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Excerpt: "In "Michael: A Pastoral Poem," William Wordsworth imagines "youthful Poets, who among these Hills I Will be my second Self when I am gone." 1 In his recent critical study, Andrew Bennett suggests that Wordsworth and the other British Romantic poets continue to have an impact on the poetry and poetic theory of our times: "Contemporary culture, indeed, is pervaded by developments in conceptions of poetry and art that are associated most fully with the Romantic period."2 As Sayre and Lowy state, "Far from being a purely nineteenth-century phenomenon, Romanticism is an essential component of modern culture."3 One contemporary musical artist who could justifiably be named a successor to Wordsworth (as well as other British Romantic poets) is the American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. Beginning with his debut record in 1972, Browne has released twenty-three albums, consisting almost entirely of original music. He was honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2007. I first encountered Jackson Browne's music as a university student, and his thoughtful, poetic, and honest lyrics captivated me and appealed to my English major critical sensibilities. The soothing tone of his voice and the folk-rock sound of his music were welcome antidotes to the turbulence in my teenage mind, and his images of yearning-for both romantic love and spiritual fulfillment-spoke to my confused and angst-ridden teenage heart. I was ushered into sleep many nights by the beautiful, melancholy melodies of the songs from his albums Jackson Browne: Saturate Before Using and For Everyman."


Originally published as chapter seven in the book Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2, edited by James Rovira (Lexington Books, 2018).