What were the major changes from from baroque to neoclassical approaches in English poetry?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In England, baroque poetry was characterized by several different movements, including, most importantly Metaphysical poetry. It was characterized by ornate style, extreme rhythmic variation, complex extended metaphors (known as conceits), innovative form (such as Herbert's "Easter Wings"), and incorporation of complex scientific, philosophical, and theological ideas or images. Many of the Augustans found this style affected, awkward, unharmonious, and unnecessarily contorted and difficult. They chose instead to imitate the grace and symmetry of Latin poetry from the time of Augustus, especially the work of Horace. They thought that rather than try to be ingenious, one should follow nature, and that one could learn how to do so best by studying the ancients, as Pope states in his "Essay on Criticism":

Those RULES of old discover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature still, but Nature Methodiz'd;


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