1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

Leigh Hunt, in Feast of the Poets (1814) 88-89n.



To those who ... have hitherto seen in Mr. Wordsworth nothing but trifling and childishness, and who at the same time speak with rapture of Spenser and Milton, I would only recommend the perusal of such poems as the Female Vagrant in Lyrical Ballads, the Nightingale, the three little exquisite pieces from p. 50 to 53 of the 2d vol. (4th edition) another at p. 136, — the Old Cumberland Beggar, (a piece of perfect description philosophized); and in the two subsequent volumes of poems, — Louisa, the Happy Warrior, to H. C., the Sonnets entitled London and Westminster Bridges, another beginning "The World is too much with us," and the majestic simplicity of the Ode to Duty, a noble subject most nobly treated. If after this, they can still see nothing beautiful or great in Mr. Wordsworth's writings, we must conclude that their insight into the beauties of Spenser and Milton is imaginary, — and that they speak in praise of those writers as they do in dispraise of Mr. Wordsworth, merely by rote.