A brief discussion about a few of the significant Churchyard poets
The Churchyard, which are also termed as the graveyard school of poets, are basically a number of pre-romantic poets of the 18th century who are characterized by their gloomy description of mortality ‘skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms’ evoked by the presence of the graveyard. This form of poetry moved beyond the concept of elegy, which lamented a single death and expressed the feeling for the sublime. They are often recognized as the predecessors of the pre-romantic and gothic literary genre of English literature. Some important names in this segment are James Thomson, Oliver Goldsmith, Thomas Gray, William Collins, William Cowper, Edward Young and so on. In this article, we’ll talk about a few of them in detail. So, let’s look into them –
James Thomson, a Scottish poet
He was a famous name in this genre of churchyard poetry and marked the beginning of the pre-romantic era. One of his best-known poetries is The Seasons (1726-1730) which is basically a cycle of poetry that took so many years to be completely published. This poem, written in blank verse, portrays the countryside landscape and a detailed description of the four seasons winter (1726), summer (1727), spring (1728) and finally autumn (1730). His vision of the winter is very harsh, but overall, he describes the ‘pure pleasure of rural life. Rule Britannia is his patriotic poem which was later composed as a patriotic song by Thomas Arne in the year 1740.
Oliver Goldsmith, an Irish English poet
Who doesn’t know his name for his masterpiece called The Deserted Village (1770)? The theme of this poem dwells on the theme of urban versus rural countryside where, as an impact of the industrial revolution, people are moving from the countryside to the growing cities for better opportunities. So, he portrays the condition of the countryside, which is now totally desolated because of this mass migration. Here we find regret in his tone because what is lost can’t be found again in the next poem, The Hermit, a romantic ballad, which is sung by the character of Mr Burchell in his The Vicar of the Wakefield. Here, Edwin is considered as the hermit in this poem.
Finally, we would like to and the discussion with the appraisal from Dr. Johnson for Goldsmith in an epitaph which is mentioned below –
‘Here lies Molly Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll, Who wrote like an angel, and talked like poor Poll’.