1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Abraham Cowley

George Dyer, in Poems (1802) 1:xxii-xxiii.



Of the English writers, who are professedly lyrists, the first of any consideration is Cowley, an exquisite poet, unquestionably; yet a writer always catching at brilliancy, and toiling, as it were, after wit; qualities, which should not sparingly be scattered on a spot, where elegance, spirit, and sublimity, form the distinguishing character. Cowley's poetry, like flowers in too rich a soil, present you with beauty too soon acquired; and lose, proportionably, their vigour and strength. Cowley might have been one of the best writers in this department, but for those puerilities, so justly condemned by Longinus.