Mihajlovic Dávid Ruttkay Veronika

Research Proposal: Retirement and Retreat as Poetic Subject

The final retreat from a lifetime of work and various other affairs that most individuals endure must not only be relieving but also uplifting. The thought of no longer having to work for a living, that a form of steady income is now ensured, must be liberating. Whether one spent their lives as laborer or aristocrat, people from all walks of life deserve a dignifying exit from this realm, living their final years in peace and recreation.

The intent of this research paper is to identify, examine and contrast poems on the subject matter of retirement, taking into consideration the tonal and stylistic tendencies and the attitudes on retirement from the poet’s perspective. I shall not attempt to ascribe intentions of the poets, but rather to explore, compare and contrast the differences of the mentioned aspects from the point of view of class and/or gender. What attitudes did men and women of the era have on said subject? What other aspects were at play upon composition? My research shall provide analyses of “The Petition for an Absolute Retreat” by Anne Finch, Alexander Pope’s “Ode on Solitude” and William Cowper’s “Retirement” and perhaps other relevant examples, and how poesy on the subject of retirement and retreat changed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

Secondary sources:

Bailes, Melissa. “Women, Gardens, and Solitude in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” The Eighteenth Century, vol. 57, no. 4, 2016, pp. 537–541.


Edson, Michael. “’A Closet or a Secret Field’: Horace, Protestant Devotion and British Retirement Poetry” Journal for Eighteenth‐Century Studies 35.1 (2012): 17-41


Havens, Raymond D. “Solitude and the Neoclassicists.” ELH, vol. 21, no. 4, 1954, pp. 251–273.


Mattison, Andrew. Solitude and Speechlessness: Renaissance Writing and Reading in Isolation. University of Toronto Press, 2019.


Richetti, John. “Retirement or Retreat: Varieties of Rustication and Renewal in 18th-Century English Literature”

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