Lydgate’s Reflective Rhetoric

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Date
2003
Authors
Lee, Brian S.
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Publisher
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
Abstract
Kipling has a story called ‘Wireless’, in which a consumptive chemist named Mr Shaynor, who knows nothing of Keats, although his chemist’s shop is described with a Keatsian richness (according to Walter Allen, 68-70), suddenly goes into a trance and begins composing The Eve of St Agnes. He has before him a picture of the girl who has infatuated him, a flighty unsuitable charmer named Fanny Brand; he takes pills for his cough that smell like incense, he pronounces the weather ‘Bitter cold’, and he sees a hare hanging in a warehouse window next door. ‘Like causes must beget like effects,’ the startled narrator tells himself, as he watches the entranced chemist writing — Very cold it was. Very cold The hare — the hare — the hare — The birds — and later The hare, in spite of fur, was very cold. and then Incense in a censer — Before her darling picture framed in gold. Maiden’s picture — angel’s portrait — However, it is more than like causes that is producing the lines. In an adjoining room an amateur enthusiast is experimenting with wireless telegraphy, but to his annoyance can only pick up scrambled messages. When the signals cease Mr Shaynor emerges from his trance oblivious of what he has been doing. Kipling imagines the process of composition as a laborious working over of disparate ideas springing up in the poet’s mind. My purpose in introducing Keats is to characterize Lydgate’s poetic style by contrasting it with the way Keats may be thought to have poetically enriched his original concepts. And I have started with Kipling because his fanciful linking of inspiration and technology anticipates aspects of the electronic revolution currently in progress, which I believe may help us to understand Lydgate a little better.
Kipling has a story called ‘Wireless’, in which a consumptive chemist named Mr Shaynor, who knows nothing of Keats, although his chemist’s shop is described with a Keatsian richness (according to Walter Allen, 68-70), suddenly goes into a trance and begins composing The Eve of St Agnes. He has before him a picture of the girl who has infatuated him, a flighty unsuitable charmer named Fanny Brand; he takes pills for his cough that smell like incense, he pronounces the weather ‘Bitter cold’, and he sees a hare hanging in a warehouse window next door. ‘Like causes must beget like effects,’ the startled narrator tells himself, as he watches the entranced chemist writing — Very cold it was. Very cold The hare — the hare — the hare — The birds — and later The hare, in spite of fur, was very cold. and then Incense in a censer — Before her darling picture framed in gold. Maiden’s picture — angel’s portrait — However, it is more than like causes that is producing the lines. In an adjoining room an amateur enthusiast is experimenting with wireless telegraphy, but to his annoyance can only pick up scrambled messages. When the signals cease Mr Shaynor emerges from his trance oblivious of what he has been doing. Kipling imagines the process of composition as a laborious working over of disparate ideas springing up in the poet’s mind. My purpose in introducing Keats is to characterize Lydgate’s poetic style by contrasting it with the way Keats may be thought to have poetically enriched his original concepts. And I have started with Kipling because his fanciful linking of inspiration and technology anticipates aspects of the electronic revolution currently in progress, which I believe may help us to understand Lydgate a little better.
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Keywords
Middle Ages -- Periodicals., Renaissance -- Periodicals., Middle Ages., Renaissance.
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