Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, MACFLECKNOE; OR, A SATIRE UPON THE TRUE-BLUE-PROTESTANT POET, by JOHN DRYDEN



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

MACFLECKNOE; OR, A SATIRE UPON THE TRUE-BLUE-PROTESTANT POET, by         Recitation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

Mac Flecknoe; or, A Satire Upon the True-Blue-Protestant Poet is a mock-heroic poem written by John Dryden in 1682. The poem is a satirical take on the literary rivalry between Dryden and Thomas Shadwell, a contemporary playwright and poet. Dryden wrote the poem as a response to Shadwell's criticism of his plays and his status as the Poet Laureate.

The poem begins by setting the stage for the mock-heroic tale. The protagonist, Shadwell, is described as the son and heir of Flecknoe, a minor poet of the previous generation. Flecknoe is portrayed as a "true-blue Protestant," an unremarkable poet who had failed to achieve any significant success during his lifetime. In the poem, Dryden portrays Shadwell as a talentless hack who is only able to produce low-quality, vulgar works that appeal to the masses.

Dryden's poem is characterized by its use of irony, parody, and satire. He mocks Shadwell's poetic style, describing it as "undress'd" and "rugged." Dryden also pokes fun at Shadwell's obsession with "rhyme and verse" at the expense of substance and meaning. Throughout the poem, he uses exaggeration and hyperbole to paint a comical picture of Shadwell's incompetence.

One of the most memorable moments in the poem is when Dryden depicts Shadwell's ascension to the throne of dullness. The moment is described in grandiose terms, as if it were a significant event in history. This mock-crowning of Shadwell is symbolic of the poet's lack of talent and creativity.

Dryden's use of mock-heroic language is particularly effective in the poem. He uses elevated language and grandiose descriptions to highlight the ridiculousness of Shadwell's work. This style of writing was a popular literary technique during the Restoration period, and Dryden uses it to great effect in Mac Flecknoe.

Despite its satirical nature, Mac Flecknoe is also a commentary on the state of English poetry in the late 17th century. Dryden was concerned with the decline of poetic standards and the rise of commercialism in the literary world. He believed that poets should aspire to create works of substance and meaning, rather than pandering to the masses with vulgar and low-quality writing.

In conclusion, Mac Flecknoe is a masterful piece of satire that uses parody and irony to mock the poet Thomas Shadwell. Dryden's use of mock-heroic language and exaggerated descriptions create a comical and memorable portrayal of Shadwell's lack of talent and creativity. The poem is also a commentary on the state of English poetry during the Restoration period, highlighting the decline of poetic standards and the rise of commercialism.


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