Allusion (2255 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • Graham Allen (University College Cork)


Allusion is a traditional term for the literary act of referring to previous literary texts. Poems allude to previous poems, as in Milton’s numerous allusions to his epic predecessors, Homer, Virgil, Dante, or the Romantic poets’ numerous allusions to Milton. When Wordsworth, at the end of the first verse-paragraph of his “Prospectus” to The Recluse writes the following lines he is engaging in that characteristic poetic activity designated by the term allusion:

Of the individual mind that keeps its own
Inviolate retirement, and consists
With being limitless – the one great life -
I sing: fit audience let me find, though few!
Fit audience find, though few! Thus prayed the …

Allen, Graham. "Allusion". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 July 2005
[, accessed 04 December 2016.]