1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Jonathan Swift

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 124.



Swift's fame rests on his clear and powerful prose. He is a satirical versifier, but not in the proper acceptation of the term a poet. Dryden, whose aunt was the sister of Swift's grandmother, said to him, "Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet." And the prophecy proved true, though Swift resented it by a rancorous criticism on his illustrious relative. Swift's verses, however, made their mark in his day, and they are still interesting for the intellectual vigor, pungency, and wit by which they are distinguished.