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Cowley, despite critical neglect, is an indispensable guide into the new seventeenth-century world of Milton; few writers have so successfully transmuted new ideas into poetic thought. Robert Hinman has applied current seventeenth-century research, thus far reserved for Milton and the metaphysicals, to the content of Cowley’s images and their imaginative impact on his first readers—among them, the great poets.
Perhaps most important, however, is Hinman’s new assessment of the relation between poetry and science in the seventeenth century. This is a fundamental contribution to a concept that is of the first importance for modern criticism.