1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Browne of Tavistock

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 53.



Born in Devonshire, Browne was educated at Oxford. He wrote Britannia's Pastorals, The Shepherd's Pipe, The Inner Temple Masque, and other poems. These were popular in his own day, but fell afterward into neglect. The best of them were written before he was twenty years of age, and he published none after thirty. The Siren's Song is one of the most precious felicities of genius. It is rare in literary history that so muc promise is found so inexplicably stunted and silenced by time. George Wither seems to have had a high estimate of Browne's gifts, and wrote:

Thou are young, yet such a lay
Never graced the month of May,
As (if they provoke thy skill)
Thou canst fit unto the quill.