1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Clare

Henry Francis Cary to John Clare, 18 January 1829; R. W. King, The Translator of Dante (1925) 228.



I quite agree with Mr. Taylor that it will be better not to attempt any deception with respect to the poems that you have written in the style of our elder Bards. I do not remember ever to have heard of any advantage resulting from such attempts. Not that I see so much harm in them as many do. But I think it more advisable to avoid what might injure you in the good opinion of some who are at present your friends. And in truth I must own I like you better in your own natural guise of John Clare than in the borrow'd trim of Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Harry Wootton, or any other Sir of Elizabeth's or James's days. What you most excel in is the description of such natural objects as you have yourself had the opportunity of observing, and which none before you have noticed, though every one instantly recognizes their truth. Now nothing of this sort can be introduced into such imitations as you meditate. They must consist of mere moralizing. Forcible you may indeed make them, but still they will want the livelier touches of your pencil.