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Cornell University Library 
PR 509.L8R32 

English lyrical poetry from Us origins 

3 1924 013 265 883 

Cornell University 

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Lyrical Poetry 



Assistant Professor of English at Yale College 

New Haven : Yale University Press 

London: Henivy Frowde 

Oxford University Press 


Copyright, 1918 


Yale University Press 

First printed May, 1912. 1000 copies 



There is at present no history of English Lyrical Poetry ; 
it is with the idea of providing one that this volume is pub- 
lished. While it offers a survey of the whole field, it does not 
include every English writer of lyrics ; especially in the last 
three chapters have the exigencies of limited space compelled 
the omission of several important authors. It has been 
necessary to limit further the scope of this volume by reduc- 
ing to a minimum, or neglecting entirely, all biographical 
details. With Burns, Moore, Blunt, Stevenson, and David- 
son as chief exceptions, Irish and Scottish writers of lyrics 
have not been considered. 

This book represents, in part only, a series of sixty lec- 
tures delivered annually since 1899 to members of the Senior 
Class at Yale College. The writer trusts that it may not 
only prove of interest to lovers of poetry, but that it may 
be of use in college courses. 

To thank my pupils and friends for much valuable sug- 
gestion and criticism is an exceedingly pleasant obligation. 
I am especially indebted to my colleagues, Professors W. L. 
Cross, F. M. Warren, F. B. Luquiens, H. N. MacCracken, 
and Mr. C. F. Tucker Brooke who has aided me, most oppor- 
tunely, in the thankless task of reading final proof sheets 
and in preparing the index. To Professor Henry A. Beers, 
who proposed this work and who has assisted me in countless 
ways, I wish to express my heartiest appreciation and 


E. B. R. 

Connecticut Hall, Yale College. 


Chapter One. The Lyric defined. The Old English 
Lyric ..... 

Chapter Two. The Middle English Lyric . 

Chapter Three. The Tudor Lyric 

Chapter Four. The Elizabethan Lyric 

Chapter Five. The Jacobean and Caroline Lyric . 

Chapter Six. The Lyric from the Restoration to the 

death of Pope 

Chapter Seven. The Lyric of the Transition 

Chapter Eight. The Lyric of the Nineteenth Century 
Part I . . . . 

Chapter Nine. The Lyric of the Nineteenth Century 
Part II ... . 

Chapter Ten. The Lyric of To-day 

Bibliography ....... 

Index ........ 











The Lyric Defined 

In Milton's Utopian scheme of education expounded in 
his letter to Hartlib, it is provided that pupils be taught 
"that sublime art which in Aristotle's poetics, in Horace, 
and the Italian commentaries of Castelvetro, Tasso, Maz- 
zoni, and others, teaches what the laws are of a true epic 
poem, what of a dramatic, what of a lyric." It will be 
remembered that these students, not yet arrived at man- 
hood, were no common spirits ; in addition to Greek, 
Latin, and Italian, they had mastered the Hebrew tongue 
"whereto it would be no impossibility to add the Chaldee 
and the Syrian dialect" ; yet even such disciplined minds 
would find it impossible to learn from these critics and 
commentators the "laws of a true lyric." At the very 
beginning of our study, when we must establish at least 
a working definition, it is natural to turn to the father 
of literary criticism. We find that Aristotle does not con- 
cern himself with this form of poetry, for with the excep- 
tion of three slight references to the writing of dithyrambs 
and nomes (hymns and chants sung to musical accompani- 
ment in the worship of Bacchus and Apollo) he leaves 
the whole subject out of consideration: 

" Nor Aristotle, with all his lore. 
Ne'er told of the properties of thy kind."'^ 

^Poetics, I, ii, xiii; II, vi. "Aristotle passes over the whole of lyric 
poetry with the most scanty notice, partly, perhaps, because it was little 
composed in his day, but still more because its marked personal bearing 
restricted the universal element which he considered necessary to true 
poetry." E. S. Bouchier, Aristotle's Poetics, Oxford, 1908, p. 1, note. 
S. H. Butcher, Harvard Lectures on Oreek Subjects, Boston, 1904, p. 
198, remarks that Aristotle "passed over with deliberate neglect (for 


One thing at least we may gather from Aristotle and the 
critics who followed him: poetry is to be considered under 
the threefold classification of the epic, the drama, and the 
song (whether it be the voice of a lone singer or of a 
chorus) and song is designated by the term "lyric." 
Modern criticism has accepted this classification, for, as 
Arnold observed, the tact of the Greeks in matters of this 
kind was infallible and their categories of epic, dramatic, 
and lyric have a natural propriety. Considering these 
three forms of poetry, we find that the nature of the epic 
and of the drama is essentially unchanged since Aristotle's 
day and it is a simple matter to distinguish them as types 
in a few phrases. The lyric has greatly enlarged its 
scope so that we can not define it concisely and at the same 
time accurately. In the classification of literary types, hard 
and fast lines rarely can be drawn, for the different genres 
tend to approach and join each other. Not only is the 
lyric spirit manifest in both epic and drama — ^in Milton's 
"Hail, holy Light," in Juhet's "Wilt thou be gone.? it is 
not yet near day :" — ^but something of the epic and of the 
drama may enter into the lyric ; we have "narrative" 

such it would seem to be) the great lyrical poetry of Greece — Simonides, 
Pindar, Sappho, Alcasus, to none of whom does he make even faint 

allusion Was it, perhaps, that lyrical poetry interested him only 

as a rudimentary art — uttering itself in the form of improvised chants 
and dithyrambic hymns — which marked a stage in the development of 
the drama? .... May it not also be that in the personal outbursts of 
lyrical song, in the self-abandonment, the rush of feeling of Sappho or 
Alcaeus, he missed the characteristic Hellenic self-restraint?" 

1 The Greek term for lyric poetry was filXoi or lieXucij iroi'ijiris. "Les 
Grecs rfeervaient le nom de po6sie lyrique k la chanson d'une part, et de 
I'autre k la grande po^sie monodique et chorale, c'est k dire, k des formes 
de pofeie plus complMement et plus richement musicale. L'fil6gie et 
riambe 6taient d'une structure trop simple pour admettre une m^lodie 
vari6e." A. and M. Croiset, Histoire de la literature grecque, Paris, 
1898, t. II, p. 43; see also "Melos" in Pauly's Beal-Encyclopddie der 
Class. Alter.; E. Nageotte, Histoire de la poMe lyrique grecque, Paris, 


lyrics and what Browning has called "dramatic" lyrics. 
Distinctions are still more confused because the metrical 
differences that once separated these three kinds of poetry 
— in Greek literature, for example — have largely dis- 
appeared, and we frequently use the same verse form for both 
narrative and lyric poetry. Philip Ayres, a mediocre poet 
and translator, and one of the first to entitle his poems 
lyrics, thought it necessary to defend his use of the iambic 
pentameter. "I have herein followed the modem Italian, 
Spanish, and French poets, who always call Lyrics all such 
Sonnets, and other small poems, which are proper to be set 
to music, without restraining themselves to any particular 
length of verse. And our grand Master of Lyrics, even 
Horace himself, has sometimes inserted the Heroic amongst 
his."^ To-day the lyric poet may employ any metre, and 
in the Princess Tennyson uses the same line for the narra- 
tive and the song: 

" Now while I sang, and maiden-like as far 
As I could ape their treble, did I sing: 

' Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love. 
Delaying as the tender ash delays 
To clothe herself, when all the woods are green?' " 

It is then no easy matter to arrive at an adequate descrip- 
tion of the lyric; still we must attempt one, and for its first 
clause we follow the ancient critics in the simple statement 
that a lyric is a song. Before we add to this, it is impor- 
tant to consider for a moment the fascinating subject of 
song's antiquity. 

As we become more civilized, we become more desirous of 
discovering the beginnings of our civilization. The man of 
science, the historian, and the poet have been attracted by 
this subject, and aided by the researches of ethnology and 
psychology, the philosopher and the student of hterature 

i Lyric Poems, London, 1687. 


have discussed vigorously the question of the earliest mani- 
festation of poetry/ On such a theme there must be theory 
and counter-theory, yet there is a growing disposition to 
accept the statement that the instinct of rhythm, which is 
at the basis of all poetry, is as closely bound up with man's 
intelligence as is his perception of light and darkness. 
Because our own sense of rhythm has become so highly 
developed, we do not consider it a primitive instinct. Apart 
from the conclusions of ethnology, in themselves a sufficient 
proof, there are many reasons for regarding it as old as the 
mind of man. All passions — love, anger, grief — of them- 
selves seek rhythmic utterance, and whatever our conception 
of primitive man, we admit that he was governed by the 
elemental feelings. From another viewpoint, Biicher has' 
clearly proved that rhythm is bound up with all toil and 
play, which is merely another way of stating that a sense 
of rhythm is as old as the human race.^ 

The poetry which was the natural product of this 
rhythmic feeling was largely communal — a song or chant 
coming from the dancing, toiling, fighting throng or clan. 
With our intense individualism, the result of centuries of 
development, we are prone to reconstruct the antique world 
after the likeness of our own. Because with us poetry has 
become the art of a chosen few, we think of the primitive 
poet in terms of Gray's Bard; we picture him seated on 
some lofty rock, singing to the awed listeners below: 

" With haggard eyes the poet stood ; 
(Loose his beard and hoary hair 
Streamed, like a meteor, to the troubled air) 
And with a master's hand and prophet's fire. 
Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre," 

1 This whole matter has been adequately treated by Professor F. B. 
Gummere in The Beginnings of Poetry, N. Y., 1901. The footnotes of 
this volume furnish an excellent bibliography of the entire subject. 

2 K. W. Biicher, Arbeit und Rhytkmus, Leipzig, 1896. 


but so far as the beginnings of poetry are concerned, modern 
critics have allowed this singer 

" Deep in the roaring tide to plunge to endless night." 

The first poets were but members of the singing, dancing 
throng, emerging for a moment to lead or improvise, then 
sinking back into the clan.' Aristotle, remarks Professor 
Gummere, is quite in agreement with the conclusions of 
psychology and sociology when he derives tragedy and 
comedy from the clan song. Thus the lyric, the chorus, is 
the oldest of all poetic forms; as old as self-consciousness, 
it hes at the very heart of the race and this consideration 
lends to our study a deeper interest. Our delight in the 
music of an orchestra or in the colors of stained glass is 
not lessened when we reflect that primitive man knew noth- 
ing of this, yet when we hear or read a song, expressing 
simply some of the great emotions of life, there comes a new 
significance as we catch in it the echo of a song old as 
humanity.^ A man may wonder at the stars without a 
thought of the innumerable years through which they have 
shone, but if for one brief moment such an idea has never 
entered his mind, he has never wholly seen them. 

Returning now to our definition, we have stated that to 
the Greeks a lyric was a song. We must carefully avoid 

1 H. M. Posnett, Comparative Literature, London, 1886, chap, ii, Early 
Choral Song. Cf. Gummere, op. cit., p. 92. "As the savage laureate 
slips from the singing, dancing crowd, which turns audience for the 
nonce, and gives his short improvisation, only to yield to the refrain of 
the chorus, so the actual habit of individual composition and performance 
has sprung from the choral composition and performance." See also 
Posnett, pp. 152-4 for a destructive criticism of Hugo's theory of the 
origin of the lyric set forth in the preface to Cromwell. 

2 "Thus, looking on choral songs of war or peace as the primary 
sources from which literature has everywhere developed, we may accept 
the vulgar canon that aU literature begins in song; but it is song widely 
differing in nature and in impersonal authorship from any to which 
modem art is accustomed." Posnett, p. 127. 


giving to that word its modem, restricted meaning, for 
with us a song generally implies a short poem, limited to 
a small number of simple metres and depending for its 
efFectiveness largely, sometimes entirely, upon the value of 
its musical accompaniment. With the Greeks, song was 
an all-embracing term ; it included the crooning of the nurse 
to the child, the half sung chant of the mower or sailor 
(forms of the lyric which did not enter into literature), the 
formal ode sung by the poet, and the great chorals, highly 
wrought in rhythm and diction, sung by the dancing chorus. 
The elegy was not considered a lyric, though modern his- 
torians of Greek literature class it as such. It is out of our 
province to characterize further the Greek lyric; its 
extraordinary richness both of form and content must 
always be borne in mind. No two odes of Pindar are pre- 
cisely alike in their construction; in general, the Greek 
lyric poets disdained to repeat the measures of their 
contemporaries and even the ones they themselves had 
employed.^ We must therefore modify materially our con- 
ception of a song and in the study of the English lyric 
we include elegies, epithalamia, and odes, forms which we 
rarely associate with music. 

The modern song differs from the Greek lyric in its 
simpler construction and in its greater dependence upon 
music. When our music is married to immortal verse, it 
becomes the better half. It is true that the most gifted 
composers seek to reflect and interpret the mood of a poem, 
yet we are prone to regard the musician's rather than the 
writer's inspiration as the more important element in a song. 
Too often the musician is unwilling to subordinate himself, 
and in many a song the words are to be considered merely 
as a starting point and we may neglect them entirely. In 
all Greek lyrics, even in the choral odes, music was but the 

1 A. Croiset, La Poisie de Pindare et les lois du lyrisme grec, Paris, 
1880, p. 59. 


handmaid of verse, for it was the poet himself who composed 
the accompaniment. Euripides was censured because 
lophon, son of Sophocles, had assisted him in the musical 
setting for some of his dramas.* 

The very nature of Greek music made verse all important. 
The flute and the cithera, the poet's instrument, furnished 
a monotonous, colorless background for the words, and in 
the song, it was the poet rather than the composer who 
charmed.^ The odes of Pindar, the lyrics of Sappho and 
Alcasus produced their effect upon Roman literature with- 
out their musical accompaniment, and we may appreciate 
the Greek lyric in utter ignorance of Greek music precisely 
as we enjoy reading the Irish Melodies, despite Moore's 
protest that they are of small value without their musical 

" When, round the bowl of vanished years 

We talkj with joyous seeming, — 
With smiles that might as well be tears, 

So faintj so sad their beaming; 
While memory brings us back again 

Each early tie that twined us," — 

Who remembers that these lines were set to the Hvely air of 
"The Girl I Left behind Me".? 

We commenced our definition with the statement that the 
lyric is a song; to this we now add, "or any poem written 
in a form or style considered lyrical by the Greeks." Thus 
Gray's Progress of Poesy is a lyric, not because of its song 
quality, but because it imitates a Greek lyric form. 

We have dwelt thus far with the Greek conception of a 
lyric because we have inherited it; but modem feeling seeks 
in verse new methods of expression, and we must accord- 

1 Butcher, Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Arts, London, 1902, 
p. 140. 

2 Crolset, Pindare, pp. 73 ff. 


ingly enlarge our definition. Even in Greece, music, once the 
inseparable companion of the lyric, became divorced from 
it. The musician constantly strove for freer utterance; 
only when music existed for its own sake and not as the set- 
ting for a poem could it develop as an art. Pratinas, the 
rival of Aeschylus in the satiric drama, found it necessary 
to chide the flutes because they were no longer content to be 
subservient to the verse: "The flute must follow; it is but a 
servant." On the other hand, the poet found that music 
was not necessary for the lyric since the melody of his words 
could surpass the sound of the flute or cithera. Thus the 
formal musical element was no longer the distinguishing 
mark of the lyric, though it never forgot nor can forget its 
origin in song. The undergraduate may sing Integer vitce 
scelerisque purus; it is doubtful whether Horace did. 

Though the lyric became divorced from music, its inner 
nature remained unchanged. It was not in the epic or in 
the drama but in the lyric that the Greek or Latin poet 
sang of his own thoughts and emotions, for the lyric 
was personal, the other forms impersonal. The epic and 
dramatic writers disappeared behind their heroes, but even 
in the greater lyrics, the triumphal odes, it is Pindar himself 
who addresses the victor, and the chorus is but his echo.^ In 
an even more marked degree, subjectivity is a determining 
characteristic, though not the only one, of the modern lyric. 
"Lyric poetry is the expression by the poet of his own feel- 
ings," is Ruskin's brief statement, while the historian of 
Greek literature, after remarking that the term lyric has 
changed its meaning since classic times, continues : "Pure 
emotion, unfettered imagination, thought freed from the 
care of action or of drawing conclusions, this is the real 
substance of the lyric."^ Brunetiere, who emphasizes the sub- 
jective element, defines lyric poetry as the expression of the 

1 Croiset, Pindare, pp. 99-102. 

2 Croiset, Histoire de la littirnture grecque, t. II, p. 201. 


poet's personal feelings in rhythms corresponding to his 
emotions.^ So important does he consider the revelation of 
the writer's personality, that he would include Rabelais in 
a study of French lyrical poetry because he was one of the 
first writers to break with the impersonal manner of the 
Middle Ages. . 

A little reflection will show that the subjective element 
alone does not make a poem a lyric, and that we must draw 
a clear distinction between lyrical feeling and lyrical form. 
Samson Agonistes is profoundly subjective; few of Words- 
worth's poems reveal his personality more plainly than 
does Tintern Abbey, yet these are not lyrics. Palgrave 
made a necessary distinction when he pointed out that to 
call a poem lyrical implies essentially that it turn on some 
single thought, feeling, or situation ; in other words, the 
modern lyric must be a short, musical expression of sub- 
jective feeling. The sonnet — frequently set to music in 
Italy of the Renaissance and Elizabethan England — gen- 
erally fulfills these conditions ; even when a sonnet is descrip- 
tive or impersonal it often may be considered a lyric because 
of its music. 

This musical element of the modern lyric is to be found in 
the melody of rhyme. Certainly the unrhymed lyric, 
CoUins's Ode to Evening is a good instance, may possess a 
rare and subtle music, yet speaking broadly, rhyme renders 
emphatic the music of verse. Turning to the other part of 
our statement, that the lyric is a short expression of subjec- 
tive feeling, it will be found that poems of considerable length 
are rarely lyrical throughout; they may have lyrical mo- 
ments, but they tend to become didactic, descriptive, or nar- 
rative. As a critic has well said, "The lyric is not only 
marked by the coloring of human passion, but by beauty and 
rapidity of movement," and this arises from its very nature. 

1 F. Brunetifere, L'£volution de la po^sie lyrique en France au dix- 
neuvUme siicle, Paris, 1894, t. I, p. 154. 


Let us take the testimony of a poet whose genius was lyrical. 
In an interesting lecture entitled The Poetic Theory, Poe 
contends that there is no such thing as a long poem. He uses 
his critical terms loosely and evidently means by poetry, 
lyric verse; his remarks, accordingly, are most pertinent. 
A poem, he states, deserves its title only insomuch as it 
excites by elevating the soul; but through psychical neces- 
sity, that degree of excitement which is necessary to con- 
stitute a true poem cannot be sustained throughout in a 
composition of any length. This statement is too dogmatic, 
yet underlying it is a sound principle. 

We may now review our completed definition. All songs ; 
all poems following classic lyric forms ; all short poems 
expressing the writer's moods and feelings in a rhythm that 
suggests music, are to be considered lyrics. This threefold 
statement is not free from ambiguity and does not remove 
all the difficulties that arise in determining whether or not 
a given poem is to be considered a lyric. For centuries the 
ballads were sung, yet as a class they are riojLspngs but 
narrative poems, little epics. 

" The king sits in Dumferling toune. 
Drinking the blude-red wine, 
■ O whar will I get guid sailor. 
To sail this schip of mine?' " 

is not a lyric ; on the other hand, the more modem ballad of 
Fair Helen is of the very essence of lyric verse: 

" I wish I were where Helen lies; 
Night and day on me she cries ; 
O that I were where Helen lies 
On fair Kirconnell lea !" 

