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.
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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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