1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Alexander Thomson, in The British Parnassus, at the Close of the Eighteenth Century (1801) 77.



SOUTHEY also is one of your Blank-verse commanders,
Whose pow'rs serpentize in so many meanders;
And though some here maintain that his merits are small,
I must beg leave to differ from such Critics all;
What strain could so strongly take hold of the heart,
As the lines which his manifold feelings impart,
While the Man seeks in vain for himself in the mild
And innocent looks of the promising Child!
How novel that Hymn, and how tenderly great is,
To the Gods of the Hearth, to his darling PENATES!
And with what sad simplicity does he relate,
The progress of HANNAH'S unhusbanded fate!
I grant, that his measure not equally flows,
And at times is much farther from verse than from Prose;
But still I assert, that the worst of his strains
Most pow'rful effusions of feeling contains;
With whose striking force and original air,
Whole Volumes, though labour'd with scrupulous care,
Of polish'd inanity, will not compare.