Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Emily Stanback

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Jonathan Barron

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Nicolle Jordan

Committee Member 3 School



When the second edition of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads was published in 1800, it contained nearly triple the number of poems as the first volume. Wordsworth’s “Song for the Wandering Jew” was one of these newly added poems. There are a number of influences at work in the poem, chief among these is the narrative of the Wandering Jew alluded to in the poem’s title. In regards to work written on Jews in Romantic-era English literature, little scholarship has addressed the figure of the Wandering Jew. “Song for the Wandering Jew” may seem to be an outlier in Lyrical Ballads for its brevity, desolate tone, titular dedication, and biblical engagement. But I argue that considering the poem alongside the history and text of the Wandering Jew ballads reveals the 1800 poem as paradigmatically Wordsworthian. In “Song,” the figure of the Wandering Jew allows Wordsworth to connect Judaic thought and his own views on Nature, God, and Humanity. I argue that in so doing, Wordsworth’s poem establishes what one might call an ecosystem of sympathy that joins ideas of man and nature, Jew and Christian, isolation and connectivity, understanding and prejudice, into a work of great compassion. In turn, Wordsworth’s poem calls attention to the anti-Judaic nature of the Wandering Jew figure and subverts the stereotypes that serve as its foundation.

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