1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Dyer

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 170.



Dyer (1700-1758) was a young Welshman, son of a prosperous attorney. He tried to be a painter, and went to Rome to study, but gave it up on finding he could not rise to his ideal. Grongar Hill was near his birthplace, and he sang of it at six-and-twenty. The poem, if first published in the nineteenth century, would have excited less attention; but it was a new departure in its day from the swelling diction then so prevalent, that even Thomson did not escape from it in describing natural scenes. Dyer struck a less artificial note, but could not wholly cast off nymphs and Muses, gods and goddesses, then considered a necessary part of the "properties" of the poetical adventurer. He wrote The Fleece, a poem; also one on The Ruins of Rome — both in blank verse. Wordsworth addresses a sonnet to him, and predicts that "a grateful few" will love Dyer's modest lay, "Long as the thrush shall pipe on Grongar Hill."