A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry (English Language by Geoffrey N. Leech

By Geoffrey N. Leech

Seeks to illustrate that the examine of English poetry is enriched through the insights of contemporary linguistic research, and that linguistic and significant disciplines will not be separate yet complementary. studying a variety of poetry, Professor Leech considers many features of poetic type, together with the language of prior and current, inventive language, poetic licence, repetition, sound, metre, context and ambiguity.

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An obvious figure here is Sir Philip Sidney, which neatly follows on from Don Wayne's concerns with the Sidney family. If the familial ideology of the aristocracy is coming under pressure, with concomitant effects for women, then so too does the poetic theory through which they attempt to articulate these positions. The reason for this is not very hard to find: both share elements of ordering and hierarchy, and disruptions in the chain of order will inevitably have profound effects. H. Tawney has described the idealising function proper to aristocratic literature in this context: There is a magic mirror in which each order and organ of society, as the consciousness of its character and destiny dawns upon it, looks for a moment, before the dust of conflict or the glamour of success obscures its vision.

Astrophil's love is therefore constructed entirely along traditional lines, and the sequence is full of familiar sonnet motifs. Thus, in sonnet 2 the wound the narrator suffers will bleed as long as he lives. In this poem he bemoans the loss of his liberty, but justifies his loss by stating that it is 'praise to suffer tyranny' (line 11). He writes that he now uses what is left of his wit to persuade himself that all is well, while at the same time painting his hell, a contradiction that is resolved in his 'love-madness', a kind of mental and emotional derangement that reappears in sonnet 4.

In effect, they displace military prowess onto courtliness, effacing the decline in the aristocracy's traditional military role. And what is crucial in this respect is the way in which this displacement takes place via the figure of a woman. The idealised woman familiar from courtly love reappears in the most famous of the conduct books, Castiglione's Book of the Courtier: [. ] though such was the respect we had for the wishes of the Duchess that the liberty we enjoyed was accompanied by the most careful restraint.

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