While some poetry is still popular among my customers, I sigh to think that other forms of writing, such as novels, are replacing its once unequaled popularity.111 I shouldn't say that's it's really going out of fashion, though; many poets are still wildly popular. It's form is certainly changing, however, as are the people who are writing them.
Thomas Gainsborough,  "Mr and Mrs Andrews," 1748-9

Somewhere in the beginning of the century, the style of poetry shifted. While sonnet and lyrics were once the style, they now seemed too archaic and courtly.112 They were replaced by descriptive and religious verses, and the popular forms became "the ballad, the hymn, and the burlesque."113 Some poets saw this as a corruption of what was once a high class art, but others, such as Alexander Pope, tried to bring classics and high art forms to the masses.114

Towards the middle of the century, I started to see a whole new type of poetry emerge, focusing on natural description.115 Many people believe this trend as started when James Thompson published Winter, the first of his four popular poems on the seasons.116 This new form of poetry has prompted a new craze in England, which I find rather peculiar: tourist and poets traverse the countryside, quoting verse as they gaze on some particularly evocative landscape.117

Many people tell me that, by reading this naturalistic poetry, they gain an appreciation and awe for God's works on earth. They came back with a feeling of the "sublime."118 Everyone can relate to this feeling, not just the upper classes, which brings me back to my point about writers. While poetry was once a "high art" form, it is now becoming more accessable to all classes. There is not such a strong need to dwell on allusions to the classics. Rather, there is more of an emphasis on the "humorous, personal, and down to earth."119 If you're into that sort of thing, I would suggest William Cowper. He's all the rage right now, with his modest verse that feels more like a conversation than a lesson.120


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