Fulke Greville and the art of poetry : a study in theory and practice



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The style of Fulke Greville's poetry may be approached through a consideration of Greville's ideas about the nature and purpose of poetry as contrasted with the ideas prevalent in his time and place. If practice follows theory, what is distinctive in Greville's poetic should account for what is distinctive in his poetry. Greville preferred a poetry of direct statement, a poetry drawn from experience and shaped to precepts which could again find application in practical use. Many of his contemporaries argued that the poet should create a second nature in pursuit of the Ciceronian purpose-to delight, to teach, and to move. But Greville, influenced by the thought of John Calvin, believed that men could be moved to goodness only by the grace of God. Poetry could only instruct them in the prudent conduct of the existing world. In his early lyrics Greville reveals a tendency toward general philosophical statement. In these poems, he learned to use the six-line stanza in the combination of particular observation and general precept which found its best use in the treatises, direct, aphoristic, philosophical poems.