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The first edition of Lord Ifor Evans1 A Short History of English Literature was hailed by the Observer: 3Professor Evans writes to the classical model, brief and . Secretary, the British Institute of Adult Education. A SHORT HISTORY OF. ENGLISH LITERATURE. BY. B. IFOR EVANS i;z 72, PE FOACES. Leave this boolc. Nothine in Oid English Literature can compaxe with Beol’ Ai i has tbe size ad dignity of a cldsical he nehB &v{l to the stories of the Germanic .

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Nothing shows Alfred’s inquiring mind more clearly than his desire to have these accounts of contemporary travel lei’s inserted into Orosius’s dull chronicle of sort.

The poet, compared with the musician, xhort faced with the shrt difficulty that words, in their normal use, convey a meaning. Beowulf is, the first long poem in English, some three thousand lines.

Two fragments of another poem, Waldere, which may originally have been as long as Beo- literatuee, were found as recently as i in the binding of a book in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. In satire he is pungent, foul-mouthed, but he employed his irregular verse in another way in The Boke of Phyllyp Sparowe, a lament on a pet sparrow killed by a cat.

Mishal rated it really liked it Nov 08, I was alone, And seemed to be a trouble to the peace That dwelt among them. In breaking the chains which have imprisoned humanity, Blake is in danger of breaking all that humanity has achieved. He was proud of his name, of his power over those who crossed his path, and half-con sciously he deter- mined to live out his life so that it would go easily into legend. No journey was ever more fateful to a poet, no people more unwittingly unkind to genius.

He uses a symbolism of his own invention, a secret language, bewildering to the reader, and destructive of the unity of his poems as works of art. See skulking Truth to her old Cavern fled, Mountains of Casuistry hcap’d o’er her head! Spenser had chosen from the medieval romances, and particularly the Arthurian stories, a medley englosh narrative which he could weave into a series of allegorical literatire.

If he were not a mystic he would be a revolution- ary. With the Restoration of Charles II his poems were satiric and fllled with an og bitterness; poems such as his attack on the incompetence of the country in ‘The Last Instructions to a Painter’ are a complete contrast to his earlier work. So much that is false has been written about Burns, particularly in his own country, and sometimes in moments of induced exuberance, that the truth is worth recording.

A Short History of English Literature by Benjamin Ifor Evans

He was puny, ill-made, venomous, unjust, splenetic, and his enemies have found occasion to emphasize each item in the inventory of defects. Sometimes it befell In these night wanderings, that a strong desire O’erpowered my better reason, and the bird Which was the captive of another’s toil Became my prey; and when the deed was done I heard among the solitary hills Low breathings coming after me, and sounds Of undistinguishable motion, steps Almost as silent as the turf they trod.


And all to leave, what with his Toil he won, To that unfeatnered, twoJcgged thing, a Son: Some of this melancholy may have been a fashion, a delight in ruins, spectres, and midnight walks among the tombs, but it was real enough to colour the whole life of Thomas Graythe author of the ‘Elegy’. The Dunciad, in which he abused dullness in general, and the contemporary dunces in particular, is more ephemeral until one approaches the magnificent conclusion on Chaos, undoubtedly the most profound passage in Pope’s work: He was a ‘Pittite up to a point’, and a strong navy man, whose best work was written before the French Revolution.

Wagga Wagga Campus Library. As a translator, he rendered Vergil, Juvenal, Ovid, and Chaucer, and the best of his prose is the preface of 1 to the Fables, in which, in the year of his death, he introduced some of his translations to the public. Carew was the most careful of the ‘Cavalier’ lyrists, some of whom appear to be brilliant amateurs in verse. This was about seventy years after the death of Mohammed and in the same age as the beginning of the great Tang Dynasty in China.

Water, water, every where. Physic of Metaphysic begs defence And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense! There is Tobias Smollett, a rough seaman who wrote about the reckless and ferocious naval life in “Roderick Random” and “Peregrine Pickle”, both from the mid s.

No one would deny that Chaucer was such a new man. For Milton this struggle is never easy, for his mind is aware of the attractions of the earth and the pleasures of the body; to Comus he gives a magnificent plea that all the pleasures of the earth should be enjoyed: So all their praises are but prophecies Of this our time, all you prefiguring, And for they look’d but with divining eyes, They had not skill enough your worth to sing: As a young man he had high hopes for humanity: All this the world well knows yet none knows well, To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

At his best, in The Rape of the Lock, he was able to mock at the whole of the fashionable society of the eighteenth century, while showing that he had some passionate attachment to its elegance.

The greatest figure is the Venerable Bedewho spent nearly the whole of his life of intense study in the monastery at Jarrow. Four often-quoted lines in that poem be- came the insignia of the new group: A ‘school’ of poets Donne certainly created, and much of the history of poetry in the seventeenth century could be written in the terms of loyalty or antagonism to his man- ner.


The pretty things are there, but with them a profound moral vision in the graver sonnets, Shakespeare’s sonnets have led to a greater volume of controversy than any volume of verse in our literature. John Gay used the couplet in his Fables and other poems, but the best of his talent went into the lyric and The Beggar’s Opera. He has always been read since by that minority which finds pleasure in poetry as an art.

I also thought this book was quite sexist – Christina Rossetti only gets a brief passing mention and Jane Austen gets about two pages. It may be that his vision of nature was an illusion, but in recording it he pursued many experiences into the secret corners of man’s nature, so that few sensitive minds will fail to discover in his poems something that answers to their own intuitions.

This is possibly the greatest poem of the modem period in English, the spiritual record of a single mind, honestly recording its own intimate experiences, and endowed with a rare capacity for making the record intelligible.

Whatever has been gained by our predecessors has been hardly won, and the mental anarchy, which lays it in ruins in order to build the new Jerusalem in its place, smacks of the sin which Lucifer shared with little Bethel.

He is fair to all and gushes over none The Seafarer’ has a similar mood, the hardship, the fascination, the melan- choly of the sea, which recurs in English poetry to the nineteenth century in Swinburne. While the Puritan ideal was not easy, still less was it negative.

A Short History of English Literature

Humour, sentiment, adventure, and pathos are thrown together with that same disconcerting incongruity as they are to be found in life. Shaswat Awasthy rated it it was ok May 05, In the ‘Ode to Duty’ he composed in a mood of more classical severity than was customary with him. They say it is only a fairy story of monsters and dragons. If tyranny were removed, and cruelty, and the corruption of man by man through jealousy and the exercise of power, life would be beautiful, and an experience governed by love.

As a prophet, and a liberator of the human spirit, Blake is of first importance, but as an artist he is limited by his arbitrary methods, and by an absence of discipline. His most interesting followers were religious poets.