Solitude, poetry, and medicine have long been linked. John Armstrong references solitude as the ‘sad nurse of care’, and it is through that lens that this talk will consider some medico-theological poems of eighteenth-century physicians, namely Samuel Garth, John Armstrong, and Mark Akenside. The ‘phantoms of fear’ that ‘pride in solitary’ scenes are representative of the complexities of solitude, at once the nurse of care but also providing the melancholic fear it was initially supposed to prevent. There is a dual element to the consideration of solitude in their poetry: one of solitude in relation to melancholy from their medical standpoint, and the other as themselves as the solitary producer of knowledge, where they turn to the solitude of poetry writing to discuss its physical effects on the body and mind. This talk will argue that prosody gave these physicians a means to reflect on these medical questions of solitude and its links with melancholy, and to turn over these questions and test out the distinct duality of solitude by poetically enacting its negative implications on a wandering mind.
No registration required for this seminar – all are welcome.