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The Country- House Poem Genre

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The country- house poem developed into a literary genre in the early decades of the seventeenth- century. Aemilia Lanyer's, `The description of Cooke- ham', and Ben Jonson's, `To Penshurst' namely represent the small genre which flourished so briefly. These poems are much more than domestic architecture and are more than simple exercises in praising and pleasing a wealthy patron and the readership at large. In country- house poetry, poets use the conjunction of the ideal family (the patron's) and the ideal site (the estate and surrounding areas in which the patron and his/her family live) as a means of reflecting on social values, the nature of the good life, and the ways in which other households fall short of the mark. The country- house poem, in other words, can be a vehicle of social criticism as well as of praise. Lanyer and Jonson celebrate great places and the happiness that they enjoyed their; finding an Eden is truly rare, but the households survive in literature as paradises in their own right.

Jonson was well documented as having aspirations to rise from lower rank to h...

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...ntertaining poems that while they contain various similarities they also exhibit a wide range of dissimilarities. I have discussed reasons such as gender and class position that contributed to the poets' conception of the county- house poem. From their original creation in iambic pentameter, to their installation of a woman as a key figure to their very different visions of the estate towards the end. `The description of Cooke- ham' and `To Penshurst' are excellent examples of the country- house poem and continue to be compared and contrasted.

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