Despite such an exception, we must distinguish with Ritson 
between "songs of sentiment, expression or even descrip- 


tion" which are lyrics, and "mere narrative compositions, 
which we now denominate ballads."^ Again, coming to the 
third part of our definition, it is often a question whether 
the subjective element in a poem predominates sufficiently 
over the descriptive or didactic element to clearly establish 
it a lyric. Palgrave includes in his Golden Treasury of 
Songs and Lyrics Milton's Penseroso and L'Allegro, yet does 
not the descriptive element in them outweigh the purely 
lyrical, despite the fact that they have a song quality — 
Handel has given to them a characteristic setting — and that 
II Penseroso in a measure is a picture of Milton himself? 
There wiU always be poems on the border fine of the lyric, 
yet in most cases our definition wiU determine what poems 
may properly come within our field of study. 

We cannot dwell longer on critical distinctions, important 
as they may be, for our lyric poetry awaits us. There is, 
however, an objection sometimes raised against lyric verse 
which it is well to meet at the very beginning of our study. 
The lyric poet, we are told, enjoys not an absolute but a 
relative vision, for he is too fascinated by his own thoughts 
and feelings to have a deep sympathy with the life about 
him. Like a bird whose eyes have been put out, he sings 
because he is blind. The writers of lyrics are a lesser clan, 
living down the slopes of Parnassus ; the epic and dramatic 
poets are the great masters of verse. In answer to this we 
may urge that the lyric stiU has something of the epic 
(witness the Miltonic sweep of Meredith's sonnet, Lucifer in 
Starlight) and of the drama, for it may possess a certain 
Odysseyan greatness in its portrayal of the wanderings of 
a soul, and the intensity of a Greek tragedy in its picture 
of a man struggling alone against his fate. But avoiding 
comparisons with other forms of verse, we may remind the 

1 J. Ritson, A Select Collection of English Songs, 2d edition, London, 
1813. A Historical Essay on the Origin and Progress of National Song, 
p. i, note. 


reader that the greatest study in life, and in literature, 
which is but a manifestation of life, is the study of person- 
ality. Even when we talk of race problems and of national 
movements, our eyes are unconsciously fixed on the man, the 
leader. The lyric poet, whether he be prince or peasant, 
reveals himself to us ; in Browning's phrase, he is "unashamed 
of soul," and standing closer to us than any other writer, 
we know him at once. His expression of emotion is all the 
more poignant because he makes us his confidants. In the 
epic there are pages of description or narration before the 
crisis is reached ; in the drama the characters must be intro- 
duced and delineated, but in the lyric we find ourselves 
instantly at the heart of the whole matter, and a single 
phrase can reveal the poet's world as a sudden flash of 
lightning illumines the landscape. 

There is in the finest lyrics that highest quality of art — a 
charm that defies analysis. We may put our finger on the 
great scene that makes a tragedy immortal, but many a 
lyric lives not for what it says but for what it suggests. 
There are certain general rules which the epic and the drama 
observe ; the lyric is above any formula that may be devised. 
Many a dramatist has explained in detail how he wro'te his 
play, from the selection of the theme to the last act ; many 
a lyric poet has testified that he cannot tell how or why he 
wrote a certain song — it simply "came to him." The lyric 
spirit is like Blake's spirit of love: 

" the gentle wind doth move 
Silently, invisibly." 

To sing with the infinite harmonies of rhythm and the melo- 
dies of rhyme ; to move by dim suggestion or to appeal with 
overpowering passion directly to the feelings ; to present 
thoughts suffused with emotion or ideas that concern the 
reason chiefly; to summon before the reader's mind by the 


"magic incantation of a verse" exquisite colors and forms; 
to touch the memory and stir the imagination — this is but 
a faint description of the art of the lyric poet. 

As we began this discussion of the lyric by pointing out 
that it is the oldest of poetic forms, we may end it with the 
assertion that it is the most enduring. The verse epic, sup- 
planted by the novel, no longer exists ; the poetic drama, at 
least in English-speaking countries, has but little vitality, 
for it is written under the shadow of the Elizabethans and 
gives us not life but the faint echo of a distant age. The 
lyric springs from life itself and so long as man thinks and 
feels, it can never disappear. 


The Old English Lyric 

We have stated that the lyric is the oldest of all poetic 
forms and accordingly we must look for it in the very begin- 
nings of our literature. The Roman historian, noting the 
traits of our Germanic forefathers, did not fail to mention 
their love of song. Whether or not Tacitus idealized the Ger- 
mans to shame his own countrymen, there is no reason 
to suspect that he departed from strict accuracy when he 
speaks of their songs in praise of their divinities, or of what 
he calls "the well known songs" sung to inflame the warriors' 
courage as they rush into battle.^ If their religious songs 
were chiefly narrative poems relating the adventures and 
exploits of their gods, certainly we may assume that these 
battle hymns were more than a recital of old heroic deeds, 
and that they were essentially lyrical, for the chant of a 
tribe may be as true a lyric as the measured strophes of a 
Greek chorus. There were no scribes to take down these 

1 Germania, ii-iii. 


poems; we have only the mention of Tacitus to recall the 
Germanic lays of Arminius/ only a brief reference in the 
sixth century history of the Goths by Jordanes to remind us 
of the funeral songs composed for the death of Attila. Such 
passages, tantalizing in the extreme, are yet sufficient proof 
that our race, before conquering Britain, had a well- 
developed lyric tradition. If Tacitus writes of the battle 
choruses, the Northern sagas show us that bards and min- 
strels were familiar figures, and that kings themselves, in 
their last moments, sang defiance to their enemies. In the 
Old Lay of Atli (Attila), when Gunnar, king of the Goths, 
is taken prisoner and cast alive into a pit filled with deadly 
serpents, he meets his end like a hero. "But Gunnar, alone 
there, in his wrath smote the harp with his hands ; the strings 
rang out."^ 

It is not surprising that our oldest English poem — so 
scholars have entitled it — should deal with a scop or singer. 
The poem of Widsith, or the Far-Wanderer, purports to be 
an account by a much travelled bard of the many peoples he 
has visited and of the rewards he has received from their 
chieftains and kings. A single glance at his bare catalogue 
of princes and nations is sufficient to show that the wander- 
ings of this Germanic Odysseus belong to the realms of 
fiction ; originally the poem may have recounted the travels 
of a famous singer, but in its present form, with its numerous 
interpolations, it presents to us but a purely mythical per- 
sonage. Critics believe that certain parts of Widsith were 
written before the Angles and Saxons had left their old home, 
and this narrative poem offers accordingly one more proof 
that our love of song is an ancient heritage. Widsith tells 
us that he was received by the most famous kings ; they 
dehghted in him and gave him presents — rings of gold — 

1 Annales, II, 88. 

2 F. B. Gummere, Germanic Origins, N. Y., 1893, pp. 331-232. 


when he "with clear voice raised the song, loud to the 

The oldest English lyric, and the only poem in Old English 
written in strophic form with a refrain, is Dear's Lament. 
Like Widsith, Deor is a scop, but he has had nothing of Wid- 
sith's good fortune, for he has been superseded in his lord's 
favor by a rival singer — a situation which finds a parallel 
in Shakespeare's sonnets. Deor laments his sad fate and to 
comfort himself he recalls the woes that others have suffered 
and overcome. The song has but forty-two lines ; the con- 
cluding strophe, in the Old English, is as follows : 

JJaet ic bi me sylfum secgan wille, 
paet ic hwile waes Heodeninga scop, 
dryhtne dyre : me waes Deor noma. 
Ahte ic fela wlntra folgaS tilne, 
holdne hlaford, o]> Jjset Heorrenda nu, 
leoScraeftig monn londryht gepah, 
paet me eorla hleo aer gesealde. 

fses ofereode, pisses swa maeg!" 

In Professor Gummere's translation this strophe runs: 

" To say of myself the story now, 
I was singer erewhile to sons-of-Heoden, 
dear to my master, Deor was my name. 
Long were the winters my lord was kind; 
I was happy with clansmen; till Heorrenda now 
by grace of his lays has gained the land 
which the haven-of-heroes erewhile gave me. 
That he surmounted: so this may I!"^ 

1 For the text of Widsith and the old English lyrics hereafter men- 
tioned, see R. P. Wiilcker-C. W. M. Grein, Bibliothek der angel- 
sdchsischen Poesie, Kassel, 1883, Bd. I. For translations, see Cook and 
Tinker, Select Translations from Old English Poetry, Boston, 1902. See 
also the discussion of Widsith in F. B. Gummere's The Oldest English 
Epic, N. Y., 1909, p. 188 ff. 

2 Wulcker-Grein, Bd. I, p. 280. 

3 See Professor Gummere's interesting comments on this poem, The 
Oldest English Epic, pp. 1T8 ff. 


and in Professor Lewis's free adaptation : 

" 1, Deor of the Heodenings, was dear to my good lord^ 
And did long minstrel service, nor missed my due reward ; 
Till now this mightier minstrel thrusts my lord and me apart, 
And wins my lands and living with the wiles of his high art. 
He has his day ; he overcame ; but peace ! break not, my heart !"^ 

It is significant that our first lyric should be the song of a 
scop; it is equally significant that this lyric is a lament. The 
tragedy of life was ever present in the thoughts of our fore- 
fathers. They had been reared amid the forests and marshes 
that were so repellent to the mind of Tacitus : "Quis .... 
Germaniam peteret, informem terris, asperam caslo, tristem 
cultu aspectuque, nisi si patria sit.'"'^ The land that bred 
them was cold and gloomy, and in their verse we hear the 
rush of the storm. Desperate fighters, they saw ever the 
struggle of life. For such men poetry must have not charm 
but strength, not j oy but melancholy ; the few poems that 
approach the lyric form are all elegiac. The Seafarer, the 
finest of the shorter Old English poems, tells of weary hours 
and hard days 

" Mid the terrible rolling of waves, habitations of sorrow. 
Benumbed by the cold, oft the comfortless night-watch hath 

held me 
At the prow of my craft as it tossed about under the cliffs." 

Yet the singer is impelled by the wanderlust, 

" he has always a longing, a sea-faring passion 
For what the Lord God shall bestow, be it honor or death. 
No heart for the harp has he, nor for acceptance of treasure, 
No pleasure has he in a wife, no delight in the world. 
Nor in aught save the roll of the billows; but always a longing, 
A yearning uneasiness, hastens him on to the sea."^ 

1 Cook and Tinker, p. 60. 

2 Germania, II. 

3 Cook and Tinker, pp. 45-46. 


In the Wanderer, the singer, far from his home and kins- 
men, dreams of happier days in the banqueting hall of his 
lord. He awakens, and the contrast between his old life and 
his present outcast state is most poignantly drawn: 

" But the friendless man awakeSj and he sees the yellow waves. 
And the sea-birds dip to the sea, and broaden their wings to the 

And he sees the dreary rime, and the snow commingled with 

O, then, are the wounds of his heart the sorer much for this. 
The grief for the loved and lost made new by the dream of old 


The poem ends in a lament for the world; a glory has 
departed from the earth ; the horse and rider have been over- 
thrown ; the strength of princes has vanished ; and Wyrd, or 
Fate, has brought to destruction the towers and banquet 

In the Banished Wife's Complaint we have the lyrical 
monologue of a forsaken woman whose husband has crossed 
the sea, leaving her to be imprisoned in a cave. In her 
wretchedness she laments her lot, for to be banished from the 
family or clan was the hardest of all fates. Desdemona 
cries, "0, banish me, my lord, but kill me not," but to the 
Anglo-Saxon, death was preferable to exile.^ 

Of these four poems, Deor is the one pure lyric; the 
descriptive, narrative, and morahzing passages in the other 
three bring them on the border line of lyric verse. This is 
indeed but a small group to represent our earliest songs; 
undoubtedly they are typical of a large body of lyric poems 
that have completely disappeared, for Old English poetry is 
full of allusions to songs and singers. In Beowulf, the war- 
riors in the banqueting hall delight in the songs of the scop 

1 P. S3. 

2 P. 64. Cf. Oermanic Origins, pp. 169 ff. 


and down to the Norman conquest harp and song moved 
and charmed our ancestors. When the Angles and Saxons 
turned to Christianity, when from "wolves and sea-dogs," as 
Gildas called them, they became the leaders in education, 
attracting students from all Europe to Northumbria, they 
still retained, a legacy from the past, the lyric mood. In 
the time of Casdmon (d. 680) it was stiU the custom for the 
guests at a feast to sing in turn. Because he could not sing, 
Csedmon felt so disgraced that "he would, as soon as he saw 
the harp coming anywhere near him, jump up from the table 
in the midst of the banqueting, leave the place, and make the 
best of his way home."'^ The fragment of Csedmon's hymn 
which Bede preserves is the oldest lyric composed in Eng- 
land that can be approximately dated.^ Warriors, we are 
told by Cynewulf, still listened to minstrels who could play 
loudly upon the harp.' Asser informs us that Alfred (d. 
901) "was an attentive listener to Saxon poems which he 
often heard recited and being apt at learning, kept them 
in his memory." As a boy, he learned by heart a whole book 
of Saxon verse which his mother had showed to him, and when 
king, he saw to it that his sons carefully learned Saxon books, 
"especially Saxon poems."* Surely some of these were lyrics. 
We could well have spared many pages of Alfred's transla- 
tions for a few of these poems which so stirred him. To come 
within a century of the Conquest, Dunstan (d. 988) was not 
only an accomplished musician, a skillful player on the harp, 
but in his youth his enemies asserted that he learned with the 
greatest zeal "Gentilitatis vanissima carmina" — the vainest 
songs of the heathen.^ King Cnut was a poet, and one of 

1 Bede relates this. See Cook and Tinker, p. 180. 

2 P. 76. 

3 A. S. Cook, The Christ of Cynewulf, Boston, 1900, 11. 666-670. 

4 A. S. Cook, Asser' s Life of King Alfred, Boston, 1906, chap. 22-23, 

5 William Stubbs, Memorials of St. Dunstan, London, 1874, p. 11. 


his songs was long sung by the people. Only the first stanza 
remains : 

" Marie sungen the muneches binnen Ely, (monks) 
Tha Cnut ching raw thar by. 

" Roweth, cnihtes, noar the land, 
And here we thes muneches sang."^ 

These all too brief indications of the existence of the Old 
English lyric give us no hints of its literary value; we can 
build no theories on these stray lines. Our earliest lyrics 
disappeared, not because they were valueless but because 
the clergy, who were the scribes, considered the "vain songs 
of the heathen" unworthy of remembrance; better a line of 
a sermon or a word of scripture than pages of lyrics of 
fight and feasting. Bede was called "learned in our songs" 
yet they found no place in his writings. The religious poetry 
of this age was narrative and didactic rather than lyrical; 
the first part of Cynewulf's Christ is based upon a series of 
antiphons and is accordingly lyrical in its feeling, yet the 
poem is not lyrical in its form and lies outside our province, 
though near it.^ We have no Old English hymns, yet it is 
probable that with the Latin songs of the church there 
existed for the common people some religious or festal songs 
in the vernacular. At least we know that Bede in his last 
hours composed a death song in the English tongue: 

" Before the dread j ourney which needs must be taken 
No man is more mindful than meet is and right 
To ponder, are hence ha departs, what his spirit 
Shall, after the death-day, receive as its portion 
Of good or of evil, by mandate of doom."' 

1 Cf. The Beginnings of Poetry, p. 275. 

2 Cook, The Christ of Cynewulf, p. xcl. 

3 Cook and Tinker, p. 78. 


The dirge, the lament at the grave or funeral pyre is one 
of the oldest of lyric forms. We find such songs mentioned 
in Beowulf, and ^Ifric instructs priests to forbid at funerals 
"the heathen songs of the laity."^ We have not one licsang, 
but their spirit lives on in the Lyke-Wake Dirge, lines filled 
with the shudder and mystery of death : 

" This ae nighte, this ae nighte, 
—Every nighte and alle, 
Fire and sleet and candle-lighte, (Fire and salt) 
And Christe receive thy saule. 

" When thou from hence away art past, 
—Every nighte and alle. 
To Whinny-muir thou com'st at last^ (To the moor of 
furze or gorse) 
And Christe receive thy saule. 

" If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon, 
—Every nighte and alle. 
Sit thee down and put them on ; 

And Christe receive thy saule. 

"If hosen and shoon thou ne'er gav'st nane, 
—Every nighte and alle, 
The whinnes sail prick thee to the bare bane ; 
And Christe receive thy saule."^ 

We have said that with few exceptions the scribes dis- 
dained to record our secular poetry ; we owe to one of them 
the Battle of Brunanburh, found in the Anglo-Saxon Chron- 
icle. The battle was fought in 937 and the poem is accord- 
ingly one of the last of the Old English lyrics. Unlike the 
poem on the battle of Maldon, it contains little direct narra- 
tion; it is rather a cry of victory, the exultant chant of a 

iCf. Oermanic Origins, pp. 348 ff; The Beginnings of Poetry, pp. 
316 ff. 

2 See Oxford Book of English Verse, p. 443. 


conquering army, and Tennyson in his paraphrase has 
caught the spirit of the forgotten poet who made the lines: 

" We the West-SaxonSj 

Long as the daylight 

Lasted, in companies 
Troubled the track of the host that we hated ; 
Grimly with swords that were sharp from the grindstone, 
Fiercely we hack'd at the flyers before us. 

Many a carcase they left to be carrion. 
Many a livid one, many a sallow-skin — 
Left for the white-tail'd eagle to tear it, and 
Left for the horny-nibb'd raven to rend it, and 
Gave to the garbaging war-hawk to gorge it, and 
That gray beast, the wolf of the weald." 

This has the true ring; that Germanic ardor for battle that 
so impressed Tacitus burns undiminished. 

We leave the Old English Period, not empty-handed, but 
with scanty gleanings. We have found enough to make us 
understand how old are certain dominant characteristics of 
modem song. The love of adventure and combat ; the 
delight in nature ; the sense of the mystery of the world and 
of the tragic aspects of life, have come down to us from our 
forefathers. Unconsciously we sing the same strains that 
fell from their lips. Even their manner of singing is still 
with us ; for them alliteration gave to verse the same beauty 
we find in rhyme, and accordingly we still ornament our 
lyrics in their fashion. The Norman Conquest revolutionized 
the technique and the content of English song, but in all the 
changes we still hear echoes of the earlier lyric, notes that 
seem to come from some forgotten scop. 


The Middle English Lyeic 

Wace tells us that at the battle of Hastings, Taillefer 
advanced from the Norman ranks against the Saxon lines 
singing of Roland and the peers: 

" Taillefer^ qui mult bien chantout, 
Sor un cheual qui tost alout, 
Deuant le due alout chantant 
De Karlemaigne e de Reliant 
E d'Oliuer e des uassals^ 
Qui morurent en Renceuals." 

" Taillefer, who sang exceedingly well. 
Upon a swift horse. 
Before the Duke went singing 
Of Charlemagne and of Roland 
And of Oliver and of the vassals 
Who died at Roncevaux."^ 

If we accept this picture, the minstrel knight foretold 
unconsciously the conquest of French song, for with the 
advent of the Normans there arose in England a new lyric. 
To understand it, we must first examine the French lyric 
which transformed Saxon verse by giving it new forms of 
expression, new thoughts and emotions ; for French song, 
instead of stifling the native lyric impulse, deepened and 
perfected it. 

According to the theory of Gaston Paris, the French lyric 
had its origins in Poitou and Limousin at the yearly dances 

iMaistre Wace's Roman de Bou, 11. 8035-8040, ed. by H. Andresen, 
Heilbi-onn, 1877-9. 


held at Easter, in the May season.' At these festivals, sur- 
vivals of the old pagan Floralia, women were the chief cele- 
brants ; they led the dances and the songs whose themes were 
love, youth, and the joy of life when spring, with its birds 
and flowers, puts winter to flight. These songs, with their 
strong pagan element, were a scandal to the early church, 
and the measures it took to suppress them prove that they 
were sung far and wide. At the council of Chalons, held in 
the seventh century, the priests were instructed to prohibit 
the women from singing profane songs as they gathered at 
the church porches, and a decree of the following century 
forbade the priests to copy or spread love songs.^ These 
lyrics, whose popularity the church could not destroy, were 
sung and probably improAdsed in the open air, in the 
meadows. They were called caroles, a word that signifies 
a dance to the accompaniment of song. The participants 
(in the earliest time, women; later, both men and women) 
holding each other's hands, danced en rond while the leader 
sang a verse or couplet to which the dancers added a refrain. 
In the English poem of Arthour and Merlin, written about 
1300, there are interpolated some charming spring songs, 
one of which gives us the whole picture : 

" Miri time it is in May, 
Than wexeth along the day, (Then) 
Floures schewen her borioun, (show their buds) 
Miri it is in feld & toun, 

Foules miri in wode gredeth, (in the wood call) 
Damisels carols ledeth."' 

