1818
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Fragment of a Satirical Poem, entitled, Good Sort of People.

Durovernum; with other Poems.

John Chalk Claris


Four satirical Spenserians on the perfidy of the female sex: "Some have seen faults, — (Swift's Strephon saw some too) | Yet have they graced each amorous harper's song, | Have been be-goddessed and be-graced so long, | That Heaven forbid, I of their praise should stint them."

Thomas Dudley Fosbroke [who might have been describing the poems of Claris]: "Lord Byron's [poetry] is a gorgeous ore, splendid as a fairy grotto, but it is a heap, a 'rudis indigestaque moles,' and a very bad exemplar; for though it may be made a very fine thing in the hands of an Enchanter, every man is not a Conjuror, and an attempt to imitate him has often produced only a heap of rubbish, not fine things drawn out of a diamond mine of Genius, but mere earth from a gravel-pit, of a humble, every man's understanding; not wheeled in the car of a deity, a chariot of the sun; but in a homely barrow, the lowliest of the vehicle tribe. Mr. Neele avoids this, by giving us a versification, properly so called, founded on correct taste" in Gentleman's Magazine 93 (1823) i 622-23.



The things which circle round an evening fire,
The sage, by turns, will envy and despise;
They look no farther than the day's desire,
And daily life possesses in their eyes
Such interest and importance, as supplies
The cravings of all thought, and to the brim
Fills up the measure of their faculties;
They feel their being in each healthful limb,
No cheek is pale with thought, no eye with study dim.

Theirs is that better wisdom which can reap
Joy or content from every passing hour;
They smile and know not why, or if they weep,
Their tears are transient as a summer shower.
What are to them the passions, and their power?
Their hate is folly — their love idleness—
In Misery's hovel or in Pleasure's bower,
Scarce wakes the torpid heart; yet not the less
They in their petty world hope, fear, torment, and bless.

———*———*———*———*———*———

Here the spruced lover, with a fond grimace,
Turns tenderly to some sweet simpering she;
Calls up a rapture in his foolish face,
And stares on hers with apelike ecstacy.
Ah! happy pair, may ye for ever be
Happy as now! for me, I would not shake
Your trusting faith in Love's divinity;
Too happy, if the spell may never break.—
If bliss be but a dream, why should we ever wake?

Here "lovely Woman" has the homage due;
The "softer sex!" that bright and angel throng!
Some have seen faults, — (Swift's Strephon saw some too)
Yet have they graced each amorous harper's song,
Have been be-goddessed and be-graced so long,
That Heaven forbid, I of their praise should stint them,
True, I've some notions — but perhaps 'twere wrong—
So though in conversation I might hint them,
Nothing shall e'er induce the modest Muse to print them.

[pp. 163-65]