1833 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

John Wilson, in "Spenser" Blackwood's Magazine 34 (1833) 810.



Pope says, "notwithstanding all the care he has taken, he is certainly inferior in his dialect. In the manners, thoughts, and characters, he comes near to Theocritus himself." Pope was a better judge of dialect, than of the manners thoughts, and characters of Shepherds. He knew — how could he? — little or nothing of rural or rustic life — we mean by experience. He had a fine fancy for every thing; and says truly, that "the addition Spenser has made of a Calendar to Eclogues, is very beautiful: since by this, besides the general moral of innocence and simplicity, which is common to other authors of Pastoral, he has one peculiar to himself: he compares human life to the several seasons: and at once exposes to his readers a view of the great and little worlds in their various changes and aspects." — How finely felt and said! In his plan of Pastoral, Spenser has had many imitators. But it was reserved for Thomson to change months into Seasons. And then we saw complete in Poetry the varied year.