1823
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet: — Death.

London Magazine 7 (June 1823) 630.

Thomas Hood


A Spenserian sonnet of an unusually Elizabethan cast. Thomas Hood signs himself "T."

S. C. Hall: "More tender, more graceful, or more beautifully wrought lyrics are scarcely to be found in the language. They 'smack of the old Poets'; they have all the truth and nature for which the great Bards are pre-eminent; and while Mr. Hood has caught their spirit, he has not fallen into the error that has proved fatal to many of his contemporaries, — a mistaken notion that by copying the slips and blots which occasionally mar the delicate beauty of their writings, he was imitating their style and character" in The Book of Gems (1838) 254.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Thomas Hood, 1798-1845, the famous humourist, has given so graphic a portrait of himself in his Literary Reminiscences, published in Hood's Own, that it would be a dangerous attempt to take the pencil out of his hands. Suffice it to say that he was born in London, and a son of the well-known publisher of the firm Vernor and Hood, was early placed 'upon the lofty stool at lofty desk' in a merchant's counting-house, subsequently became an apprentice to the engraving business, and finally adopted the anxious life and depended upon the uncertain gains of a London man-of-letters at large. In 1821 he became sub-editor of the London Magazine, was subsequently a contributor to Punch, editor of the New Monthly Magazine, and for one year editor of The Gem" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:874.

Bryan Waller Procter: "His comic were more popular than his graver writings; but I myself prefer his serious verse, which alone calls out the greater qualities of a writer. Hood had a fine ear for metre, and exhibited marvellous ingenuity in his rhymes" Autobiographical Fragment (1877) 209-10.

George Saintsbury: "People who really care for poetry have long since made up their minds that the frail, but far from feeble, body of Thomas Hood contained within it not merely a faculty of infinite jest, but a really poetic soul. It is certainly not from the prosodic side that any demur will be made to this" History of English Prosody (1906-10) 3:142.



It is not death, that some time in a sigh
This eloquent breath shall take its speechless flight;
That some time the live stars, which now reply
In sunlight to the sun, shall set in night;
That this warm conscious flesh shall perish quite,
And all life's ruddy springs forget to flow;—
That verse shall cease, and the immortal spright
Be lapp'd in alien clay, and laid below:—
It is not death to know this, but to know
That pious thoughts, which visit at new graves,
In tender pilgrimage will cease to go
So duly and so oft; and when grass waves
Over the past-away, there may be then
No resurrections in the minds of men!

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