1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet written in Shakspeare.

Literary Souvenir, or Cabinet of Poetry and Romance, for 1827. [Alaric Alexander Watts, ed.]

Thomas Hood


A Spenserian sonnet reflecting on poetical fame. It is odd (or is it subtle?) that Thomas Hood would write a Spenserian sonnet in a volume of Shakespeare. Hood, never a wealthy man, contributed many poems to the annuals and gift-books.

Literary Chronicle: "The Literary Souvenir for 1827, is quite equal, if not superior, to its predecessors; a most formidable phalanx of names is marshalled in its behalf, and the graphic and typographical departments are worth of its established fame. Fresh contributors, well known to the public, have added to an already rich store, and the talents of the most eminent engravers have been put into requisition, from designs, many of them presented to the editor for exclusive privilege of being copied" 8 (11 November 1826) 710.

George Gilfillan: "As a poet, Hood belongs to the school of John Keats and Leigh Hunt, with qualities of his own, and an all but entire freedom from their peculiarities of manner and style. What strikes us, in the first place, about him, is his great variety of subject and mode of treatment. His works are in two small duodecimo volumes; and yet we find in them five or six distinct styles attempted — and attempted with success" Second Gallery of Literary Portraits (1850) 103.

David Masson: "If Hood does not rank in the first class among recent English poets, after Wordsworth and Keats, in virtue of these poems of metrical narrative and sensuous fancy, he attains a greater height, and strikes with a stronger emphasis, in another class of serious poems — those which consist in the vivid imagination, and abrupt lyric representation, of ghastly situations in physical nature and in human life. His Dream of Eugene Aram, his Haunted House, his Forge, and his Last Man, are well-known examples. There was, indeed, in Hood's genius a certain fascination for the ghastly, a certain familiarity of the fancy with ideas and objects usually kept out of mind as too horrible and too disagreeable. Toying with his pencil, he would sketch skulls, or coffins, or grinning skeletons, in antic mimicry of the attitudes of life" in Russell, Book of Authors (1860) 468.

Samuel Waddington: "The sonnets of Hood scarcely appear to have received the recognition they deserve. They have a strength of thought, and clearness of expression that should insure them a higher rank than they have yet been permitted to take" English Sonnets by Poets of the Past (1882) 235.



How bravely Autumn paints upon the sky
The gorgeous fame of Summer which is fled,
Hues of all flowers that in their ashes lie
Trophied in that fair light whereon they fed,
Tulip, and hyacinth, and sweet rose red,
Like exhalations from the leafy mould,
Look here how honour glorifies the dead,
And warms their scutcheons with a glance of gold!—
Such is the memory of poets old,
Who on Parnassus' hill have bloom'd elate;—
Now they are laid under their marbles cold,
And turn'd to clay, whereof they were create;
But God Apollo hath them all enroll'd,
And blazoned on the very clouds of fate!

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