1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

Henry Kirke White, "Melancholy Hours X" 1801; Works (1869) 437.



Experiments in versification have not often been successful. Sir Philip Sidney, with all his genius, great it undoubtedly was, could not impart grace to his hexameters or fluency to his sapphics. Spenser's stanza was new, but his verse was familiar to the ear; and though his rhymes were frequent to satiety, he seems to have avoided the awkwardness of novelty, and the difficulty of unpractised metres. Donne had not music enough to render his broken rhyming couplets sufferable, and neither his wit, nor his pointed satire, were sufficient to rescue him from that neglect which his uncouth and rugged versification speedily superinduced.