Denham Sir John 103

rietta Maria and her ladies eventually joined Charles, and with them entertainment and frivolity; the queen would become pregnant with her ninth child while at oxford. A temporary Parliament was established in oxford's Divinity Schools and Shakespeare's plays were enacted, while in London drama had been curtailed. Although many found the King's stay in oxford exhilarating, his poets, including Denham, tried to transmit their advice and disapproval of certain of his causes through their poetry. According to the critic Donald Bruce, Denham had focused in Cooper's Hill on royal despotism, an aspect of the poem not commented upon until centuries after its publication. Although Denham was not totally skeptical, he did attempt, as did his fellow poets, to dissuade Charles from the path of certain disaster. Their attempts failed, and Charles would be executed as his queen and followers fled to France.

Devoted to the Royalist cause, Denham moved to the Continent when the Civil War broke out, living in exile 1648-53. He later received a knighthood when King Charles II was restored to the throne. Additional rewards for his loyalty included his office as surveyor of the Royal Works and his seat in Parliament representing Sarum. He republished Cooper's Hill in 1655, with the later version muting some of the former polemical content. In 1665 Denham married a much younger woman named Margaret Brooke, who became mistress to James II, possibly contributing to the poet's famous emotional breakdown episode in which, believing he was the Holy Ghost, he proclaimed as much to the king. In addition to writing poetry and drama, Denham translated some classical works and wrote essays expressing theories regarding translation, including "To Sir Richard Fanshaw Upon his Translation of Pastor Fido" (probably 1643-44) and a preface to "The Destruction of Troy" (1656). He also completed the translation of the French dramatist Cor-neille's Horace, left incomplete by the poet and playwright Katherine Philips at her untimely death. John Dryden would later reference Denham's attitude toward translation as one in which poets from all eras prove contemporaries as they attempt to transmit the same message to their own ages.

Denham's views strongly influenced Dryden's approach to translation and his views on 17th-century literature. Twentieth-century critics suggest that Den-ham also influenced Dryden's grounding in Royalist poetics. Although Dryden did not often specifically reference Denham, according to the critic Tanya Caldwell, "key tenets of Dryden's critical and political stances have their roots in Denham's poetry and critical proclamations." Denham's writing during a time of political unrest when one's political and personal aesthetics often proved indistinguishable allowed Dryden, in similar conditions, to recognize a commonality with his predecessor. As had Horatio, Denham cautioned against word-for-word translation, and Dryden referenced the earlier poet in the preface to ovid's Epistles (1680), writing, "Too faithfully is indeed pedantically: 'tis a faith like that which proceeds from Superstition, blind and zealous: Take it in the Expression of Sir John Denham, to Sir Rich. Fanshaw, on his Version of Pastor Fido." Denham's words quoted by Dryden read,

That servile path, thou nobly do'st decline, Of tracing word by word and Line by Line; A new and nobler way thou do'st pursue, To make Translations and Translators too: They but preserve the Ashes, thou the Flame, True to his Sense, but truer to his Fame. (1:115)

Dryden also quotes a later statement by Denham in his preface before the translation of the Aeneid: "Poetry is of so subtil a Spirit, that in pouring out of one Language into another, it will all Evaporate; and if a new Spirit be not added in the transfusion, there will remain nothing but a Caput Mortum."

Despite multiple viewpoints claiming Cooper's Hill was not the mild descriptive piece praised by notables including Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson, most anthologies continue to emphasize Denham's contribution to the poetry of place. Additional attention is given to his adoption of the couplet for its versatility in establishing rhythm and his use of rhetorical balance as his greatest legacy. However, 20th-century critics have also disputed that the idea of balance was peculiar to Denham, claiming instead that rhetorical balance appeared commonly in Royalist writings, even those by Charles I himself. In addition, they have challenged

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Self Improvement Fast Track

Self Improvement Fast Track

Surefire Ways To Put Your Self Improvement On The Fast Track. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Accelerated Learning Techniques For People New To Personal Development.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment