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The detached poem was suggested usually by the child s birth, birthday, or death; but some of the most successful poems are not associated with special occasions.Before the middle of the century, poets as a rule addressed them- selves to children of quality, and were interested in child- hood rather than in the individual.
She fell in love with a London streetsweeper and gave birth to a child who "through various risks, in years improved." Then follows a brief account of the first years in the life of a London waif, with minute details of Holborn life, which as far as they g O' rival in vividness the circumstantial ac- count in Defoe's Coldnel Jacques.
14 ENGLISH CHILDHOOD The fine attitude of Elizabethan singers, and the gentle mysticism of poets like Vaughan, are not to be found m those poets who adhered to the school of Dryden and Pope.
During the first half of the eighteenth century, poetry was largely didactic, satiric, and rational, so that little place was found for children and the parental emotions for them.
"He had been at his best in the speeches of the Iliad, and groaned heavily over the homely scenes in Ithaca." Wordsworth cited Pope's Messiah as an illustration of reprehensible diction.
Certain passages in John Gay's Trivia (1716) reveal a close approach to realistic observation of childhood.