1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Dyer

William Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont, 20 November 1811; Letters of the Wordsworth Family, ed. Knight (1907) 1:539.



As so much of this letter is taken up with my verses, I will e'en trespass still further on your indulgence, and conclude with a sonnet, which I wrote some time ago upon the poet, John Dyer. If you have not read The Fleece, I would strongly recommend it to you. The character of Dyer, as a patriot, a citizen, and a tender-hearted friend of humanity, was, in some respects, injurious to him as a poet, and has induced him to dwell, in his poem, upon processes which, however important in themselves, were unsusceptible of being poetically treated. Accordingly, his poem is, in several places, dry and heavy; but its beauties are innumerable, and of a high order. In point of imagination and purity of style, I am not sure that he is not superior to any writer in verse since the time of Milton.

SONNET.
Bard of the Fleece! whose skilful genius made
That work a living landscape fair and bright;
Nor hallowed less by musical delight
Than those soft scenes through which thy childhood strayed,
Those southern tracts of Cambria, deep embayed.

In the above is one whole line from The Fleece, and two other expressions. When you read The Fleece you will recognise them. I remain, my dear Lady Beaumont, your sincere friend.

W. WORDSWORTH.