Poetry and Humanism

Poetry and Humanism

Poetry and Humanism

Poetry and Humanism


A certain Eastern curse consigns its victim to an interesting period of history. We, who would seem to have incurred this malediction, are able accordingly to feel sympathy as well as admiration for those who lived in the most interesting of modern periods: that seventeenth century which, in England no less than in France, merits the name of le grand siècle. An imaginative sympathy with an age whose problems were so similar to our own gives distinction to many works of criticism upon seventeenth-century art and literature, and in writing these studies, which are focused upon the devotional poets of the period, I have become very conscious of my debt to these books. To two among them, Professor Douglas Bush's English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century (the bibliography of which is a Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven) and Professor Basil Willey The Seventeenth Century Background, my debt is too large for footnote acknowledgment, and I should like to record here the help and stimulus they have been to me.

I am especially grateful to Professor C. L. Wrenn, whose comments on the early draft of some chapters were only part of his help and encouragement over the past decade. Mr. John Crow has disapproved of the manuscript in all its subsequent stages, and has ungrudgingly given time and thought to help me in its revision. He is not, of course, responsible for any errors of fact or judgment which may be found here. But the reader owes much to the shrewdness of his comments, while I have had the particular pleasure of hearing them most wittily expressed.

My thanks are also due to Miss Rosemary Freeman, Miss Philippa Hesketh-Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith and Mr. Eric Hayman, who have all willingly and kindly answered queries or discussed portions of the text with me. I am most grateful to Mrs. Evelyn Simpson for sparing time from her own researches to read part of the book in proof and suggest several corrections or improvements.



OXFORD, 1949.

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