The parts of these caroles most easily remembered were 
the refrains; they were recalled and quoted long after the 

^Journal des Savants, November, December, 1891; March, July, 

2 Cf. C. Voretzsch, EinfiChrung in das Studium der altfranzosischen 
Literatur, Halle, 1905, pp. 96-7. 

3 Arthour and Merlin, ed. E. Kolbing, Leipzig, 1890, 11. 1709 ff. 


songs to which they belonged had faded from the memory. 
Several are cited in the romances; a characteristic one is 
the following, sung at Mainz on May day by two young girls 
who lead back the folk from the woods where they have been 
gathering flowers and branches: 

" Tout la gieus sor rive mar, 
Compaignon, or dou chanter. 
Dames i ont bauz levez: 

Mout en ai le cuer gai. 

Compaignon, or dou chanter 

En I'onor de mat." 

" All below there on the bank of the stream^ 
Friends, now some singing. 
The women have begun the dances : 

I have a heart full of joy for this. 
Friends, now some singing. 
In honor of May."^ 

Another typical refrain is preserved in La Cour de 
Paradis, where the Virgin in heaven leads a dance, singing 
an old May song: 

" Let all those who are in love 
Come dance, but not the others."^ 

These May festivals, with their songs, were originally 
celebrated by the common folk; peasants were the dancers 
and singers, but as an aristocracy arose, it too desired to 
celebrate these rites, and the songs were thus known by high 
and low. From these caroles, then, asserts Paris, there 
developed in the South the Proven9al lyric, the poetry of the 

iJDe Roman de la Rose ou de Ouillaume de Dole, ed. G. Servois, 
8ocUt4 des anciens textes frangais, Paris, 1893, p. 125. Cf. the article 
by Paris in the same volume, p. xcix. 

2 E. Wechssler, Das Kulturproblem des Minnesangs, Halle, 1909, p. 


troubadours, from which in turn sprang in the North the 
lyrics of the trouveres. To all this verse is given the general 
designation of chanson courtoise. In the North, again, 
transformed to aube, pastourelle, debat, ballade, these 
caroles lived on in what we shall call la poesie populaire, not 
as the name seems to imply, folk song, but poetry that is far 
closer to the folk than the chanson courtoise} It is a fair 
question whether Paris has proved his thesis. Though we 
admit that the poesie populaire is derived from these caroles, 
it is difficult to find in them the origin of the chanson cour- 
toise. In its technique, in its conception of love this is 
utterly removed from all folk poesy; its only resemblance 
to these dance songs is to be found in nature passages. It 
is quite possible that the chanson courtoise is more closely 
alhed to the Latin poetry, secular and religious, of the 
Middle Ages, but we cannot dwell longer on this question 
of origins, for we must consider the subject-matter of the 
chanson courtoise and la poesie popidaire, since both genres 
influenced the English lyric.^ 

So much has been published on the fascinating subject of 
troubadour and trouvere poetry that we shall attempt merely 
to summarize in the briefest fashion its most striking charac- 
teristics. Though written for the aristocracy, for the 
"amans fins et vrais," though composed by kings and princes, 
it approached the caroles (hence it descended from them, 
argues Paris) in countless allusions to the coming of spring, 
the budding of flower and leaf, the singing of the birds. 
Whatever the theme, joy or sorrow, praise or satire, love 
or religion, the poet should begin: 

1 Cf. L. CHdat, La Poisie lyrique et satirique en France au moyen 
dge, Paris, 1893, pp. 27 ff. 

2 See the article by J. Bddier, Bevue de Deux Mondes, 1 Mai, 1896; 
"Voretzsch, op. cit., pp. 188-196; F. M. Warren, in a paper read before 
the Yale Romance Club, October, 1910, argues forcibly for the Latin 
origin of the chanson courtoise. 


" Li nouveauz tans et mais et violete 
et roussignols me semont de chanter." 

" The spring, and May, and the violet 
And the nightingale impel me to sing."^ 

Such lines soon became purely conventional and bore Kttle 
or no relation to the poem that followed. After the cus- 
tomary opening stanza on the flowers in the green grass 
and the red and white blossoms upon the bushes, the most 
famous sirvente of Bertrand de Born changes abruptly to 
a song of war, filled with an almost savage ardor. As the 
troubadours sang more often of the sorrows than of the joys 
of love, the happiness of the spring time is merely a foil for 
their grief. Bernart de Ventadorn has a graceful poem in 
which his feelings are atune with the May: 

" Quant I'erba fresqu' el fuelha par 

e la flors botona el verian, 

e-1 rossinhols antet e clar 

leva sa votz e mou son chan, 
icy ai de luy e ioy ai de la flor 
e ioy de me e de midons maior ; 
daus totas partz suy de ioy claus e sens, 
mas sel es ioys que totz autres ioys vens."^ 

" When the fresh grass and leaf appears, 
And the flower buds on the branch. 
And the nightingale loud and clear 
Raises his voice and sings, 
I have joy in him and joy in the flower, 
Joy in myself, but more in my lady; 
On all sides I am surrounded with joy, 
But she is joy above all others." 

1 K. Bartsch, Chrestomathie de I'ancien frangais, Leipzig, 1884, col. 

2C. Appel, Provenzalische Chrestomathie, Leipzig, 1902, p. 68. 


Yet even Bernart must go in the spring time "half dead, 
weeping while others laugh," and the Chatelain de Couci 
sings : 

" Quant li estez et la dolce saisons 
Fait fuelle et flor et les prez renverdir, 
Et li dolz chans des menus oisillons 
Fait les pluisors de joie sovenir, 
Las ! chascuns chantej et je plor et sospir."^ 

" When the summer and the sweet season 
Make leaf and flower and the meadows grow green again 
And the sweet song of the little birds 
Makes most persons remember their happiness, 
Alas ! every one sings, and I weep and sigh." 

We have stated that apart from these nature pictures, the 
troubadour lyric has practically nothing that is of the folk. 
Since the unmarried girl had no share in the social life of the 
times, these songs were written for the wives of the Provenfal 
nobles, the chatelaines 

" whose bright eyes 
Reign influence and award the prize." 

The love they inspired became a cult and almost a religion. 
It was not the frank love of a man for a maid, but a strange 
fascination caused by a single glance from the lady ; there 
is a touch of mysticism in I'enamorament, when love is awak- 
ened by a subtle power, flowing like some mysterious fluid 
from the lady's eyes to the poet's heart : 

" d'un dolz regart, por voir. 
Fist par mes eus dedenz mon cuer cheoir 
La grant amor, qui si me fraint et brise." 

1 J. Brakelmann, Les plus anciens chans onniers franqais, Paris, 1891, 
p. 135; cf. p. 101. 


" by a sweet look, truly 
She made through my eyes into my heart fall 
The great love that breaks and crushes me."^ 

So, in Chaucer's Knightes Tale, the moment Palamon and 
Arcite see from their prison Emily walking in the garden, 
they become her devoted slaves. The poet is always the 
vassal of his lady, and implicit obedience to her as a liege 
lord is his first duty. 

" A toz les jors de ma vie 

La servirai, 
Et serai en sa baillie 

Tant com vivrai, 
Ne ja de sa seignorie 

Ne partirai;" 

" All the days of my life 

I shall serve her. 
And I shall be in her power 

So long as I shall live. 
Nor ever from her rule 

Shall I depart." 

His life is in her hands : 

" Bele dame, en vos mis ai 
Cuer et cors et vie, 
Ne ja ne m'en partirai 
Nul jor de ma vie." 

" Fair lady, in your keeping I have placed 
Heart and body and life. 
And I shall never depart. 
Any day of my life."^ 

1 P. 31. Cf. J. Anglade, Lea Troubadours, Paris, 1908, p. 84. 

2 Brakelmann, pp. 53, 49. 


sings Chrestien de Troies, and no suffering which she may 
cause him, not even her extreme cruelty, may release him 
from his allegiance to her and to Love. 

The poet's service is a long one, and he tells us that his 
lady's cruelty often brings him nigh to death, yet if he prove 
secret, devoted, unswerving, his "painful patience in delays" 
may be rewarded at last — ^by a kiss. This is his great hope, 
for it seals him her lover. Even after this he is still the 
vassal, the subject of love, singing for one whose very name 
he must not mention but must address as Belle- Vue, or Plus- 
que-Reine, or Beau-Miroir, to give these euphuistic titles 
their modem form. 

As this love was almost a religion, it was inevitable that 
the poets turned from the lady of the castle to the Lady of 
Heaven, and they sang to her as they would to their Beau- 
Miroir or their Belle-Joie, in the same metres, in the same 
phrases, so that at times it is difficult to distinguish their 
love poetry from their hymns to the Virgin. She was the 
"fraiche dame gentis," the "douce damoiselle," "la Vierge 
eourtoise et charmante," "la gracieuse dame qui est belle et 
blonde," and she inspired a love that expressed itself in the 
conventional language of the chansons d'amour. In a word 
the poet was not the worshipper of the Virgin but her amant} 

In all their poetry the troubadours sought perfection of 
form. Their art was never concealed; they boasted of it, 
priding themselves that they knew how to "batir" or "forger 
une chanson." Thus technique became all important and 
the poets were more desirous of inventing new rhymes than 
of showing originality in their thought or sincerity in their 
emotion. They employed a marvellous variety of metres ; 
eight hundred and seventeen have been classified, ranging 
from strophes of three to forty-two lines, and certainly no 
other lyric poetry is more rich in its modes of expression.^ 

iCf. Anglade, pp. 214 ff; Wechssler, op. cit., chap, xviii. 
2 Anglade, pp. 10, S3. 


It must not be thought that troubadour verse is wholly con- 
ventional in its substance and elaborately artificial in its 
form (though too often that is the case), for there were 
tragedies in the careers of these singers ; life was not always 
May time and we often hear in their verses the note of sin- 
cere and deep emotion. They could write in a simpler man- 
ner; the following lines from a song by Gautier d'Espinal 
have a direct and passionate utterance that we shall meet 
again in the early English lyric : 

" Sire Deus, car la tenoie 
Nuete antra mes dous bras, 
Sa bouchata baisaroie. 
Molt m'ast bon, quant que li fas. 
Na rois ne cuans nen ast mie 
Qui'n eiist tant gent solaz, 
De tenir sa compaignie 
Jamais na saroie laz \"^ 

" Lord God, would I might hold her 
Between my two arms, 
I would kiss her little mouth; 
It pleases me right wall, whatever I do to her. 
There was never king nor count 
Who might have such gentle pleasure; 
Of attending bar 
Never should I be tired." 

The first troubadour was Guillaume, count of Poitou, duke 
of Aquitaine, who ruled from 1087 to 1127. He stands 
among the foremost singers, for he brought the lyric to a 
high degree of art. Among other metres, he employed a 
strophe which found its way into the poesie populaire; which 
was brought to England and used by the early lyrists, later 
by writers of miracle plays ; and which finally served the last 
of the Scottish vernacular poets — Robert Bums himself: 

1 Brakelmann, p. 30. 


" Pus vezem de novelh florir 
Pratz, e vergiers reverdezir 
Rius e fontanas esclarzir. 

Auras e vens, 
Ben deu quascus lo joy jauzir 

Don es jauzens."^ 

" When verdant meadows reappear^ 
And green invades the garden sere. 
And river and spring begin to clear, 

And zephyrs blow, 
The joy that fills our heart with cheer 

Must overflow."^ 

The granddaughter of Guillaume, Eleanor of Poitou, 
inherited from him a nature disposed to gallantry and a love 
for poetry. In 1152 she married Henry II of England, a 
scholar and connoisseur of literature whose court at London 
became the center of a brilliant galaxy of French writers. 
"I work for a king," said Benoit de Sainte-More, "who knows 
better than any one how to distinguish and appreciate a fine 
piece of writing."' Eleanor was as great a patron of letters 
as was her husband. Deeply in love with her, Bernart de 
Ventadorn, considered by modern critics the finest of all the 
troubadours, followed her to the English capital where he 
sang in her honor the lyrics of the South. Some fifty of his 
songs have been preserved; the larger number of hi& finest 
ones are addressed to her. 

In France and Italy, in Spain and Portugal, the writings 
of some four hundred troubadours are known to us (in some 
cases only by a few lines), and seventy others, whose lyrics 

IC. A. F. Mahn, Die Werke der Troubadours, Berlin, 1846, vol. 1, 
p. 8. 

2 J. H. Smith, The Troubadours at Home, New York, 1899, vol. II, p. 

3 Cf. Gaston Paris, La po^sie du moyen dge, deuxUme sirie, Paris, 
1895, pp. 33 ff. 


have completely disappeared, are known by name; yet of 
this great number, there is not a single troubadour who wrote 
in English. The reason is not hard to discover ; troubadour 
verse was composed for the nobility and Enghsh was the 
language of the peasant. It was a full century and a half 
after the conquest that the writer of Arthour and Merlin 
declares : 

" Of Freynsch ne Latin nil y tel more, 
Ac on Inglisch ichil tell therfore: (But) (I will tell) 
Right is, that Inglische understond. 
That was born in Inglond." 

When Eleanor's son, Richard Cceur de Lion, a poet and 
patron of poets, composed the verses on his captivity, he did 
not use a phrase from the language of the land he ruled; 
thus, though the troubadour lyric was heard in England, it 
could not affect directly English song. Its indirect influence 
was great. Petrarch knew and admired the writings of the 
troubadours, though he was born after their day, and we 
do not need his praise of them in his Trionfo d'Amore to dis- 
cover that their ideal of love, expressed in the very phrases 
they used, is to be found in many of the sonnets to Laura. 
The last of the troubadours, Guiraut Riquier, died in the 
closing years of the thirteenth century ; but in Elizabethan 
England, through translations and imitations of Petrarch's 
sonnets, their songs entered into English verse. Through 
another medium they contributed to the development of the 
English lyric — through their influence on la poesie poptir 

This poetry, we remember, was an outgrowth of the old 
May songs and accordingly we find in it many allusions to 
May and to the delights of spring. Though often charm- 
ing, these little introductions tend to become purely con- 
ventional : 


" C'est en mai au mois d'este 
que florist flor," 


" En mai au douz tens nouvel, 
que raverdissent prael, 
oisoz un arbroisel 
chanter le rosignolet. 

saderla don! 

tant fet bon 

dormir lez le buissonet."^ 

" It is in May in the summer month 
That the flower blooms." 

" In May at the sweet Spring time. 
When the meadows grow green again. 
I heard beneath a tree 
The pretty Nightingale sing. 

Saderla don! 

So good it is 

To sleep beside the little bushes." 

Certainly la poesie popidaire is not folk song, for there is 
too much conscious art in it, yet it is nearer than the chmison 
courtoise to the folk in its themes, its simpler technique, and 
in its personages, often shepherds or peasants. Its refrains, 
recalling the old dance songs, were easily remembered and 

" Chibera la chibele, douz amis, 
chibera le chibele, soiez jolis." (be loving) 

" dorenlot deus or haes, (henceforth hate) 
j 'amerai." 

1 K. Bartsch, Altfranzosische Bomanzen und Paatourellen, Leipzig, 
1870, pp. 54, 22. 


" J'ai ameit et amerai 
he ! dorelot ! et s'aimme aincor, 
deus ! de jolif cuer mignot."' (the sweetheart of fair body) 

According to Jeanroy, the oldest French lyric was a song, 
expressing varied shades of feeling, put in the mouth of a 
young girl, and originally the poesie popidaire showed us 
women passionately devoted and submissive to indifferent and 
faithless men.^ At the end of the twelfth century, this con- 
ception of love changed and men were shown to be the suitors ; 
still many of these poems are written from the woman's point 
of view, and it is a maid we hear singing: 

" Belle Aliz matin leva, 
sun cors vesti et para; 
enz un verger s'en entra, 
cink fluerettes i trouva: 
un chapelet fet en a 
de rose fleurie. 
■pur deu, trahez vous en la 
vus ki ne amez mie.' "' 

" Fair Alice rose in the morning, 
Clothed and adorned herself; 
She went into a garden 
And found five small flowers there: 
She made of them a chaplet 
Of roses in bloom. 
' For God's sake, go hence 
You who do not love at all.' " 

Though the chanson courtoise changed the conception of 
love in these poems, it by no means introduced its own ideal ; 
the women in the poesie populaire are never held as things 

1 Pp. 186, 271, 307. 

2 A. Jeanroy, Les Origines de la poesie lyrique en France au moyen 
dge, Paris, 1889, pp. 225, 445 ff. 

SBartsch, op. cit., p. 209. 


enskyed and sainted, while the men, extremely human, are 
not satisfied with ecstatic adoration or with contemplating 
and analyzing their own feelings. 

The poesie popidaire developed genres that are clearly 
defined : the pastourelle, in which a rider, generally the poet 
himself, wandering in the fields or woods, meets a fair maiden 
and makes love to her, usually with success; the debat, in 
which the singer maintains an opinion against the argu- 
ments of a second person, as in the English ballad of the 
Nutbrowne Maide; the chanson de toile, short narrative 
poems of belle Erembour or belle Isabeau, sung by women 
at their sewing or weaving; the aube, or song of lovers 
parted at dawn by the cry of the watch or the notes of the 
lark.^ More important in its eiFect on EngHsh verse was 
the dance song, the chanson de carole, the rondet, the rondet 
de carole; these forms were the most popular ones and 
entered more widely into the life of the people than the other 
types we have just mentioned. As late as the seventeenth 
century. Burton, in his Anatomt/ of Melancholy, tells us that 
in France nothing was more common than to see in the 
streets women and girls dance en rond or to hear them 
"make good music of their own voices and dance after it." 
In these songs, the refrain, oft repeated, is the important 
element : 

" Danses, bale Marion, 
ja n'aim je riens se vos non." 

and from the refrains developed such dance songs as the 
balete, the rondel; for while the troubadours wished to find 
for every poem a new metre, and only as an exception, duly 
acknowledged, wrote songs modelled on older pieces, folk 
song loves to repeat the same phrases and the same measures. 

1 See the interesting remarks of Gaston Paris on the Aube in Shakes- 
peare's Romeo and Juliet, Journal des Savants, 1893, p. 163. 


These dance songs fairly sing themselves, as this rondel by 
Guillaume d' Amiens: 

" C'est la finSj koi que nus die, 
j 'amerai ! 

c'est la jus en mi le pre, 
c'est la fins, je veul amer, 
jus et baus i a leves, 
bele amie ai, 

c'est la fins, koi que nus die, 
j 'amerai."^ 

" There's an end, whatever any one may say, 
I shall love ! 

It is down there in the midst of the fields. 
There's an end of it, that I wish to love. 
Games and dances have been started there, 
I have a fair friend. 

There's an end of it, whatever any one may say, 
I shall love." 

Long after their origin was forgotten, English poets 
inherited from the poesie populaire, the ballade, rondel, 
rondeau, and triolet. 

