Cowley, Abraham


Cowley, Abraham
born 1618, London
died July 28, 1667, Chertsey, Eng.

British poet and essayist.

He was a fellow at the University of Cambridge but was ejected for his political opinions during the English Civil Wars; he joined the queen's court, performing Royalist missions until 1656. In his poetic works
which include The Mistress (1647, 1656), the unfinished epic Davideis (1656), and Pindarique Odes (1656), in which he adapted the Pindaric ode to English verse
he used grossly elaborate, fanciful, poetic language that was more decorative than expressive. In his retirement he wrote sober, reflective essays.

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▪ British author
born 1618, London
died July 28, 1667, Chertsey, Eng.
 poet and essayist who wrote poetry of a fanciful, decorous nature. He also adapted the Pindaric ode to English verse.

      Educated at Westminster school and the University of Cambridge, where he became a fellow, he was ejected in 1643 by the Parliament during the Civil War and joined the royal court at Oxford. He went abroad with the queen's court in 1645 as her cipher secretary and performed various Royalist missions until his return to England in 1656. Seemingly reconciled to the Commonwealth, he did not receive much reward after Charles II was restored in 1660 and retired to Chertsey, where he engaged in horticulture and wrote on the virtues of the contemplative life.

      Cowley tended to use grossly elaborate, self-consciously poetic language that decorated, rather than expressed, his feelings. In his adolescence he wrote verse (Poeticall Blossomes, 1633, 1636, 1637) imitating the intricate rhyme schemes of Edmund Spenser. In The Mistress (1647, 1656) he exaggerated John Donne's “metaphysical wit”—jarring the reader's sensibilities by unexpectedly comparing quite different things—into what later tastes felt was fanciful poetic nonsense. His Pindarique Odes (1656) try to reproduce the Latin poet's enthusiastic manner through lines of uneven length and even more extravagant poetic conceits.

      Cowley also wrote an unfinished epic, Davideis (1656). His stage comedy The Guardian (1641, revised 1661) introduced the fop Puny, who became a staple of Restoration comedy. As an amateur man of science he promoted the Royal Society, publishing A Proposition for the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy (1661). In his retirement he wrote sober, reflective essays reminiscent of Montaigne.

      Cowley is often considered a transitional figure from the metaphysical poets to the Augustan poets of the 18th century. He was universally admired in his own day, but by 1737 Alexander Pope could write, justly: “Who now reads Cowley?” Perhaps his most effective poem is the elegy on the death of his friend and fellow poet Richard Crashaw.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Cowley, Abraham — (1618, Londres–28 jul. 1667, Chertsey, Inglaterra). Poeta y ensayista británico. Fue profesor titular en Cambridge, pero durante las guerras civiles inglesas, sus opiniones políticas le valieron la expulsión de la universidad. Se allegó a la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • COWLEY, ABRAHAM —    poet and essayist, born in London; a contemporary of Milton, whom he at one time outshone, but has now fallen into neglect; he was an ardent royalist, and catered to the taste of the court, which, however, brought him no preferment at the… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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  • Abraham Cowley — Abraham Cowley, retrato por Peter Lely. Abraham Cowley (Londres, 1618 Chertsey, 28 de julio de 1667), es uno de los poetas metafísicos ingleses del siglo XVII. Expatriado por monárquico. Vivió fuera …   Wikipedia Español

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  • Abraham Cowley — (1618, Londres 28 juillet 1667), poète anglais. Il fit des vers dès son enfance et publia un premier recueil à 15 ans (les Fleurs poétiques). Pendant la guerre civile, il s attacha au parti de Charles Ier Stuart, suivit la reine en …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Abraham — V. «seno de Abraham». * * * Abraham. □ V. seno de Abraham. * * * Abraham (en hebreo, אַבְרָהָם, en árabe, ابراهيم, Ibrāhīm), es uno de los patriarcas del pueblo de Israel; según la Biblia, debió de nacer en Ur de los caldeos, en la desembocadura… …   Enciclopedia Universal


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