CAVALIER POETRY AND CAVALIER POETS
The Cavalier poets were a group of aristocrats from the Caroline period (1625-49), devoted to King Charles I. The king who ruled England and Ireland during this period. He also ruled during the English Civil War (1642-51). Meanwhile, these Cavalier artists were the rivals of Roundheads, who were in the favour of Parliament and Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War.
Going through the living style of Cavalier Poets, one can understand that they belonged to the high-class society. Hence, Cavalier poets were also named as royalists.
Cavalier Poets were the opponent of metaphysical poetry. They produced works which had apparent and straightforward meanings and were most probably connected to the general public. Each of their works has blunt meaning; not like the metaphysical poetries in which poets glorify their words by using witty conceits.
The Cavalier poets, who are considered as one of the greatest poets of all time were professionally soldiers, musicians, lovers, etc. in their respective lives. Yet, composing poems about the lives of people and describing their thoughts in words was just a passion-driven approach.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CAVALIER POETRY
- Cavalier poets were the supporters of King Charles I. They were always seen to be praising King Charles I in their writings.
- The most common feature of the Cavalier poets was their concept of composing verse in a basic, short, and nuanced manner.
- Cavalier poets were also known as ‘Sons of Ben’ or ‘Tribes of Ben’ as they were highly influenced by Ben Jonson and well-regarded his works.
- The works written by Cavalier poets were seen outwardly spoken against parliamentarians.
- Cavalier poets produced works where they rejoice exquisiteness, love, countryside, sensualism, beverages, virtuous companionship, honor, and social life.
- Cavalier poets highly avoided writing on religious aspects.
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THE PROMINENT CAVALIER POETS
Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, Robert Herrick, and John Suckling are the prominent writers known as Cavalier Poets or Cavalier Lyricists. All poets except for Robert Herrick were squires. Robert Herrick was the main artist who functioned as a clergyman.
THOMAS CAREW (1597-1640)
Carew is known the originator of Cavalier love poetry. The famous poem of Thomas Carew is “An Elegy upon the death of the Dean of St Paul’s, John Donne”; an elegy written on the death of a metaphysical poet John Donne.
Carew has written many short poems. “A Rapture” is his longest poems that contains 166 lines. Some other famous poems of Carew are; “Ask Me No More” and “Upon a Ribbon Tied about His Arm”.
RICHARD LOVELACE (1617-1657)
Born in the 17th century, Lovelace has served himself as a supporter of King Charles I. He is also known for his best work “To Althea, from Prison”.
A vital line taken from this work is; “Stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage”.
Lovelace was imprisoned two times throughout his lifetime. Firstly in 1642 when he wrote a poem named “To Althea, from Prison”. In this poem he talked about freedom and imprisonment in the broader sense. Secondly in 1648 where he wrote, “To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars”. In “To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars”, he wrote about a man who is bidding farewell to his darling Lucasta before going to the War. Lovelace passed on in destitution in the year 1657.
ROBERT HERRICK (1591-1674)
Herrick has written nearly 2500 poems and most of these poems come under the work “Hesperides”; his magnum opus, in which he published 1200 lyrical poems. Herrick has shown the concept of ‘Carpe Diem’ in these poems. Carpe diem is a Latin word which means that life is very short to live and so we must utilize each moment of it. Other important poems of Herrick under this collection are, “To the Virgins to make much of Time”, “Corinna’s going a-maying”, “To Daffodils”.
Victorian artist, Swinburne portrayed Herrick as “the greatest songwriter ever born of the English race”.
JOHN SUCKLING (1602-42)
John Suckling comes under the most brilliant, rich, and witty writer among all Cavalier poets. Suckling invented a card game called Cribbage. “Ballad upon a wedding” is his masterpiece. Suckling has written plays such as “Aglaura”, a tragedy, published in 1638, and “Goblins”, a comedy, first published in 1646 are the famous ones. Poems penned by Suckling are mostly influenced by John Donne. Fragmenta Aurea: A collection of all the incomparable pieces, written by John Suckling, published posthumously by his friend in 1658. “Ballad Upon a Wedding” is one of his best-known works.
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