1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Frank Sayers

Robert Southey, in Preface to Southey, Poetical Works (1837) 1:ix.



My obligation to Dr. Sayers is of a different kind [than to Bowles]. Every one who has an ear for metre and a heart for poetry, must have felt how perfectly the metre of Collins's Ode to Evening is in accordance with the imagery and the feeling. None of the experiments which were made of other unrhymed stanzas proved successful. They were either in strongly marked and well-known measures which unavoidably led the reader to expect rhyme, and consequently balked him when he looked for it; or they were in stanzas as cumbrous as they were ill constructed. Dr. Sayers went upon a different principle, and succeeded admirably. I read his Dramatic Sketches of Northern Mythology when they were first published, and convinced myself when I had acquired some skill in versification, that the kind of verse in which his choruses were composed was not less applicable to narration than to lyrical poetry.