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Abraham Cowley

Cowley, Abraham (kōˈlē, kouˈ–) [key], 1618–67, one of the English metaphysical poets. He published his first volume of verse, Poetical Blossoms (1633), when he was 15. While a student at Cambridge, Cowley wrote three plays and began the scriptural epic Davideis (1656), in which he developed the use of the couplet as a vehicle for narrative verse. As a result of the Puritan uprising he left Cambridge and in 1656 went to France, where he served as secretary and royalist agent for Queen Henrietta Maria. Cowley's principal works include The Mistress (1647), a love cycle written in the manner of John Donne; Poems (1656), including the Pindaric odes and the elegies on Richard Crashaw and William Hervey; and Verses on Several Occasions (1663), including "To the Royal Society," an ode recalling his earlier prose tract Proposition for the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy (1661).

See Samuel Johnson's essay in Lives of the English Poets (1778); biographies by A. H. Nethercot (1931, repr. 1967) and J. G. Taaffe (1972); studies by R. B. Hinman (1960) and D. Trotter (1979).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Abraham Cowley from Infoplease:

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  • metaphysical poets - metaphysical poets metaphysical poets, name given to a group of English lyric poets of the 17th ...
  • ode - ode ode, elaborate and stately lyric poem of some length. The ode dates back to the Greek choral ...
  • Pindar - Pindar Pindar , 518?–c.438 B.C., Greek poet, generally regarded as the greatest Greek lyric ...
  • Davideis - Davideis An epic poem in four books, describing the troubles of King David. (Abraham Cowley ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: English Literature, 1500 to 1799: Biographies


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