1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

Chandos Leigh, in Preface, Leigh, Juvenile Poems (1815, 1817) iv-v.



There is a cant in every thing. The Senate, the Bar, the Pulpit have their own peculiar cant, nor is Poetry free from the taint of the age. However we are now beginning to break the shackles of that great poetical necromancer, Pope, and to discover that the music of verse, and the uniformity of rhyme are not synonymous terms. We have at length found out that Chaucer and Spenser are Poets; and that the Poems of that immortal Shakspeare deserve our admiration. We have living Poets of no ordinary merit. Byron, Moore, and Wordsworth constitute the great triumvirate of Poetry. What! Wordsworth, with his babyisms and affectations? Yes, Wordsworth, who in spite of his babyisms, and affectations, and eremitical abstractions, is a Lover of Nature and a Poet. His fame is daily gaining ground. He is the Poussin, and often the Claude; Byron the Salvator Rosa, and Moore (delicious Moore) the Titian of Poets.