John Gay (1685-1732) was part of the "association of wits" that included Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. But though Gay's exposure of weakness and folly is no less acute than theirs, his wit is characterised by a benign and ironic sense of the fallibility of humankind. Gay is a great master of parody and pastiche, and the quality of Gay's poetry, as Marcus Walsh points out in his introduction, lies in its "sense of verbal play". The ironic appreciation of "life as it is" that makes his "Beggar's Opera" enduringly popular is present in his poetry. "Trivia", which Gay's biographer called "the greatest poem on London in English literature", teems with the chaotic energy of the 18th-century city, while "The Shepherd's Week" is a pastoral of comic realism. This selection enables Gay's poetry to take its place alongside his drama as one of the most distinctive reflections of his age.
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First published in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.About the Author:
John Gay was an English poet and dramatist. He is the author of "Poems on Several Occasions." Marcus Walsh is the editor of "The Religious Poetry: Christopher Smart."
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