1928 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

W. P. Ker, in Form and Style in Poetry (1928) 166.



He recommended a poet to write with his eye on the object, but he himself wrote his critical prose without obeying this rule. He did not distinguish as he might have done; he had not really thought out the poetry of Pope, but had merely picked up objections. This imperfect honesty of Wordsworth is shown by his quotation from Dryden's Indian Emperor:

All things are hushed as Nature's self lay dead;
The mountains seem to nod their drowsy head.
The little Birds in dreams their songs repeat,
And sleeping Flowers beneath the Night-dew sweat:
Even Lust and Envy sleep; yet Love denies
Rest to my soul, and slumber to my eyes.

He got this quotation from the first edition of Thomas Warton's Observations on the Faerie Queene. Warton had quoted it as an example of a style he did not like; Wordsworth read it and decided he did not like the style either, so quoted it as bad. This is not exactly unfair, but it is the work of an advocate, not of a man trying to find out the truth.