1821
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elegy on my Tom Cat.

Blackwood's Magazine 10 (December 1821) 700.

William Maginn


Two stanzas, one Spenserian: a parody, most likely by William Maginn, of Shelley's Adonais, are appended a very unflattering review by George Croly that compares Keats and Shelley to the Della Cruscan poets of the previous generation. "Adonais" had not yet been published in England.

George Croly: "The following Poem has been sent to us as written by Percy Byshe, and we think it contains all the essence of his odoriferous, colorific, and daisy-enamoured style.... This poem strikes us as an evidence of the improvement that an appropriate subject makes in a writer's style. It is incomparably less nonsensical, verbose, and inflated, than Adonais; while it retains all its knowledge of nature, vigour of colouring, and felicity of language" p. 700.

William Maginn to William Blackwood: "get some good hand — Wilson if possible — to review Shelley's what d'ye call it about Master Glysterpipe the dead poet: & acquit yourself of the murder of that Knight of the burning pestle. It literally puts me out of all patience to hear people lamenting that wretched creature as if he could do any thing better than bray bawdily, and compound nostrums. But to be sure nobody whose ears are under half a yard long joins in the Luctus [for Daniel Donnelly, Blackwood's Magazine May 1820]. So far am I from wishing any thing about him unsaid, that I think he is fit subject for a humbug lamentation, in which the Cockneys should mourn over Keats, as the Irishmen did over Donnelly. I am afraid however it would be voted savage" 17 December 1821, in Notes and Queries (March 1956) 119.

Sara Coleridge to Aubrey de Vere: "I have read of late numberless lives of poets, philosophers, and literary men, not one that upon the whole inspired me with so much contempt as that of Keats. His effeminacy was mournful, and his deliberate epicureanism, with the light of the Gospel shining all around, even worse than mournful. I quite agree with you as to the excellence of his poetry, and that he was even, upon the whole, more highly gifted in that way than Shelley. There is even a greater intensity in his productions, a perfection in the medium of repose. Upon all that part of the subject you are as just and discriminating as you are eloquent and inwardly poetic. But when you go on to endow John Keats with all the nobler qualities of a man and a writer, and, not content with showing him to be an exquisite, sensational poet, must exalt him into a poetical seraph, why, either I am too narrow and ill-natured, or I am too simple and straightforward and truth-requiring, to accompany you to the far end of your eulogium" 4 November 1849; in Memoir and Letters (1874) 409-10.

Another parody, bearing little relationship to Shelley's original, was published in the Literary Gazette, 22 December 1821: "Adonais, Elegy to my Hat, which I took from my Study and hung up in the Lobby last week, when very ill." It is signed "Teutha."



An others came. — Desires and Adorations,
Wing'd Persuasions, and veil'd Destinies,
Splendours, and Glooms, and glimmering Incantations
Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies;
And Sorrow, with her family of Sighs;
And Pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam
Of her own dying smile instead of eyes!

ELEGY
Weep for my Tomcat! all ye Tabbies weep,
For he is gone at last! Not dead alone,
In flowery beauty sleepeth he no sleep;
Like that bewitching youth Endymion!
My love is dead, alas, as any stone,
That by some violet-clad smiling river
Weepeth too fondly! He is dead and gone,
And fair Aurora, o'er her young believer,
With fingers gloved with roses, doth make moan,
And every bud its petal green doth sever,
And Phoebus sets in night for ever, and for ever!
And others come! ye Splendours! and ye Beauties!
Ye Raptures with your robes of pearl and blue;
Ye blushing Wonders! with your scarlet shoe-ties;
Ye Horrors bold! with breasts of lily hue;
Ye Hope's stern flatterers! He would trust to you,
Whene'er he saw you with your chestnut hair,
Dropping sad daffodils; and rosepinks true!
Ye Passions proud! with lips of bright despair;
Ye Sympathies! with eyes like evening star,
When on the glowing east she rolls her crimson car.

Oh, bard-like spirit! beautiful and swift!
Sweet lover of pale night; when Luna's lamp
Shakes sapphire dew-drops through a cloudy rift;
Purple as woman's mouth, o'er ocean damp;
Thy quivering rose-tinged tongue — thy stealing tramp;
The dazzling glory of thy gold-tinged tail;
Thy whisker-waving lips, as o'er the swamp
Rises the meteor, when the year doth fail,
Like beauty in decay, all, all are flat and stale.

[p. 700]