1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Gray

Lord Byron, in Letter to Blackwood's Magazine (1820); Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 4:487-88.



It is easy to prove the immediate popularity of the chief poets of the only modern nation in Europe that has a poetical language, the Italian. In our own, Shakspeare, Spenser, Jonson, Waller, Dryden, Congreve, Pope, Young, Shenstone, Thomson, Johnson, Goldsmith Gray, were all as popular in their own times as since. Gray's Elegy pleased instantly, and eternally. His Odes did not, nor yet do they, please like his Elegy. Milton's politics kept him down.... Notwithstanding, Mr. Wordsworth's having pressed Milton into service as one of those not presently popular, to favour his own purpose of proving that our grandchildren will read him (the said William Wordsworth,) I would recommend him to begin first with our grandmothers.