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«Let savage Beasts lodge in a Country Den»

Animals, Plants and Paradoxes in Abraham Cowley’s Writings

Milena Romero Alluè    Università degli Studi di Udine, Italia    



Moving from his peculiar way of mingling poetry and natural philosophy, his composing lyrics with the condensation of good prose and his writing essays in a poetical language, these pages investigate the ambiguous attitude towards the natural world and, in particular, towards the animal dimension that marks Abraham Cowley’s writings. Close to Andrew Marvell, Richard Lovelace, John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys, for instance, Cowley seems to be torn between Descartes’s mechanistic approach and Gassendi’s ‘animistic’ theories, Republican ideals and monarchic values, classic culture and modern science: the poet celebrates and worships the natural world in its wholeness, identifies humanity (and wit) with animals and plants, obliquely associates a mouse with Charles II and, by displaying a paradoxical treatment of animals that do not belong to the poetical tradition, sheds light on the ‘split’ spirit of his age.

Dec. 1, 2014