Chapter 5 - Market Hill
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 August 2020
This chapter examines some of the Market Hill poems, which Swift wrote during bouts of intense creativity while in semi-retirement in the north of Ireland in the late 1720s. A subseries of poems written to, and in the guise of, the author’s hosts explicitly turn away from such famous works as Jonson’s ‘To Penshurst’ or Marvell’s ‘Upon Appleton House’ by moving inward: whereas the ideal poem in this mode celebrates a grand home as the material manifestation of the owner’s impeccable qualities, Swift instead voices the hostess as a trainee vexer, the host as a cruel dullard, the staff as aggravated upstarts, and even himself, in the character of an unwelcome if noteworthy houseguest. The gentrified British pastoral gives away to Irish realism. The satirical panegyrical ode has become a vehicle of self-critique. In markedly different ways, whether risibly or aggressively, the Market Hill poems deal with the Dean’s uncertain legacy as a Hibernian Patriot, a hard-worn but easily dashed image. This chapter ends with an examination of a shortlived but excessive verse war conducted with a rival cleric poet from Dublin who sought to tarnish Swift’s reputation.
- Reading Swift's Poetry , pp. 182 - 224Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2020