1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

John Aikin, in Letters to a Young Lady (1806) 200-01.



The fame of Collins is however principally founded upon his Odes Descriptive and Allegorical, pieces which stand in the first rank of lyrical poetry. Of these, some are exquisitely tender and pathetic, others are animated and sublime, and all exhibit that predominance of feeling and fancy which forms the genuine poetic character. Some are shrouded in a kind of mystic obscurity that veils their meaning from the common reader; but no one who is qualified to taste the higher beauties of poetry can fail to receive delight from the spirit of his allegorical figures, and the vividness of his descriptive imagery. His versification is extremely varied, and several of its forms are peculiar to himself. The free irregular flow of some of his strains gives them the air of being the spontaneous product of present emotion, like the voluntaries of a master musician; and no English poet seems to have possessed a more musical ear.