1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

William Wordsworth, Marginalia to Hazlitt's Spirit of the Age, 1836; Letters of the Wordsworth Family, ed. Knight (1907) 3:122.



[Hazlitt wrote, "It is mortifying to hear him [Wordsworth] speak of Pope and Dryden, whom, because they have been supposed to have all the possible excellences of poetry, he will allow to have none." On this Wordsworth wrote:]

Monstrous again. I have ten times more knowledge of Pope's writings, and of Dryden's also, than ever this writer had. To this day I believe I could repeat, with a little previous rummaging of my memory, several thousand lines of Pope. But if the beautiful, the pathetic, and the sublime be what a poet should chiefly aim at, how absurd it is to place these men amongst the first poets of their country! Admirable are they in treading their way, but that way lies almost at the foot of Parnassus.