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Cavalier poet

Cavalier poet

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Cavalier poets is a broad description of a school of English poets of the 17th century, who came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the English Civil War. They were marked out by their lifestyle and religion from the Puritans on the Parliamentarian side; much of their poetry is light in style, and generally secular in subject.

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

Most of the Cavalier poets were courtiers, with notable exceptions: Robert Herrick, for example, was not a courtier but his style marks him as a Cavalier poet.

Issues of classification

According to The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia[1]

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

English poets of the early seventeenth 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 stools:

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 Donne, and of the revived spirit of cultured devotion in the Anglican church. F. E. Hutchinson, Cambridge History of English and American literature

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).

See also

de:Cavalier poets
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