1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ebenezer Elliott

John Wilson, in "An Hour's Talk about Poetry" 1831; Recreations of Christopher North (1852) 85-86.



Ebenezer Elliott (of whom more another day) claims with pride to be the Poet of the Poor — and the poor might well be proud, did they know it, that they have such a poet. Not a few of them know it now — and many will know it in future; for a muse of fire like his will yet send its illumination "into dark deep holds." May it consume all the noxious vapours that infest such regions — and purify the atmosphere — till the air breathed there be the breath of life. But the poor have other poets besides him — Crabbe and Burns. We again mention both names — and no more. Kindly spirits were they both; and Burns had experienced all his poetry — and therefore his poetry is an embodiment of national character. We say it not in disparagement or reproof of Ebenezer — conspicuous over all — for let all men speak as they think or feel — but how gentle in all his noblest inspirations was Robin! He did not shun sins or sorrows; but he told the truth of the poor man's life, when he showed that it was, on the whole, virtuous and happy.