1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet. ["By ev'ry sweet tradition of true hearts."]

The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, Hero and Leander, Lycus the Centaur and other Poems.

Thomas Hood


A Spenserian sonnet.

Literary Gazette: "His book swarms with brilliant and striking effects: shall we add, sometimes too imaginative and full of phantasy for general readers? In our opinion, (though many excellent judges, we are aware, differ from us,) there is too great a leaning, in parts, to those dainty implicities which are admired in the productions of Lloyd, Lamb, Reynolds, and others of that school; but which we can never consider otherwise than an affectation of imitating the elder bards, such as Crashaw, and, in some of his pieces, perhaps, Michael Drayton" (11 August 1827) 513.

Q.: "The serious vein of Mr. Hood seems to us to have originated in a strong liking for, and study of, the poetry of the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles I, and the world will have little reason to complain if it produce no worse fruits than the Plea of the Midsummer Fairies" The Examiner (16 September 1827) 580.

R. H. Horne: "Mr. Hood is almost exclusively known as a comic writer, and his Plea of the Midsummer Fairies is little read in comparison; nevertheless, his songs and lyrical compositions have much sweetness, refinement, and tender melancholy, and he has written several ballads of deep, heart-probing pathos" New Spirit of the Age (1844) 2:55.

David Macbeth Moir: "With some resemblance to Hunt and Keats, Thomas Hood had a manner and style racy, original, and peculiarly his own: but it was long ere he discovered this, and he only attained excellence in it in his latter pieces. He erroneously thought, through many years, that his forte lay between the classical and the imaginative, and so wasted his fine powers on The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, on Lycus the Centaur, Hero and Leander, and similar efforts, which are vague, diffuse, passionless, and ineffective. He was thus like an itinerant street performer, who through half his lifetime has been blowing away his lungs on the Pan's-pipes, or cramping his wrist with the hurdy-gurdy, suddenly finding, to his own particular amazement, that he is fit for the concert-room, on the flageolet or the French horn" Sketches of the Poetical Literature of the Past Half-Century (1851; 1852) 250.

Walter Jerrold: "The volume is indeed a remarkable one, and goes far to justify Mary Russell Mitford's claim that Hood was the greatest poet of his age — an age between that of Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Coleridge, (the first and last of these, the only survivors, produced but little poetry after their mid-twenties) — and that of Tennyson and the Brownings. It is worth recalling, perhaps, that Hood's volume appeared in the same year as the Tennyson's Poems by Two Brothers" Thomas Hood (1907) 190.

Oliver Elton: With Hood, "and with him, and Reynolds and Darley, and the other Elizabethans striving to be reincarnate, we are back with the main stream of poetry. There had been other such experiments before, like those of Lamb or like that of Mrs. Henry Tighe, whose Spenserian Psyche may be named here as an example" Survey of English Literature 1780-1830 (1912) 2:286.



By ev'ry sweet tradition of true hearts,
Graven by Time, in love with his own lore;
By all old martyrdoms and antique smarts,
Wherein Love died to be alive the more;
Yea, by the sad impression on the shore,
Left by the drown'd Leander, to endear
That coast for ever, where the billow's roar
Moaneth for pity in the Poet's ear;
By Hero's faith, and the foreboding tear
That quench'd her brand's last twinkle in its fall;
By Sappho's leap, and the low rustling fear
That sigh'd around her flight; I swear by all,
The world shall find such pattern in my act,
As if Love's great examples still were lack't.

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