Neoclassical Poetry

What are the main features of poetry in the neo classical age?

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Neoclassical is a term used to describe the writing of late 17th to 18th century authors like Alexander Pope, John Dryden, and others. This style of writing referred to a “new” form of the “classics” inspired by form, function, and theme of originals from Greek and Roman literature. This style took an attitude toward human nature and ideas, logic, structure of order, and other artistic realms which would enable the author to replicate those originals from Greek and Roman literature. Regular meter, carefully controlled rhyme, and masterful use of difficult rhetorical and figurative devices, often imitating those found in Greek and Latin poetry, characterized this work. This era of neoclassical literature was predominant until late in the 18th century. At that time the romantic era was ushered in with the works of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and others of that time period.

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Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

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The main features of poetry in the neoclassical age were:

a) Neoclassical poetry sprung from intellect, not from writers’ whims and imaginations.

b) It was a more moralising, educational type of poetry as opposed to the romantic poetry of the Renaissance Period (14th to 17th century). The neoclassical period was predominantly in the 18th and early 19th century.

c) Neoclassicism had three stages: Restoration Period (1660-1700), Augustan Age (1700-1750), and the Age of Johnson (1750-1798).

d) Its main feature was rationalism (reason as the primary foundation and test of knowledge).

e) Neoclassical poets wrote poetry without calling on feelings and imagination to help them create their literary works.

f) Plato was a significant source for writers of the neoclassical era.

g) Neoclassical poets, having high regard for classical rules, tried to adhere to these classical rules of poetry in their writings.

h) The neoclassical movement as a whole, which included its poetry, stemmed from the classical and contemporary French model.

i) Neoclassical poetry and other works embodied a response against the hopeful, enthusiastic, view of man typical to the Renaissance period.

j) Poets of the neoclassical era, many who were well-educated, made use of scholarly allusions in their work. They often made allusions to the classical writers such as Homer.

k) Being realists to a great degree, neoclassical poets endeavored to present what they believed was a true, real picture of the society in which they lived, worked, and played. This was in contrast to a romanticized view of society around them.

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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The main features of poetry during the neo classical age include the development of literary pieces based on prose and reason. In prose the works are developed to adhere to the normal flow of verbal communication instead of rhythm. The works contain normal sentences in paragraphs which are more focused on the message than the stylistic effect. The poet in such instances is seen to be having an ordinary conversation with no standard formula. Reason features predominantly in poetry developed during the neo classical era as a break away from the imaginative works of previous years. The poets of this age supported use of logic in developing the literary pieces and this may have been the reason that the work had to be done in prose. This is because the poets through their works presented their arguments and criticisms and thus reason and simplicity was important in forming the basis of their arguments. The Dunciad by Alexander Pope is a good example and one of the most popular pieces of poetry from the neo classical age.


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