1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

John Wilson, in "An Hour's Talk about Poetry" 1831; Recreations of Christopher North (1852) 78.



Is Childe Harold, then, a Great Poem? What! with one half of it little above mediocrity, one quarter of it not original in conception, and in execution swarming with faults, and the remainder glorious? As for his tales — the Giaour, Corsair, Lara, Bride of Abydos, Siege of Corinth, and so forth — they are all spirited, energetic, and passionate performances — sometimes nobly and sometimes meanly versified — but displaying neither originality nor fertility of invention, and assuredly no wide range either of feeling or of thought, though over that range a supreme dominion. Some of his dramas are magnificent — and in many of his smaller poems, pathos and beauty overflow. Don Juan exhibits almost every kind of talent; and in it the degradation of poetry is perfect.