1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Wither

Henry Hallam, in Introduction to the Literature of Europe of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries (1837-39; 1882) 3:259.



George Wither, by siding with the less poetical though more prosperous party in the civil war, and by a profusion of temporary writings to serve the ends of faction and folly, has left a name which we were accustomed to despise, till Ellis did justice, to "that playful fancy, pure taste, and artless delicacy of sentiment, which distinguish the poetry of his early youth." His best poems were published in 1622, with the title, Mistress of Philarete. Some of them are highly beautiful, and bespeak a mind above the grovelling puritanism into which he afterwards fell. I think there is hardly anything in our lyric poetry of this period equal to Wither's lines to his Muse, published by Ellis.