‘A Description of the Morning’ is a 1709 poem by the Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). Published in The Tatler, Swift’s poem displays his keen eye for contemporary detail as he satirises elements of early eighteenth-century London. ‘A Description of the Morning’ is written in heroic couplets: iambic pentameter rhyming couplets. The couplets are closed, in that one couplet does not flow into the next, but is instead concluded with punctuation (often a full stop).
By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)
Gulliver’s Travels, first published in 1726 and written by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), has been called one of the first novels in English, one of the greatest satires in all of literature, and even a children’s classic (though any edition for younger readers is usually quite heavily abridged).
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle explores the origins of a given name in a little-known eighteenth-century poem
Here’s a question for you. What connects the girls’ name Vanessa with the classic novel Gulliver’s Travels? The answer: they were both created by the same person.
The life of Jonathan Swift told through five pieces of interesting trivia
1. Jonathan Swift invented the girls’ name Vanessa. The name Vanessa originated as Swift’s pet name for his friend and lover Esther Vanhomrigh (c. 1688-1723), who was over 20 years his junior. Swift wrote a poem, Cadenus and Vanessa (1713), about Esther/Vanessa.
2. He was a cousin of John Dryden. Dryden reportedly remarked to his distant cousin, ‘Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet.’ Sure enough, it would be in prose – with such works as ‘A Modest Proposal’, A Tale of a Tub, and Gulliver’s Travels – that Swift would create his enduring legacy.
The most significant events in the history of books on the 30th of November
1554: Sir Philip Sidney is born. This Elizabethan poet wrote one of the earliest sonnet sequences in English (Astrophil and Stella), and in his prose romance the Arcadia, he invented the name Pamela. The name means ‘all sweetness’ (from pan meaning all, and mela from the Latin for ‘sweet’ or ‘honey’, whence ‘mellifluous’). Sidney’s The Defence of Poesy (published posthumously in 1595) is widely regarded as the first sustained piece of literary criticism (or even literary theory) written in the English language.