The Continuity of Poetic Language: Studies in English Poetry from the 1540's to the 1940's

By Josephine Miles | Go to book overview

IV. CRITICAL ATTITUDES AND DESCRIPTIVE CONCLUSIONS

SOME MODERN views of the 1640's, or of the era of which they were part, provide a series of tangents to the center as this study sees the center in terms of quantitative and qualitative emphases, and, whether tangential or central in a more general view, bear upon the nature of the poetry and its effects. For a generation, seventeenth-century poetry has greatly concerned scholars and critics, providing twice as many studies as the nineteenth century has, and occasioning even a suggestion that the concern may well be outworn.1 One of the most recent interests has involved the nature of the baroque in art. A definition has been set up, fixed in a certain period and place, and applied to the inclusion or exclusion of certain examples. The 1630's and 1640's in England marked the height of its baroque in literature which is defined by Morris Croll as motion, contortion, obscurity, spiral, anti-Ciceronian and antilogical, as opposed to status, suavity, copiousness, ease, Ciceronian symmetry:2 "Expressiveness rather than formal beauty was the pretension of the new movement, as it is of every movement that calls itself modern."3Croll makes Donne the poetic leader of this movement, away from Spenser; and indeed one recognizes his strong predicating force as part of the activity which Croll describes as baroque. Yet there is difficulty in the combination with "antilogical," with the flashing, unconnected motion of the thought; for Donne's structures are so evidently rational, his connectives poetically important. The end of Mr. Croll's essay shows that he has a special kind of logical and rational in mind, the Cartesian, with its subordination of im

____________________
1
Theodore Spencer and Mark Van Doren, Studies in Metaphysical Poetry: Two Essays and a Bibliography ( Columbia Univ. Press, 1939), pp. 3, 17.
2
Morris W. Croll, "The Baroque Style in Prose", Studies in English Philology: A Miscellany in Honor of Frederick Klaeber, ed. Kemp Malone ( Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1929), pp. 427-456.
3
Ibid., p. 428. And note the excellent summary of the problem by René Wellek in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism for December, 1946.

-125-

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The Continuity of Poetic Language: Studies in English Poetry from the 1540's to the 1940's
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE OF POETRY IN THE 1640''s *
  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • I. the Poetry of the 1540''s and the 1640''s 1
  • II- Twenty Poets of the 1640''s 46
  • Iii. Materials and Attitudes in Prose 103
  • Iv. Critical Attitudes and Descriptive Conclusions 125
  • Bibliography 155
  • THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE OF POETRY IN THE 1740''s AND 1840''s *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT *
  • I. Poetry of the 1740''s 161
  • Ii. Grounds of Prose in the 1740''s 223
  • Iii. Poetry of the 1840''s 258
  • Iv. Grounds of Prose in the 1840''s 322
  • V. Classic and Romantic 348
  • Bibliography 373
  • THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE OF POETRY IN THE 1940''s *
  • Title Page *
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT *
  • Contents *
  • I. Poetry of the 1940''s 383
  • Ii. Backgrounds in Prose- Practice and Theory 459
  • Iii. Comparisons and Conclusions 497
  • THE CONTINUITY OF ENGLISH POETIC LANGUAGE 517
  • Bibliography 537
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