1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Clare

John Wilson, in "An Hour's Talk about Poetry" 1831; Recreations of Christopher North (1852) 84.



John Clare often reminds us of James Grahame. They are two of our most artless poets. Their versification is mostly very sweet, though rather flowing forth according to a certain fine natural sense of melody, than constructed on any principles of music. So, too, with their imagery, which seems seldom selected with much care; so that, while it is always true to nature, and often possesses a charm from its appearing to rise up of itself, and with little or no effort on the poet's part to form a picture, it is not unfrequently chargeable with repetition — sometimes, perhaps, with a sameness which, but for the inherent interest in the objects themselves, might be felt a little wearisome — there is so much still life. They are both most affectionately disposed towards all manner of birds. Grahame's Birds of Scotland is a delightful poem; yet its best passages are not superior to some of Clare's about the same charming creatures — and they are both ornithologists after Audubon's and our own heart.