four Years’ Residence in that Colony (1845), an interesting mixture of prose and his own poetry, as well as occasional quotations from other published poets.

Like a poetic talisman, William Wordsworth’s name recurs again and again in both the poetry and the prose of Richard Howitt, both directly and indirectly. The focus of this article will be on two poems addressing an English daisy discovered in Australia by Howitt, to consider them in the light of four daisy poems published by Wordsworth between 1807 and 1815.

Finally, this article will argue that the power of memory and recollection, explored through Howitt’s poetry, would prove to be the undoing of this Nottingham poet and would-be colonist. 


Keywords


Richard Howitt; Antediluvian Sketches; The Gipsy King and Other Poems; Wasp’s Honey; Impressions of Australia Felix; “To a Small Australian Flower”; colonial nostalgia; poetry of nostalgia; Romanticism in Australian poetry; Sherwood poets

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