In celebrating a poet-overseer who turns everything on an estate, even social opposition, to account, country house poems treat form itself as a managerial technique whose expansion regulates catastrophe. Ben Jonson's, Thomas Carew's, and Robert Herrick's procataleptic presentations of what's absent from the country house—a rude steward counting one's cups—repurpose resentment into a celebration of lordly generosity. Yet this solution to the problem of resentment is paradoxical insofar as the plenty underlying the lords’ generosity does not require management. Aemilia Lanyer and Andrew Marvell use the rhyming couplet, the genre's paratactic generative principle, to depict decision-making's growth as a botanical phenomenon. Together these formal features show how problem-solving stewardship grows mindlessly, impractically, and very much like a plant. In that respect, these poems hint that problem-solving can never avert a climate catastrophe, precisely because of managerial decision-making's impulse to produce ever more of itself.
Managed Catastrophe: Problem-Solving and Rhyming Couplets in the Seventeenth-Century Country House Poem
Ryan Netzley; Managed Catastrophe: Problem-Solving and Rhyming Couplets in the Seventeenth-Century Country House Poem. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 January 2022; 52 (1): 147–173. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-9478524
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