While few of Marvell’s lyrics can be dated with any precision, critics no longer find it ‘comforting to reflect’, as Frank Kermode did in 1952, ‘that the date of “The Garden” is quite unknown, so that it cannot be positively stated to be the direct record of some personal experience at Nun Appleton’. Recent attempts to reassign some of the poems traditionally associated with the time Marvell spent with the Fairfax family (principally ‘The Garden’ and ‘The Mower against Gardens’) to the Restoration phase of his career have met with mixed success. This chapter accordingly asks what kinds of evidence we can or should bring to bear in addressing the closely related issues of the dating and circulation of Marvell’s writings. The three test cases considered are ‘An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’, ‘The Garden’, and the anonymous prose piece, ‘An Epitaph upon—’.
The divorce tracts, which consist of four prose pamphlets published between August 1643 and March 1645, represent a significant and underappreciated development in John Milton's theorizing of liberty. His arguments raise issues not only of family harmony, but also of political commitment. This article explores the emotional and political breakthroughs and sunderings visible in, and prompted by, these texts. Milton's tracts became the centre of a storm of anti-sectarianism, and were held up for ridicule as a harbinger of anarchy. They also engaged the stricken political realm. In recontextualizing Milton's divorce writings, the article places his analysis of irremediable difference, both on a personal and political level, in relation to the practical political work of the day. It also helps to explain the larger, both more local and more philosophical, significance of Milton's analogy between the marriage contract and the contract of civil obedience to the magistrate.
The sketch of prosodic theory presented in this article helps to clarify how the blank verse of Paradise Lost is virtually a new beginning and transmits a quite un-Shakespearean energy. Prosodic analysis shows that John Milton ranges freely within his chosen limits: there is no iambic jog-trot, and the rhythms are endlessly varied. The verse of Paradise Lost is distinguished by the sustained length of its sentences, which are on average about ten lines long, despite the frequent use of short sentences for rhetorical effect. Its blank verse is a deliberate and distinctive creation, influenced by but antithetical to late Shakespeare, through working within a strict discipline. Prosody and syntax are almost inseparable in effect in Paradise Lost.
In the 1990s, ceasefires were adopted in Ireland, followed in 2007 by the institution of devolved government at Stormont. With the Troubles now gone, the country has experienced a dramatic growth in tourism. Goodwill is everywhere, as is ‘progress’. Poetry now crowns the dome of one of Ireland's largest and plushest shopping malls. This chapter explores whether Belfast has stopped posing more problems than it offers solutions, and how the poets now coming of age will define themselves and their role, particularly in relation to the city. It focuses on the work of three poets – Leontia Flynn, Sinéad Morrissey, and Alan Gillis – all of whom wrestle with the problem of representing and interrogating their ‘own moment in history’. The chapter argues that, perhaps contrary to expectation, the peace context renders identity in Northern Irish poetry more, rather than less, problematic.
This article examines the poetry and essays of Alice Meynell. It first considers the poem, ‘A Modern Poet’ (1875), which illustrates both her ambivalence about women’s poetry and her own reception as a nineteenth- or twentieth-century poet. It then turns to ‘The Laws of Verse’ and ‘The English Metres,’ where she addresses poetic form.
“All livin language is sacred”: Poetry and Varieties of English in These Islands’ considers the various uses of non-standard Englishes in contemporary poetry, whether the variety of English be national, regional, class- or ethnically based. It argues that the association of poetry with a prestigious standard form of the language has created particular difficulties for poets who do not speak this variety, and that the record of these difficulties can be found in a number of contemporary poets’ work, especially that by Harrison, Heaney, Leonard, and Nagra. But it also argues that contact with vernacular speech, in many forms, can be a source of poetic energies, and that these are drawn upon in a number of contemporary poets writing in various forms of non-standard English, notably in Scots (arguably a standard variety itself), Ulster Scots, or in the Nation language of dub poetry.
This article focuses on Spenserian allegory. Comparable to Dante in his importance for allegory, Spenser creatively expanded its potential throughout his literary life. But the experimental vigor of his endeavor is too little acknowledged. While assimilating and building on medieval precedents, the poet's engagement with allegory subsumed diverse influences from the ancients to his own contemporaries in a unique new formulation. The consummate expression of Spenser's allegorical poetic, The Faerie Queene samples and redevelops myriad literary and other texts, forms, and discourses to manifest its own poetic world. Few books read like no others, and this poem's profound allegorism ensures it is one of them.
Beginning with an examination of some of the ways in which allusion was conceptualized in the eighteenth century, this chapter focuses on verbal literary allusion, which exists on the allusive spectrum between frank plagiarism at the one extreme and echo at the other. Close reading of poems by Alexander Pope (the different versions of the Dunciad), William Collins (“Ode on the Poetical Character”), and Thomas Gray (“Ode on the Spring” and “The Progress of Poesy”) demonstrates some ways in which eighteenth-century poets used the figure of allusion to articulate meaning, and to negotiate the writer’s relation with poetic contemporaries and forebears. Allusion tests the reader’s powers of recognition and invites the reader’s participation; this chapter explores some opportunities for poetic obfuscation or clarification that the trope offered to both satiric and lyric authors, and some possibilities and implications of the poet’s, or editor’s, or poet-editor’s explanatory and interpretative commentary.
