I promised I would pick up the slack on the “Transitional Augustan poetry” chapter, and have written and deleted several posts that attempted to address this chapter. All my attempts were very bad, so I have decided to keep this as short as possible and hope for comments.
I enjoyed this chapter very much, as it addresses Cowley, whose poetry I often find myself reading aloud in funny voices. In fact, I would say this was the chapter that most directly answered my own queasiness/fascination with the early Augustan. Much of the who/what/when/how of the Augustan shift is described in this chapter, but I admit I required seeing Parker elaborate in the Pope chapter that follows before I saw clearly where this was going.
I wonder if it is a failure of my imagination that I am more comfortable discussing authors who are self-consciously manipulating a dominant aesthetic than those who are caught between two ages, still holding onto the tail of one while they grasp out toward the head of the next. I think Parker does this well, but I did not nod furiously along as I read it (as I did when I came to Pope), but thought instead, “Is that really so?”