1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John G. C. Brainard

Jared Sparks, in Review of Brainard, Occasional Pieces of Poetry; North American Review [Boston] 21 (July 1825) 218.



He seldom aims at more than he can accomplish; the chief misfortune with him is, that he should be contented sometimes to accomplish so little, and this little in so imperfect a manner. That he possesses much of the genuine spirit and power of poetry, no one can doubt, who reads some of the pieces in this volume, yet there are others, which, if not absolutely below mediocrity, would never be suspected as coming from a soil, that had been watered with Castalian dews. They might pass off very well as exercises in rhyme of an incipient poet, the first efforts at pluming the wing for a bolder flight, and they might hold for a day an honorable place in the corner of a gazette, but to a higher service, or more conspicuous station, they could not wisely be called. In short, if we take all the author's compositions in this volume together, nothing is more remarkable concerning them than their inequality; the high poetical beauty and strength, both in thought and language, of some parts, and the want of good taste and the extreme negligence of others.