There is yet another large and interesting group of 
French songs that inspired the English lyric — the Noels, 
the oldest form of sacred song in the vernacular tolerated 
by the church. Latin Christmas songs were well known : 

" Dormi, fill, dormi ! mater 
Cantat unigenito: 
Dormi puer, dormi ! pater 
Nato clamat parvulo. 
Millies tibi laudes canimus 
Mille, mille, millies."^ 

1 Bartsch, Chrestomathie, col. 341. 

2 E. P. Du M6nl, Poisies populaires latines antirieures au douziime 
sUcle, Paris, 184,3, p. 110 n. 


but the Noels, though they have often a Latin refrain, as in 

" Cat enfant tout aimable. 
In nocte media, 
Est ne dans una etable, 
Da casta Maria,"^ 

were in French and were sung by the worshippers in the 
churches as they waited for the midnight mass on Christmas 
eve. They date from the eleventh century, and in 1194 
Lambert, bishop of Arras, speaking of the Christmas fetes, 
writes : 

" Lumine multiplici noctis solatia praestant 
Moraque Gallorum carmina nocta tenant."^ 

(They overcome the darkness of night by many lights, 
and in the fashion of the French, sing songs in the night.) 

These Noels, songs of rejoicing not only for Christmas 
but for the New Year, were extraordinarily popular; indeed 
the word Noel came to mean "vivat," "hurrah," and was 
shouted in the streets of London when Henry V returned 
from Agincourt in 1415. There was hardly a parish in 
France where they were not improvised to meet the demand, 
and the early French printers furnished Bibles de Noels by 
the score. Hardly a city with a press failed to bring out 
its special collection — Paris, Tours, Orleans, Blois, Angers, 
Nantes, Vannes, Rennes — the list is a long one, and many 
Noels survive only in manuscripts. 

The Noels naturally concern themselves with the annun- 
ciation ; the birth of Christ ; the slumber songs of the Virgin, 
and the visit of the Shepherds and Magi. It is the literature 
of high spirits and rejoicing; Adam had destroyed the race: 

1 Vieux Noels, Nantes, 18T6, vol. Ill, p. 3. 

2J-B. Weckerlin, Chansons populaires du pays de France, Paris, 
1903, vol. I. 


" Adanij premier pere. 
Nous mit en danger 
De la pomme chere 
Qui'l voulut manger;"^ 

and with him, Eve is held up to scorn that the Virgin, saving 
the race, may be the more honored. All the carols of the 
birth of Christ are written from the standpoint of the 
peasant, in the language of the curious folk who naively 
question the Virgin, as they would a village maiden, on the 
great event of which they have just heard, taking a shrewd 
satisfaction that "les bourgeois de la ville" and "les gros 
marchands" have done nothing, while the shepherds have 
brought their gifts to the child. 

" L'ung lui a porte son manteau, 
Ung autre a porte son bourdon, 
Et I'autre a done son costeau, 
Ung autre sa bourse en purdon; 

Et a la mere 

Fesaient grand chere, 
Demenans soulas et deduyct 
Pour ce mignon venu de nuyct."^ 

The refrains are a most important part of the Noels. 
Rarely are they written without them; often the refrain 
occurs after every couplet, at times after every line, such 
refrains as : 

" Chantons Nolet, Nolet, Nolet, 
Chantons nolet encore,"' 

which certainly hardly needs the music, it so trips along. 
One old Poitevin Noel preserves an interesting chorus : 

1 Vieux Noels, vol. I, p. 25. 

•i Noels de Lucas LeMoigne, Paris, 1520, in Vieux Noels, I, p. 4. 

3 P. 57. 


" Au sainct Nau^ 
Chanteray sans poinct m'y feindre. 
Y n'en daigneray ren craindre, 
Car le jour est feriau. 

NaUj nau, nau. 
Car le jour est feriau."^ 

Le jour feriau inspired many lyrics in which the religious 
signification of the day is quite forgotten in the feasting 
and rejoicing; and in the thirteenth century the jongleurs 
personified Noel, treating him as a sort of lord of misrule: 

"Le Sire Noel 
Nous envoie a ses amis." 

The Noels have sometimes been lightly spoken of as lack- 
ing art, as being monotonous, but they have found an 
eloquent admirer in Nodier, who dehghted in their grace 
and simplicity of expression, and indeed many of them 
possess a charm, a directness of utterance that the lyrics 
of higher art rarely reach.^ The following thirteenth cen- 
tury Noel, with its single Hne for the leader of the song and 
its tenderly written chorus, possesses a beauty that is 
enhanced by the haunting melody that accompanies it. Both 
from the literary and the musical point of view, it is one of 
the gems of mediasval song : 

" Entre le bcEuf at I'ane gris^ 
Dors, dors, dors le petit fils : 

Mille anges divins, 

Mille serapliins 
Volent a I'entour de ce grand Dieu d'amour. 

Dors, dors, Roi des anges, dors ! 

1 II, p. 87. 

2 There is an interesting article on Noels by E. Fournier in I'Encyclo- 
pidie du dix-neuviime siicle. 


" Entre les roses et les lys. 
Dors, dors, dors le petit fils : 

Mille anges divins, 

Mille seraphins 
Volant a I'entour de ce grand Dieu d'amour. 

Dors, dors, Roi des anges, dors ! 

" Entre les pastoureaux jolis 
Dors, dors, dors le petit fils."^ 

These lyrics which we have attempted to characterize 
needed no scribes to write them down, no manuscripts to 
preserve them, for like Vergil's Fame, they flew from mouth 
to mouth. They were carried by sailor, by soldier, by trader, 
wherever the French or Normans pushed their way. They 
were brought to Germany, to Italy, to Portugal, and even 
had there been no Norman king at London, they would have 
been sung in England. Not only did the French bring 
them, but English clerks returning from Paris had learned, 
with their mediaeval logic, these French songs. Paris had 
become the intellectual center of Europe, "the Paradise of 
the world," Richard of Bury called it, and English students, 
in large numbers, flocked to its University: 

" Urbs beata Parisius 

* * » * 

Studio locus proprius 
Civis clero propitius, 

Ad quam redire cogitur, 
Quisque ab ea fugerit."^ 

IF. A. Gevaert: Collection de chceurs sans accom'pagnement pour 
servir d, I'itude du chant d'ensemble, 7e Fascicule, Paris, N. D. This 
Noel appears in seventeentii century collections. Cf. Weckerlin, Chan- 
sons populaires, vol. I, p. 54. 

2G. M. Dreves, Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, vol. XXI, p. 1833. 
See O. Hubatsch, Die lateinischen Vagantenlieder des Mittelalters, 
GorUtz, 1870; J. A. Schmeller, Carmina Burana, Breslau, 1894. 


There they heard the poesie populaire and echoes of the 
chanson courtoise; there they learned the Noels; and in the 
vast cathedral of Notre Dame, the noblest in Christendom, 
they saw the home of the worship of Mary and heard the 
songs and hymns in her praise. The poesie populaire as the 
chanson courtoise sang of the Virgin as of an earthly 
maiden; if "Je suis a vous comme amant a sa mie" could 
be addressed to Christ, the lyrics to the Virgin more openly 
employed the very phrases of the love poems. Moreover, 
these scholares vagantes, sometimes defrocked clerks, stu- 
dents drifting from University to University, turning min- 
strel to gain their bread, had a body of Latin songs of their 
own, generally of wine and women. The church regarded 
them with abhorrence ; they were clerici ribaudi maxime, qui 
dicuntur de familia Golice, but the common people heard 
them and they became the intermediaries between the folk 
song and the verses of the poets. This Latin verse, which 
gave more than phrases to the English lyric, is a most inter- 
esting study. We can give but one example : 

" Tempus adest floridum, 
surgunt namque floras, 
vernales mox in omnibus 
jam mutantur mores. 
Hoc quod frigus leserat, 
reparant calores, 
cernimus hoc fieri 
per multos colores 

" Stant prata plena floribus, 
in quibus nos ludamus. 
Virgines cum clericis 
simul procedamus, 
per amorem Veneris 
ludum faciamus, 
ceteris virginibus 
ut hoc referamus. 


" O dilecta domina, 
cur sic alienaris? 
An nescis, o carissima 
quod sic adamaris? 
Si tu esses Helena, 
vellem esse Paris: 
tamen potest fieri 
noster amor talis."^ 

It need hardly be stated that "Heu quam felix ist j am vita 
potatoris" is the burden of many of the poems. These Latin 
drinking songs antedate any that exist in French ; Rabelais 
cites many old songs, but not a drinking song, and in his 
Propos des buveurs, where one would have been highly appro- 
priate, he writes, "Chantons, beuvons : un motet — enton- 
nons !'" 

We have now reviewed the lyric forms that left their 
impress on English song — the troubadour verse and the 
trouvere imitations of it, the poesie popidaire, the Noels, the 
songs of the wandering scholars, and to these we should add 
the Latin hymns, especially the large number that dealt with 
the lamentations of Mary at the foot of the cross — the 
planctus Marice. The influence of these writings did not 
overpower and crush into weak imitation the English lyrical 
spirit ; it awakened it, enlarged its scope, and enriched its 
utterance, for despite its French element, the new lyric that 
arose was unmistakably English in thought and feeling. 

1 Carmina Burana, p. 183. "Now comes the time of flowers, and the 
blossoms appear; now in all things comes the transformation of Spring. 
What the cold harmed, the warmth repairs, as we see by all these 
colors. The fields in which we play are full of flowers. Maidens and 
clerks, let us go out together, let us play for the love of Venus, that we 
may teach the other maidens. O my chosen one, why dost thou shun 
me? Dost thou not know, dearest, how much thou art loved? If thou 
wert Helen, I would be Paris. So great is our love that it can be so." 
Cf. J. A. Symonds, Wine, Women and Song, London, 1884. 

2 J. Tiersot, Histoire de la chanson populaire en France, Paris, 1889, 
p. 318. 



Although the earliest lyrics were songs, no Old English 
lyric with musical setting has been preserved. A graceful 
French love song, dating from about 1175, is our oldest lyric 
with musical accompaniment written in England. It was 
set down in the outside page of a Latin rejoinder to an 
epistle of St. Bernard which attacked the luxury of the 
Cluniac monks : 

" De ma dame vuU chanter, 
Ke tant est bale e bloie: (Qui) 
Se mi peusse aseurer, 
Trestut sen seroie:" (Trestot) 

it begins, and the first stanza ends with a Hne that re-echoes 
through many a later song, 

" Aura ele ja merci de mei?"^ 

No doubt there were English translations or adaptations of 
such songs, but we have no traces of them ; and there is no 
Middle English lyric to which we may ascribe so early a 
date. One of the first poems written after the Norman 
Conquest is the so-caUed Poema Morale or Moral Ode, a 
translation from the Latin. It was a most popular compo- 
sition; it exists in seven manuscripts, of which the oldest 
dates from the late twelfth or the early years of the thir- 
teenth century, and there is reason for believing that this 
oldest version is based on a still earlier manuscript that has 
been lost. The poem begins in the elegiac mood: 

" Ich em nu alder thane ich was awintre and a lare. 
Ich welde mara thane ich dade mi wit ahta bon mare. 
Wei longe ich habbe child ibon a worde and a dade, 
Thah ich bo a wintra aid to yung ich am on rada." 

^ Early Bodleian Music, ed. by Sir John Stainer, London, 1901, vol. 
II, pp. 1-3. 


" I am now older than I was in years and in lore, 
I wield more than I did, my wit ought to be more, 
Well long have I been a child in words and in deeds. 
Though I be old in years, too young am I in wisdom."^ 

But after a few verses telling us that old age has stolen 
upon the writer unaware, the personal element fades away; 
the confessions of the opening lines are forgotten in the 
admonitions of the preacher ; and the poem becomes prac- 
tically a sermon, with descriptions of dooms-day, the pains 
of Hell, the joys of Paradise. Nothing is more fatal to the 
lyric than didacticism ; unfortunately for the history of 
English song, our earliest writers failed to perceive that a 
man cannot preach and sing at the same time. 

Almost contemporaneous with this homily is the far more 
interesting on God Ureisun of lire Lefdi, A Good Orison of 
our Lady, which dates from about 1210.^ It is a love poem 
addressed to the Virgin ; the troubadours might have written 
it, if we regard merely the thought. It depicts Heaven 
as a place where the friends of Mary, adorned with royal 
robes, bracelets and gold rings which she has bestowed, 

" Mirths manifold, without trouble or annoy; 
Music and games, abundance of life's pleasure, and eternal 

indeed we have what well may be a reminiscence of the old 
May dances : 

" Merry sing the angels before thy face. 
Playing, carolling, and singing.'' 

1 Early English Text Society, vol. XXXIV, p. 159. Cf. Anglia, XXX, 

p. 317. 

2 W. Marufke, Der Aelteste Englische Marienhymnus, Breslauer 
Beitrage, Leipzig, 1907, p. 16. 


This, too, is a homily, yet it has its lyrics : 

" Mi leoue lif^ urom thine luue ne schal me no thing to-dealen. 
Vor othe is al ilong mi lif and eke min heale. 
Vor thine luue i swinke and sike wel ilome. 
Vor thine luue ieh ham ibrouht in to theoudome. 
Vor thine luue ich uorsoe al that me leof was. 
And yef the al mi suluen: looue lif, ithefich thu thes."^ 

" My dear life, from thy love shall nothing separate me. 
For on thee depends my life and also my salvation. 
For thy love I toil and sigh very often. 
For thy love I am brought into bondage, 
For thy love I forsook all that was dear to me. 
And gave thee all myself. Dear life, think thou of that." 

This is a new theme for English verse ; there are no such 
poems to the Virgin in Old English. The prayers and 
hymns to Mary are a study in themselves, far too great for 
the limits of a single chapter, and we must content ourselves 
with mentioning later some typical songs to the 

" Levedi, flour of alle thing, (Lady) 
Rosa sine spina." 

It must not be thought, because these early poems are reli- 
gious, that the secular lyric did not flourish. We have lost 
many a love song, many a dance lyric, because they were 
deemed unworthy of preservation. Even if a scribe felt the 
charm of worldly song, he must turn a deaf ear to it. There 
is an interesting stanza by Hoccleve, written some two 
centuries after the God Ureisun: 

IE. E. T. a., vol. XXXIV, p. 191, U. 95-100. 


" Thise artificers, se I day be day, (These workmen) 
In the hotteste of al her bysynesse, (their) 
Talken and synge, and make game and play 

And forth hir labour passith with gladnesse; 
But we laboure in traueillous stilnesse; 

We stowpe and stare vpon the shepes skyn. 
And keepe muste our song and wordes in."' 

The scribes may not sing at their work, yet they must have 
known the songs of the folk ; the lyrics of the people must 
have floated through the very windows of the scriptorium, 
and some of them could not be "kept in." When the first secu- 
lar lyrics appear we are not surprised to find them stealing 
in furtively on an empty page in a book of prayers, on the 
margins of a Psalter, or on the blank spaces of a legal 

It is often asserted that Sumer is icumen in is the first 
English lyric with music, but on an empty leaf of a Psalter 
in the Bodleian is a song whose notation is certainly a quar- 
ter of a century older; we may date it about 1225. It is 
a complaint, very probably a lover's sadness, simpler and 
fresher in its expression than the French song we have cited. 
It has the mediaeval dread of winter, for it was written cen- 
turies before the leafless trees and the snow-covered hills 
seemed beautiful to any one: 

" Mirie it is while sumer ilast 
With fugheles song; (birds) 
Oc nu neeheth windes blast (But now neareth) 

And weder strong, (storm) 
Ei, ei what this night [is] long! 
And ich with wel michel wrong 
Soregh and murne and fast."^ (Sorrow) 

1 E. E. T. 8., Extra Series, vol. LXI, p. xvii. 

2 Early Bodleian Music, London, 1901, vol. II, p. xvil; Chambers and 
Sidgwick, Early English Lyrics, London, 1907, p. 3. 


If we place beside this winter piece that spring song of 
pure, unreflecting joy, the joy of a child in the open air and 
sunlight : 

" Sumer is icumen in, 

Lhude sing cuccu; (loud) 
Groweth sad and bloweth med 

And springeth the wde nu," (wood now) 

(fortunately it is so well known that we need not quote it) 
we shall see that in its beginnings the EngUsh lyric drew 
much of its inspiration from the outer world. We have 
explained that in the French lyric the descriptions of nature 
became conventional ornaments, often having not the 
slightest connection with the spirit of the poem ; in the Eng- 
lish lyrics the outer life of nature and the inner life of man 
are joined in sympathy — "Man is one world and hath 
another to attend him" — and spring and winter, birds and 
flowers, share in the moods of the poets and reveal them to 
us. Viewed as a whole, the English lyric is unequalled in its 
descriptions of nature. As we trace its development, we 
shall frequently illustrate this statement. 

Thus far we have seen nothing of folk song. The lyrics 
set to carefully written music are certainly not of the 
people ; the harmony of Sumer is icumen in possesses "inge- 
nuity and beauty, in a degree still difficult to realize as 
possible to a thirteenth century composer." An anecdote in 
the Gemma Ecclesiastica of Giraldus Cambrensis tells of the 
folk singing their songs about the church. The priest had 
listened to them for when he should have intoned at the altar 
"Dominus vobiscum," he sang, in the English tongue, in a 
loud voice before all the people, "Swete lamman dhin are" 
(sweet love, thine aid), to the great scandal of his bishop. 
This story belongs to the closing years of the twelfth cen- 
tury. We catch no gUmpse of folk song until the first half 
of the thirteenth century, and then only in a few lines pre- 


served on the leaf of a manuscript in the Bodleian, the open- 
ing verses of some eleven songs — only two are French — 
jotted down by a minstrel to aid his memory. In some cases 
only a single line is left : 

" Ichaue a mantel i-maket of cloth," 

and we have but three lines of one which begins charmingly 

" Al gold Jonet is thin her." (thine hair) 

There is a delicious bit of romance in the song of the maiden 
that "in the moor lay sevenights full" 

"Wat was hire mete? (her meat) 
the primerole ant the violet. 
Welle wat was hire dryng.'' (her drink) 

the chelde water of (the) welle spring." 

Most interesting is the fragment of a dance song, an English 

" Icham of Irlaunde, 
ant of the holy londe 

of irlande. 
gode sir, pray ich the, 
for of saynte charite 
come ant daunce wyt me 
in irlaunde." 

and the oldest EngUsh drinking song is found in the few 
lines : 

" dronken, dronken, y-dronken, 
( ) is tabart atte wyne. 

hay ( ) suster, waiter, peter ! 

ye dronke al depe, 

a(nt) ichulle eke." 

Such fragments but remind us how much of English folk 
song we have lost.^ 

T-Anglia, XXX, p. 1T3. 


We have now reached the middle of the thirteenth century, 
and come to three hymns to the Virgin and God. These 
poems, with their music, are found in a manuscript in Corpus 
Christi College, Oxford. Written in a much-used verse form, 
they show a decided advance in metrical facility over the reli- 
gious songs we have cited : 

" Edi beo thu heuene quene^ (Blessed be thou) 
foUtes froure & angles Wis ; (comfort) 
moder unwemmed & maiden clene, (Mother unspotted) 
swich in world non other nis. 
on the hit is well eth sene (easily seen) 
of alle wimmen thu hauest thet pris. 
mi swete leuedi her min bene (lady hear my prayer) 
& reu of me yif thi wille is." 

The second, in the same metre, is much more graceful: 

" Moder milde, flur of alle^ (flower) 
thu ert leuedi swuthe treowe. (sweet and true) 
bricht in bure & eke in halle, (bright in bower) 
thi loue is euer iliche neowe: 
on the hit is best to calle ; 
swete leudi, of me thu reowcj (thou rue) 
ne let me neure in sunnes falle (never in sins) 
the me yarked bale to breowe."^ 

We may observe that these hymns do not seem so plainly 
written for music as do the secular lyrics. A contempora- 
neous song for two voices — once more a love lament — will 
show the difference: 

" Foweles in the frith. 

The fisses in the flod: 

And I men waxe wod, (must become mad) 
Mulch sorwe I walke with (sorrow) 
For beste of bon and blod."^ 

^E. E. T. 8., vol. LIII, pp. 255 ff. 

