1797
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Rural Calendar.

The Rural Calendar.

Rev. James Grahame


The Rural Calendar "consists of twelve short descriptions, one for each month of the year" Raymond Dexter Havens, The Influence of Milton (1922) 266. This device had earlier been used in Fawkes and Woty's Poetical Calendar (1763). Not seen.

James Montgomery: "Grahame's Sabbath, and his Birds of Scotland, are better known than his British Georgics. His taste was singular, and his manner correspondent. The general tenor of his style is homely, and frequently so prosaic that its peculiar graces appear in their full lustre from the contrast of meanness that surrounds them. His readers may be few; but whosoever does read him will probably be oftener surprised into admiration, than in the perusal of any one of his contemporaries. The most lively, the most lovely sketches of natural scenery, of minute imagery, and of exquisite incident, unexpectedly developed, occur in his compositions, with ever-varying, yet ever-assimilating features" Lectures (1833) 159-60.

David McAllister: "His genius was of a mildly-pensive and elegantly-descriptive kind. He had little constructive or dramatic faculty, his powers of reflection were rather feeble, nor does he ever mount into the seventh heaven of invention. His qualities were warm-hearted enthusiasm, deep-toned piety, and a rare truth and beauty of description. In touches, equally forceful and felicitous, of natural painting, he is not surpassed by Cowper or Thomson. As if in mere absence of mind he drops the brush upon the canvass, and thus produces exquisite effects. His poetry is on the whole rough and bare — a Scottish moorland — but has bright pools like eyes sprinkled on it, and little clumps of golden gorse, making the solitary place glad" Poets and Poetry of the Covenant (1894) 4-5.

Dwight Durling: "The first of the longer descriptive poems which elaborated the usual plan by adopting the month-by-month development implicit in Hurdis's Village Curate, seems to have been James Grahame's Rural Calender (1797). This idea was later carried to inordinate lengths by Mant, William Cole, Player, and Partridge, poets whose preoccupation with natural history led them to extravagances of descriptive detail. Grahame has no such faults of excessive zeal; as always, he is an unassuming poet writing with reticence and a modest but real gift for exactitude. The later formula of the 'rural calender' (sometimes so described, with implied recognition, perhaps, of Grahame's priority) is of course simply an extension of [James] Thomson's plan" Georgic Tradition in English Poetry (1935) 168.



Long ere the snow-veiled dawn, the bird of morn
His wings quick-claps, and sounds his cheering call.

[Havens (1922) 270]