Seventeenth Century (1603-1660) & Metaphysical Poetry
Introduction and 2. 時代背景Historical
early seventeenth century extends from the accession of the
first Stuart king (James I) in 1603 to the coronation of the
third (Charles II) in 1660. But the events that occurred between
these boundaries make much more sense if they are seen in a
larger pattern extending from 1588 to 1688. Between these two
dates massive political and social events took place that bridge
the gap between the Tudor “tyranny by consent” of the
sixteenth century and the equally ill-defined but equally
functional constitutional monarchy of the eighteenth century.
sense of deep disquiet, of traditions under challenge, is felt
everywhere in the literary culture of the early 17th century.
Long before the term was applied to our own time, the era of
Donne and Robert Burton (the obsessive anatomist of melancholy)
deserved to be called the Age of Anxiety. One may think of the “Metaphysical”
poets who followed Donne (such as Herbert, Crashaw, Vaugham,
and Cowley) as trying to reinforce the traditional lyric forms
of love and devotion by stretching them to comprehend new and
extreme intellectual energies. In the other direction, Jonson
and his “sons” the so-called Cavalier poets (such as
Herrick, Suckling, Lovelace, Waller, and Denham) generally tried
to compress and limit their poems, giving them a high polish and
a sense of easy domination at the expense of their intellectual
content. The common contrast of Cavalier with Metaphysical
does describe two poetic alternatives of the early century.
Yet both style were wholly inadequate containers for the sort of
gigantic energy that Milton was trying to express.
the heart of the century of rapid change lies the Puritan
Revolt of 1640-60. The century together with the English
Revolution was a time of intense ferment in all areas of life
—religion, science, politics, domestic relations, culture.
That ferment was reflected in the literature of the era, which
also registered a heightened focus on and analysis of the self
and the personal life. However, little of this seems in evidence
in the elaborate frontispiece to Michael Drayton's long
"chorographical" poem on the landscape, regions, and
local history of Great Britain (1612), which appeared in the
first years of the reign of the Stuart king James I (1603-1625).
The great seventeenth-century heroic poem, Paradise Lost,
treats the Fall of Man and its tragic consequences.
first issue: "Gender, Family, Household:
Seventeenth-Century Norms and Controversies" provides
important religious, legal, and domestic advice texts through
which to explore cultural assumptions about gender roles and the
patriarchal family. It also invites attention to how those
assumptions are modified or challenged in the practices of
actual families and households; in tracts on transgressive
subjects (cross-dressing, women speaking in church, divorce); in
women's texts asserting women's worth, talents, and rights; and
especially in the upheavals of the English Revolution
Lost in Context," the second topic for this period,
surrounds that radically revisionist epic with texts that invite
readers to examine how it engages with the interpretative
traditions surrounding the Genesis story, how it uses classical
myth, how it challenges orthodox notions of Edenic innocence,
and how it is positioned within but also against the epic
tradition from Homer to Virgil to Du Bartas.
third topic, "Civil Wars of Ideas: Seventeenth-Century
Politics, Religion, and Culture," provides an opportunity
to explore, through political and polemical treatises and
striking images, some of the issues and conflicts that led to
civil war and the overthrow of monarchical government (1642-60).
These include royal absolutism vs. parliamentary or popular
sovereignty, monarchy vs. republicanism, Puritanism vs.
Anglicanism, church ritual and ornament vs. iconoclasm,
toleration vs. religious uniformity, and controversies over
court masques and Sunday sports. The climax to all this was the
highly dramatic trial and execution of King Charles I (January
1649), a cataclysmic event that sent shock waves through courts,
hierarchical institutions, and traditionalists everywhere.
Text Source: http://www.liu.se/isk/eng/cs/cs2home4.html