Minor Poets of the Restoration Period
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Minor poets of the restoration period
Restoration-18-the century is the great age of satire .restoration period
considered epic and tragedy as the greatest literary types after milton, the heroic age was actually dead. It is true that milton published his epics and tragedy in the restoration period, but he had planned and partly written them. The lesser restoration poets in general followed dryden, although they are now overshadowed by drydens greatness. Dryden repeatedly asserted that the new sweetness and perfection of English verse had been the discovery of denham, cowley, and waller, who considered themselves as the disciples of ben jonson.
Sir john Denham was a Royalist. his famous long poem
Coopers Hill appeared in 1642 . Dryden praises the .poem for the majesty of the style His skillful use of the heroic couplet anticipates the poetic patterns of Dryden and Pope.
whose pindaric odes influenced dryden ,he grew up with the Royalist sentiments, and during the civil war, he served as secretary to the exiled queen in France, shering her poverty. After the restoration he retired to a quiet life in the country.
Edmund waller(1606_1687), a Royalist, was prised in the
Neo_classical period as the most celebrated lyric poet that England ever produced. He made peace with cromwell upon whose death he published a poem praising him, but with a witty rejoinder he reconciled himself with charls ll Waller returned to parliament, lived in the restoration society as an honored and respected old man, and enjoyed the reputation of having been one of the first refiners of English verse such lyrics as Go, lovely rose and On Girdle
Samuel Butler(1612_1680), who
is a quite different poet Butlers Hudibras, a burlesque romance, is a great satire that is much different from those of Dryden. Hudibras consists of three parts, each containing three cantos and the whole is written in octosyllabic couplets his adventures in trying to win the widow are fruitless. The last two cantos are concerned with the activities of Republicans just before the restoration.
It is mock_heroic form, Hudibras is a satire on the
pretentiousness of epic and romance and on all the extravagances of passion and diction with which poets have treated human situations. Hudibras has its own defects.It is episodic and lacks structure .its language and texture are not artistic. Butler may not be praised as a man of genius or a great artist,but his intellectual quality is admirably demonstrated in all his works. Both the Elephant in the moon and the satire on the Royal Society show Butlers unsympathetic attitude towards the new science.
The work of John oldham(1653_1683)
belongs to the formal tradition .his poetic life did not last very long for he died of smallpox when he was thirty years old.the excitement over the popish plot during those few years led him to political satire.A satire Upon a woman(1678),A satire Against Virtue(1679),and four satire Upon the jesuits(1681),were written in the aftermath of the discovery of the Popish Plot by Titus Oates. Drydens touching lines To the Memory of Mr. Oldham are the best praise of Oldham and his most enduring monument.
Butler and Oldham were almost professional poets
patronized by the court . the chief court ports , who were the last of cavalier breed . were Rochester ,Sedley,Dorset,Charles Cotton, and a few others.
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647_1680)a man of
peculiar personality. He was the patron of several poets.He was a skeptic , a materialist.his sensual appetites were so strong that he died of ruined health at the age of thirty_three, and became a black warning to all youthful lords. Rochester was a vigorous satirist in the fields of philosophy, literature manners, and politics.He was an intellectual but not a great thinker. The Satire Against Mankind attacks both man and mans reasoning powers.
His satire called Upon
Nothing seems to be his strongest effort because of its ingenious and brilliant playfulness and cynicism. Allusion to Horaces 10th Satire of the first book is Rochester s most important satire. It is a hasty and unpolished piece, which is a personal satire rather than literary criticism. It is a battle waged against many poets including Dryden .Rochester was also a notable writer of amorous songs.His songs show all the skill , grace, and the artificiality of the Cavalier poets.
Sir Charles Sedley (1639_1701)
was admired by Rochester as a fellow rake and poet. Of course, Rochester usurped Sedleys position as the most disreputable man in London. He is the author of three plays and some satirical poems, but now he is remembered for his love songs. However, Sedleys songs establish him as one of the best gay lyric poets of the Restoration period.
Charles Sakville, Earl of
Dorset (1638_1706), was a friend and patron of poets such as Dryden. Roc hester describes him as a pointed satirist, the best Good Man with the worst-naturd Muse He is now remembered for Song Written at Sea
Charles Cotton(1630_1687) achieved reputation as a writer
of Cavalier lyrics. He was a disciple of Herrick and Carew. In his lifetime his fame was based on his burlesques and his excellent translation of Montaigne's Essays. his nature lyrics, which were first published in 1689 as Poems on Several Occasions, were admired by Wordsworth, Coleridge , and Lamb. In the Retirement, cotton escapes from the town and relaxes in his native environment. Wordsworth admires the simplicity and profusion of the Retirement and the Ode to winter His love poems are natural and genuine and the detail of his descriptive poems are valued most.
John Sheffield , Earl of Mulgrave (1648_1721) experienced a stormy political life . his prose Essay on satire (1680) was mistakenly ascribed to Dryden His Essay upon Poetry (1682) written in heroic couplets, anticipates Popes Essay on Criticism He reworked Shakespears Julius Caesar into two plays with additional love interest . Sheffield was a generous patron to Dryden and financed Drydens monument in Westminster Abbey.
Wentworth Dillon, Earl of
Roscommon (1633_1685) is famed as the first critic to praise Paradise Lost and recognize the greatness of John Milton. In 1680, he translated Horaces Ars Poetica into blank verse . he was interested in founding a British Academy to refine and fix the standard of our language.
We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough