How Does the Idea of Scientific Observation Influence the Poetic Voice?

Q: How does the idea of scientific observation influence the poetic voice?

In your answer you should discuss at least one poem in detail, analysing quotations carefully and paying attention to rhetorical and stylistic features.

      Dr. Johnson, thought by many to be the leading intellectual of the 18th century, “considered factual ‘scientific learning’ among the best types of knowledge a man could possess”, and thus it is no wonder the poets of the age – who imagined themselves to be at the forefront of intellectual thought – were greatly influenced by the nascent legitimacy science had found within society in this period (Rousseau 163). This is particularly evident in the writings of two Scottish poets, James Thomson and Mark Akenside, specifically in their poems ‘Spring’ and ‘The Pleasures of Imagination’ respectively.
      The dominance of scientific attitude throughout the 18th century was largely a result of the “great age of scientific discovery” that had occurred in the previous century, and these discoveries were made in particular due to sweeping advances in the area of observation (Rousseau 154 ). The telescope had been perfected by the “lensmakers of Holland” in 1608, while in 1634 the earliest “English reference” to the microscope was made, enabling people to view both the vast infinity of the universe and the smallest collections of atoms, and as a result, fundamentally changing man’s perspective on the human world (Nicolson 10, 160). Additionally, Galileo’s astronomical findings in the 17th century had been furthered by the groundbreaking works of Newton’s Optiks, published in 1704 , while in 1735 Systema Naturae, Carl Linnaeus’s book expounding his novel system of taxonomy, brought a clinical order to the otherwise chaotic biological world, as well as establishing the binominal system of nomenclature. These advances manifested themselves in the poetic voice of the age in three broad areas: the change and expansion in the subject matter with...