Study Guide

Mutability Calling Card

By William Wordsworth

Calling Card


Ah, crumbly old buildings: aren’t they so romantic?! That’s much of the charm of the country of Italy, isn’t it? Well, actually, crumbly buildings are Romantic, as in they are a constant theme in the poetry of British Romanticism. And, oh by the way, the Romantics adored Italy. So there.

The image of the old tower that falls in the forest or wherever (does anyone hear it?) belongs to a favorite Wordsworth trope: ruins. Perhaps his most famous poem of all was "Tintern Abbey," and that was all about a walk that he took with his sister around a ruined abbey. Ruins are the prototypical illustration of human frailty in the face of time. For another take on the whole Romantic ruins thing, take a look at Percy Shelley’s poem "Ozymandias."

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