Enlightenment Essay

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In The Daring Muse I have already discussed Ann Yearsley's poem 'Addressed to Ignorance', which uses the conceit of Pythagorean metampsychosis to invent a comic world where ancient characters of history and legend turn up in vulgar and prosaic modern guises. The significance of this comic reversal lies in its rebuke to the 'Gentleman' who told Yearsley that as a poor woman she had no right 'to assume a knowledge of the Ancients'. Yearsley rebukes him, borrowing a set of ideas from the 'ancients': she shows that she can envisage a cosmos without stable hierarchies, in which the class differences (along with national and other differences) that seem so solid to 'the Gentleman' don't count for much:

Here's Trojan, Athenian, Greek, Frenchman and I,
Heav'n knows what I was long ago:
No matter, thus shielded, this age I defy,
And the next cannot hurt me, I know.


As...

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This section contains 5,465 words
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Literary Movements for Students
Enlightenment from Literary Movements for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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