1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Chapman

Leigh Hunt, in Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries (1828) 248-49.



Modern criticism has made the public well acquainted with the merits of Chapman. The retainers of some schools of poetry may not see very far into his old oracular style; but the poets themselves (the true test of poetical merit) have always felt the impression. Waller professed that he could never read him without a movement of transport; and Pope, in the preface to his translation, says that he was animated by a daring fiery spirit, something like what we may conceive of Homer himself "before he arrived at years of discretion." Chapman certainly stands upon no ceremony. He blows as rough a blast as Achilles could have desired to hear, very different from the soft music of a parade. "The whales exult" under his Neptune, playing unwieldy gambols; and his Ulysses issues out of the shipwreck, "soaked to the very heart;" tasting of sea-weeds and salt-water, in a style that does not at all mince the matter, or consult the proprieties of Brighton. Mr. Keats's epithets of "loud and bold," showed that he understood him thoroughly.