Threnodia Augustalis

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The Threnodia Augustalis is a 517-line occasional poem written by John Dryden to commemorate the death of Charles II in February 1685. The poem was "rushed into print" within a month. [1] The title is a reference to the classical threnody, a poem of mourning, and to Charles as a "new Augustus" [2] (see Augustan literature). It is subtitled "A Funeral-Pindarique Poem Sacred to the Happy Memory of King Charles II," and is one of several poems on the subject published at the time (see 1685 in poetry). [3]

John Dryden 17th-century English poet and playwright

John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made England's first Poet Laureate in 1668.

Charles II of England King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.

Threnody Song, hymn or poem of mourning

A threnody is a wailing ode, song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word θρηνῳδία (threnoidia), from θρῆνος and ᾠδή, the latter ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂weyd- that is also the precursor of such words as "ode", "tragedy", "comedy", "parody", "melody" and "rhapsody".

Although not one of Dryden's better-known works, the Threnodia is cited twice in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, [4] for "Mute and magnificent, without a tear" (stanza 2), and a couplet expressing nationalist sentiment (stanza 10):

Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity, and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history—and to promote national unity or solidarity. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism or socialism for example.

Freedom which in no other land will thrive,
Freedom an English subject's sole prerogative.

The Threnodia is marked by "the stately enthusiasm of the time," [5] but also lends itself to charges of bathos. [6] The English critic George Saintsbury noted that the poem "is not exempt from the faults of its kind; but it has merits which for that kind are decidedly unusual," and singles out a stanza that "adroitly at once praises and satirizes Charles's patronage of literary men" for its quality. [7]

Bathos is a literary term, coined by Alexander Pope in his 1727 essay "Peri Bathous", to describe amusingly failed attempts at sublimity. In particular, bathos is associated with anticlimax, an abrupt transition from a lofty style or grand topic to a common or vulgar one. This may be either accidental or intentional. Intentional bathos appears in satirical genres such as burlesque and mock epic. "Bathos" or "bathetic" is also used for similar effects in other branches of the arts, such as musical passages marked ridicolosamente. In film, bathos may appear in a contrast cut intended for comic relief or be produced by an accidental jump cut.

George Saintsbury British literary critic

George Edward Bateman Saintsbury, FBA, was an English writer, literary historian, scholar, critic and wine connoisseur.

As indicated by its subtitle, the poem exhibits metrical complexities in imitation of a pindaric ode, that is, the structurally intricate poetry of the Greek lyric poet Pindar. The stanzas are irregular, and both line length and the rhyming pattern vary. Early editions misunderstood the pindaric vagaries of the Threnodia and are sometimes erratic in using indentation to indicate metrical units. [8] In its first year alone, the poem went through three London editions and one Dublin edition. [9]

An ode is a type of lyrical stanza. It is an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist.

Ancient Greek literature Literature written in Ancient Greek language

Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in the Ancient Greek language from the earliest texts until the time of the Byzantine Empire. The earliest surviving works of ancient Greek literature, dating back to the early Archaic period, are the two epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, set in the Mycenaean era. These two epics, along with the Homeric Hymns and the two poems of Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days, comprised the major foundations of the Greek literary tradition that would continue into the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.

Pindar Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes

Pindar was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian wrote, "Of the nine lyric poets, Pindar is by far the greatest, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence, characteristics which, as Horace rightly held, make him inimitable." His poems can also, however, seem difficult and even peculiar. The Athenian comic playwright Eupolis once remarked that they "are already reduced to silence by the disinclination of the multitude for elegant learning". Some scholars in the modern age also found his poetry perplexing, at least until the 1896 discovery of some poems by his rival Bacchylides; comparisons of their work showed that many of Pindar's idiosyncrasies are typical of archaic genres rather than of only the poet himself. His poetry, while admired by critics, still challenges the casual reader and his work is largely unread among the general public.

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Hexameter is a metrical line of verses consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and the Hymns of Orpheus. According to Greek mythology, hexameter was invented by Phemonoe, daughter of Apollo and the first Pythia of Delphi.