^ Early Bodleian Music, vol. II, p. 10; Early English Lyrics, p. 5. 


Here is the thought and mood at once expressed ; but the 
hymns are long drawn out and we cannot quote them in their 
entirety. There is a very interesting poem written by a 
certain Thomas de Hales for a maiden dedicated to God, 
showing her that Christ is her lover. As Mr. Chambers has 
pointed out in his essay on the medieval lyric — at once the 
most informing and the most appreciative essay on the early 
English lyric that has yet appeared — it is the best example 
of the tendency to adapt deliberately "the structure and 
conventions of amorous poetry to pious uses in songs of 
spiritual love-longing."^ It is equally interesting to notice 
that this long poem of twenty-six stanzas was intended to 
be sung. Here is a typical passage showing that the great 
ones of the earth pass away, a common theme in mediaeval 
poetry : 

" Hwer is paris and heleyne^ 

that weren so bryht and feyre on bleo. (fair in hue) 
Amadas, tristram^ and dideyne, 

Yseude and alle theo^ (those) 
Ector with his scharpe meyne, (strength) 

And cesar riche of worldes feo, (world's wealth) 
Heo beoth iglyden ut of the reyne, (They are) (out of the 
so the scheft is of the cleo."^ (as the shaft out of the 

As we read this we do not think instinctively of a musical 
accompaniment, yet in the last verse we hear the poet admon- 
ishing the maiden : 

" Hwenne thu sittest in longynge^ (When) 

drauh the fortli this ilka wryt; (draw) 
Mid swete stephne thu hit singe, (sweet voice) 
And do al so hit the byt." (as it bids thee) 

1 Early English Lyrics, p. 287. 

2 E. E. T. S., vol. XLIX, pp. 95 ff. 


It was because the world was very evil, because earthly love 
and beauty passes away, that the poets fixed their love on 
the Virgin : 

" Mon, wi seestu loue ant herte (Man, why settest thou 
love and heart) 
on worldesblisse that nout ne last ? (will not last) 
wy tholestu that te so ofte smerte, (why sufFerest thou) 
for loue that is so unstedefast? 
thu likest huni of thorn iwis, (honey) 
that seest thi loue on worldesblis, 
for ful of bitternis hit is,"^ 

runs a song, jotted down, about 1265, in a Psalter, but 
Mary, "flour of all," can give joy that endures: 

" On hire is al my hf ilong, 
Of hwam ich wille synge, (Of whom) 
And heryen hire ther-a-mong (praise her) 
Heo gon us bote brynge (She brought us salvation) 
Of helle pyne that is strong. 
Heo brouhte us blysse that is long, 
Al thureh hire childthinge. (through her childbearing) 
Ich bidde hire on my song."^ 

Generally these poems are songs of praise or devotion, pro- 
testations of love, but we hear also the personal note of 
confession : 

" If urn ich habbe isunehed mid worke and mid worde, (Long 
ago) (sinned) 
hwile in mine bedde and hwile atte horde, 
Ofte win idrunke and selde of the forde, (seldom of the 

muchel ich habbe ispended: to litel ich habbe an horde."' 

1 Early Bodleian Music, vol. II, p. 7. 

2 E. E. T. 8., vol. XLIX, p. 159. Cf. p. 196. 

3 P. 193. 


runs one prayer to the Virgin, and though Christ is besought 
to aid the sinner, more hymns are addressed to the one 

" that is so fayr and bright 

velud maris stella. 
Brighter than the day is light, 

parens et puellaj 
Ic crie to the, thou se to me; 
Leuedy, preye thi sone for me, 

Tam pia. 
Than ic mote come to the, 


Of all the songs to the Virgin none were more popular 
than those that described her sorrow at the foot of the 
cross — the Plane tus Mariw, the Complaint of Mary, to give 
the Latin title which indicates the churchly origin of these 
poems. Her own sufferings gave her sympathy for man in 
his distress : 

" Ladi seinte Marie: Corteis, feir & swete! 
iFor loue of the teres : that for thi sone thou lete 
When thou seye him hongen: Nayled honden and fete, (thou 

Thou sende me grace in eorthe: Mi sunnes forte bete."^ 

and accordingly the poets loved to dwell on her sorrows. 
Often, however, hearing the Virgin's lamentations, they 
sang only of her anguish and forgot their own fears. These 
are among the most pathetic lyrics in Middle English; con- 
ventional as a class, their theme admitted of variations. 
At times it is Mary at the cross we see ; at others, it is Mary 
singing her child to sleep and weeping as she foresees his 
death. The popularity of these songs is strikingly shown by 
the large number that have been preserved in various manu- 

1 P. 194. 

ilbid., vol. XCVIII, p. 31. 


scripts, the oldest dating from 1260. Priests, clerks, writers 
of miracle plays composed them and very few of these poems 
fail to touch our feelings. 


The Harleian MS. No. 2253, beautifully written and 
splendidly preserved, is one of the most valued possessions 
of the British Museum. It is an anthology, our finest col- 
lection of Middle English lyrics, dating from about 1310, 
for it contains an elegy on Edward I who died in 1307. On 
the other hand, some of the poems were composed long before 
this, for example, the song on the battle of Lewes (1264) ; 
thus the lyrics extend over a period of fifty years. It has 
been conjectured that the scribe — the anthologist, we might 
call him — ^lived at Leominster Abbey in Herefordshire, but 
we know nothing concerning him.^ Surely we may infer that 
he had hved the life of a student. 

" Scripsi hcec carmina in tabulis! 
Mon ostel est en mi la vile de Paris: 
May y sugge namore, so wel me is; (I may say no more) 
Yef hi deye for love of hire, duel hit ys."^ (grief it is) 

runs one of the poems, and from his predilection for French 
verse, it is probable that as a clerk he had spent much of his 
time en mi la vile; it seems, however, too strong an inference 
to speak of his wild student days for which he atoned in the 
cloister, as does the best editor of the MS.' At aU events, we 
know that he loved nature; that he had been stirred by 
patriotism; and that he had felt the charm of youth and 
romance. Whether or not he composed any of these poems 

IT. Wright, Specimens of Lyric Poetry, Percy Society Publications, 
vol. IV, London, 1842, Preface vi-viii. 

2 P. 65. 

3K. Boddeker, Altenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harl. SS5S. Berlin, 


(their dialects show different hands), his tastes reveal a 
poetic temperament, for the MS. is nothing more or less than 
a book in which the writer has copied whatever interested 
him. There is no attempt at arrangement; Latin, English, 
Anglo-Norman — prose and verse, hymn, love song, patriotic 
ballad — follow each other at haphazard. Though there is 
no music in these pages, the musical setting is clearly indi- 
cated, not so much by such lines as 

" Y wole mone my song." 

" AUe that beoth of huerte trewe, 

a stounde herkneth to my song." 

" Lystnethj Lordynges, a newe song ichuUe bigynne."^ 

but rather by the lilt of the poems, and most of all, by their 
refrains : 

" Richard, thah thou be euer trichard, (traitor) 
tricchen shalt thou neuer more." (betray) 

" Euer and oo for my leof icham in grata thohte, (Always) 
(great cara) 
y thenche on hire that y ne seo nout ofte." (I think) (I 
do not sea oft) 

" An handy hap ichabba yhant, (A gracious fortune I 
have grasped) 
ichot, from heuene it is me sent, (I wot) 
from alia wymmen mi loua is lent (is turned) 
Ant lyht on Alysoun." 

or in what was surely the chorus of a folk song: 

" Blow, northerne wynd, 
sent thou me my suetyng ! (sweetheart) 
blow, northerne wynd, 
blou, blou, blou."^ 

1 Pp. 174, 140, 136. 

2 Pp. 98, 179, 147, 168. 


The political songs, vivid and forceful in style, are not the 
best. They are interesting, as Ritson observed of the grue- 
somely realistic poem on the execution of Fraser, chiefly 
because they contain "a variety of little incidents not noticed 
by historians." Of this group of lyrics, the Husbandman's 
Complaint has the most f eehng ; we hear in it the bitter cry 
of the poor, ground down by taxes and levies. In modem 
dress, it begins as follows: 

" I heard men upon the mould make much moan. 

How they were harassed in their tilling. 
Good ears and corn, both are gone. 

We tell no tales, no songs we sing. 
Now must we work, other way there is none, 

I may no longer live from my gleaning. 
But there is a bitterer bite to the bone, 

For ever the fourth penny goes to the king." 

Thus the song runs on, 

" It is hard to lose where there little is. 

And we have many who look to us," 

a complaint of the oppressed, hunted like hares, deprived of 
their scanty earnings. "^ 

Of the one hundred and seventeen pieces that compose the 
collection, the English lyrics, some forty in number, alone 
concern us. Of these the love lyrics are by far the best, and 
it is a misfortune that their somewhat difficult dialect has 
kept them from being generally appreciated, though 
Alysoun, the finest of the series, is familiar to readers of 
anthologies. We discover at once in these poems the 
influence of the French lyric curiously blended with purely 
English qualities. We hear an echo of troubadour verse 
when we read of a maiden who dwells in a tower guarded by 

ip. 109. 


knights and attendants, or of another adorned in a girdle of 
beaten gold set with a stone that turns water to wine, and 
who has 

" lefly rede lippes lele (leal^ true) 

romaunz forte rede." (romances for to read) 

We hear it, too, when a poet mourns that he has broken the 
rules of the "book of ladies love."'^ Such heroines, one would 
say, are not English maidens, but Chatelaines who must be 
approached with reverence : 

" Adoun y fel to hire anon 
ant crie : 'Ledy, thyn ore ! 
ledy, ha mercy of thy mon !' "^ 

This note recurs again and again : 

" Leuedy of alle londe, 
Les me out of bonde, (Loose me from the bonds) 

broht icham in wo; 
haue resting on honde, 
ant sent thou me thi sonde (message) 

sone, er thou me slo; 

my reste is with the ro."' (roe) 

The disfavor of these heroines is fatal: 

" To dethe thou hauest me diht, 
y deye longe er my day," 

yet the sad plight of these true lovers does not always move 
their compassion : 

" Nys no fur so hot in helle (There is no fire) 
al to mon, (compared to the man) 
that loueth derne ant darnout telle (loveth secretly) 
whet him ys on." 

1 Pp. 179, 157, 156, 152. 

2 P. 179. 

3 P. 149. 



" Ich vnne hire wel, ant heo me wo; (I wish) (she me woe) 
ycham hire frend, ant heo my fo; (and she my foe) 
me thuncheth min herte wol breke a two (me thinketh) 
for sorewe and syke !"^ 

This is indeed la grands passion, and there is but one 
poem in the MS. that is plainly satirical in its treatment of 
women.^ The derivation of these love plaints is not hard to 
find, for such learned comparisons as : 

" Ichot a burde in a hour ase beryl so bryht, (I know a maid) 
ase saphyr in seluer semly on syht, (silver) 
ase jaspe the gentil^ that lemeth with lyht, (gleameth) 
ase garnet in golde^ and ruby wel ryht." 

and the personifications are a direct inheritance from the 
French.^ The metres too come from across the channel. We 
have the Old English alliteration in line after line 

" weary as water in a weir," 

" as saphyr in seluer semly on syht," 

but the varied rhyme forms are echoes from the troubadours, 
and we find among them that strophe we have quoted from 
GuiUaume de Poitiers. One point is particularly notice- 
able — the frequent use of the monorhymed stanza. Richard 
Coeur de Lion had employed it; Walter Mapes used it in 
his Mihi est propositum; it will be seen in the early hymns 
we have cited. To-day it is rarely found, as in the song: 

" My love's an arbutus by the borders of Lene, 
So slender and shapely in her girdle of green. 
And I measure the pleasure of her eye's saphire sheen 
By the blue skies that sparkle through the soft branching 

iPp. 150, 163, 163. 

2 P. 151. 

3 P. 145, cf. p. 170. 


Even in the more complicated verse forms, the constant 
recurrence of the same rhyme is a favorite device. Though 
we read these songs in our modern pronunciation, we find 
in them a delightful and varied music, the promise of the 
melodic richness which was to characterize the later lyric. 
Despite these strongly marked French traits both in sub- 
ject-matter and rhythm, the songs are thoroughly Eng- 
lish — new wine has been poured into old bottles. These 
maidens are, after all, women who may be won, and since 
doughty deeds are not for wandering students, love plaints 
may move them. As one poet observes philosophically : 

" Betere is tholien whyle sore, (to suffer) 
then mournen euermore," 

and they are not so hopeless as they would appear to be : 

" with thy loue, my suete leof, mi blis thou mihtes eche, 
a suete cos of thy mouth mihte be my leche." (kiss) (my 

They see a happiness in store for them as it is pictured in 
the close of this charming duet : 

" 'Whil y wes a clerc in scole, wel muchel y couthe of lore, 
ych haue tholed for thy loue woundes fele sore, (suffered) 

fer from [hom] ant eke from men vnder the wode gore; 

(wood's edge) 
suete ledy, thou rewe of me, nou may y no more !' 

" 'thou semest wel to ben a clerc, for thou spekest so stille, 

shalt thou neuer for mi loue woundes thole grylle; (suffer 

fierce wounds) 
fader, moder, and al mjr kun ne shal me holde so stille, 
that y nam thyn, and thou art myn, to don al thi wille.' "' 

1 P. 173. 


When the background of personification or long-drawn- 
out similes is strictly conventional, we have fresh and 
delightful portraits of English maidens, dwelHng "by west" : 

" Hire bed when ich biholde apon, 
the sonnebeem aboute noon 
me thohte that y seye."^ 

" Hyre heye haueth wounded me ywisse^ (eye) 
hire bende browen, that bringeth blisse, 
hire comely mouth that mihte cusse, (he that might kiss) 

in muche murthe he were. 
y wolde chaunge myn for his (my lot for his) 
that is here fere." (her mate) 

" Ich wolde ich were a threstelcok, 
a bountyng other a lauerok, (lark) 

swete bryd ! 
bituene hire curtel ant hire smok 

y wolde ben hyd."^ 

It is the hope, seen even in the saddest plaints, expressing 
itself in naive asides 

" Hire swyre is whittore then the swon (neck) 
Ant feyerest may in toune." (fairest maid in the district) 

" gret hire wel, that swete thing 
with eynen gray," 

that gives to these poems their freshness. 

One of the most engaging characteristics of these songs 
is the frequent reference to nature. We remember that in 
the poesie courtoise it was a convention to begin a song with 
some allusion to nature, no matter what the subject. A 
broadly satiric description of Henry III and his desire to 

ip. 155. 

2 Pp. 163, 163. 


invade France commences: "Now comes the time of May, 
when the rose will open, when the weather is fair and the 
nightingale sings; when the meadows become green and the 
gardens bloom. I have found something that I shall relate." 
These English songs, too, begin with a picture of a country 
roadside in May ; or of a garden of flowers, when the "lef is 
lyht on lynde," as in the well-known opening lines of Alysown: 

" Bytuene marsh ant aueril, 

when spray biginneth to springe, 
The lutel foul hath hire wyl 

on hyre lud to synge. (with her voice) 
Ich libbe in loue longinge 
for semlokest of alia thinga; (seemliest) 
He may me blisse bringe."^ (she may) 

or in this bit of melody : 

" Lenten ys come with loue to toune, (Spring) 
with blosmen ant with briddes roune, (birds' song) 

that al this blisse bryngeth ; 
dayes-eyes in this dales, 
notes suate of nyhtagales, 

vch foul song singeth."^ (each) 

but such passages are no arbitrary introductions, for the 
love of nature, in which Ten Brink sees the folk song assert- 
ing itself, runs all through these lyrics, in similes and 
descriptions. Here the English poet surpasses his French 
masters for he has "more varied and richer details at his 
disposal, and is not wont to form an analogy of his personal 
sentiments with a certain phase of the life of nature, but 
rather lets his feelings appear as part of that life."' 

ip. 147. 

2 P. 164. 

3 G. Ten Brink, Early English Literature to Wiclif, trans, by 
Kennedy, N. Y., 1889, p. 305. 


We can merely call attention to the "Man in the Moon," 
a pure bit of fun and probably our oldest humorous song 
unmixed with satire,^ for we must turn to the religious lyrics 
in this manuscript. They are remarkable for their sincerity. 
We find in them no long-drawn-out moral platitudes, but 
rather ardent expressions of love for Christ and the Virgin ; 
vivid, pathetic pictures of the crucifixion and Mary's grief; 
touching lamentations for sins committed; and the char- 
acteristic mediaeval scorn of the world as an evil abode. We 
can illustrate these points only by brief quotations. The 
following lines written in the favorite monorhymed stanza 
are a good example of the hymn to Christ : 

" Suete iesu, myn huerte gleem, 
bryhtore then the sonne beenij 
ybore thou were in Bedleheem, 
thou make me here thi suete dreem. (song) 

" Suete iesu, louerd myn, (lord mine) 
my lyf, myn huerte, al is thin, 
vndo myn herte^ ant liht ther yn, 

and wite me from fendes engyn."^ (shield) (the fiend's 

The songs to Mary closely resemble the songs to Alysoun ; 
though the poet writes of the Virgin, the following intro- 
duction might well serve for a love poem : 

" Ase y me rod this ender day (other day) 
by grene wode to seche play, 

mid herte y thohte al on a may, (with my heart) (on a 
Suetest of alle thinge; 
Lythe, ant ich ou telle may (Listen) (I may tell you) 
al of that suete thinge."^ 

1 Bbddeker, p. 176. 

2 Pp. 191, 192. 

3 P. 218. 


The adaptation of secular verse for religious purposes 
long persisted, and to-day the church has not disdained to 
borrow from the opera music for its hymns. None of Bach's 
chorales has a deeper religious significance than "O sacred 
head now wounded," yet he took the melody from an old 
German love song composed by Hans Leo Hassler. The 
Latin hymns of the church were frequently parodied for 
political and satirical purposes. In this manuscript we find 
side by side, written by the same hand, an amorous poem, 

" Lutel wot hit anymon, (Little) (any man) 
Hou derne loue may stonde^ (secret) 
bote hit were a fre wymmon, (unless it) 
that muche of loue had fonde," 

with a refrain taken possibly from a folk song : 

" Euer ant oo for my leof icham in grete thohte, (and always) 
y thenche on hire that y ne sec nout ofte;'' (I do not often 

and a religious poem that is its exact counterpart : 

" Lutel wot hit anymon, 

hou loue hym haueth ybounde, 
that for vs othe rode ron, (on the rood) 
ant bohte vs with is wounde 
Euer ant oo, nyht ant day, he haueth vs in thohte. 
He nul nout leose that he so deore bohte."^ (will not lose 
that which) 

The pictures of the crucifixion are vivid and realistic as 
an altar piece by one of the old masters : 

iPp. 178, 231. 


" Heye vpon a doune, 

ther al folk hit se may, (where) 
a mile from the toune, 

aboute the midday, 
the rode is vp arered; (cross) 
his frendes aren afered, 

ant clyngeth so the clay; 
the rode stond in stone, 
marie stont hire one, (stands alone) 

ant seith 'weylaway !' "^ 

The contemptus mimdi furnishes the pessimism in these 
songs : 

" Wei ichot, ant soth hit ys, 
that in this world nys no blys, (there is no bliss) 
bote care, serewe, ant pyne."^ (sorrow) 

and this behef finds expression in one of the most beautiful 
poems in English literature. Its metre is perfectly adapted 
to the thought and the long, slow line that closes each stanza 
has a "dying fall," a melancholy echo, like the last chords 
of a dirge : 

" Wynter wakeneth al my care, 
nou this leues waxeth bare; (these branches) 
ofte y sike ant mourne sare, (sigh) 
when hit cometh in my thoht, 
of this worldes ioie, hou hit geth al to noht. 

" Nou hit is, ant nou hit nys, (Now it is not) 
also hit ner nere ywys; (as though it had never been) 
that moni mon seith, soth hit ys : (what many) 

al goth bote godes wille, (except God's will) 
alle we shule deye, thah vs like ylle. 

iP. 211. 
2 P. 194. 


