Poetry and Reform: Periodical Verse from the English Democratic Press, 1792-1824
Michael Henry Scrivener
Wayne State University Press, 1992 - English poetry - 297 pages
Although the English reform movement was divided ideologically and socially, it was united in its opposition to the aristocratic elite that ruled Britain through a parliament that excluded both the middle and laboring classes. The movement was not just political but cultural as well; its activities included challenging established opinion in every sphere-economics, religion, philosophy, and literature.
Poetry and Reform is the only anthology of its kind on poetry from the English reform movement. The volume features 162 poems from twenty-three different periodicals. The poems reflect the cultural vitality of the movement in their intellectual sophistication and defiant rebelliousness. The periodicals and their poets range from moderate liberal to radical socialist, from bourgeois to plebeian.
The poems reflect the generic diversity of the period; except for epic, almost every poetic genre is represented here. These poems provide an illuminating context for understanding the major Romantic poets, most of whom wrote for the reform press at some point in their career. The bold Romantic experiments in poetry, which set the agenda for English poetry for decades to come, are unthinkable outside the context of this remarkable democratic insurgence, which increased overall literacy and established an innovative literary spirit.
The anthology also makes available to readers a body of poetry" outside the canon" that is valuable in its own terms and that helps us comprehend with greater precision Romantic literary conventions and their origins. Important plebeian poets are introduced, including Allen Davenport, Edward J. Blandford, Robert C. Fair, and Robert Wedderburn.
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The charming air of Modesty , Love ' s sweetest smile and melting eye Are thine ;
and thine the livelier glance That darts divine intelligence ; The blushes thine ,
that tinge the cheek , And o ' er the trembling bosom break ; Thine is each sweetly
... thirst for sordid gain ; And lawless zeal shall sink to endless shame , Nor longer
keep thy seat , nor bear thine injur ' d name . But should e ' en Britons scorn thy
generous sway , On Gallia ' s plains still linger with delight ; Still to their sons thy ...
... d worlds adore ! Whose goodness all thy creatures share , While nature
trembles at thy power ; Thine is the hand , that moves the spheres , That wakes
the winds , and lifts the sea ; And man , who moves the lord of earth , Acts but ...
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