By Robert Wrigley
A robust new assortment from an award-winning poet Robert Wrigley has develop into one among his generation's so much entire poets, well known for his irony, strength, and lucid variety and for his skill to fuse narrative and lyrical impulses. Like its namesake—Robert Burton's seventeenth-century exam of human strategies and emotions—Wrigley's new assortment potential to envision our global in the course of the lens of melancholia. From imagined struggle memorials to insomniac chickens; from Descartes' misplaced daughter to a dreaming tree; from King Kong to hurry Limbaugh; and from Anna Karenina to a guy named Lucy Doolin (short for Lucifer), those are poems that elegize and rejoice that almost all appealing, exasperating, joyous, depressing, and completely imperfect of all creatures—the human being.
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Ii. 62 and iv. i. 135. 108 One of the strengths of Housman’s poem is that it breathes an air of ‘generalized sorrow’ without feeling complacent or merely luxurious. His speaker may perhaps be envious of the sleep of those dead who are unperturbed by noises in their dreams, but ‘Lovely lads and dead and rotten’ also conveys both pity and anger, a feeling that the particulars of experience are not to be tidied up into wholly consolatory patterns. 109 But the richness of this work owes much, in turn, to the searchings of earlier Victorian war poetry, a poetry that—in its refusal to provide a ringing endorsement of war even as it remained wary of the dangers of that refusal—offered itself as bequest and as monitory force.
95 A. C. Swinburne, ‘The Transvaal’, The Times, 11 Oct. 1899, 7; repr. in Swinburne’s Collected Poetical Works, ii (London: William Heinemann, 1935), 1223. 96 William Ernest Henley, ‘Remonstrance’, first published in For England’s Sake: Verses and Songs in Time of War (London: David Nutt, 1900); repr. ), Empire Writing, 283. g. J. A. Hobson, Imperialism: A Study (London: Nisbet, 1902). 98 W. H. Colby, The Echo, 13 Oct. 1899. 94 matthew bevis audience . . 99 This is undoubtedly true, but two of the most distinguished war poets of the late Victorian period (Thomas Hardy and A.
An enthusiastic reporter for The Times noted: ‘Any hostility which may have existed in bygone days towards the army has long since passed away. ’70 This is overpitched, but it highlights a shift. 71 Smiles’s vocabulary hovers between old and new conceptions of the soldier, but his sense of the figure’s ‘trials’ was shared by many, and growing calls for army reform and improvement of the soldier’s lot culminated in the abolishment of the purchase system in 1871. These revaluations found their way into poetry; Francis Hastings Doyle, who in 1867 succeeded Arnold as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, wrote a number of poems on the nameless men who fought in Victoria’s name, and his ‘The Private of the Buffs’, like many other pieces, focused on the soldier as an individual, rather than as part of a collective—‘poor, reckless, rude, low-born, 66 Timothy Lovelace, The Artistry and Tradition of Tennyson’s Battle Poetry (New York and London: Routledge, 2003), 165.
Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Wrigley