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]

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):

Freedom which in no other Land will thrive,
Freedom an English Subject's sole Prerogative, [5]

lines 300-301

The Threnodia is marked by "the stately enthusiasm of the time," [6] but also lends itself to charges of bathos. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9] In its first year alone, the poem went through three London editions and one Dublin edition. [10]

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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 enter.

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John Dryden 17th-century English poet and playwright

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

George Saintsbury

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Anne Killigrew (1660–1685) was an English poet and painter, described by contemporaries as "A Grace for beauty, and a Muse for wit." Born in London, she and her family were active in literary and court circles. Killigrew's poems were circulated in manuscript and collected and published posthumously in 1686 after she died from smallpox at age 25. They have been reprinted several times by modern scholars, most recently and thoroughly by Margaret J. M. Ezell.

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.

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

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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.

<i>The Hind and the Panther</i>

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 ."

<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. Dryden, John (1913). Sargeaunt, John (ed.). The Poems of John Dryden. Oxford University Press. p. 111.
  6. Sherburne and Bond, "The Spirit of the Restoration," p. 699.
  7. A.W. Ward, "Dryden," in Cambridge History of English Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1968, reprinted from the first edition of 1911), p. 44.
  8. George Saintsbury, Dryden (Harper: New York and London, 1902), p. 94 online.
  9. Hopkins, "Editing, Authenticity, and Translation," pp. 343–344.
  10. Paul Hammond, The Making of Restoration Poetry (D.S. Brewer, 2006), p. 150.