John Denham

(1615—1669) poet and courtier

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born in Dublin, is chiefly known for his topographical poem Cooper's Hill (piratically published 1642), an early and influential example of what was to become a very popular genre. It combines descriptions of scenery with moral, historical, and political reflections, and contains the well‐known address to the Thames, ‘O, could I flow like thee’, praised by Dr Johnson for its economy of language, smoothness, and sweetness. His poetry (and notably his use of the heroic couplet) played an important part in the transition from what were seen as the rugged eccentricities of the metaphysicals to the neoclassicism of the Augustan age. See also Waller.

Subjects: Literature.

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