1876 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Edmund Reade

Robert Carruthers, in Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature, 3rd ed. (1876; 1879) 7:45-46.



The first publication of MR. READE appears to have been a volume entitled The Broken Heart and other Poems, 1825. From that period up to 1868 he published a long series of poems and dramas. Cain the Wanderer, and Revolt of the Angels in 1830, Italy, 1838; Cataline, and The Deluge, 1839; Sacred Poems, 1843; Memnon, 1844; Revelations of Life, 1849, &c. Mr. Reade has lived to superintend and publish four collective editions of his poetical works (1851-1865). He has also written some novels, and two volumes of Continental Impressions (1847). The poem of Italy, in the Spenserian stanza, recalls Byron's Childe Harold, while the Revelations resemble Wordsworth's Excursion. We subjoin a few lines of description:

—We look toward
The sun, rayless and red: emerging slow
From a black canopy that lowered above.
O'er a blue sky it hung where fleecy clouds
Swelled like low hills along the horizon's verge.
Down slanting to a sea of glory, or
O'er infinite plains in luminous repose.
Eastward the sulphurous thunder-clouds were rolled.
While on the lurid sky beneath was marked
The visibly falling storm. The western rays
Braided its molten edges, rising up
Like battlemented towers, their brazen fronts
Changing perturbedly: from which, half seen,
The imaginative eye could body forth
Spiritual forms of thrones and fallen powers,
Reflecting on their scarred and fiery fronts,
The splendours left behind them.

Cataline, a drama, is well conceived and executed; but here also Mr. Reade follows another poetical master, Ben Jonson.