This essay considers a reconfiguring of the sublime in British poetry of the 1970s and 1980s that coincides with theoretical activity around the ways in which the concept of the sublime is renewed and diversified. While Fredric Jameson calls for ‘cognitive mapping’ in cultural practice, to induce in the reader a sense of her or his place in what is nothing less than a global system, Jean-François Lyotard supplies a counter-argument to Jameson’s emphasis on the cognitive, proposing an aesthetic experience in which the activity of the imagination necessarily exceeds that of the understanding, so that the ‘mapping’ which occurs extends the territory of the mind beyond that of individual cognition. Tom Raworth’s poem ‘West Wind’ takes as its reference points those two pejorative instances of the sublime proposed by postmodernist theory—global communications networks and the threat of the nuclear bomb—but links these to a mentality capable only of producing a concept of the imagination while remaining incapable of activating and exercising the imagination. Andrew Crozier’s ‘The Veil Poem’ focuses on architectural terminology, and on the conditions of ‘dwelling’ that articulate its spatial and temporal dimensions, moving towards an exploration of the altered sublime that is carried further in J. H. Prynne’s ‘The Oval Window’.
Robert Dale Parker
Scholars and readers of American poetry in general and American Indian poetry in particular generally assume that American Indian poetry begins in the late 1960s with the American Indian Renaissance. Even among scholars of American Indian literature, let alone scholars of American poetry in general, few readers can name more than, at most, a few American Indian poets before N. Scott Momaday. But indigenous people in what is now the United States have written poetry since the time of Anne Bradstreet, and the 1890s and the early twentieth century brought an effusion of Indian-written poetry. Poems by more than ninety different American Indians writing from 1900 to 1930 have been found. The anthology Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 showcases the work of eighty-three poets and provides a bibliography that lists almost 150 Indian poets up to 1930. While Indian poets wrote about the same range of topics as non-Indian poets, they also brought their interests and experiences as Indians to bear on their poems. This article discusses how these poems address colonialism and the federal government, land, the condition of the world in general, nature, Christianity, love, war, other Indian peoples, and the temptation to internalize anti-Indian ways of thinking.
This article traces the history of American poetry in the Victorian period, which witnessed the birth, maturity, and demise of American poetic culture. In 1837, American poetry was in its infancy. Cultural pressures to create a distinctively American literature that was respected by Europeans and met the needs and democratic aspirations of a highly diverse populace raised the value of poetic production and rewarded those who produced it. By mid-century, a fully accredited culture of letters was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, along with Emerson, manned an American outpost of mainstream Victorian culture: English poetry’s satellite campus at Harvard.
Twentieth-century American poetry metabolizes a variety of discursive genres, including fiction, song, theory, advertising, letters, and the law. To adapt Mikhail Bakhtin's terms, it dialogizes “literary and extraliterary languages,” “intensifying” and “hybridizing” them, making them collide and rub up against one another. But Bakhtin famously theorized poetry as monologic and exclusionary, “suspended from any mutual interaction with alien discourse, any allusion to alien discourse,” “destroying all traces of social heteroglossia and diversity of language”: “The language of the poetic genre is a unitary and singular Ptolemaic world outside of which nothing else exists and nothing else is needed.” Close analysis of twentieth-century American poems in relation to their generic others reveals a vastly more dialogic conception of poetry. This article focuses on poetry's ambivalent interactions with two of its generic others: the news and prayer as representing two widely divergent positions on a broad discursive spectrum. How do modern and contemporary American poems that engage with the news respond to journalism's mimeticism, presentism, and transparency? How do poems that adapt prayer respond to its ahistoricity, ritualism, and recursiveness? Do modern and contemporary American poetry more nearly resemble one or the other of its discursive cousins? How does American poetry overlap with, and distinguish itself from, these intergenres?
This article discusses how Amoretti and Epithalamion singly and together clear a space in late Elizabethan poetry. The Amoretti and the Epithalamion establish themselves in relation to an actual event, Spenser's marriage to Elizabeth Boyle of 11 June 1594, more than any other sequence of the period. The Amoretti is unique in representing a courtship that demonstrably leads to a marriage, while the wedding takes place not out of the reader's sight but immediately after the sequence, within the same volume of 1595. The Epithalamion is one of the most successful wedding songs in any European vernacular. The process of the Epithalamion is to narrate the wedding day not only as an event in itself but as an intersection of social and mythological significance, as though Edmund Spenser's marriage to Elizabeth Boyle mattered equally to the townspeople, distant merchants, and classical figures such as Hymen and Hesperus.
