1840 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Lloyd

Thomas De Quincey, in "Literary Reminiscences" 1840 ca.; Works (1889-90) 2:383-84.



His poems do not place him in the class of powerful poets; they are loosely conceived, — faultily even, at times, — and not finished in the execution. But they have a real and mournful merit under one aspect, which might be so presented to the general reader as to win a peculiar interest for many of them, and for some a permanent place in any judicious thesaurus — such as we may some day hope to see drawn off, and carefully filtered, from the enormous mass of poetry produced since the awakening era of the French Revolution. This aspect is founded on the relation which they bear to the real events and unexaggerated afflictions of his own life. The feelings which he attempts to express were not assumed for effect, nor drawn by suggestion of others, and then transplanted into some ideal experience of his own. They do not belong to the mimetic poetry so extensively cultivated; but they were true solitary sighs, wrung from his own meditative heart by excess of suffering, and by the yearning after old scenes and household faces of an impassioned memory, brooding over vanished happiness, and cleaving to those early times when life wore even for his eyes the golden light of Paradise.