Abstract

This essay argues that Cowper’s innovative use of blank verse in The Task is indebted to the verse of Shakespeare’s plays as performed by David Garrick in the mid-eighteenth century. Cowper appropriates Garrick’s naturalistic performance as a model for the poet’s vocation, figuring the poet as a medium for divine communication just as the actor is a medium for the playwright’s art. The Task’s many references to theater show that this unusual georgic is less concerned with cultivating nature than with cultivating the naturalistic transparency of the poet’s voice, a transparency to which the Romantics would aspire in turn.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 579-602
Launched on MUSE
2015-09-03
Open Access
No
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