The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin’s Poetry
Download Erasmus Darwin and the poetry of science 1. Author List, Julia Adrienne. Metadata Show full item record. Document Type PhD thesis. Access Status Open Access. Linked Resource URL http: Erasmus Darwin was also deeply passionate about such social issues as the education of women, believing that they should be given the same access to schooling as men enjoyed, perhaps studying scientific subjects.
He was also an inventor, apparently some way ahead of his time.
Although he never patented his inventions he encouraged others to take up his ideas and carry them forward to eventual production. Examples of his ideas were a copying machine, a mechanical lift for getting barges out of canals and machines to monitor weather. He truly was an amazing man who lived life very much to the full.
It had to come to an end though and, in fact, he died suddenly on the 18 th April shortly after moving into a new house just to the north of Derby.
He was 70 years old. Poems Bio Influences Galllery. Erasmus Darwin Bio Erasmus Darwin was a leading figure in 18 th century England in the fields of medicine, science, philosophy and poetry. Influences Erasmus Darwin influenced: Note XII discussed his ideas on electro-chemistry, demonstrating that he knew and well understood the experiments that had been carried out by Franklin and others.
In his comments on heredity disease in Note XI, he observed that grafts taken from older shoots of fruit trees tend to age more rapidly than those taken from new shoots of trees that had been cut back to near the roots. He also observed that parents who drank heavily and suffered from gout tended to have children who also suffered from gout even if they were not heavy drinkers.
This latter Lamarckian or epigenetic inheritance has been confirmed in two separate studies on the descendants of adults affected by severe malnutrition while their children were in the wombs of their mothers. Epigenetics is now becoming recognised as an important process in evolution. Darwin also recognised that some diseases seem to affect families and may have an hereditary element: Darwin wrote his poems in neoclassical heroic couplets.
This form, perfected by John Dryden and Alexander Pope , was well suited to a poetry of elegant statement. Difficult to write but easily parodied, its two rhymed iambic pentameter lines could make the second line parallel the first or oppose it, or the first half of a couplet could state a general principle and the second provide an example.
Each line usually divided roughly into halves, permitting the poet to create a statement in the first line and a half that could be emphasized or contrasted, often by using wordplay, in the last part, something Pope famously did in The Rape of the Lock when he asked. Darwin's inventive and playful use of the form, coupled with sexual allusions in Botanic Garden , contributed greatly to his work's popularity.
However two factors undermined this positive reception. First of all, Darwin's close association with radical politics alienated deeply conservative readers who hailed from the upper ranks of society.
Darwin's popularity suffered as well from the rise and eventual dominance of the Romantics , whose beginnings we can date to the publication of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Of course, it took decades before the Romantics, who were famously mocked as the Cockney poets, displaced the kind of poetry Darwin wrote.
In fact, as late as Wordsworth was still claiming Darwin's poetry was so new that people would have to be taught how to read and enjoy it. The problem was his politics. Once Britain's best known and most popular poet, Darwin sank into relative obscurity within a few decades.
Sexing the plants
His influence lived on in other ways, however. The widespread revival of interest in evolutionary ideas which followed the publication of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation helped to resuscitate interest in Darwin's ideas about evolution. Containing the Loves of the Plants, a Poem: Containing the Economy of Vegetation London: