Graveyard poets

Graveyard poets

The "Graveyard Poets" were a number of pre-Romantic English poets of the 18th century characterised by their gloomy meditations on mortality, 'skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms'[1] in the context of the graveyard. To this was added, by later practitioners, a feeling for the 'sublime' and uncanny, and an interest in ancient English poetic forms and folk poetry. They are often reckoned as precursors of the Gothic genre.

The Graveyard Poets include Thomas Parnell, Thomas Warton, Thomas Percy, Thomas Gray, Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, Christopher Smart, James MacPherson, Robert Blair, William Collins, Thomas Chatterton, Mark Akenside, Joseph Warton, Henry Kirke White and Edward Young. James Thomson is also sometimes included as a graveyard poet.

An illustration for Young's Night Thoughts by William Blake.

The earliest poem attributed to the Graveyard school was Thomas Parnell's A Night-Piece on Death (1721, this and following years link to corresponding "[year] in poetry" articles) in which King Death himself gives an address from his kingdom of bones:

"When men my scythe and darts supply
How great a King of Fears am I!" (61–62)

Characteristic later poems include Edward Young's Night Thoughts (1742) in which a lonely traveller in a graveyard reflects lugubriously on:

The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades! (117–18)

Blair's The Grave (1743) proves to be no more cheerful as it relates with grim relish how:

Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs;
Dead men have come again, and walked about;
And the great bell has tolled, unrung and untouched. (51–53)

However a more contemplative and mellow mood is achieved in the celebrated opening verse of Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751[2]) in which

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day.
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me. (1–4)

The Graveyard Poets were notable and influential figures, who created a stir in the public mind, and marked a shift in mood and form in English poetry, in the second half of the 18th century, which eventually led to Romanticism.

References

  1. ^ Blair: The Grave 23
  2. ^ "Published on 15 February 1751 in a quarto pamphlet, according to Cox, Michael, editor, The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-19-860634-6
  • Noyes, Russell (Ed.) (1956). English Romantic Poetry and Prose. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-501007-8

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • List of cemeteries — This list of cemeteries compiles notable cemeteries, mausoleums and other places people are buried, worldwide. Reasons for notability include their design, their history and their interments.Argentina*La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires burial… …   Wikipedia

  • Romantisme — Le romantisme est un courant artistique apparu au cours du XVIIIe siècle en Grande Bretagne et en Allemagne, puis au début du XIXe siècle en France, en Italie et en Espagne. Il se développe en France sous la Restaura …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Obituary poetry — Their little souls to the angels flew.... Obituary poetry, in the broad sense, includes any poem that commemorates a person or group of people s death: an elegy. In its stricter sense, though, it refers to a genre of popular verse or folk poetry… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Parnell — This article is about the poet. Thomas Parnell (scientist) started the pitch drop experiment in 1927 Thomas Parnell (11 September 1679 – 24 October 1718) was a poet and clergyman, born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was a… …   Wikipedia

  • Gothic fiction — (sometimes referred to as Gothic horror) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle… …   Wikipedia

  • Gothique (littérature) — Roman gothique Pour les articles homonymes, voir Gothique. Strawberry Hill, villa construite dans le style « renaissance gothique » par l’écrivain Horace Walpole …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Roman gothique — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Gothique. Strawberry Hill, villa construite dans le style « renaissance gothique » par l’écrivain Horace Walpole. Le roman gothique est un …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Thomas Parnell — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Parnell. Thomas Parnell Thomas Parnell …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Poetas de cementerio — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Cementerio de un monasterio bajo la nieve, por Caspar David Friedrich, 1818, reflejo romántico de la atracción por los cementerios Los poetas de cementerio ( Graveyard Poets en inglés) son un grupo de …   Wikipedia Español

  • French literature — Introduction       the body of written works in the French language produced within the geographic and political boundaries of France. The French language was one of the five major Romance languages to develop from Vulgar Latin as a result of the …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.