1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Keats

Anonymous, in Review of Keats, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and other Poems; The Monthly Magazine 50 (September 1820) 166.



There is a boldness of fancy and a classical expression of language in the poetry of this gentleman, which, we think, entitle him to stand equally high in the estimation of poetic opinion, as the author of Rimini [Leigh Hunt], or as he (Barry Cornwall [Bryan Waller Procter]) of the Dramatic Scenes. Our pleasure, however, was not unmingled with sentiments of strong disapprobation. The faults characteristic of his school, are still held up to view with as much affectation, by Mr. K. as if he were fearful of not coming in for his due share of singularity, obscurity, and conceit. But though of the same genus, his poetic labours are specifically different from those of his fellow labourers in the same vineyard. — There is more reach of poetic capacity, more depth and intenseness of thought and feeling, with more classical power and expression, than what we discover in the writings of his master, or his fellow pupil Mr. Cornwall. It is likewise more original poetry than theirs. Mr. C. is compounded of imitation — of Shakespeare, and of Mr. Leigh Hunt. Mr. H. is a familiar copier of Dryden, with the manner, only a more sparkling one, of Crabbe. Mr. K. on the contrary, is always himself, and as long as fair originality shall be thought superior to good imitation, he will always be preferred.