Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 560 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

With this view, we must beg leave seriously to assure him, that the mere rhyming of the final syllable, even when accompanied by a certain number of feet; nay, although (which does not always happen) those feet should scan regularly, and have been all counted accurately upon the fingers—­ is not the whole art of poetry.  We would entreat him to believe, that a certain portion of liveliness, somewhat of fancy, is necessary to constitute a poem; and that a poem in the present day, to be read, must contain at least one thought, either in a little degree different from the ideas of former writers, or differently expressed.  We put it to his candour, whether there is anything so deserving the name of poetry in verses like the following, written in 1806, and whether, if a youth of eighteen could say anything so uninteresting to his ancestors, a youth of nineteen should publish it.

  Shades of heroes farewell! your descendant, departing
  From the seat of his ancestors, bids you, adieu! etc., etc.

Lord Byron should also have a care of attempting what the greatest poets have done before him, for comparisons (as he must have had occasion to see at his writing-master’s) are odious.  Gray’s ode on Eton College, should really have kept out the ten hobbling stanzas “on a distant view of the village and school of Harrow.” ...

However, be this as it may, we fear his translations and imitations are great favourites with Lord Byron.  We have them of all kinds, from Anacreon to Ossian; and, viewing them as school exercises, they may pass.  Only why print them after they have had their day and served their turn?...

It is a sort of privilege of poets to be egotists; but they should “use it as not abusing it”; and particularly one who piques himself (though indeed at the ripe age of nineteen) of being “an infant bard”—­("The artless Helicon I boast is youth";)—­should either not know, or not seem to know, so much about his own ancestry.  Besides a poem on the family seat of the Byrons, we have another on the self same subject, introduced with an apology, “he certainly had no intention of inserting it”; but really, “the particular request of some friends,” etc., etc.  It concludes with five stanzas on himself, “the last and youngest of a noble line.”  There is a good deal also about his maternal ancestors, in a poem on Lachin-y-gair, a mountain where he spent part of his youth, and might have learnt that a pibroch is not a bagpipe, any more than a duet means a fiddle....

But whatever judgment may be passed on the poems of this noble junior, it seems we must take them as we find them, and be content; for they are the last we shall ever have from him.  He is at best, he says, but an intruder into the groves of Parnassus; he never lived in a garret, like thorough-bred poets; and “though he once roved a careless mountaineer in the Highlands of Scotland,” he has not of late enjoyed this

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