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James Baldwin

Six Centuries of English Poetry / Tennyson to Chaucer

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Quotes

    nadakhorchani12has quoted9 months ago
    the composers of these metrical romances and chronicles, although giving free rein to the imagination, were utterly destitute of poetic fancy and hence produced no true poetry; that, nevertheless, some writer was now and then inspired by a flash of real poetic fire, producing a few lines of remarkable freshness and beauty,—little lyrics shining forth like gems in the great mass of verbiage and rubbish and foretelling the glorious possibilities which were to be realized in the future.
    nadakhorchani12has quoted9 months ago
    Chaucer's best poetry, as well as that of the poets who followed him in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was distinguished by its truthfulness to nature, by its expression in hearty and harmonious words of the finer emotions of the soul, and by the freedom and elasticity of its versification. We should learn that in the seventeenth century this style of poetry—sometimes called the romantic—was succeeded by another and very different fashion in poetic composition, introduced into England in imitation of continental and classical models: that this new style of versification—ignoring nature and making everything subservient to art—was purely artificial, characterized by "an oratorical pomp, a classical correctness, a theatrical dressing, abundance of moralizing";
    nadakhorchani12has quoted9 months ago
    English people underwent a long and tedious process of transition,—a blending, in a certain sense, with the Latinized and more polished tongue of their conquerors,—and that the result was the language which we now call English and are proud to claim as our own; that it was about three hundred years after the Norman Conquest, namely, in 1362, that this new tongue was officially recognized and authorized to be used in the courts at law throughout the land; and that about the same time Geoffrey Chaucer composed and wrote his first poems. We should learn, moreover, that, during the transition period mentioned above, there were many attempts at writing poetry, resulting in the production of tedious metrical romances (chiefly translated from the French) and interminable rhyming chronicles, pleasing, of course, to the people of that time,

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