1804
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Coleridge.

Laura: or an Anthology of Sonnets, (on the Petrarcan Model,) and Elegiac Quaruorzains. 5 vols. [Capel Lofft, ed.]

Capel Lofft


Capel Lofft admonishes Coleridge to scorn not the (Petrarchan) sonnet — Milton and Spenser are among its votaries. The poem is signed "Cantabrigiae: — 6 Feb. 1804." Loftt adds a note: "Vide Preface to the 3d Edition of his Poems."

Coleridge had written: "Now, if there be one species of composition more difficult and artificial than another, it is an English Sonnet on the Italian Model. Adapted to the agitation of real passion! Express momentary bursts of feeling in it! I should sooner expect to write pathetic 'Axes' or 'pour forth Extempore Eggs and Altars!' But the best confutation of such idle rules is to be found in the Sonnets of those who have observed them, in their inverted sentences, their quaint phrases, and incongruous mixture of obsolete and Spenserian words: and when, at last, the thing is toiled and hammered into fit shape, it is general racked and tortured Prose rather than any thing resembling Poetry" Poems (1803) 83-84.



Thou who hast amply quaff'd the Muse's Rill,
And bathd thy Locks in pure poetic Dews,
Canst thou disparage the PETRARCHAN Muse;
To her sweet Voice deaf, cold, fastidious still!
Examine if unprejudic'd the Will,
COLERIDGE, which can to her high Praise refuse;
And of perverseness her fair Laws accuse
Which through the enchanted ear the bosom fill.
Her various, cadenc'd, regularity
He who o'er Epic heights hath soar'd sublime,
And magic SPENSER, lov'd. The mighty Dead
Have followers, haply to Posterity
Not unendear'd. — O scorn not these, who led
In many a graceful maze the full harmonious Rhime.

[Unpaginated: No. CLI]