1833 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Allan Cunningham, in "Biographical and Critical History of the Literature of the last Fifty Years" The Athenaeum (16 November 1833) 771.



Most poets are of God's making, but some are, nevertheless, manufactured by man — to both we are indebted for Henry Kirke White. The story of his fortunes, his early aspirations, his desire of fame, his attempts in song, his seeking for a patron, and finding a harsh critic, his doubts in religion, the solution of those doubts, together with his merits as a man and a poet, are related by Robert Southey in a manner so artless and so moving, as would bring fame to one much less worthy than Kirke White. He was born in 1785, and died before he reached manhood: his poetry is pleasing, and his subjects are moral; he is tender and touching, and seldom wants thoughts, and never lacks language; but there is an absence of energy and originality: he is truly sincere, yet seldom fervent. His life has its lesson, and his early death its moral — let all young poets read and tremble.