The Unfolding of The Seasons
A Study of James Thomson's Poem
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First published in 1970, The Unfolding of The Seasons provides an interpretation and evaluation of James Thomson’s poem The Seasons. Professor Cohen urges its reconsideration as a major Augustan poem, arguing that Thomson’s unity, diction and thought combine with a conception of man, nature and God which is poetically tenable and distinctive. The case for The Seasons as an important work of art depends upon its effectiveness as a moving vision of human experience, and Professor Cohen believes that many critics have not felt this effectiveness because they have misconceived Thomson’s vision and misunderstood his idiom. His study aims to persuade them to return to the poem and to examine it within the context of an Augustan tradition.
Professor Cohen shows that Thomson’s great achievement is to have fashioned a conception which, by bringing nature to the forefront of his poem, became a new poetic way of defining human experience. Thomson was not the first nature poet in English, but he was the first to provide an effective idiom in which science, orthodox religion, natural description, and classical allusions blended to describe the glory, baseness and uncertainty of man’s earthly environment, holding forth the hope of heavenly love and wisdom. This study shows that Thomson found a personal idiom by means of which he created an artistic vision. It will appeal to those with an interest in English literature and in philosophy.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Bibliographical Note Introduction 1. Spring: The Love Song of James Thomson 2. Summer: The Scorching Glory 3. Autumn: Substance and Shadow 4. Winter: Dislocation, Deformity and Renewal 5. A Hymn: The Adoration of God 6. Conclusion: The Artistry of The Seasons Index