1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Quarles

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 54.



Quarles (1592-1644), though quaint and fantastic in his style, is the author of some genuine poetical utterances. He seems to have disobeyed the advice he gave to others — "Clothe not thy language either with obscurity or affectation." He was extravagantly lauded in his day. Phillips (1675) calls him "the darling of our plebeian judgments." Another admirer styles him "that sweet seraph of our nation, Quarles." Numerous editions of his Emblems have appeared even during this century. His poetry is strongly tinctured with religious feeling. This does not seem to have saved him from Puritan prosecution. He had his heart broken by the destruction of his property, and especially of his rare library. He had, by the first of his two wives, eighteen children, and died, much troubled, in 1644. John Quarles, his son, who died of the plague in 1665, inherited much of his father's poetical ability.