" al that gren me greueth grene, 
nou hit faleweth al bydene; (fadeth all suddenly) 
iesu, help that hit be sene, 

ant shild vs from helle, 
for y not whider y shal^ ne hou longe her duelle."'^ (For I 
know not) (I shall go) 

If we compare the English and Anglo-Norman poems in 
this manuscript, we shall find that the English songs are not 
only more sincere in their feeling, but, what is rather sur- 
prising, more musical and artistic in their form. There is 
a curiously realistic Anglo-Norman poem on winter, or 
rather, on what winter means to the writer, which we may 
contrast with Winter wakeneth all my care. It is somewhat 
like comparing a Skeltonic outburst with a sonnet by Shake- 
speare, and indeed there is much of Skelton's spirit in these 
lines : 

■ When I see winter return 
(Which troubles me 
Because the season changes) 
Then I love a split log. 
Charred wood sputtering 
Embers flaring. 
Fire of twigs, for joy I sing 
For I love it so much."^ 

After continuing in this strain, the writer proceeds to an 
enumeration, three pages in length, of what he likes to eat! 
The Anglo-Norman love poems are certainly less sponta- 
neous, following established custom in laying down the laws 

ip. 195. 

2 T. Wright, Specimens of Lyric Poetry, p. 13. 


for true lovers, reading lessons in "fyn amour," or going to 
the other extreme and satirizing the follies of womankind: 

" La pie de costume (The magpie) 
Porte penne e plume 

de divers colours; 
E femme se delite 
En estraunge habite, 
de divers atours." 

"La pie est jangleresse" but woman "d'assez jangle plus."^ 
Without citing other examples, we may safely assert that 
at the beginning of the fourteenth century English song 
had not only learned a new melody and grace of expression 
from the French lyric, but rivalled and, in certain charac- 
teristics, surpassed it. 

We have spent much time on MS. Harleian 2253 because 
it is the first collection of lyrics in the English language, 
and because it represents practically all the moods of the 
lyrical spirit of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth 
centuries. It is a misfortune that our early lyrics are 
neglected and that they are regarded as the province of the 
philologist or of the student of the history of our literature. 
The difficulties of their language, supposedly great, are 
slight indeed, and their thoughts, quaintly expressed, are 
not utterly alien to our own, for we find many times that 
the strangeness lies in the form of expression. We do not 
need a special training to admire the early masters of paint- 
ing though their technique and their methods are far removed 
from ours ; we appreciate mediaeval carving ; we are thrilled 

1 P. 107. On page 163 of this volume is a very graceful Anglo- 
Norman love song, with a refrain in the metre used in Alysoun: 

" Je pri k Dieu e Seint Thomas, 
Qe il la pardoigne le trespas ! 
E je se verroiement le fas 
Si ele merci me crye." 


by the beauty of the churches and cathedrals that arose at 
the very time these songs were in the making. Surely no 
one, though utterly unskilled in mediaeval literature, can fail 
to admire the feeling and the art of these early poets even 
when they see another world than ours. These lyrics are but 
miniatures when we compare them with the superb frescoes 
of later poets, yet "in small proportions we just beauties 
see," and they should be known to all who enjoy the art of 
the Middle Ages.^ 

These lyrics we have discussed were written by clerks ; 
consequently they show the marks of a certain degree of 
learning and culture. The folk lyric of this period, simpler 
and less sophisticated, has disappeared. We saw traces of 
it in some of the refrains, and we get a glimpse of it in a 
poem written about 1303 in a law treatise preserved at 
Lincoln's Inn. The poet, riding in the woods, hears a "litel 
mai" singing: 

" Now springes the sprai ! — 
Al for loue I am so sake (sick) 
That slepen I ne mai." 

" Sone i herde that mirie note; (Soon) 
Thider I drogh; (I drew) 
I fond hire [in] an herber swote (arbor sweet) 
Under a bogh. 
With ioie inogh. 
Sone I asked 'Thou mirie mai, 

Hwi singestou ai' .'' (Why singest thou ay) 
Now springes the sprai. 

1 Chambers and Sidgwick's Early English Lyrics should win for our 
early songs the popular recognition they so richly deserve. This collec- 
tion, indispensable for the study of the lyric, can hardly be praised too 
highly; it appeals with equal force to the scholar and to the general 


" Than answerde that maiden swote 
Mid wordes fewe — 
'Mi lemman me haues bi-hot (my love) (promised) 
Of loue trewe; 
He chaunges a-newe. 
Yif I mai, it shall him rewe (it shall repent him) 
Bi this day' "^ (Concerning this day) 

Here we have the woman's song, the oldest form of the 

In Arthour and Merlin, a translation of a French romance 
made shortly after 1300, we find a number of nature songs; 
they are not in the French, and they have no connection with 
the plot. It seems quite probable that they are snatches of 
folk song : 

" Mirie time is Auerille, 
than scheweth michel of our wille; 
In feld & mede floures springeth, 
In grene wode foules singeth; 
Yong man wereth jolif, (becomes) 
& than proudeth man & wiif."^ 


We have now reached the fourteenth century, and for the 
first time we meet the poets themselves. One of the earliest 
writers is Lawrence Minot, of whose career we know abso- 
lutely nothing except that the twelve war songs from his 
pen, preserved in a single manuscript, were evidently written 

i Modern Language Review, vol. IV, p. 236; vol. V, p. 104. It was 
written as prose. 

2E. Kolbing, Arthour and Merlin, 11. 259-264; cf. 11. 4675-4680, 739T- 


at the time of the events they describe, between 1333 and 
1352. They have little grace either of metre or diction; but 
they are filled with life and action, and express with straight- 
forward, vigorous utterance a nation's pride in battles won. 
As the editor of Minot has well said, "His predecessors in the 
political poem had attacked abuses, exposed grievances, or 
written in the service of a faction. He is the first to speak 
in the name of the English nation just awakened to a con- 
sciousness of its unity and strength."^ The poems are 
directed against the archenemies of England — the Scotch 
and the French — and ring with the exultation of victory, 
even when in reality the English had the worst of the 

" Whare er ye, Skottes of Saint lohnes toune? 
The boste of yowre baner es betin all doune; 
When ye besting will bede sir Edward es boune (will oiFer) (is 

For to kindel yow care and crak yowre crowne: 

He has crakked yowre croiine, wele worth the while; 
Schame bityde the Skottes for thai er full of gile."^ 

Whatever Minot's career may have been, he certainly trailed 
a pike in a conquering army for he has the unmistakable 
gaudia certaminis. Though the comparison is by no means 
a fair one, yet if we place beside Minot's roughhewn lines 
the polished couplets of Addison's Campaign, we instantly 
perceive the difference that exists between the war songs of 
a soldier and the compliments of a courtier. Minot has his 
heroes, and his poems give the honor roll of English valor, 
as in his song on the defeat of the French at the sea fight at 
Sluys, 1340: 

1 J. Hall, Poems of Laurence Minot, Oxford, 1887, p. xiii. 

2 P. 6. 


" The gude Erie of Glowceter, God mot him glade, 
Broght many bold men with bowes ful brade; 
To biker with the Normandes baldely thai bade (to fight) 
And in middes the flode did tham to wade ; 

To wade war tho wretches casten in the brim; (in the sea) 
The kaitefs come out of France at lere tham to swim, (to 

" I prays lohn Badding als one of the best; 
Faire come he sayland out of the suthwest. 
To proue of tha Normandes was he ful prest, (full ready) 
Till he had foghten his fill he had neuer rest."' 

Minot well understood how to use proper names effectively, 
and in this respect he may be named with Scott: 

" Day set on Norham's castled steep, 
And Tweed's fair river, broad and deep. 
And Cheviot's mountains lone." 

We leave his poems with this cry of triumph over Crecy 

" Oway es all thi wele, i-wis, 

Franche man, with all thi fare ; 
Of murning may thou neuer mys. 

For thou ert cumberd all in care: 
With speche ne moght thou neuer spare 
To speke of Ingliss men despite; 

Now haue thai made thi biging bare, (thy house) 
Of all thi catell ertou quite."^ (thy goods art thou de- 

We approach the first commanding personality in Eng- 
hsh literature — Geoffrey Chaucer (1340P-1400) — and find 
to our surprise that his lyrics show but faint marks of his 

1 P. 16. It is interesting to compare Minot's work with that of mod- 
ern writers, in Christopher Stone's War Songs, Oxford, 1908. 

2 P. 25. 


genius. It is a commonplace to observe that Chaucer, 
Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton are the four greatest 
English poets — who shall stand beside them is the subject 
for debate — but it is not always remembered that of these 
four writers, Chaucer alone has left us no lyrics entirely 
worthy of his fame. Had Spenser written nothing but the 
Prothalamion and the Epithalamion, Shakespeare nothing 
beyond his songs and sonnets, Milton but his odes and son- 
nets, they would have been always honored as great poets 
who had given us 

" soul-animating strains — alas, too few!" 

If Chaucer's reputation depended on his lyrics, he would be 
little more than a half-forgotten name. 

It was in 1372-1373, twenty-four years after the death of 
Laura, that Chaucer made his j ourney into Italy ; it is possi- 
ble that he had gone to Rlilan in 1368 for the marriage of 
Lionel Duke of Clarence. Whether or not he actually met 
Petrarch (and it seems probable) he must have heard his 
sonnets for they had won instant admiration ; as a matter 
of fact, in Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer has translated, not 
following the form, Petrarch's quatorzain which begins 
"S'amor non e, che dunque e quel ch'io sento.''"'^ In the 
Monk's Tale, Chaucer speaks of "my master Petrarch," 
"the only place," Professor Lounsbury observes, "in which 
he seriously gives this designation to any author whatever" ;^ 
yet Chaucer is not sufficiently impressed by the beauty of the 
Cavzonicre either to introduce the sonnet form into English 
literature, or to imitate the Italian poet's lyrical treatment 
of love. On the other hand, Chaucer knew the English songs 
of his time, and it has often been pointed out that nearly all 
the Canterbury pilgrims are musical, from the squire who 
sang such love plaints as the Italians wrote, to the pardoner 

1 Lines 400-420. 

2 T. R. Lounsbury, Ptudhs in Chmicer, New York, 1893, II, p. 224. 


■who well understood the attracting power of simple English 
ditties : 

" Full loude he song: Come hider love to me," 

yet if we wish to hear the songs of Chaucer's England, we 
must turn from the Canterbury Tales to the manuscript col- 
lections of lyrics by unknown writers. Shakespeare incor- 
porates in his plays the popular lyrics of the day; Chaucer 
gives them a passing reference in a line or two. 

The reason for this is sufficiently obvious. Chaucer had 
the temperament of the dramatist, of the story teller. When 
he studies the heart with its impulses and waverings ; when 
he observes the passions and thoughts of men and women, 
he thinks of a tale and not of a song. The lyric poet asks 
nothing more than to express a single mood or emotion, 
detached, and sufficient unto itself; but in Chaucer the social 
instinct was strong and what he wished to study and to 
depict was the interplay of character. The humorous side 
of life, which appealed so strongly to him, can be expressed 
but very inadequately in lyric verse. In the House of FaTne 
we are told that Chaucer had set his wit 

" to make bokes, songes, dytees. 
In ryme, or elles in cadence," 

but the songs and ditties are not many.^ The lyric seemed 
to him too small a province. 

When Chaucer sought models for his lyrics, he turned to 
the writings of his French predecessors and contemporaries. 
"The note, I trowe, maked was in Fraunce," he says of the 
rondel sung by the birds in the Parlement of Foules, but this 
applies to his other lyrics. His A. B. C. to the Virgin is not 
a hymn inspired by his own religious sentiment, but a trans- 
lation from De Deguilleville's Pelerinage de VAme. He bases 

ILI. 622-623. 


the three ballades that form the Compleynt of Venus on three 
ballades of Granson: 

" And eek to me hit is a greet penauncCj 
Sith rym in English hath swich scarsitee. 
To folowe word by word the curiositee 

Of Graunson, flour of hem that make in Fraunce." 

There are undeniable strains of English song in his verse. 
We hear the earlier lyric in the following Hnes from the 
Bohe of the Duchesse: 

" Lord, hit maketh myn herte light. 
Whan I thenke on that swete wight 

That is so semely on to see; 

And wisshe to god hit might so be. 
That she wolde holde me for her knight. 
My lady, that is so fair and bright."^ 

and in these verses from his Compleint to his Lady: 

" My dere herte, and best beloved fo. 
Why lyketh yow to do me al this wo. 

What have I doon that greveth yow, or sayd. 
But for I serve and love yow and no mo? 
And whylst I live, I wol do ever so ; 

And therfor, swete, ne beth nat evil apayd. 
For so good and so fair as [that] ye be. 

Hit were [a] right gret wonder but ye hadde 

Of alle servants, bothe goode and badde; 
And leest worthy of alle hem, I am he."^ 

These passages are not so characteristic of Chaucer's 
lyrics as are his ballades, written not in the eight line stanza, 
but in the seven line rhyme royal. The best of them are 
marked by a dignified, earnest, eloquent utterance: 

ILL 1175-1180. 
2 LI. 64.-73. 


" That thee is sent, receyve in buxumnessCj (submission) 
The wrastling for this worlde axeth a fal. 
Her nis non hoom, her nis but wildernesse : 
Forth, pilgrim, forth ! Forth, beste, out of thy stal ! 
Know thy contree, look up, thank God of al ; 
Hold the hye wey, and lat thy gost thee lede : 
And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede."^ 

Among the best is Lah of Stedfastnesse, in which the poet 
laments that 

" Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holden fable; 
Vertu hath now no dominacioun, 
Pitee exyled, no man is merciable. 
Through covetyse is blent discrecioun; 
The world hath mad a permutacioun 
Fro right to wrong, fro trouthe to fikelnesse. 
That al is lost, for lak of stedfastnesse." 

The love ballades are not as successful. 

" Hyd, Absolon, thy gilte tresses clere ; 
Ester, ley thou thy meknesse al a-doun," 

from the Legend of Good Women^ has melody but cata- 
logues too much, giving us a list of names rather than a 
series of brief but vivid pictures, such as we find in Villon's 
incomparable Ballade of Dead Ladies. The Triple Roundel 
of Merciles Beaute is too obviously an imitation to possess 
much life ; but there is one rondel of Chaucer's so graceful 
and musical that it deserves to be quoted and with it we 
leave his lyrics : 

" Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe. 
That hast this wintres weders over-shake, 
And driven awey the longe nightes blake ! 

1 Truth. 

2 Prologue, Text B, 11. 249-269. 


" Seynt Valentyn, that art f ul hy on-lof te ; — 
Thus singen smale foules for thy sake — 
Now melcom somer, with thy sonne softe. 
That hast this wintres weders over-shake. 

" Wei han they cause for to gladen ofte, 
Sith ech of hem recovered hath his make; 
Ful blisful may they singen whan they wake; 
'Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe. 
That hast this wintres weders over-shake. 
And driven awey the longe nightes blake.' "^ 

If we compare this with the songs of the previous century, 
we see that the touch is firmer, the art is more sure, for it 
comes from the hand of a master. 

We cannot leave the fourteenth century without a men- 
tion of two contemporaries of Chaucer — Richard RoUe and 
the unknown author of The Pearl. Rolle (d. 1349) is one 
of the most interesting characters of Mediaeval England. 
Had he but founded an order, his name would have been 
known throughout the world, for he had the qualities of a 
great rehgious leader — ^intense convictions, an enthusiasm 
that bordered upon fanaticism, and the power to express 
his thoughts simply and vividly. He was both a dreamer 
and a man of action ; he divided his life between mystic 
contemplation and preaching a practical, everyday morality 
to the peasants of Yorkshire. His poems have little grace 
or art ; they are filled with emotion, for his rehgious fervor 
expresses itself directly, without reflection. Two stanzas 
are sufficient to show his style and his feehng : 

" My sang es in syghyng, whil I dwel in this way; 
My lyfe es in langyng, that byndes me nyglit & day, 
Til I com til my kyng, that I won with hym may, (dwell) 
And se his fayre schynyng, & lyfe that lastes ay.'' 

^Parlement of Foules, 11. 680-692. 


" Sygh & sob, bath day and nyght, for ane sa fayre of hew. 
Thar es na thyng my hert mai light, bot lufe, that es ay new. 
Wha sa had hym in his syght, or in his hert hym knew. 
His mournyng turned til joy ful bryght, his sang in til glew."^ 

Whether or not we accept The Pearl as the actual record 
of a personal bereavement, the lyric element in the poem is 
lost in description, allegory, and even didacticism. The 
poem, certainly one of the most beautiful in our language, 
is not a series of moods treated lyrically, for its author con- 
siders not so much his own feelings as the visions he has 
invoked. The lyric poet uses the world of nature and the 
world of dreams to interpret his own feehngs ; the writer of 
The Pearl reverses this process and his feehngs of grief or 
joy measure the power of his dreams. Despite certain lyri- 
cal stanzas. The Pearl lies outside our province. 

If the fifteenth century showed, so far as the lyric is con- 

" No master spirit, no determined road," 

it cannot be taunted with a "want of books and men." 
Hoccleve (1368?-14<4<8) and Lydgate (1375-14.4.9) fol- 
lowed Chaucer as best they could, and while in their verse 
schemes they showed a certain technical achievement, they 
lacked both his art and his inspiration. When Hoccleve 
writes a poem lamenting his ill-spent Hfe, he gives us a 
rambling confession in fifty-six eight-line stanzas. His 

1 C. Horstmann, Richard Bolle of Hampole, London, 1895, vol. I, pp. 
75, 78. 


poetry is often personal ; his Complaint narrates his sickness, 
his loss of reason, the desertion of his friends, but there is 
no lyric cry in it. At times he employs well-known lyric 
themes, but he cannot treat them lyrically: 

" How fair thyng or how precious it be 
That in the world is, it is lyk a flour^ 
To whom nature yeuen hath beautee (given) 
Of fressh heewe and of ful pleasant colour; 
With soote smellynge also, and odour; (sweet) 
But as soone as it is bicomen drye, 
Ffarwel colour and the smel gynneth dye."^ 

This is pretty crude, especially when we consider that we 
are approaching the sixteenth century. Much better is his 
Modir of god, long considered above his style and accord- 
ingly attributed to Chaucer.^ 

Lydgate is a more important figure, but a poor writer of 
lyrics. Like Hoccleve he is exasperatingly prolix, and 
though we find in his religious poetry lines and stanzas that 
have decided merit, the next page invariably destroys the 
effect. A recently discovered lyric. The Child Jesus to Mary, 
the Rose, has both sincerity of feeling and graceful expres- 
sion, and exhibits the best traits of his work.^ 

This age produced a third poet whose work is contained 
in MS. 682 Harleian. It consists of a series of most inter- 
esting lyrics that are English translations of poems by 
Charles d'Orleans. For a considerable number of them no 
French originals have as yet been found, but in all proba- 
bility they are merely English versions of work by Charles 
that has disappeared. This English translator (Professor 
MacCracken believes him to be Suffolk, the friend of 

IB. B. T. 8., Extra Series, LXI, p. 119. 

2 P. 52. 

3B. E. T. S., Extra Series, vol. CVII, p. 78. 


Charles) was a skillful writer, for many of these lyrics have 
all the lightness and charm of the French.^ What could be 
more delightful than the following rondel? 

" My gostly fadir, y me confesse, 
First to god and then to yow, 
That at a wyndow, wot ye how, 
I stale a cosse of gret swetnes ; (kiss) 
Which don was out avisynes, 
But hit is doon not undoon now. 

My gostly fadir, I me confesse. 
First to God and then to yow. 

" But y restore it shall dowtles 
Ageyn if so be that y mow. 
And that [to] God y make a vow. 
And ellis y axe foryefnes. (else I ask) 
My gostly fadir, I me confesse, 
First to God and then to yow." 

