1876 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Barnabe Barnes

Edward Dowden, "Parthenophil and Parthenope" Academy 10 (1876) 231.



In the main, however, the poetry of Barnes moves in a world of imagination, into which the virtue of any real incidents has entered invisibly through the solvent of beauty; it is a land of clear colours, and smooth air; a "region of shadowless hours;" mighty Pan presides over it; the lovely Virgin Mary is a shepherdess who may be gained by the promise of a firstling of the flock to further lovers; Apollo is a saint of the religion of joy. But it is not only the Renaissance with its rehabilitation of the senses which we find in these poems; there is in them also the Renaissance with its ingenuity, its fantasticality, its passion for conceits, and wit, and clever caprices, and playing upon words. With this it is harder and perhaps not wholesome to attempt to enter into sympathy. The sympathy of the most favourably disposed modern reader would be somewhat stringently tested by a poem of many lines in which the marks of punctuation, comma, and colon, and period, are constrained to become the emblems and exponents of passion.