1851 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

David Macbeth Moir, in Sketches of the Poetical Literature of the Past Half-Century (1851; 1856) 10-11.



Much, therefore, as we owe to Cowper, yet probably more — although in a more indirect way — we owe to the author of Tam O'Shanter, Hallowe'en, and The Cottar's Saturday Night; for, although successors caught his manly tone, his manner and subjects must have remained for a considerable period, to the English reader, matters of mere admiration and wonder. Burns threw himself unreservedly upon domestic life, and triumphantly showed that the morally sublime might be united to the extrinsically humble; thus proving — long before Wordsworth's day — that humanising sentiment could be extracted from the daisy beneath his feet, as well as ennobling emotions from "The lingering star with lessening ray," that ushers in the light of the morn.