SPEECH) Figurative language, also called figure of speech, involves a nonliteral reference to both animate and inanimate objects. The purpose of such a fig ure is to suggest an imaginative relationship between things that are in reality different. Figurative language proves essential to the dense form of poetry, and its abundant usage helps distinguish poetry from prose. Figurative language always involves comparisons.
Many figures of speech exist, including the common metaphor, or direct comparison. An example is seen in John Cleveland's "Upon the Death of Mr. King," when the speaker states that his eyes "weep down pious beads: but why should I / confine them to the Muses' rosary?" He adopts the term beads instead of tears in order to suggest a religious ritual, made clear in the next line, as he compares his weeping to the Catholic rite of praying the rosary. A second common figure of speech is the simile, or indirect comparison, in which the word like or as is used. An example appears in Andrew Marvell's "Upon Appleton House," when Marvell writes, "But all things are composed here / Like Nature, orderly and near." In irony, the figure of speech means the opposite of what the poet intends. Christopher Smart demonstrates irony in his "My Cat Jeof-fry." In that poem he seems seriously to characterize his cat as a devotee of God, supplying many examples as to why he feels that characterization to be accurate:
For I will consider my cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him
For at the first glance of the glory of god in the
East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
In the figurative language of personification, human characteristics are projected onto nonhuman things. A common approach in early poetry, its use diminished later. John Donne often employed personification, as in his poem, "The Sun Rising," in which he begins with an apostrophe, yet another figure of speech, in an address to the sun:
Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Another example appears in Robert Fergussons "The Daft Days," as he opens with the lines "Now mirk December's dowie face / Glowrs owr the rigs wi' sour grimace." Hyperbole represents exaggeration for effect, as in Katherine Philips's poem "To My Excellent Lucasia, on Our Friendship." In order to stress the unusually important nature of the relationship she shares with Lucasia, the speaker states, "for thou art all that I can prize, / My joy, my life, my rest." In the figure of speech known as metonymy, the name of that being described is substituted for a term closely related. An example may be found in the title of George Herberts "The Collar," as well as in a line from that poem, "Shall I be still in suit?" Herbert uses parts of his official dress as a priest to represent the duties that religious station demands from him. Richard Lovelace writes in "To Lucasta, going to the Wars,"
True; a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.
All three items referenced in the fourth line of this stanza, "a sword, a horse, a shield," represent war, which in its turn represents allegiance to a certain country or political power fighting in the war. Finally, synechdoche is a type of metonymy, in which a part stands for a whole, a whole stands for a part, and a species may represent an entire genus. Synecdoche proved common in Renaissance sonnets and in the work of the Cavalier poets, when parts of women's bodies, such as their hands, or part of their clothing, represented them. An example appears in Edmund Waller's "On a Girdle," where the girdle represents a woman the speaker has loved. Donne used his heart to represent his physical and spiritual life in "Batter My Heart." He employed synecdoche in the opposite way, allowing a large object, the earth, to represent a small object, him, in his "I am a little world made cunningly." He writes that "black sin hath betrayed to endless night / My worlds' both parts, and, o, both parts must die." Another example of using a part to represent a whole appears in "To the Memory of My Beloved, The Author, Mr. William Shakespeare," by
Ben Jonson. The speaker states in the first line, "To draw no envy, Shakespeare, on thy name," where name represents Shakespeare's poetry and dramas, above which appear his name as author. These are examples of the more common types of figurative language.
FINCH, ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHILSEA (1661-1720) Anne Finch was born at Sydmonton near Newbury. Her father, Sir William Kingsmill, hailed from an established Hampshire family whose fortunes suffered a downturn during the Civil War. He showed great interest in educating not only his son, William, but also his daughters, Bridget and Anne. He instructed in his will that rent from his property be set aside to do so, leaving each daughter more than £1,000 in inheritance. After his death when Anne was five months old, her mother, Anne Hasle-wood, remarried, providing a stepfather, Sir Thomas Ogle, and new stepsister, Dorothy, to her three children. At age three Anne lost her mother, and when she was 10 years old, Sir Thomas died. An uncle named Sir William Haslewood raised William, while Anne and Bridget lived with their grandmother, Lady Kingsmill. When she died in 1672, the girls moved in with their uncle, who died 10 years later. Their extended family continued the siblings' education, and Anne matured versed in Greek and Roman mythology, history, poetry, and drama and acquainted with French and Italian.
