1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Julius Mickle

Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 16 August 1808; Life and Correspondence (1849-50) 3:164.



Do you remember the story of Mickle the poet, who always regretted that he could not remember the poetry which he composed in his sleep? it was, he said, so infinitely superior to any thing which he produced in his waking hours. One morning he awoke and repeated the lamentation over his unhappy fortune, that he should compose such sublime poetry, and yet lose it forever! "What!" said his wife, who happened to be awake, "were you writing poetry?" "Yes," he replied, "and such poetry that I would give the world to remember it." "Well then," said she, "I did luckily hear the last lines, and I am sure I remember them exactly: they were—

By Heaven, I'll wreak my woes
Upon the cowslip and the pale primrose."

This is one of Sharpe's stories, — it is true, and an excellently good one it is.