Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Lesser Caroline Poets > Leonard Lawrence; Arnalte and Lucenda
  Nathaniel Whiting; Albino and Bellama Henry King  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

IV. Lesser Caroline Poets.

§ 8. Leonard Lawrence; Arnalte and Lucenda.


The Arnalte and Lucenda (1639) of Leonard Lawrence, a piece of little merit, and one or two others not worth mentioning. The last-named poem (which is worth mentioning if only for this reason) pretends to be adapted “from the Greek of an unknown author,” and this is an indirect testimony, much stronger than the direct assertion, to the influence of the late Greek romances on the whole class.   16
  As will have been seen, they even follow, with the single exception of Pharonnida, the double title, by hero’s and heroine’s name, which is usual in those romances; and they follow them, less superficially, in the predominance of love-interest as a central motive, and in the working out of the story by an endless series of mostly episodic adventures. This may appropriately bring us round to some consideration of the general character of the class itself. That character may be put afresh as showing vividly the persistence of the appetite for poetry, the disposition to couch fiction in verse and the decay of concentrated poetical power in the average writer, despite a strange general diffusion of some share of it; with, on the other side, the strong, blind groping after fiction itself. All these writers want to tell a story; but, for the most part, they do not in the very least know how to do it. Even if they were not perpetually neglecting their main business in order to scatter poetical flowers, which (except in the case of Chamberlayne conspicuously and of others more or less) they, again, do not know how to produce of the true colour and sweetness, their mere notion of novel arrangement is (except, perhaps, with Kynaston) hopelessly inadequate. Their confusion in this way infects, and, in its turn, is aggravated by, the disorder of their grammar, their style and their versification. It is true that, in almost all of them—as, for instance, in such an utterly forgotten person as Bosworth—there is a something, a suggestion, a reminiscence, of a kind of poetry not to be met again for a hundred and fifty years. But it rarely comes—save in Chamberlayne—to much more than a suggestion of poetry; and, everywhere, there is much more than a suggestion of the imperative necessity of an interval of “prose and sense.”   17
  Some, however, of these poets also devoted themselves, and a larger number of others devoted themselves more or less, to kinds of poetry which, though certainly not less exacting in respect of purely poetical characteristics, are much less so in respect of the characteristics which poetry shares with prose. In the first chapter of this volume, something has been said concerning the differences derived from, or first exemplified by, Jonson and Donne, of later, as compared with earlier, lyric. But these differences, though exhibited on a larger scale, in greater variety and with more sustained perfection, by Herrick, Carew and others already mentioned, are nowhere more characteristically shown than by some of the lesser people who provide the subject of this chapter. Chalkhill’s verse, in this kind—more generally known than anything else here owing to its inclusion by Walton in The Compleat Angler—is good; but by far the best lyrist of the poets already mentioned is Kynaston, whose Cynthiades or Amorous Sonnets (1642) long ago furnished anthologists of taste with one or two specimens, and might have been much more largely drawn upon. The pieces which begin “Look not upon me with those lovely eyes”; “Do not conceal those radiant eyes”; “When I behold the heaven of thy face”; “Dear Cynthia, though thou bear’st the name” and “April is past: then do not shed” display, in all but the highest degree, though with some inequality, the impassioned quaintness of thought and expression, with the mellifluous variety of accompanying sound, which form the combined charm of this department of verse.   18

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Nathaniel Whiting; Albino and Bellama Henry King  
 
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