Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Writers of the Couplet > Sir John Denham
  Edmund Waller Cooper’s Hill  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

III. Writers of the Couplet.

§ 5. Sir John Denham.

The simplicity of style which Waller achieved was reached, with the use of somewhat different means, by Sir John Denham. He was born at Dublin in 1615, while his father, Sir John Denham of Little Horkesley in Essex, was lord chief justice of the king’s bench in Ireland. He was entered at Trinity college, Oxford, in 1631, and afterwards became a student of Lincoln’s inn. His first written effort seems to have been The Destruction of Troy, a translation of part of the second book of the Aeneid into decasyllabic couplets, made in 1636. This work is hardly a translation so much as a paraphrase, in which Denham succeeded in rendering 558 lines of Vergil by 544 of his own. His desire to reproduce the effect of his original was genuine, and went to the length of his using unfinished lines in places where Vergil had done the same. However, such brevity, in dealing with an author whose style notoriously defies reproduction, implies no very close attention to fine shades of meaning; and the version is somewhat commonplace. Denham’s reputation was made by his tragedy The Sophy, acted at Blackfriars in 1641, and published in 1642.   15

  Edmund Waller Cooper’s Hill  
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