This essay examines Poe’s conception and use of the Gothic via his engagements with the work of earlier writers from Horace Walpole through Ann Radcliffe, William Godwin, Charles Brockden Brown, Mary Shelley, and E. T. A. Hoffmann. Poe’s uses of the Gothic, and his relationship with the work of these writers, was informed by his philosophical materialism and framed by his dialogue with the writings of Sir Walter Scott. Tracing these associations reveals Poe’s transformation of the idea of “Gothic structure” from an architectural model, the ancestral pile of the eighteenth-century Gothic, to one of energetic transformation, the electric pile featured in many of Poe’s tales.
This article fully considers the tradition and function of ancient Greek elegy. It is shown that the elegy uses its own peculiar hexameters existing in a codependent relationship with the elegiac pentameter. The article then addresses ‘the delights of elegy’. It concentrates on the hexameter as combined with the pentameter in the elegiac couplet. Additionally, the formal characteristics of elegy as a genre in the attested phases of Greek literature are explained. The article considers how the genre of elegy shows its capacity for performing the functions of forms that belong to the genres of epic and oracular poetry. There is a remarkably wide range of possibilities for the self-expression of a woman who is singing a lament. The lament of men in their sympotic singing of elegy may be a stylized and representational form of lament. There is a pleasure to be had in the sensuality of lament.
Marvell’s relationship to Cavalier poetry has been a significant topic of interest for critics of his work, promising as it does to shed some light on both his place within the genres and styles of mid-seventeenth-century verse and on the complexities of political positioning evident in his earlier work. But Cavalier poetry is itself a complex and non-uniform category, with such complexities evident both in the difficulties of organizing and applying such a label to a group of poets and their work, and in the problems of accommodating significant differences and antagonisms between varying modes of Cavalier writing. In line with this understanding, this chapter explores Marvell’s poetic relationship to his Cavalier contemporaries in a way which recognizes that they can’t easily be comprehended as a fixed point of reference with which to measure Marvell’s own place in the poetic landscape of the time.
Emma Annette Wilson
This chapter examines Marvell’s education, from his boyhood in Hull through to his student days at Trinity College, Cambridge, to consider how these learning experiences informed the discursive tactics that he used as a poet, politician, and polemicist. Marvell’s father’s manuscript sermonbook (c.1603) bears witness to the poet’s early exposure to Ramist reasoning and discourse, both in his family home and in Hull’s Holy Trinity Church. Logic formed the backbone of early modern discursive training, and in c.1633, Marvell’s education in this field continued at Trinity College, Cambridge. The chapter draws on a range of discursive logic textbooks used by Marvell and his Cantabrigian contemporaries, applying their methods as a new way of understanding Marvell’s style and tactics in his writings, from his polemics in Mr. Smirke to his pastoral poetry.
Marvell’s letters to friends reveal far more than the ‘gazetteering’ tones of his allegedly ‘colourless’ corporation letters. They are exceptional for their candidness, their intimations of Marvell’s religious and political sympathies, and their warmth. They are epistulae ad familiares, ‘letters to friends’, in the fullest Ciceronian sense of the term ‘familiar’, further demonstrating Marvell’s propensity for colourful adversarial exchange. They also function as a private rehearsal space for Marvell’s coded, politically charged wit. The primary focus of this essay is Marvell’s six extant letters to Sir Edward Harley, in the contexts of The Rehearsal Transpros’d (1672) and Mr. Smirke: Or, The Divine in Mode (1676).
One of Donne's compositions the Anniversary Poem is the focus of this article. The literary record of the life and death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury might have been a very dull affair, soon forgotten by all but members of her family. Dead shortly before her fifteenth birthday, unknown to the world for any notable action or attribute, her passing might have been lamented in the conventional terms of pastoral elegy. Instead, her poetic monument, made public in print, instantly, by its extravagant strangeness shook the literary firmament, readers, patrons, and poets. Elizabeth had been buried on 17 December 1610; the first edition of An Anatomy of the World appeared in 1611. This title provides a broad suggestion of its generic affiliations: literary ‘anatomies’, usually in prose, were by no means uncommon in those times. Yet ‘anatomy’ as a renaissance ‘metaphorical label’ is ‘vague, formally, by comparison with the classical genre terms’.
This chapter discusses the anthology of war, which it views as a political protest and an expression of solidarity during a time of national crisis. It states that anthologies serve as a way to sew poems together, and shows that these have played a central role in the creation and revision of the concepts of the ‘war poem’ and ‘war poet’. The chapter emphasizes that without the huge investment in war poetry, it is most likely that the works of Rosenberg, Owen, Sassoon, Auden, and Douglas would not have survived the two World Wars, and then looks at the role poetry played in making Britain as an ‘imagined community’. It also takes a look at the ‘Iconoclastic’ war poetry, the return of war poetry during the 1960s, and the 1960 anthologies of the Second World War verse.