1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

Lord Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809); Poetical Works, ed. E. H. Coleridge (1898-1904) 1:315-16 & n.



Next comes the dull disciple of thy school,
That mild apostate from poetic rule,
The simple WORDSWORTH, framer of a lay
As soft as evening in his favourite May,
Who warns his friend "to shake off toil and trouble,
And quit his books, for fear of growing double;"
Who, both by precept and example, shows
That prose is verse, and verse is merely prose;
Convincing all, by demonstration plain,
Poetic souls delight in prose insane;
And Christmas stories tortured into rhyme
Contain the essence of the true sublime.
Thus, when he tells the tale of Betty Foy,
The idiot mother of "an idiot Boy;"
A moon-struck, silly lad, who lost his way,
And, like his bard, confounded night with day;
So close on each pathetic part he dwells,
And each adventure so sublimely tells,
That all who view the "idiot in his glory"
Conceive the Bard the hero of the story.

Mr. W. in his preface labours hard to prove, that prose and verse are much the same; and certainly his precepts and practice are strictly conformable:—

And thus to Betty's questions he
Made answer, like a traveller bold,
The cock did crow, to-whoo, to-whoo,
And the sun did shine so cold.