1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Daniel

Anna Brownell Jameson, in Loves of the Poets (1829; 1857) 201-03.



Daniel, who was munificently patronized by the Lord Mountjoy, mentioned in the preceding sketch, was one of the most graceful sonnetteers of that time; and he has touches of tenderness as well as fancy; for he was in earnest, and the object of his attachment was real, though disguised under the name of Delia. She resided on the banks of the River Avon, and was unmoved by the poet's strains. Rank, with her, outweighed love and genius. Daniel says of his sonnets—

Though the error of my youth in them appear,
Suffice they show I lived, and loved thee dear!

The lines

Restore thy tresses to the golden ore,
Yield Citherea's son those arcs of love,

are luxuriantly elegant, and quite Italian in the flow and imagery. Her modesty is prettily set forth in another Sonnet—

A modest maid, deck'd with a blush of honor,
Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love,
The wonder of all eyes that looked upon her,
Sacred on earth, designed a Saint above!

After a long series of sonnets, elaborately plaintive, he interrupts himself with a little touch of truth and nature, which is quite refreshing:

I must not grieve my love! whose eyes should read
Lines of delight, whereon her youth might smile;
The flowers have time before they come to seed,
And she is young, and now must sport the while.
And sport, sweet maid! in season of these years,
And learn to gather flow'rs before they wither;
And where the sweetest blossom first appears,
Let Love and Youth conduct thy pleasures thither.

If the lady could have been won by poetical flattery, she must have yielded. At length, unable to bear her obduracy, and condemned to see another preferred before him, Daniel resolved to travel; and he wrote, on this occasion, the most feeling of all his Sonnets, "And whither, poor forsaken! wilt thou go?"

Daniel remained abroad several years, and returning, cured of his attachment, he married Giustina Florio, of a family of Waldenses, who had fled from the frightful persecutions carried on in the Italian Alps against that miserable people. With her, he appears to have been sufficiently happy to forget the pain of his former repulse, and enjoy, without one regretful pang, the fame it had given him as a poet.