Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
the poet has entitled, “Moods of my own Mind.” ...  We have then a rapturous mystical ode to the Cuckoo; in which the author, striving after force and originality, produces nothing but absurdity ... after this there is an address to a butterfly....  We come next to a long story of a “Blind Highland Boy,” who lived near an arm of the sea, and had taken a most unnatural desire to venture on that perilous element.  His mother did all she could to prevent him; but one morning, when the good woman was out of the way, he got into a vessel of his own, and pushed out from the shore.

  In such a vessel ne’er before
  Did human creature leave the shore.  II, p. 72.

And then we are told, that if the sea should get rough, “a beehive would be ship as safe.”  “But say, what was it?” a poetical interlocutor is made to exclaim most naturally; and here followeth the answer, upon which all the pathos and interest of the story depend.

  A HOUSEHOLD TUB, like one of those
  Which women use to wash their clothes!!  II, p. 72.

This, it will be admitted, is carrying the matter as far as it will go; nor is there anything,—­down to the wiping of shoes or the evisceration of chickens, which may not be introduced in poetry, if this is tolerated....

Afterwards come some stanzas about an echo repeating a cuckoo’s voice....  Then we have Elegiac stanzas “to the spade of a friend,” beginning—­

  Spade! with which Wilkinson hath till’d his lands.

But too dull to be quoted any further.

After this there is a minstrel’s song, on the Restoration of Lord Clifford the Shepherd, which is in a very different strain of poetry; and then the volume is wound up with an “Ode,” with no other title but the motto Paulo majora canamus.  This is, beyond all doubt, the most illegible and unintelligible part of the publication.  We can pretend to no analysis or explanation of it....

We have thus gone through this publication, with a view to enable our readers to determine, whether the author of these verses which have now been exhibited, is entitled to claim the honours of an improver or restorer of our poetry, and to found a new school to supersede or new-model all our maxims on the subject.  If we were to stop here, we do not think that Mr. Wordsworth, or his admirers, would have any reason to complain; for what we have now quoted is undeniably the most peculiar and characteristic part of his publication, and must be defended and applauded if the merit or originality of his system is to be seriously maintained.  In our opinion, however, the demerit of that system cannot be fairly appreciated, until it be shown, that the author of the bad verses which we have already extracted, can write good verses when he pleases; and that, in point of fact, he does always write good verses, when, by any account, he is led to abandon his system, and to transgress the laws of that school which he would fain establish on the ruin of all existing authority.

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