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A Brief History of English Poetry . What did people expect when they picked up a poem? From the Renaissance to the early 20 th Century. The Renaissance, 16th and 17th c enturies. Diction and other elements of style were supposed to be suited to the subject

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A Brief History of English Poetry


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a brief history of english poetry

A Brief History of English Poetry

What did people expect when they picked up a poem? From the Renaissance to the early 20th Century.

the renaissance 16th and 17th c enturies
The Renaissance, 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Diction and other elements of style were supposed to be suited to the subject
  • The highest form was the epic, and it only concerned the most exalted subjects—Milton’s Paradise Lost, for example.
  • The next highest was tragedy, which usually involved the fall of kings.
more genres from the renaissance
More Genres from the Renaissance
  • Pastoral—involved lords and ladies in love
  • the lyric‑‑usually the expression of personal emotion.
  • Comedy could involves the middle class
  • Farce—common people
the 18th c also called the neo classical period
The 18th C., also called the neo-classical period
  • Poets called for restraint‑‑restrained emotions and restrained style. The 18th century distrusted emotion, in part because the 18th century was a violent time of revolution and war, and people wanted restraint.
  • Poetry, they said, should be like prose, only more polished.
18 th century forms
18th Century Forms
  • The dominant form was the heroic couplet-- iambic pentameter rhyming couplets.  
  • Alexander Pope:

"True wit is nature to advantage dressed,

What oft was said, but ne'er so well expressed."

 iamb‑‑unstressed stressed

  • rhyming couplet‑‑aa bb cc etc.
romantic poetry
Romantic Poetry
  • In the first half of the 19th c., Wordsworth called for poetry written in the language of men, not an artificially literary language
  • His longer and most serious poems are in blank verse, iambic pentameter that is unrhymed.
other romantics
Other Romantics
  • The other Romantics (the early 19th c. British poets‑‑WW, Blake, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats and others) believed in expressing great emotion in their poetry, not like WW. Their poems are often highly charged, dramatic, intense, and their object was to reproduce their own, subjective sense of truth. This was the greatest period of English poetry.
lasting influence of the romantics
Lasting Influence of the Romantics
  • From this period, people have believed that poetry should be the expression of great emotion, and that the true poet should live on the margins, in a garret, and die of consumption, like John Keats, who died of consumption (TB) at the age of 25.
moderns
Moderns
  • Early 20th c. poets reacted to this‑‑TS Eliot wanted poets to go back to the restraint of the 18th c. But the biggest development of modern poetry was the breakdown (or liberation, depending how you feel about it) of poetic form.
formal poetry
Formal Poetry
  • So, you start with something as tightly formal as the sonnet. 14 lines, iambic pentameter, with a limited number of rhyme schemes—{abab cdcd}octet {efef gg}sestet. Not only is it tightly formal, but sonnets demanded a highly literary language.
formal poetry13
Formal Poetry
  • The great challenge of formal poetry is to make something new and unrestrained within such tight boundaries.
free verse
Free Verse
  • And you move to something as seemingly formless and non-literary as Wm. Carlos Williams’ classically brief and gnomic
  • “The Red Wheelbarrow.”
the red wheelbarrow
The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.