If we believe this gay song to be modelled on some undis- 
covered French lyric, the following seems thoroughly Eng- 
lish in both its theme and its expression : 

" This time when lovers althermost defie (most of all) 

Eche hevy thought as ferforth as thai may, (as utterly) 
And rise or phebus in the morow gray, (rise before) 
Leiyng aside all slouthe and slogardy, 
To here the birdis synge so lustily, 

Ovyr the spryngyng bodies on the spray. 

This tyme when lovers althermost defie 
Eche hevy thought as ferforth as thei may. 

ISee Publications of M. L. Association, vol. XXVI, No. I, pp. 143- 


" Thyn waylyng on my pilow thus y ly, 

For that as was and now is goon for ay, 
Wisshyng no more but deth eche howre of day, 
Saiyng 'my hert, alias whi nelt thou day' ? (why wilt thou 
not die) 
This tyme when lovers althermost defie 
Eche hevy thought as ferforth as thei may."^ 

As we leave these three writers — Hoccleve, Lydgate, and 
the translator of Charles d'Orleans — it is worthy of notice 
that the French metres they so assiduously cultivated, fol- 
lowing Chaucer's example, did not become a part and parcel 
of English verse. Despite Wyatt's rondeaux, the Tudor 
lyrists and, above all, the Ehzabethans cared nothing for the 
ballade or rondel. It was left for the poets of the nine- 
teenth century to domesticate them. 

More interesting than the works of these courtly makers 
are the more popular forms of the lyrics — the songs in the 
Miracle plays, the carols, and the large body of anonymous 
verse, secular and rehgious. 

It is unquestionably true that many of the lyrics in the 
Mystery plays and in the Moralities are much older than 
the fifteenth century. The York cycle was composed about 
1350, and the references in Chaucer to "pleyes of miracles" 
and to such stock characters as Noah and Herod prove con- 
clusively that these dramatic entertainments were widely 
known in his day. Yet the Mysteries flourished particularly 
from 1400 to 1500; they have come down to us in manu- 
scripts that date from that period; and it is quite probable 
that their lyrics, however old they may be, are preserved in 
fifteenth century form. For convenienoe we shall consider 
with the Mystery plays the Moralities also, though they were 
at their height in the first decades of the sixteenth century. 

^ Poems written in English by Charles Duke of Orleans, ed. by G. W. 
Taylor, Roxburghe Club, London, 1827, pp. 174, 177. 


In reading these early dramas we are at once struck by 
their lyrical quaUty. They contain not only many songs 
but a large number of short poems, not written for music, 
yet expressing musically a deep personal emotion. Songs 
written for a single voice, for three parts, or for a chorus 
are introduced with such frequency that the scribes did not 
trouble to copy them, but merely indicated where they 
occurred. Evidently they could be easily suppKed. 

Presbyter: " now, boy, I pray thee lett vs have a song! 

Boy: I home and I hast, I do that I may, 

With mery tune the trebyll to syng."^ 
(Synge both.) 

We find the three part song in the Morality of Wisdom: 

Mynde : " A tenor to you both I brynge. 
Vnderstondyng : And I a mene for ony kynge. 

Wyll: And but a trebyll I out-wrynge, 

the deuyU hym spede that myrth exyled, 

Thus the shepherds in the Nativity plays arrange their 
parts : 

primus pastor: " lett me syng the tenory. 
iius pastor : And I the tryble so hye. 
iiius pastor: Then the meyne fallys to me; 
lett se how ye chauntt.' 



It will be noticed that in none of these passages are the 
songs given. More often we find no such introduction for the 
lyrics but instead a stage direction, "Here shall enter a ship 
with a merry song," "Et tunc cantant," "Tunc cantant 

1 E. E. T. S., Extra Series, LXX, p. 101. 

2 P. 160. 

3 Vol. LXXI, p. 122. 


angeli Te Deum." The songs that are actually included in 
the text make us regret that so many have been lost. One 
of the best is sung by the "gossipes" who, with Noah's wife, 
refuse to enter the ark: 

The Good Gossipes Songe. 

" The flude comes fleeting in full faste. 

One every syde that spreades full fere; 
For feare of drowninge I am agaste; 

Good gossippes, lett us drawe nere 
And lett us drinke or we departe. 

For ofte tymes we have done soe; 
For att a draughte thou drinkes a quarte, 

And soe will I do or I goe. 
Heare is a pottill full of Malmsine, good and stronge; 
It will rejoyce bouth liarte and tonge; 
Though Noye thinke us never so longe, 
Heare we will drinke alike."^ 

As Noah's wife sings with these roisterers, it is fair to 
assume that intemperance was not a vice peculiar to the 
Patriarch, but rather a family weakness and that quite pos- 
sibly it was once more a woman who started the man on the 
downward path. From the very first line with its splendid 
alliteration, such a lyric is an excellent example of the popu- 
lar drinking songs. Surely the unknown poet who wrote it 
caught the rollicking swing from some tavern catch. 

While this song is adequate to the situation, many are not. 
Although David, for example, asserts: 

" As god of heuen has gyiFyn me wit. 
Shall I now syng you a fytt, (a song) 
With my mynstrelsy;" 

1 A. W. Pollard, English Miracle Plays, Moralities and Interludes, 
fifth ed., Oxford, 1909, p. 15. Cf. E. E. T. S., Extra Series, vol. LXII, 
p. 57. 


his song does not justify his reputation : 

" Myrth I make till all men, 
With my harp and fyngers ten. 

And warn theym that they glad; 
ffor god will that his son down send. 
That wroght adam with his hend. 
And heuen and erthe mayde."^ 

Turning from actual songs, to short poems lyrical in their 
subjective spirit, we find that none are more beautiful than 
the verses spoken by the shepherds at Bethlehem: 

" Hayll, full of favoure. 

That made all of noght ! 
Hayll! I kneyll and I cowre. 
A byrd haue I broght 
To my barne. 
Hayll, lytyll tyne mop ! 
Of cure crede thou art crop: 
I wold drynk on thy cop, 
Lytyll day starne. 

" Hayll ! swete is thy chere ! 
My hart wold blede 
To se the sytt here 

In so poore wede. 
With no penny s. 
Hayll ! put furth thy dall ! (thy hand) 
I bryng the bot a ball : 
Haue and play the with all, 

And go to the tenys."^ 

Surely Herrick must have remembered these lines when he 
wrote To his Saviour, a Child. 

1 E. E. T. S., vol. LXXI, p. 59. 
2 P. 139. 


There are so many lyrics in these plays that the choice is 
difficult; we have them from the lament of Adam, written in 
the metre employed by Guillaume de Poitiers, 

" Gone ar my games with-owten glee, 
Alias ! in blisse kouthe we noht bee. 
For putte we were to gret plente 

at prime of the day, 
By tyme of none alle lost had wee, (of noon) 
sa welawaye." 

to the praise of Christ, sung by eight burgesses as he enters 
Jerusalem : 

" Hayll ! dyamaunde with drewry dight, (jewel adorned) 
Hayll ! j asper gentill of Jewry, 
Hayll ! lylly lufsome lemyd with lyght."^ 

It is evident that the secular lyric has been adapted in this 
passage, as in many others. Conversely, it would be easy to 
cite places where many of the Latin hymns of the church 
and religious lyrics in the vernacular were "taken over bodily 
by the play-writers and adapted to dramatic purposes," 
especially the prayers to Christ and the Virgin and the 
lamentations of Mary at the cross, for the connection between 
the popular lyric and the Miracle plays was an extremely 
close one. As a whole these dramatic lyrics suffer from the 
chief fault of the plays of which they form a part — prolixity 
and lack of variety — yet many of them are extremely beau- 
tiful in their simple, naive expression of great emotions, and 
all of them are deserving of study, for they are the stock 
from which sprung the flower of song in the Elizabethan 

1 L. T. Smith, York Mystery Plays, Oxford, 1885, pp. 32, 217. 

2 Despite Bell's Songs from the Dramatists and BuUen's Songs from, 
the Elizabethan Dramatists, there is needed a more comprehensive 
anthology of the songs in the English drama, and the writer has one in 


From 1400 to 1500 is the carol period par excellence. 
Though the tradition continued through the sixteenth cen- 
tury, and carol collections were printed during the seven- 
teenth century, yet the Reformation began that suppression 
of Christmas festivity and song which the Puritan revolu- 
tion accomplished; as it pulled down the shrines of the Vir- 
gin, so it destroyed the fabric of song which the carol makers 
had raised in her honor. The carols were the work of many 
hands ; we know the names of but a few of the makers — John 
Audelay, a blind priest of Haughmond Abbey, Shropshire, 
who wrote about the year 1426, is one of the earliest.^ It is 
easy to recognize the authorship of priest and clerk in the 
macaronic verse of many of the songs, or in such choruses as : 

" Mater, ora filium, vt post hoc exilium 
Nobis donet gaudium beatorum omnium,"^ 

and in the numerous carols of wassailing, which beseech in 
the most open way a bountiful largess, we certainly see the 
hand of wandering singers. 

Though many carols are preserved for us in the blank 
pages of MSS. containing more serious matter, six MSS. are 
especially rich in the collections of Christmas songs they 
contain ; none of these go back as early as the first reference 
to Noels in France. What is believed to be the oldest carol 
written in England is an Anglo-Norman wassail song that 
contains no reference whatever to the Nativity, but considers 
the season as a time for "li vins Engleis, e li Gascoin, e li 
Franceys" or for "joie d'amours." It closes with the follow- 
ing stanzas : 

1 See Chambers and Sidgwick, Fifteenth Century Carols by John 
Audelay, Modern Language Review, vol. V, No. IV; VI, No. I. Cf. 
Anglia, vol. XVIII, p. ITS. 

2 E. E. T. 8., Extra Series, CI, p. 21. 


" Seignors, jo vus di par Noel, (je vous dis) 
E par li sires de cest hostel, 

Car bevez ben: (buvez bien) 
E jo primes beverai le men, (je boirai le mien le premier) 
E pois apres chescon le soen, (cbacun le sien) 
Par mon conseil; 

Si jo vus di trestoz 'Wesseyl' ! (Si je vous dis) 
Dehaiz eit qui ne dirra, 'Drincheyl !' "^ (Honi soit 

"Wesseyl" and "Drincheyll" are Saxon words, and undoubt- 
edly they formed part of the pagan songs sung at the mid- 
winter feasts, songs which the church was unable to suppress 
and wisely turned to the pious uses of Christmas joy. There 
is probably, then, an element of old English poetry in some 
of the carols, but the influence of the French Noels is much 
more apparent. Naturally there are a certain number of 
themes which must be treated in aU Christmas songs, and the 
carols of every nation must resemble each other, but the 
carols on "My lord, sire Christmas," whom the early French 
jongleurs impersonated, and the very many choruses "Noel, 
Noel, Noel," clearly show the French provenance. The 
fact that these songs are called as a class "carols," and not 
"noels," indicates that they were sung and danced, as were 
the old May songs, and were thus in the popular mind classed 
with the spring dance songs. The sti^cture of many of the 
carols, two, three, or four hues on one rhyme, with a chorus, 
shows that they were well adapted for the dancing singers.^ 
The carols may be roughly divided into songs of mirth 
and revelry, and songs on subjects connected, however 
remotely, with the nativity. The first group is interesting 
chiefly for its exuberance of good spirits. Hitherto the lyric 
has been chiefly amorous, contented to describe a lover's woes ; 
here we have heart-easing mirth, whole-souled epicureanism, 

IT. Wright, Specimens of Old Christmas Carols, Percy Society Publi- 
cations, vol. IV, p. 2. 


boisterous feasting, when the halls are decked with ivy and 
holly, when the boar's head is placed on the table, and the 
wassail bowl "spiced to the brim," is passed around : 

Beuvex bien par tutte la company. 
Make gode chare and be ryght merry. 
And syng with us now joyfuUy, 

How long these customs prevailed is shown by the echo of 
these carols in the more refined songs of Robert Herrick. 
From the literary standpoint, the best carols are written on 
the annunciation and the nativity. They sing the slumber 
songs of the Virgin ; they show us the adoration of the shep- 
herds, "joly Wat" and his companions; and they treat all 
these themes either with a childlike idealism which our 
sophisticated age cannot imitate, or with a realism equally 
remote from us because of its utter simplicity. Especially 
charming are the carols in praise of Mary, the Rose among 
maidens : 

" There is no rose of swich vertu 
As is the rose that bare Jhesu. 

" For in this rose conteined was 
Hevene and erthe in litel space. 
Res miranda." 

" Of a rose, a lovely rose. 
Of a rose is all mine song. 

ip. 51. 


The flour sprong in heye Bedlem, 
That is bothe bright and schene. (fair) 
The rose is Mary, hevene quene; 

Out of her bosum the blosme sprong."^ 

It will be noticed that sentimentality, that blight of the 
modern religious song, is not found here. 

The most beautiful of the carols made in honor of the 
Virgin, we might even say of all the carols, is "I sing of a 

" He cam also stille 

Ther his moder was. 
As dew in Aprille 

That falleth on the grass. 
He cam also stille 

To his moderes hour. 
As dew in Aprille 

That falleth on the flour. 
He cam also stille 

There his moder lay, 
As dew in Aprille 

That falleth on the spray."^ 

Such refinement of melody is rare in any poetry. In the 
thought of the song we have strangeness added to beauty, 
mysticism expressed in the language of a child. But slightly 
inferior to this are some of the Virgin's slumber songs :^ 

" This endris night I saw a sight, 
A stare as bright as day; 
And ever among a maiden song, 
'Lullay, by by, lullay.' 

iPp. 105, 103. 

2 P. 107. For the genesis of this carol see Modern Philology, vol. VII, 
p. 165. 

3 See Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. II, chapter xvi, 
N. Y., 1908. 


" 'My dere moder, whan time it be. 

Thou take me up on loft. 
And sette me upon thy knee^ 

And handell me full soft; 
And in thy arme thou hill me warme, 

And kepe night and day; 
If that I wepe, and may not slepe^ 

Thou sing. By by, luUay.' "' 

but the tenderness changes to pathos when the child foretells 
what it must suffer: 

" A babe is born, our blysse to brynge, 
A maide ther was dyd luUy and synge; 
She saide 'dere sone, leve thy wepynge. 
Thy fFader ys the kyng of blis.' 

Synge we [with angelis, gloria in excelsis.] 

" 'Lullay,' she sange and saide also, 
'My nowne dere sone, why artow wo? 
Haue I not do that I sholde do? 

Thy grevaunce, telle me what it is !' 

'Nay, modir, for this wepe I nought. 
But for the wo that shal be wrought 
To me, er I mankynde haue bought: 

Was neuer no sorwe so lyk, I wys.' "^ 

If we turn from such songs to the shepherds : 

" Terly terlow, terly terlow. 
So merily the shepardes began to blow !" 

we see that the range of the carols is no small one. 

We have treated of the carols at some length because of 
all the early English songs they are the surest to survive; 
for if their words appeal to us, their setting is equally 
attractive. As a musical critic has pointed out : "Tunes of 

1 Early English Lyrics, p. 121. 

^Modern Language Notes, vol. XXIV, No. 7, p. 225. 


three centuries ago do not always seem very closely con- 
nected with individual subjects, and the constant resetting 
to other words which went on shows that they were not 
considered so by musicians of the time. 'Greensleeves,' as 
secular a song as ever was written, was sung to carol words 

while Cavaliers shouted it as a party watchword 

But the carols appeal to modern ears as perfect expres- 
sions of their subject The truth seems to be that at 

this early time musicians had arrived at just the right 
technique for the expression of the carol theme. Their 
church training had cultivated the instinct for pure melodic 
movement ; their system of rhythmic modes, complicated 
as it seems to students who try to master it at the 
present day, taught them to reflect the metre of the poetry 
with extraordinary closeness, and at the same time, con- 
trasted with the stiffness of the modem bar line, the musical 
effect of their work is wonderfuUy buoyant and free."'^ And 
apart from the beauty of their music, the carols possess a 
deep interest in the fact that they represent a lost art. We 
can never reproduce their simpHcity — which is their greatest 
charm. In our carols that seem infused with the old time 
spirit, we see the modern touch in the too finely wrought 
antithesis, or in the adjective, too vivid and too descriptive, 
as in Christina Rossetti's : 

" In the bleak mid-winter 

Frosty wind made moan, 
Earth stood hard as iron. 
Water like a stone ; 

" Enough for Him whom cherubim 
Worship night and day, 
A breastful of milk 

And a mangerful of hay."^ 

1 London Times, Dec. 25, 1909. 

2 From A Christmas Carol. 


We have but short space left for the large number of 
anonymous lyrics found in fifteenth century manuscripts ; 
many have not been printed and there is an interesting 
field of work here for the student of our early poetry. It 
was in this age, above all other periods, that the ballads 
were composed. We shall not consider them, for, as we 
pointed out in our first chapter, they are dramatic narra- 
tives, little epics, rather than lyrics. Many of the ballads 
have purely lyrical stanzas, especially at their opening or 
close : 

" In somer when the shawes be sheyne, (groves) (fair) 
And leves be large and long, 
It is full mery in feyre foreste 
To here the foulys song;" 

yet as a class, these poems do not belong to our subject. 

The anonymous songs differ widely from the earlier ones 
we have described. In general, the old alliteration has 
largely, though not entirely, disappeared; the metres have 
been simplified; and, the one inheritance remaining from 
the French courtly lyric, the lover is shown in a submissive 
attitude. Two groups of lyrics are quite sharply defined — 
the humorous and convivial songs and the love lyrics. In 
-the manuscripts they jostle each other, and we find beside 
the eminently decorous and mournful love plaint, "My 
wofuU heart of all gladness barren," the coarse but vigorous 
•"Be pes, ye make me spiU my ale." There are many such 
drinking songs, "Tapster, drynker, fille another ale," or 

" Jentill butler, bellamy. 
Fill the boll by the eye;'' 

to cite merely the opening lines is to describe them. The 
humorous songs are much closer to life than was the Man 
in the Moon: 


" How hey ! it is none lese, 
I dare not seyn, whan sche seith 'Pes !' 

" Ying men, I warne you everichone, 
Elde wives tak ye none. 
For I myself have one at home. 

I dare not seyn, whan sche seith 'Pes !' 

" If I aske our dame fleich, (meat) 
Sche breketh mine hed with a dich; 
' Boy, thou art not worth a reich' (rush) 

I dare not seyn, whan sche seith 'Pes !' "^ 

But even in these uncourtly songs, woman was not always 
slandered. At the end of a long MS. of curious questions 
and answers, such as 

" Miht any man, on dry lande well. 

Go aboute ye worlde everydele," (every part) 

are a few blank pages ; one contains the following defense 
of womankind: 

" I am as lighte as any roe 
To praise womene where that I go." 

" To onpreise womene it were a shame. 
For a woman was thy dame. 
Our blessed lady bereth the name 
Of all womene where that they go. 

" A woman is a worthy thing; 
They do the washe and do the wringe; 
' Lullay, luUay !' she dothe thee singe ; 
And yet she hath but care and wo. 

" A woman is a worthy wight ; 
She serveth a man bothe daye and night; 
Thereto she putteth alle her might; 

And yet she hath but care and wo."^ 

1 Early English Lyrics, p. 207. 

2 P. 197. 


The love songs have gained a grace, not only in their 
expression but in their sentiments, as in this madrigal of the 
middle of the fifteenth century : 

" Go hertj hurt with adversite. 
And let my lady thi woundes see. 
And sey hire this as I say the: 
' Farewel my joy and welcome peyne 
Til I se my lady agayne.' " 

or in this, from the same MS. : 

" Thus I compleyne my grevous hevynesse 
To you, that knowith this of myne entent. 
Alas, why shuld ye be so merselese. 
So moche beute as God hatha you sent. 

