Restoration Volume 43.1 A Revolutionary Beverage: The Politics of Tea in Nahum Tate’s Panacea Mercy Cannon Austin Peay State University Nahum Tate, poet laureate from 1692 to 1715, lives in infamy for giving King Lear a happy ending—so much so that his fascinating poem, Panacea: A Poem on Tea (1700), has received virtually no attention. Yet the Restoration and Revolutionary politics that galvanized his adaptation of Shakespeare’s powerful tragedy are put to important uses in Panacea. In this poem, Tate develops a vision of English identity that anticipates later cultural developments and lends support to arguments that the political chaos of the 1690s modernized English attitudes toward governmental authority, economic organization, and social decorum. Panacea is a mock-epic structured by two cantos: Canto 1 offers a mythologized account of tea as a magical beverage given to the suffering Chinese people after the wicked King Ki is defeated, and Canto II presents a debate among Roman goddesses who wish to become the patroness of tea. (See Appendix for the entire poem.) According to Markman Ellis, Richard Coulton, and Matthew Mauger, Panacea is the earliest “tea exaltation” poem. They note that the tale of King Ki creates analogues to recent history
Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700 – University of Tennessee
Published: Jul 19, 2019
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