1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Clare

Margaret Oliphant, in The Literary History of England (1882) 2:384-85.



In distant spots of the country — in Bedfordshire, the Farmer's Boy Bloomfield; in Suffolk, the mild young Quaker poet, Bernard Barton; in hardhearted Yorkshire, the rude and fervent spirit — usually inspired with political themes, but sometimes dropping into unexpected strains of tenderness — of Ebineezer Elliott; in Lincolnshsire, among the level fields, a village minstrel, John Clare, ploughboy and peasant — not much more than gloworms about the hedgerows, still kept a little flicker about of poetical light. The better part of Elliot's productions, the often stirring and effective strains which got him the name of the Corn Law Rhymer, were of a later date; but these softer chorus-singers had all begun in the early morning of the century to swell the greater voices which had made of that new period a renowned and great poetic age.