Poetry form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Pindarics was a term for a class of loose and irregular odes greatly in fashion in England during the close of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. Abraham Cowley, who published fifteen Pindarique Odes in 1656, was the poet most identified with the form though many others had composed irregular verses before him. The term is derived from the name of a Greek archaic poet, Pindar, but is based on a misconception since Pindar's odes were in fact very formal, obeying a triadic structure, in which the form of the first stanza (strophe) was repeated in the second stanza (antistrophe), followed by a third stanza (epode) that introduced variations but whose form was repeated by other epodes in subsequent triads. Cowley's Resurrection, which was considered in the 17th century to be a model of the 'pindaric' style, is a formless poem of sixty-four lines, arbitrarily divided, not into triads, but into four stanzas of unequal volume and structure; the lines which form these stanzas are of lengths varying from three feet to seven feet, with rhymes repeated in no order. It was the looseness of these 'pindarics' that appealed to many poets at the close of the 17th century, including John Dryden and Alexander Pope, and many lesser poets, such as John Oldham, Aphra Behn, Thomas Otway, Thomas Sprat, John Hughes and Thomas Flatman.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Aeolic verse is a classification of Ancient Greek lyric poetry referring to the distinct verse forms characteristic of the two great poets of Archaic Lesbos, Sappho and Alcaeus, who composed in their native Aeolic dialect. These verse forms were taken up and developed by later Greek and Roman poets and some modern European poets.

Decasyllabic quatrain is a term used for a poetic form in which each stanza consists of four lines of ten syllables each, usually with a rhyme scheme of AABB or ABAB. Examples of the decasyllabic quatrain in heroic couplets appear in some of the earliest texts in the English language, as Geoffrey Chaucer created the heroic couplet and used it in The Canterbury Tales. The alternating form came to prominence in late 16th-Century English poetry and became fashionable in the 17th Century when it appeared in heroic poems by William Davenant and John Dryden. In the 18th Century famous poets such as Thomas Gray continued to use the form in works such as "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard". Shakespearean Sonnets, comprising 3 quatrains of iambic pentameter followed by a final couplet, as well as later poems in blank verse have displayed the various uses of the decasyllabic quatrain throughout the history of English Poetry.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry and literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

<i>The Hind and the Panther</i> book by John Dryden

The Hind and the Panther: A Poem, in Three Parts (1687) is an allegory in heroic couplets by John Dryden. At some 2600 lines it is much the longest of Dryden's poems, translations excepted, and perhaps the most controversial. The critic Margaret Doody has called it "the great, the undeniable, sui generis poem of the Restoration era…It is its own kind of poem, it cannot be repeated ."

The StanzaicMorte Arthur is an anonymous 14th-century Middle English poem in 3,969 lines, about the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere, and Lancelot's tragic dissension with King Arthur. The poem is usually called the Stanzaic Morte Arthur or Stanzaic Morte to distinguish it from another Middle English poem, the Alliterative Morte Arthure. It exercised enough influence on Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur to have, in the words of one recent scholar, "played a decisive though largely unacknowledged role in the way succeeding generations have read the Arthurian legend".

<i>King Alisaunder</i>

King Alisaunder or Kyng Alisaunder is a Middle English romance or romantic epic in 4017 octosyllabic couplets. It tells the story of Alexander the Great's career from his youth, through his successful campaigns against the Persian king Darius and other adversaries, his discovery of the wonders of the East, and his untimely death. George Saintsbury described King Alisaunder as "one of the most spirited of the romances", and W. R. J. Barron wrote of its "shrewd mixture of entertainment and edification made appetizing by literary and stylistic devices of unexpected subtlety."


  1. David Hopkins, "Editing, Authenticity, and Translation: Re-Presenting Dryden's Poetry in 2000," in John Dryden: Tercentenary Essays (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 342.
  2. George Sherburne and Donald F. Bond, "The Spirit of the Restoration" in Literary History of England: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century (Routledge, 2004, reprinted from the second edition of 1967), p. 699.
  3. Cox, Michael, editor, The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN   0-19-860634-6
  4. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (Oxford University Press, 1999, corrected edition 2001), p. 282.
  5. Sherburne and Bond, "The Spirit of the Restoration," p. 699.
  6. A.W. Ward, "Dryden," in Cambridge History of English Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1968, reprinted from the first edition of 1911), p. 44.
  7. George Saintsbury, Dryden (Harper: New York and London, 1902), p. 94 online.
  8. Hopkins, "Editing, Authenticity, and Translation," pp. 343–344.
  9. Paul Hammond, The Making of Restoration Poetry (D.S. Brewer, 2006), p. 150.