John Cleveland Criticism - Essay

S. V. Gapp (essay date December 1931)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gapp, S. V. “Notes on John Cleveland.” PMLA 46, no. 4 (December 1931): 1075-86.

[In the following essay, Gapp remarks on early twentieth-century information regarding Cleveland, including his family history, his career at Cambridge, reception of his early works, his connection with the Mercurius publications, and his death.]

Since the appearance of Professor Berdan's edition of Cleveland's poems1 little has been added to our knowledge concerning the poet's biography. The purpose of this paper is to present certain biographical data which supplement those given by Professor Berdan.


As to the...

(The entire section is 4803 words.)

Harry Levin (essay date October 1934)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Levin, Harry. “John Cleveland and the Conceit.” Criterion 14, no. 54 (October 1934): 40-53.

[In the following essay, Levin reviews Cleveland's style of rhetoric and metaphor throughout his work, concluding that he is a truly brilliant poet who, while extolled by his contemporaries, has been neglected in historical acclamation.]

There are some writers who may not be mentioned without apology, and John Cleveland is definitely in that category. For about twenty-five years, no English poet was so strenuously cultivated; for the two hundred and fifty years between that time and this, none has been so pointedly ignored. Dr. Johnson, exercising his familiar talent...

(The entire section is 4187 words.)

John L. Kimmey (essay date October 1958)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kimmey, John L. “John Cleveland and the Satiric Couplet in the Restoration.” Philological Quarterly 37, no. 4 (October 1958): 410-23.

[In the following essay, Kimmey praises Cleveland's rendering of satiric couplets, contending that his talent was a combination of burlesque and formal satire, inspiring movements by his contemporaries toward both genres.]

John Cleveland's part in the development of seventeenth-century poetry has never clearly or fully been recognized by either critics or scholars, who too often have dismissed him as a freak or a fool for his incorrigible and fantastic wit. Whereas no one reads him today except as a footnote to the decline of...

(The entire section is 5454 words.)

Brian Morris and Eleanor Withington (essay date 1967)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Morris, Brian and Eleanor Withington. “The Poetry of Cleveland.” In The Poems of John Cleveland, edited by Brian Morris and Eleanor Withington, pp. xv-lxxvii. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.

[In the following essay, Morris and Withington analyze Cleveland's poetry in the context of the English Civil War.]

In his own age Cleveland was distinguished as a writer of ‘strong lines’. The two poems in H18 [a commonplace book containing eighteen of Cleveland's poems] which respectively attack and defend his ‘How the Commencement grows new’ mention this aspect of his art. John Saltmarsh writes:

Can thy strong Lines, those mighty Cartrope...

(The entire section is 7345 words.)

Paul J. Korshin (essay date 1968)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Korshin, Paul J. “The Evolution of Neoclassical Poetics: Cleveland, Denham, and Waller as Poetic Theorists.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 2 (1968): 102-37.

[In the following excerpt, Korshin briefly considers Cleveland, John Denham, and Edmund Waller as neoclassical poets, then focuses on Cleveland's use of irony and satire and his contributions to neoclassical poetics.]


The universally accepted division of seventeenth-century English poetry into schools, metaphysical or baroque and neoclassical or Augustan, presupposes the conception of literary and hence theoretical change from the intellectual bases of one prevalent poetic style...

(The entire section is 5579 words.)

Margaret Forey (essay date June 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Forey, Margaret. “Cleveland's ‘Square-Cap’: Some Questions of Structure and Date.” Durham University Journal 36, no. 2 (June 1975): 170-79.

[In the following essay, Forey discusses the meaning of the “Calot-Leather-cap” in Cleveland's poem, “Square-Cap,” and the consequent questions of structure and date which it raises.]

In the latest edition of the poems of John Cleveland,1 the fantastic Caroline, commentaries by earlier editors have been usefully amplified by Brian Morris and Eleanor Withington. It can nevertheless be shown that in one respect the new editors have followed their predecessors into error. The correction with which...

(The entire section is 6185 words.)

Lee A. Jacobus (essay date 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jacobus, Lee A. “The Critical Reputation.” In John Cleveland, pp. 146-53. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1975.

[In the following essay, Jacobus summarizes the reactions of critics and editors of different eras to the works of Cleveland and makes his own assessment by considering the poems' historical context.]


Though the critical literature on Cleveland is not very extensive, the judgments which have been made about him have usually been impassioned, long-lasting, and sometimes simply prejudiced. Certainly the foundation of all criticism of Cleveland has been John Dryden's casual attribution to him of...

(The entire section is 3203 words.)

A. D. Cousins (essay date winter 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Cousins, A. D. “The Cavalier World and John Cleveland.” Studies in Philology 78, no. 1 (winter 1981): 61-86.

[In the following essay, Cousins contextualizes Cleveland within the “cavalier” world of kingship and the royal court, and illustrates how his shrewd satire distinguishes him from his predecessors and contemporaries.]

To repeat a commonplace, there is no innovative formal verse satire between Marston and Cleveland. Rankins, Rowlands, and Wither continues the Attic satiric manner which passes from Wyatt through Lodge and Hall.1 Guilpin, “T. M.,” and Fitzgeffrey build on the style of Marston.2 For the most part, those...

(The entire section is 10149 words.)

Daniel Jaeckle (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jaeckle, Daniel. “From Witty History to Typology: John Cleveland's ‘The King's Disguise’.” In The English Civil Wars in the Literary Imagination, edited by Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth, p. 71-80. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999.

[In the following essay, Jaeckle analyzes Cleveland's “The King's Disguise” typographically and as a historical record of the flight of Charles I from Oxford, deeming it Cleveland's best political poem.]

At three in the morning on April 27, 1646, Charles I fled from Oxford. It was a difficult moment for the king. At Naseby in the previous year the New Model Army had defeated the Royalist forces, and...

(The entire section is 4375 words.)