1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Hood

Anonymous, in Review of Hood, Plea of the Midsummer Fairies; New Monthly Magazine NS 21 (September 1827) 372-73



He now comes before us as a poet, in the most abstract sense of the word; and we should suppose, in reading his volume, that he had been al his life dreaming of "fancies fond, and shadows numberless," and that, for the sake of indulging in these toys of the brain, he had spurned at every thing which human beings and ordinary society were capable of presenting to his view. We never saw a more confirmed case of poetical mania: the verses in Mr. Hood's present volume are very sweet, graceful, and imaginative, and will doubtless be much relished by the initiate; but they will not be popular. It is a mistake to furnish out the feast altogether with things which should be only the condiments; for the human mind, like the human body, requires substantial food. A fatal indulgence, in allowing the imagination to run wild into wanton flourishes and airy conceits, has injured even the fame of Spenser, and rendered his fine poems a sealed book to the million; and the same misfortune, from the same cause, has fallen upon Crashaw, William Browne, Drayton, and other men of genius, who failed to perceive that there is no other lasting foundation for poetry than human nature.