Pindarics

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Pindarics (alternatively Pindariques or Pindaricks), the name by which was known a class of loose and irregular odes greatly in fashion in England during the close of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. The invention is due to Abraham Cowley, who, probably in Paris, a place where he had no other books to direct him and perhaps in 1650, found a text of Pindar and determined to imitate the Greek poetry in English, without comprehension of the system upon which Pindar's prosody was built.

Cowley published, however, in 1656, fifteen Pindarique Odes, which became the model on which countless imitators founded their pindarics. The erroneous form of these poems, which were absolutely without discipline of structure, was first exposed by William Congreve, exactly half a century later; he very justly describing them as bundles of rambling incoherent thoughts, expressed in a like parcel of irregular stanzas, which also consist of such another complication of disproportioned, uncertain and perplexed verse and rhymes. This is harsh, but it describes a pindaric with absolute justice. Cowley had not been aware that there is nothing more regular than the Odes of Pindar, and that his poems were constructed in harmony with rigid prosodical laws in strophe, antistrophe and epode; the liberty which Pindar took in his numbers, which has been so much misunderstood and misapplied by his pretended imitators, was only in varying the stanzas in different odes; but in each particular ode...
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