By Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
'Forms of Engagement' sheds mild on questions of poetic shape in women's poetry. It strains the affects at the paintings of Lucy Hutchinson, Katherine Philips, and Margaret Cavendish, permitting readers to appreciate greater either how girls composed their poems and the way they engaged with their contemporaries.
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Extra resources for Forms of engagement : women, poetry and culture, 1640-1680
Cavendish, herself unlearned in Latin and Greek, rejects this sense. She redefines such skills as superficial adornment, Greek and Latine, and all other Languages are of great ornament to Gentlemen, but they must spend so much time in learning them, as they can have no time to speak them, (The Worlds Olio, p. 13) Describing these languages as “of great ornament”, Cavendish applies to men the terminology of decoration often applied to women. 20 Cavendish might reject Latin partly because she had not been taught it, but also because she pitted herself against the ancients.
Drawing on contemporary literary and philosophical ideas about the primacy of originality, though, Cavendish makes this lack a virtue. ” Cavendish’s style is closely tied up with her sense of the reader’s experience. She entreats her readers “to read this part of my Book very slow, and to observe very strictly every word they read; because in most of these 53 Rooney, ‘Form and Contentment’, p. 2. Introduction: Reading, Gender, and Form 21 Poems, every word is a Fancy” (Poems, and Fancies, 1653, p.
We know most about her intellectual relationship with Charles Cotterell, as more of the letters to him than to other correspondents have survived. She exchanges reading matter and critical comments with him, encompassing both her own poems and translations and those by peers she 54 Cowley, preface to Poems, 1656, sig. b1r–v. See Marie-Louise Coolahan, Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland (Oxford: OUP, 2010). 55 22 Forms of Engagement admires. Chapter 3 will show that Philips engaged very closely with the poetry of Abraham Cowley in her ode to him and her own retreat poetry.