John Denham Criticism - Essay

Earl R. Wasserman (essay date 1959)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wasserman, Earl R. “Denham: Cooper's Hill.” In The Subtler Language: Critical Readings of Neoclassic and Romantic Poems, pp. 45-88. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1959.

[In the following essay, Wasserman uses the idea of concordia discors to analyze Coopers Hill, arguing that the politics of Denham's day were an overriding concern of the descriptive, thematic, and symbolic aspects of the poem.]


Although it has long been a staple of criticism that whatever is good in Pope's Windsor Forest is to be found in its lively descriptions of the natural scene, a parallel critical tradition claims, as one of...

(The entire section is 15910 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, No. 2 (December 1968): 102-37.

[In the following excerpt, Korshin considers Denham's theory of poetry, which, he contends, foreshadows the neoclassical views of the Restoration period.]

Denham's place in the formation of neoclassical poetics has always been more or less well established, but whether he entirely deserves to be regarded principally as one of the fathers of eighteenth-century prosody is a matter open to serious discussion. It may seem curious that so many contemporary references to Denham tend to classify...

(The entire section is 4505 words.)

Brendan O Hehir (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: O Hehir, Brendan. “Coopers Hill and ‘Local Poetry’” and “Nature's Emblems,” in Expans'd Hieroglyphicks: A Critical Edition of Sir John Denham's Coopers Hill, University of California Press, 1969, pp. 3-15; 16-24.

[In the following excerpt, O Hehir examines the combination of landscape and political material in Coopers Hill as it relates to the poem's genre and relationship to the emblem tradition.]

Cooper's Hill is the work that confers upon [Denham] the rank and dignity of an original author. He seems to have been, at least among us, the author of a species of composition that may be denominated local poetry,...

(The entire section is 7541 words.)

Theodore Howard Banks (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Banks, Theodore Howard. “Introduction.” In The Poetical Works of Sir John Denham, edited by Theodore Howard Banks, second edition, pp. 1-57. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1969.

[In the following essay, taken from the revised edition of a collection that was originally published in 1928, Banks provides a broad overview of Denham's life, works, and reputation. The critic characterizes Denham's work as “didactic”; the poet, he asserts, “has little imagination, little emotion, little beauty of phrase; his strength lies in his thought, in his neatly turned expressions of ethical and moral truisms.”]

A famous poet, a renowned wit, a prominent courtier in...

(The entire section is 20625 words.)

John M. Wallace (essay date 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wallace, John M. “Coopers Hill: The Manifesto of Parliamentary Royalism, 1641.” ELH 41, No. 4 (Winter 1974): 494-540.

[In the essay below, Wallace attempts to establish composition dates for the various drafts of Coopers Hill, in an effort to identify more definitively the political events treated in the poem.]

If we could discover the very day on which Denham stood on Cooper's Hill, staring out across the Thames valley and reflecting upon the history of its landmarks, we should not only be able to read his famous poem with more exactitude, but we could see where it belonged in the exciting history of which it is a part. Professor Brendan O...

(The entire section is 20933 words.)

James Turner (essay date 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Turner, James. “Long Views: Prospect and historical perspective in two poems of place.” The Politics of Landscape: Rural Scenery and Society in English Poetry 1630-1660, pp. 49-84. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979.

[In the following excerpt, Turner examines Coopers Hill, as part of a tradition of “adapting landscape to political issues,” comparing the poem to some of its predecessors.]

It seems to me (beholding it at the
best light) a Lantskip of these Kingdoms …

(Fanshawe on Il Pastor Fido)

Denham's Coopers Hill appeared in 1642, and Marvell's Upon Appleton House was...

(The entire section is 5558 words.)

W. Hutchings (essay date 1983)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hutchings, W. “‘The Harmony of Things’: Denham's Coopers Hill as Descriptive Poem.” Papers on Language and Literature 19, No. 4 (Fall 1983): 375-84.

[In the following essay, Hutchings maintains that, rather than merely serving as a vehicle for political commentary, the description of landscape in Coopers Hill gives the poem its structure and sense of order.]

Coopers Hill has been honored as a poem for three centuries, but it deserves to be more famous as a historical document.”1 So John M. Wallace sets out the approach which his essay on Denham's poem displays so comprehensively; an approach towards which modern...

(The entire section is 4009 words.)

David Hill Radcliffe (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Radcliffe, David Hill. “These Delights from Several Causes Move: Heterogeneity and Genre in ‘Coopers Hill’.” Papers on Language and Literature 22, No. 4 (Fall 1986): 352-71.

[In the following essay, Radcliffe contends that throughout Coopers Hill Denham “champions heterogeneous rather than totalizing ways of thinking” and “combines differing points of view, a variety of ideological positions, and a mixture of literary conventions.”]

Eighteenth-century poets and critics agreed that John Denham was a seminal writer in the history of English literature.1Coopers Hill played an important role in the reorganization of the...

(The entire section is 7632 words.)

Lawrence Venuti (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Venuti, Lawrence. “The Destruction of Troy: translation and royalist cultural politics in the Interregnum.” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 23, No. 2 (Spring 1993): 197-219.

[In the essay that follows, Venuti examines The Destruction of Troy, Denham's translation of part of the Aeneid, exploring the social and political implications of his method of translation and the circumstances of its publication.]

In 1656, Sir John Denham published a translation with the running title The Destruction of Troy. An Essay upon the Second Book of Virgils Æneis. Written in the year, 1636.1 The title page is one among many...

(The entire section is 9105 words.)

Parvin Loloi (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Loloi, Parvin. “Introduction.” In Two Seventeenth-Century Plays, Volume 1: The Sophy by Sir John Denham, pp. vii-lxxiv. Salzburg: University of Salzburg, 1998.

[In the following excerpt, Loloi examines Denham's only play, The Sophy, exploring issues such as its composition date, initial publication, first performance, historical context, sources, and critical reception.]

The Sophy was Denham's only venture into drama (unless one counts the translation of the fifth act of Corneille's Horace, which he contributed to Katherine Philips's version of the play, published in 1669) and was one of his first publications. The play was...

(The entire section is 12088 words.)