1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Anonymous, in Review of Byron, Works; New York Review NS 2 (April 1826) 339.



The generation to whom the former school of poetry was familiar in their youth, does not, of course, relish the productions of the new, with an admiration equal to that felt by their children. Of those whose fondness for the language of imagination and passion has been developed by the unparalleled fertility of the minstrels of the present age, who, if asked to designate the greatest among the laurelled band, can hesitate for a moment in declaring his preference? Who has swept the chords of the human heart, with the most wizard skill; or whose numbers dwell longest on the ear of memory, and recur most frequently, awakened by a thousand associations? And if we call over the long roll of the bards of Albion, respectable as it is for masters in every department of pleasing and noble art; after we have mentioned Spenser, and Shakspeare, and Milton, what name shall we next venture to add to the splendid triad? The interval is long over which we are compelled to pass; the period once called the Augustan age of English literature, does not yield a compeer to these illustrious poets; and we can rest, in our inquest, with complete satisfaction, only upon the name of BYRON.