Thomas Carew - Major Poetry

Major Poetry

Poems. By Thomas Carew, Esquire is a collection of lyrics, songs, pastorals, poetic dialogues, elegies, addresses, and occasional poems. Most of the pieces are fairly short—the longest, "A Rapture," is 166 lines, and well over half are under 50 lines. The subjects are various: a number of poems treat love, lovemaking, and feminine beauty. Several of the poems, including "An Elegie upon the death of the Deane of Pauls, Dr. Iohn Donne" are memorial tributes; others, notably "To Saxham," celebrate country-house life; and a few record such events as the successful production of a play ("To my worthy Friend, M. D’Avenant, upon his Excellent Play, The Iust Italian") or the marriage of friends ("On the Marriage of T. K. and C. C. the Morning Stormie"). Many of the songs and love poems are addressed to the still-unidentified "Celia," a woman who was evidently Carew's lover for years. The poems to Celia treat the urgency of courtship, making much of the carpe diem theme. Others commend Celia through simile, conceit, and cliché. The physical pleasures of love are likewise celebrated: "A Rapture" graphically documents a sexual encounter through analogy, euphemism, and paradox, while "Loves Courtship" responds to the early passing of virginity. A number of Carew's poems are concerned with the nature of poetry itself. His elegy on John Donne has been praised as both a masterpiece of criticism and a remarkably perceptive analysis of the metaphysical qualities of Donne's literary work. English poet and playwright Ben Jonson is the subject of another piece of critical verse, "To Ben. Iohnson, Upon Occasion of His Ode of Defiance Annext to His Play of The New Inne." This poem, like the elegy on Donne, is concerned with both the style and substance of the author's literary works as well as with personal qualities of the author himself. Among Carew's occasional, public verse are his addresses to ladies of fashion, commendations of the nobility, and laments for the passing of friends or public figures, such as Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden.

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