1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Taylor of Norwich

Robert Southey to William Taylor of Norwich, 23 June 1803; J. W. Robberds, Memoir of the Life and Writings of William Taylor (1843) 1:461.



Why refashion Drayton [Taylor contemplated modernizing Drayton's "battle of Azincour"]? In the first place, you could write a better poem than the old Michael; in the next place, instead of making the poets of Elizabeth's day talk as they do now, you would do better to make the poets under his most gracious majesty George III. talk as they did in Elizabeth's day. It is an article in my creed, that from the days of John Milton English poetry has gone on from bad to worse. We have had froth and flummery imposed upon us, — contortions of language that passed for poetry because they were not prose, and phrases that have been admired by faith, never being designed to be understood.