Minor Poets of the Caroline Period - Vol. 2

Minor Poets of the Caroline Period - Vol. 2

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Minor Poets of the Caroline Period - Vol. 2

Minor Poets of the Caroline Period - Vol. 2

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Excerpt

There does not appear to me to be any need of adding, at present, anything of a general character to the Introduction given in the first volume of this collection; but a few words may properly be said as to the contents of this second. They are considerably more varied than those of the first: whereas we there gave four poets here we give nine, and there is a very much larger proportion of short poems, while hardly any one can be called very long. Again, a larger proportion is likely to be new even to those who, without spending much time in extensive libraries, have paid some attention to the literature of the period. Godolphin has never before been collected at all: and most of his original poems have never been printed. Kynaston, Ayres, and Bosworth have never been reprinted as wholes, and only an infinitesimal portion of the work of the two first has had that honour. The earlier reprints of Hall, Carey, and Hammond were published in very small numbers: and those of Marmion and Chalkhill are now not common or cheap. It can hardly be rash to feel tolerably confident that very few persons now living have read the whole contents of the present volume.

I have said what it seemed to me necessary to say, and no more, in the separate Introductions: nor do I propose to repeat or endorse what I have said here. I shall only point out that Marmion, Kynaston, Chalkhill, and Bosworth give examples of that ‘heroic poem’ to illustrate which has been one of the objects of the undertaking; that Kynaston, Hall, Godolphin, Carey, and Hammond supply specimens, sometimes quite exquisite and very seldom well known, of the ‘metaphysical’ lyric which is the glory of the period; that Marmion and Chalkhill are capital instances of its ‘enjambed’ couplet; and that Ayres, who is probably known even to amateurs chiefly from the specimen or two given by Mr. Bullen in his Love Poems of the Restoration, is an almost unique example of the Caroline temper prolonged into other days. All, without exception, show those features of the Elizabethan so called’ decadence’ which again (I thought I had made this clear) it was one of my main desires to illustrate. Only for Bosworth, I think, is it necessary to . . .

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