The development of the later English Restoration impotency poems

Lavery, Hannah (2013). The development of the later English Restoration impotency poems. Papers on Language and Literature, 49(2) pp. 172–202.



The English impotency poem tradition enjoyed a boom in the years immediately following the Restoration of King Charles II to the throne. Poems by Etherege, Rochester and Behn respond intertextually to each other and to antecedent French impotency texts, produced earlier in the sixteenth century. However, there are also a number of anonymous English impotency poems produced in response to this boom. These later texts are apparently more ‘propagandist’ than earlier impotency poems, bringing to the fore the satirical potential within the form, and able to address a wider audience through their inclusion in poetry collections. Through analysis of the development of these later, anonymous, Restoration impotency poems we are better able to understand the genre itself, and the context for the renewed interest in impotency poetry during the reign of Charles II.

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