The Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse

The Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse

The Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse

The Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse

Excerpt

This book takes 'the eighteenth century' in its simplest meaning, and endeavours to represent the poetry that was written in this country during the hundred years from 1700 to 1800. It happens to cover the period from the death of Dryden to the death of Cowper, but neither births nor deaths of poets, nor poetical fashions and reputations, have fixed its limits; nor has it been made with the purpose of illustrating any particular view of what this period stands for in the history of our literature. It opens fittingly with Pomfret Choice, of which Johnson said that' perhaps no composition in our language has been more often perused'; and in the pieces which immediately follow we find the variety in subject, and note, and spirit, which is to increase as the century proceeds. Nothing is given that is known to have been printed before 1700, though written by men who made their name after that date. But the book cannot be so easily rounded in its conclusion. With the publication of Lyrical Ballads in September 1798 the flood-gates are opened. It has therefore been thought best to omit The Ancient Mariner and Tintern Abbey, though these are both eighteenth-century poems.

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