As Anglicans, the Kingsmills supported the Stuarts. In 1682 Anne moved to London and served Mary of Modena, married to the duke of York, later King James II, as a maid of honour. She may have known the poet Anne Killigrew, who also served Mary. While at court Anne began writing poetry in secret and later reflected fondly in writing on her mistress. She met her future husband, Captain Heneage Finch, at court, where he served the duke as gentleman of the bedchamber. They married in 1684 and lived happily pampered lives, Anne writing of their playfulness and intimacy. Almost 40 years later, her husband wrote in his journal of their marriage day as a blessed one. Both staunch Royalists, they lost that fine lifestyle when James fled the country. Captain Finch tried to follow his monarch and was arrested, but later released. He became a colonel, and the Finches left London in the late 1680s or early
1690s to settle at Eastwell Park, Kent. It was the seat for Heneage Finch's nephew, Charles, earl of Winchil-sea. The earl served as a patron of the arts and encouraged Anne in her writing. Hineage also supported her, transcribing some of her poetry.
While Anne's marriage produced no children, the couple remained active, wintering in London and enjoying visits to the Continent. Her husband became an antiquarian of sorts, while Anne began to write seriously, extending an activity she had enjoyed for more than a decade. Feminist critics would later find of interest Finch's complaints in "The Introduction" of the male-dominated world of writing and the chauvinistic view of women writers as frivolous, presumptuous females who did not know how to keep their place in the domestic sphere. Her gloomy outlook on a future of writing prevented her publishing more than one collection, although she found her country surroundings inspiring, as reflected in her "A Nocturnal Reverie," published in her 1713 collection.
After her poetry had been read in circulation, Finch published 30 pages of four poems, including her famous "The Spleen," in New Collection of Poems on Several Occasions (1701). Identified in 18th-century tradition with the neoclassic name Ardelia, Finch received high praise from the actor Nicholas Rowe, who wrote that she would "redeem poetry" and save the empire. She became part of a wide literary circle that included her fellow female poets Elizabeth Rowe and Frances Seymour, countess of Herford and later duchess of Somerset; Jonathan Swift, who addressed his 1709 "Apollo Outwitted" to Finch; and Alexander Pope, who corresponded with her regarding his RAPE OF THE THE Lock. She eventually returned to court to serve Queen Anne as lady of the bedchamber, and her husband in 1712 assumed his nephew's title as earl of Winchilsea but did not sit in Parliament.
Finch continued writing, adopting the mode of John Milton in "Fanscomb Barn" (1713), a satire that alludes to Paradise Lost. Her work appeared within that of others, including Delariviere Manley's "Secret Memoirs . . . from the New Atalantis," a roman a clef and a predecessor to the newly developing novel genre. She published anonymously her own 1713 collection titled Miscellany Poems on Several Occasions, which included an original drama. Its reissue later in the year identified her by name. A protracted illness two years later may have prompted her to turn to religious verse. In 1717 her poetry was among that introducing Pope's Works, and he also included her verse in his Poems on Several Occasions. Although Pope obviously felt positively toward Finch, her caricature as a mad writer in his 1717 Three Hours after Marriage, a farce cowritten with John Gay and John Arbuthnot, confirmed some of her fears regarding the acceptance of her poetry. Finch refused, however, to be silenced. She declared on more than one occasion that those occupations her society approved for women remained on the whole foolish and highly dissatisfying to any intelligent woman. This theme may be found in her poem about depression and melancholy "The Spleen." She left many poems to be published posthumously in various collections, including Poems by Eminent Ladies (1755); however, her style lost favor in later generations. Still, William Wordsworth greatly admired her work, including 17 of her poems in an 1819 collection of 50 that he presented to Lady Mary Lowther.
The noted feminist critic Myra Reynolds reintro-duced Finch to academe in an edition of her works titled Poems (1903). A manuscript by Finch stored at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, was edited in the 1980s and again a decade later, and several valuable additions to work on Finch were added in the late 20th century. While a comprehensive scholarly collection of, and commentary on, her works has not yet been undertaken, her poetry remains available in both print and electronic form. In the University of Pennsylvania's online digital library, A Celebration of Women Writers, edited by Mary Mark Ockerbloom, readers may find a complete transcription of Finch's poetry that appeared in the 1713 Miscellany Poems on Several Occasions. Favorites often made available by various sources, in addition to excerpts from "The Spleen," include "Adam Posed," "The Answer," "The Apology," "Circuit of Apollo," "Friendship between Ephelia and Ardelia," and "To the Nightingale."
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