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Selected Poems

written by "Tutchin, John"
...are compared with The Earth-quake of Jamaica, the reader becomes impressed by Tutchin's way of adapting the well-known details to a moral comment on life. His scenes are indeed graphic, but they do not have the immediacy of such eye-witness accounts as the following, preserved by Luttrell: I cannot sufficiently represent the terrible circumstances that attended it; the earth swelled with a dismal humming noise, the houses fell, the earth opened in many places, the graves gave up some of their dead, the tomb stones ratled together; at last the earth sunk below the water, and the sea overwhelmed great numbers of people, whose shreiks and groanes made a lamentable eccho: the earth opened both behind and before me within 2 foot of my feet, and that place on which I stood trembled exceedingly; the water immediately boyled up upon the opening of the earth, but it pleased God to preserve me....[15] Tutchin's aim is to compare vulnerable nature with vulnerable man: "Can humane Race / Stand on their / Legs when Nature Reels?" He sees in the disaster a challenge for English sinners to repent: the "Hurricane of Fate" wails on "murder'd Cornish." He had not yet forgotten the Monmouth adventure. For he alludes here to the act of Parliament passed in 1689 reversing the attainder of Henry Cornish, the alderman who had been brutally executed in 1685 for high treason through participating in the Rye House Plot and attaching himself to the Duke of Monmouth. For Tutchin, politics were always relevant. Tutchin's true forte is not the descriptive poem, but satire. Poems published in the years 1696 to 1705—from A Pindarick Ode to - vi - The Tackers—exploit the satirical impulse that had been latent in Poems on Several Occasions. Increasingly he turns to general denunciation and thinly disguised lampoon. Of the two main Augustan traditions in satire—the "fine raillery" that Dryden perfected and the rough satire that reached back t...

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