Essay Title: 

The Poetry of Sensibility

March 26, 2016 | Author: | Posted in english literature, literature and language

The Poetry of Sensibility

Samuel Johnson was one of the most unique poets of his time who skillfully joined two different traditions : the Augustan poetry and Sensibility . In poetry , Johnson is struggling to discover and express his own vision in his individual voice hence the diversity of subject-matter and style , the revival of long-neglected forms and the invention of new ones . Johnson ‘s poems constantly press the existing conventions into the service of new genres and elements

In general , the term `sensibility ‘ means a capacity for feeling the finer emotions (Bogan [banner_entry_middle]

, 1955 . The main elements of sensibility in poetry are acute responsiveness and feelings , sense perception of humans and their reaction towards outside world . In contrast , Augustan poetry reflects political and social life of the society , the era of industrialization and decay of morals . In The Vanity of Human Wishes Johnson follows traditions of Augustan poetry describing political battles with skepticism : With Weekly Libels and Septennial Ale / Their Wish is full to riot and to rail (Johnson ,

. 2665 . The poetic thoughts and ideas are portrayed as part of the subject matter which helps Johnson to show that a poet dealing with thoughts is not necessarily a strong-thinking poet : Speak thou , whose Thoughts at humble Peace repine , Shall Wolfey ‘s Wealth ,with Wolfey ‘s End be thine (Johnson ,

. 2665 . The main elements of sensibility include moving experience of a human and perception . In On the Death of Dr . Robert Levet he describes feelings and emotions as ‘See Levet to the grave descend / Officious , innocent , sincere / Of every friendless name the friend (Johnson ,

. 2674 . These poems mirror that Johnson devotes his thought and energy to the justification of ideas that we now take so much for granted : namely , the value of individuality , imagination and originality . Deep emotional feelings and reflections to death are evident in On the Death of Dr . Robert Levet : Death broke at once the vital chain , And freed his soul the nearest way (Johnson ,

. 2674

In poem The Seasons , `Winter ‘ by James Thomson some lines have the impressiveness of its kind of sensibility poetry : a certain sonorous music and a vague-mysterious picture and atmosphere : With looks of dumb despair then , sad-dispersed

Dig for the withered herb through heaps of snow (Thomson ,

. 2860 . In the poem Ode to Evening , Collins describes his feelings reflecting both his joy and sadness : The pensive Pleasures sweet (Collins ,

. 2873 Heroic motives are evident in Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by T . Gray who writes : Chill Penury repress ‘d their noble rage (Gray br

. 2867 . The main difference in the poetry is the use of themes and poetry elements such as rhythm , classical references and nature . The elements mentioned above show that in Augustan poetry , feelings and deep emotional experience for emotive purposes only . In contrast , Johnson uses these elements as a canvas for his poems indulging in his sadness or joy . He appeals to readers through vivid emotional experiences describing political and social grievances and issues typical for his historical age . In construct , other poets depict that nature continually repeating herself the beauty of nature is in contrast with the inner state of a human

Using contrasting elements , Johnson shapes the meaning and atmosphere in both poems . The tension is that he describes inconsistencies and political problems using emotionality and sensibility . The major component of Johnson ‘s poems is the focus on the weakness of the individual and his acute senses , the underlying theme that readers create themselves , existence before essence . This sensitivity to experience is characteristic of Johnson ‘s reactions to human existence Also , Johnson observes political and historical events and reacts his own way to events and their outcomes . The modern age of `Sensibility mirrors new world perception of social life and morals in the most dynamic ways . Also , it seems that Johnson ‘s sufferings carry a pleasure the exquisite sensations and emotionality of human life and experience


Bogan , L . Selected Criticism : Prose , Poetry . Noonday Press , 1955

The Norton Anthology of English Literature . 7th ed , W W Norton Co Ltd , 2000



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