Centred Form and the Poetry of Praise
Ackerman's analysis of the characteristic features of Palladio's style offers us, in passing, a succinct summation of the structural principles identified in Jonson's critical theory. This chapter tests these theoretical precepts against Jonson's poetic practice. It examines central lines in particular groups of poems to see if they really act as focal points in terms of ‘invention’ and ‘disposition’. The chapter does not imply that the Vitruvian aesthetic is applicable to the whole of Jonson's work. For the strategies employed by both poet and architect are determined as much by occasion, function, and audience as they are by prescriptive rules. Rather, the chapter focuses on the three closely related poetic groups in which the import of the aesthetic can most forcibly be felt – the dedications to works by Catholic authors, the ‘pillar’ poems or ‘moral squares’, and the epitaphs – attempting in each case to correlate poetic organization, theory, and occasional context.
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