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Forms of EngagementWomen, Poetry and Culture 1640-1680$
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Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199676521

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199676521.001.0001

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Katherine Philips and Abraham Cowley: Solitude, Dialogue, and the Ode

Katherine Philips and Abraham Cowley: Solitude, Dialogue, and the Ode

(p.81) 3 Katherine Philips and Abraham Cowley: Solitude, Dialogue, and the Ode
Forms of Engagement

Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Katherine Philips to explore teasing paradoxes: the poetry of retirement is written in intense engagement with literary culture; the poetry of solitude demands dialogue. Katherine Philips and her contemporary Abraham Cowley are now fairly widely accepted as influences on Andrew Marvell and especially his consummate and complex retreat poem, ‘The Garden’. This chapter argues that it might have been Philips who influenced Cowley rather than vice-versa, based on the dates of the published verse. The odes which Philips and Cowley write to each other demonstrate a barbed but productive poetic exchange which is a two-way dialogue, rather than the male poet straightforwardly influencing the female follower. Recent scholarship has foregrounded Philips as a poet of royalism and politically-motivated female friendship. This chapter suggests that Philips's retirement poems, which claim to be disinterested and apart from the fray, are actually at the centre of a complex relationship between Philips and Cowley, which is both flattering and contestatory. Both poets claim their free choice of retirement in poems which slight the other, developing the tendency of the Pindaric ode to express rivalry as well as praise.

Keywords:   Katherine Philips, Abraham Cowley, Andrew Marvell, pindaric odes, retirement poetry, retreat poetry, royalism, solitude

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