Abstract and Keywords
Blank verse was a self-consciously distinct literary form in the long eighteenth century, used to react very deliberately to the expectations generated by the “default setting” of couplets. Poets attempted with various degrees of success to explore the rhythmic and syntactic possibilities of the form, while the long shadow of Milton’s Paradise Lost compelled any usage or discussion of blank verse in the eighteenth-century to confront the pretensions of the epic and the sublime. This chapter considers the techniques and preoccupations of prominent eighteenth-century blank-versifiers including Thomson, Young, Akenside, and Cowper (as well as noting the significance of blank-verse tragedy) as part of an eighteenth-century discussion of the unfettered ambitions of the human imagination.
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