1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Gray

Nemo, in "On Celebrated Writers" Town and Country Magazine 5 (April 1773) 183.



The elegy in a country church-yard breathes a spirit of melancholy which flatters the imagination of an Englishman. It is solemn, it is picturesque. But after all, it is no more than a confused heap of splendid ideas, thrown together without order and without proportion; and resembles the loose jewels in the artist's casket before they are formed into a diadem. The odes of the same author, more unintelligible than the aenigma of a sphynx, are in the same predicament, and present to the mind ideas similar to those which arise from a survey of the clouds empurpled by the setting sun. The variegated hues are indeed beautiful; but they quickly vanish, and leave no idea but that of a transient assemblage of visionary colours.