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"Cavalier poets" is a broad description of a school of English poets of the 17th century

AboutEdit

The Cavalier Poets came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the English Civil War. Much of their poetry is light in style, and generally secular in subject. They were marked out by their lifestyle and religion from the Roundheads, who supported Parliament and were often Puritans.

The best known of the Cavalier poets are Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, Thomas Carew, and Sir John Suckling .

While most of the Cavalier poets were courtiers, there were some notable exceptions. For example, Robert Herrick was not a courtier, but his style marks him as a Cavalier poet.

Issues of classificationEdit

According to the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia

The foremost poets of the Jacobean era, Ben Jonson and John Donne, are regarded as the originators of two diverse poetic traditions—the Cavalier and the metaphysical [1]

English poets of the early 17th century are crudely classified by the division into Cavaliers and metaphysical poets, the latter (for example John Donne) being much concerned with religion. The division is therefore along a line approximating to secular/religious. It is not considered exclusive, though, with Carew (for example) falling into both sides, in some opinions ('metaphysical' was in any case a retrospective term). The term 'sacred poets' has been applied, with an argument that they fall between two schools:

Herbert, Crashaw and Vaughan form, not, indeed, a school of poetry, but a group with definite links connecting them. Unlike the Fletchers and Habington, who looked back to “Spenser’s art and Sydney's wit,” they come under the influence both of the newer literary fashions of Jonson and Fres, and of the revived spirit of cultured devotion in the Anglican church.[2]

Others associated with the Cavalier tradition, according to Skelton, include Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Aurelian Townshend, William Cartwright, Thomas Randolph, William Habington, Sir Richard Fanshawe, Edmund Waller, and James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose. Because of the influence of Ben Jonson, the term Tribe of Ben is sometimes applied to poets in this loose group (Sons of Ben applies properly only to dramatist followers of Jonson).

In his introduction to The New Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse Alastair Fowler makes a case for the existence of a third group centering around Michael Drayton and including William Browne, William Drummond of Hawthornden, John Davies of Hereford, George Sandys, Joshua Sylvester and George Wither.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. The Jacobean Era, InfoPlease.com.
  2. "F.E. Hutchinson, "The Sacred Poets," Cavalier & Puritan, Cambridge History of English and American literature. Bartleby.com, Web, Mar. 11, 2013.

External linksEdit

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