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The Renaissance Epic and the Oral Past$
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Anthony Welch

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780300178869

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300178869.001.0001

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Harps in Babylon

Harps in Babylon

Cowley, Davenant, Butler

(p.107) Three Harps in Babylon
The Renaissance Epic and the Oral Past

Anthony Welch

Yale University Press

This chapter examines a body of poems written by a single close-knit group of Englishmen in the wake of their king's overthrow and execution in 1649. The defeated royalists who wrote most of these poems sometimes compared their plight to the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites. The poetry of Abraham Cowley, William Davenant, and Samuel Butler shows how a range of royalist writers both embraced and shrank from that cultural authority. Their epic poems animadverted against the English Commonwealth, but also pondered the role of the artist in the polity.

Keywords:   epic poems, epic poetry, royalist writers, cultural authority, Abraham Cowley, William Davenant, Samuel Butler

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