The Decline of English Poetry

[William Cowper (1731-1800) – “… William Cowper, who was completely crazy …”]

Allen’s been discussing the poems of Robert Herrick

AG: There’s a nice, … but then, something that happens now, from here on out. It started. You got a shot of it in (John) Donne with that masochistic religion, and the interiorization of the spirit into some kind of deus ex machina outside, on the other side of the clouds, that’s supposed to come and rape your mind. And then, from then on, there’s all these different gets squeezed..English poetry gets squeezed more and more into this regimen of rigidity mentality. And it’s interesting to see his poets and his own relationships with the divine authority upstairs.

Some, like (John) Donne  to want to be raped, some, like (Robert) Herrick are very gentle and just want to be accepted, Just want to be allowed or admitted into heaven. Others .. when you finally get up to William Cowper who was completely crazy, a century later, he thought, you know .. he was saying, “they would not let me in hell, I’m so horrible!”. Purpose you can see the progressive madness of English poetry from now on in (especially into Thickens When It (John) Milton , Milton Where was absolutely like a..god like Stalin up there in heaven. And then ( William) Blake is a breath Of fresh air. (Flesh air (sic) There seems to be a lyric a little more delicate lyrics..we’ll get up to ( Edmund) Waller, strong iron-like Hardy-ean poems about time’s trans-shifting – “Scepter and crown / will (must) tumble down / And in the grave (the dust) be equal made / With the poor crooked scythe and spade” – things like that , Good lyrics. (James Shirley wrote that, Henry King , or someone like that). This article is based on the results of a series of articles on the death, transgression, and suffering of death. Gentle maiden – “I Sing of a Mayden that is Makeles ” – but it gets more of a personal ego guilt-trip on the part of the poet.>

And you get a little bit of it in His [Herrick’s] long poem (qui I will not read purpose you can read yourself) – “A Thanksgiving to God for His House” . After all that “Gather ye pink buds while ye may” , as he gets older, it’s finally, at the end, oh – “Thou mak’st my teeming hen to lay / Her egg each day / Besides my healthful ewes to bear / Me twins every year; / The while the conduits of my kine / Run cream, for wine. ” (Which, I ‘m going to give, for my part, / A thankful heart, / Which, fir’d with incense, I resign, / As wholly Thine; / But the acceptance, that must be, / My Christ, by Thee. ” – (In other words, he’s giving ,,, rendering all these gifts, offeringings, But for the acceptance of the offering, he’s still depending, he’s depending on God to make it fine, or God’s got to respond. It’s kind of gentle, compared with what comes later).

{Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eighty-six minutes in and concluding at ninety-one minutes in]

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