Ye maj' my peyne relese. 
Do as ye list — I hold me content."^ 

We pass by the famous patriotic song on Agincourt, 

" Owre kynge went forth to Normandy, 
With grace and myght of chyualry," 

and the popular Song of the Plow, 

" The plowe gothe mony a gate, 
Bothe erly and eke late. 

In winter in the clay, 
Aboute barly and whete. 
That makethe men to swete. 

God spede the plowe all day!"^ 

to come to two important MSS. The first, of one hundred 
and forty-five pages, contains the words and music of fifty- 
one two, three, and four part songs, and is considered the 

IMS. Ashmolean 191. Printed in Early Bodleian Music, vol. II, pp. 

68, 70. 

2 Vol. II, pp. 129, 132. The Song of the Plow is printed in Early 

English Lyrics, p. 241. 


oldest English collection of secular songs written for several 
voices. It is called the Fairfax MS. because it was once in 
the possession of Robert Fairfax, a musician and composer 
of such fame that he was given the degree of Doctor of 
Music by Cambridge in 1504 and by Oxford in 1511 ; indeed 
it is quite possible that he copied it himself, for he eked out 
his income by writing such music books. Fairfax, who is 
named as the composer of eight of these songs, died in 1529, 
yet many of the songs undoubtedly belong to the fifteenth 
century, for some were written by Turges and Tudor, two 
musicians of the time of Henry VI, and another composer 
was Gilbert Bannistre, who died about 14!90. The songs 
are political, religious, amatory; we select two of the last 
class, the first one, in its simplicity, retaining something of 
the folk song: 

" My Margarit 
I can not mete 
In feeld ne strata. 
Wofull am I, woffull am I ! 
Lave loua this chaunce, 
Yor chere avaunce. 
And let vs daunce. 
Hark my lady, hark my lady, 
So manarly, so manerly, so manerly \"^ 

The second song, absolutely different in its style, reads 
as though it were an attempt to translate an Italian love 
sonnet, the form imperfectly apprehended: 

" That was my Joy, is now my woo and payne, 
That was my bliss, is now my displesaunce. 
That was my trust, is now my wanhope playne, (despair) 
That was my wala, is now my most gravaunce. 
What causyth this but only yowre plasaunce, 
Onryghtfully shewyng me unkyndness, 

1 E. Fliigel, Neuenglisches Lesebuch, Bd. I, Halle, 1895, p. 143. 


That hath byn your, fayre lady and mastress, 
Nor nought cowde haue — wolde I neuyr so fayne. 
My hart is yours with gret assuraunce, 
Wherfore of rygt ye shuld my greffe complaynej 
And with pite haue me In remembraunce. 
Wolde In no wise, for Joy nor heuvyness, 
Haue but yourselfe, fayre lady and mastress."^ 

The second MS. contains ninety-eight part songs, written 
from the time of Edward IV to Henry VIII. Many of them 
are composed in a high and courtly mood, 

" Absense of yeu causeth me to sygh and complayne, 
Ffor of my hert ye haue the gouvernavnce, 
And thogh I wolde, I kovde me not refrayne," 

but we have carols, drinking songs, and moral ditties. The 
future course of the lyric is better indicated by this fresh 
and simple love song: 

" Fayr and discrete, fresche wommanly figure. 
That with youre beute and fresche pleasaunee pure, 
Arested hathe my hert in sodeyn wise, 
I recommende my symple seruice sure. 
My lyues ladi and my hertis cure, 
Vnly to youre swete grace, a thousand sythe. (times) 
Besechyng yeure excuse there I surprise ; 
Sum loue commaunds me this auenture, 
Thorffe ( ?) with yeur bevty that I most loue and prise."^ 

The songs of the fifteenth century have not yet come to their 
own ; many are lying undiscovered on the margins or on the 

1 British Museum, MS., Add. 5465, printed by B. Fehr in Archiv, CVI, 
p. 57. A line seems to be omitted after verse seven. Early English 
Lyrics prints six other songs from this MS. 

2 MS. Add. 5665, printed by Fehr in Archiv, CVI, pp. 279, 380. 


last pages of forgotten manuscripts, but they deserve recog- 
nition, and -without them we can not adequately estimate the 
work of Wyatt and Surrey. 


We now approach the last conspicuous writer before the 
Renaissance of the English lyric. John Skelton (1460- 
1529) studied at Cambridge and was given a degree for 
achievement in letters — it was called the laureateship — by 
both his Alma Mater and by Oxford. His honors did not 
end there, for his widely recognized scholarship caused 
Henry VII to select him as the tutor of his son, the future 
Henry VIII, and to bestow on him in recognition of his poetic 
ability a white and green robe with "Calliope" embroidered 
on it. Surely here is the English Petrarch. Despite these 
dignities, Skelton's life was a stormy one ; after many 
quarrels at court, duly and dully chronicled in verse, he 
retired to a country parsonage from whose shelter he 
courageously attacked the luxury and arrogance of Wolsey. 
Finding his life endangered by his biting satire of the 
prelate, he fled for refuge to a monastery at Westminster, 
where he died. His fame was great. Caxton praised his 
translations from the Latin because they were written "not 
in rude and old language, but in polished and ornate terms, 
craftily" ; Erasmus, ever a keen critic, described him as "the 
sole light and glory of English letters" ; in Italy, Pico da 
Mirandola sang his praises. 

We open his works to find Mediaevalism ; they contain 
hardly a touch of Renaissance art and grace, of the dolce 
stil nuovo. Skelton possessed a keen, alert, and vigorous 
mind, yet he could not comprehend the new spirit. One of 
the greatest egoists in our literature (there are some thou- 
sand lines of self-adulation in his Garland of Laurel) he is 


content with himself; he has nothing to learn from the new 
lyric verse of Italy or France which he must have known, at 
least in part. At a time when men were feeling the charm 
of a new manner of poetic expression, Skelton is content to 
write : 

" For though my ryme be ragged, 
Tattered and jagged, 
Rudely rayne beaten, 
Rusty and moughte eaten. 
If ye take well therwith. 
It hath in it some pyth."^ 

A few lines are sufficient to show his position so far as the 
art of poetry is concerned; it is significant that the chief 
field for study in his works is his language, extravagant, 
grotesque, and often drawn from the slang of the day. 
Could he have understood the significance of Petrarch (whom 
he calls a "famous dark" in the Garland of Laurel), 
Skelton's strong personality would have made him at once 
a leader ; the honor of ushering in the modern English lyric 
would have been his. English song lacked art and higher 
themes, but Skelton ofi'ers us burlesques, personal contro- 
versy of the rough and tumble sort, and a coarse, realistic 
humor. Pope, with his love of finish, stigmatized the poet 
as "beastly Skelton," an undeserved taunt, for he possessed 
a genuine lyric gift ; Taine, in his too unfavorable criticism, 
does not hesitate to call him a "genie manque." 

Skelton's formal lyric is lifeless ; we derive no pleasure 
from his elegies on Edward IV or the Duke of Northumber- 
land, or from such a love poem as Go, piteous sighs. To 
see him in a thoroughly characteristic mood we must read 
Mannerly Margery: 

1 A. Dyce, The Poetical Works of John Skelton, London, 1843, vol. 
I, p. 313. 


" Ay, besherewe yow, be my fay. 
This wanton clarkes be nyse all way; 
Avent, event, my popagay ! 
What, will ye do no thyng but play? 
Tully, valy, strawe, let be, I say ! 
Gup, Cristian Clowte, gup, Jak of the vale ! 
With, Manerly Margery Mylk and Ale."-' 

It is small wonder that this spirited piece was set to music 
in song collections of the period. Another piece of realism, 
My darlyng dere, is a veritable chanson des Gueux, resem- 
bling a tavern scene by Jan Steen, in which we see the 
reveller in his drunken sleep, robbed by his paramour : 

" 'My darlyng dere, my daysy floure. 
Let me,' quod he, 'ly in your lap.' 

'Ly styll,' quod she, 'my paramoure, 
Ly styll hardely, and take a nap.' 
Hys hed was heuy, such was his hap. 

All drowsy dremyng, dround in slepe, 

That of hys loue he toke no kepe, 

With, Hey, lullay, lullay, lyke a chylde, 
Thou slepyst to long, thou art begylde."^ 

Yet Skelton could write with grace and delicacy: 

" Enuwyd your colowre (renewed) 
Is lyke the dasy flowre 
After the Aprill showre. 

" Sterre of the morow gray, (star) 
The blossom on the spray. 
The fresshest flowre of May," 

is his lyric description of Mistress Isabel Pennell, while a 
greeting to Mistress Margaret Hussey ends with this tune- 
ful compliment: 

1 Vol. I, p. 28. 

2 P. 22. 


" Stedfast of thought, 
Wele made, wele wrought; 
Far may be sought 
Erst that ye can fynde 
So corteise, so kynde 
As mirry Magarete, 
This midsomer flowre, 
Jentyll as fawcoun 
Or hawke of the towre." 

His touch can be light and delicate : 

"With margerain jentyll, (marjoram) 

The flowre of goodlyhede, 
Embrowdred the mantill 

Is of your maydenhede. 
Plainly I can not glose; 

Ye be, as I deuyne. 
The praty primerose. 

The goodly columbyne."^ 

Unfortunately such moments are rare. Skelton had no part 
in the development of the lyric for he could not read the 
signs of the times, and though we remember him for a few 
lyrics, he serves chiefly to show how great were the poetic 
reforms introduced by Wyatt and Surrey. There is a signifi- 
cant passage concerning him in a letter of James Howell's : 
"Touching your Poet-Laureat Skelton, I found him at last 
(as I told you before) skulking in Duck-lane pitifully tat- 
tered and torn ; and, as the times are, I do not think it worth 
the labour and cost to put him in better clothes, for the 
Genius of the Age is quite another thing."^ 

We have now reached the dawn of the Renaissance in Eng- 
land. We pause for a moment to look back upon the early 

1 Pp. 401, 403, 398. 

2 J. Jacobs, The Familiar Letters of James Howell, London, 1892, 
vol. II, p. 605. 


love songs, the hymns and carols, the lyrics of the guild 
plays and of the Court. Interesting and beautiful many of 
them are, yet added to their intrinsic worth is their promise 
of greater things. The Renaissance spirit had not yet 
awakened England. Italy had already produced the lyrics 
of Guido Cavalcanti, of Dante, of Petrarch, to mention but 
three great names. A single glance in Eugenia Levi's 
Lirica Italiana at the long list of poets who flourished from 
1250 to 1500, the very period we have been studying, will 
show by comparison how retarded was the lyric impulse in 
England. Across the channel, France with troubadours and 
trouveres, with the great body of popular verse, with Villon 
and Charles d'Orleans, had a memorable lyric poetry. 
Turning to England we are tempted to exclaim 

" Alas ! what poverty my Muse brings forth," 

but the impulse, the genius for song was there awaiting a new 
spirit to transform it. The Middle Ages had produced in 
England poems of a rare and simple pathos ; exquisite pic- 
tures of the Virgin mother ; songs of pure joy that once 
known are never forgotten. Judged by no historical or 
antiquarian standards but simply as works of art, as an 
expression of life, they deserve a wider recognition, not as 
a field for scholarly investigation but as a source of enjoy- 
ment for the plain lover of poetry. From another viewpoint 
they are valuable : they enable us to appreciate the lyrics of 
our own day. To turn from the modern lyric with its ever 
varying moods, its pessimism, its aspiration, its subtle 
analysis of feeling, its delicate coloring, its elusive music, 
to these simple, straightforward songs, redolent of spring, 
suffused with a sincere and childlike devotion for the 
"maiden moder milde" and for Alysoun, is to realize in the 
most striking manner the endless complexity and the 
unfathomed depths of our modem thought and feeling. 


The TuDoa Lyuic 

All his life Petrarch (1304-1374<) ardently desired fame. 
Though genius is generally neglected and often persecuted, 
he attained, in realization of his wishes, honors which few 
men have ever reached. The nobles of Italy vied in praising 
this scholar poet; they prepared for him sumptuous apart- 
ments hung with purple ; they placed him at their tables at 
high feasts ; they entrusted to him princely embassies ; and 
when in 1341, amid the clangor of trumpets and the 
applause of Rome, the laurel crown was placed on his head, 
it was but a more public manifestation of the honors con- 
tinually bestowed upon him. It would seem glory enough 
for one man to have overthrown the scholasticism of the 
Middle Ages, to have led in the revival of learning, to have 
changed the intellectual attitude of Europe, but there was 
yet another triumph in store for him — to give to the world 
a new lyric poetry. 

A note in Petrarch's own hand on the margin of his Virgil 
tells us that on Good Friday, 1327 he first saw Laura in the 
church of Santa Chiara at Avignon. From that moment, 
she ruled his life : 

" Dice che, perch' io miri 
Mille cose diverse attento e fiso, 
Sol una donna veggio e'l suo bel viso." 

" I say that though I regard 
A thousand diflPerent things, attentively and fixedly, 
I see only a woman and her lovely face."^ 

1 From the canzone "In quella parte.'' 


Who Laura was, we cannot tell with certainty, and since 
Petrarch himself wished to hide her identity, it is enough 
to say that she was a woman whose beauty inspired in this 
youth of twenty-three a love, or rather a cult, which her 
death in 1348 but intensified and to which he consecrated 
not "a night of memories and of sighs" but a whole life- 
time. The poetry that sprang from this love was based 
not on outward events but on inward experiences ; it was a 
lyric that sang not of action but of contemplation. As a 
wit once compressed into a dozen couplets the events of 
Richardson's long-drawn-out romance. Sir Charles Grandi- 
son, so (but in no spirit of irreverence) the actual happen- 
ings of the Canzoniere may be told in a few quatrains. The 
sonnets offer us but detached incidents — ^Laura wears a 
veil, she smiles, she weeps, she sees the poet, she gathers 
flowers, she bathes in a stream — and it is extremely doubt- 
ful whether we should interpret literally the few references 
to what are apparently actual events. There is no develop- 
ment in such a passion; the poet's love has undergone no 
essential change from the moment he first saw Laura until 
the day of her death, for, as De Sanctis observes, Petrarch 
has written but the first page of a romance — the plot is 
lacking. Never was such splendid lyric poetry based on 
so slender a foundation of actual occurrences.' The most 
subjective lyric may be closely connected with the manifes- 
tations of the outer world, springing directly from the 
poet's thoughts on the life that passes before him. In 
Browning's Last Ride Together how much of the world we 
see ; but the greater number of Petrarch's love lyrics spring 
from introspection, for he fed 

" on thoughts that voluntary move 
Harmonious numbers." 

iCf. G. Finze, Petrarca, Firenze, 1900, pp. 97 ff. 


It is accordingly a just criticism that compares the lyrics 
of Petrarch to a diary in which he has written, for fifty 
years, his thoughts on love precisely as they came to him. 
Hence to seek in his sonnets for a sequence of events, or to 
attempt to arrange them in a definite, logical order except 
in such broad divisions as sonnets on the beauty of Laura, 
on the power of his love for her, on his unhappiness, on her 
death, is to misunderstand totally the spirit in which these 
verses were composed. 

In his subtle yet eminently sane analysis of the Canzoniere, 
De Sanctis admits that Petrarch, with all his exquisite sensi- 
bility, with his clear and penetrating mind, lacked origi- 
nality, profundity, and productive force; accordingly we 
find in this modern poet much of the old school. The start- 
ing point of the Canzoniere is in the poetry of the trouba- 
dours which Petrarch knew thoroughly and from which he 
borrowed not only ideas, but at times the very phrases in 
which they were expressed; hence all we have written con- 
cerning these early singers applies to a certain part of Pe- 
trarch's lyrics. Thus Love, a mystic power springing from 
a single glance from Laura's eyes, entered the poet's heart 
"Con la vertu d'un subito splendore," as he expressed it in 
a noble Hne. Henceforth the poet is the servant of Laura 
and the vassal of the cruel tyrant. Love, who appears in so 
many debates that we may say there are three characters in 
the tragedy of the Canzoniere — Laura, Petrarch, and Amor. 

Leaving the inheritance from the past, we discover in the 
sonnets much that is new. We must content ourselves with 
alluding to but three great characteristics of Petrarch's 
lyrics: his analysis of feeling, his love of beauty, and the 
music of his verse. 

Petrarch by nature was given to melancholy : 

" Ed io son un di quei che'l pianger giova " 
he wrote and in many passages he praises sorrow : 


" Pasco'l cor di sospir', ch'altro non chiede; 
E di lagrime vivo, a pianger nato : 
Ne di cio duolmi ; perche in tale state 
E dolce il pianto piu ch'altri non crede."^ 

" I feed with sighs my heart that asks nothing more; 
And I live on tears, born to weep ; 
Nor do I grieve at this for in such a state 
Weeping is sweeter than any one believes.'' 

He delighted to dream in solitude on his unhappy state and 
this native melancholy, this disposition of his mind to retire 
within itself, was intensified by a love placed on a woman 
forever beyond him. The more he thinks of Laura, the more 
he ideahzes her until she becomes the epitome of all virtues, 
an angel but new descended from the skies. It is not sur- 
prising that in 1336 Giacomo Colonna wrote to the poet 
suggesting that such a love was a fiction, an allegory, and 
that Petrarch was enamoured of the poetic Laurel, not 
Laura. We do not need Petrarch's reply to convince us 
that however much of Platonic idealization entered into his 
picture of Laura, she was a woman of flesh and blood who 
inspired not intellectual admiration but love. From Pe- 
trarch's character, this love does not burst forth in the 
simple, moving accents that invariably mark the speech of 
a man stirred by a great passion ; there is more of the lyric 
cry in the songs of many a lesser poet. Certain passages 
in the Canzoniere contradict this statement ; we must except, 
for example, that masterpiece, the sonnet which describes 
Laura meeting the poet in the third heaven, the sphere of 
Venus, or those famous Hues in the sestina which begins 
"A qualunque animale alberga in terra" : 

■' Con lei foss' io da che si parte il sole, 

E non ci vedess' altri che le stelle, 

Sol una notte ! e mai non fosse I'alba." 

1 From the sonnet beginning "Poichfe '1 cammin m'fe chiuso di mer- 


" With her would I be^ when the sun sets. 
And would that no one save the stars saw us, 
One night alone ! and would it were never dawn !" 

but such moments are rare, and in the very next line of the 
sestina the poet descends to the trivialities of allegory and 
mythology and plays upon the words Laura and lauro. 
Petrarch is swayed by emotions rather than by passions; 
the sonnets are the anatomy of a lover's melancholy, and 
De Sanctis rightly points out the resemblance between Pe- 
trarch and Hamlet. Both show the same hesitation, the 
same love of thinking too precisely on the event, the same 
enjoyment in a self-analysis that ends in melancholy. The 
strong nature, swayed by great affections, finds relief in 
action, while the more sensitive spirit gains satisfaction in 
the contemplation of its own sorrows.^ Emotion, incapable 
of action, becomes melancholy and in Petrarch, even before 
the death of Laura, the prevailing note is one of sadness ; 
the poet writes more beautifully of Laura when he sees her 
with the eyes of memory or of the spirit than when he 
actually beholds her. 

This sadness, then, is caused as much by the poet's irreso- 
lution as by his unhappy love. He will neither shun nor 
accept his fate; like Hamlet, he meditates self-slaughter 
but fears the Almighty's canon against it. We see a soul 
tossed hither and thither by conflicting emotion; he curses 
the time he first saw Laura, and in another mood he blesses 
the place, the day, the moment that brought him this love. 
He tells us that this love has ennobled him and that it leads 
him to heaven ; he protests that it has ruined him by causing 
him to consume his days in vanity. It would be a simple 
matter to accumulate any number of such inconsistencies — - 
and it must not be forgotten that the sonnets cover a long 

1 F. De Sanctis, Saggio critico sul Petrarca, nuova edizone a cura di 
B. Croce, NapoU, 1907, p. 138. 


period — for the mind of Petrarch is constantly wavering. 
Throughout the sonnets there is but one consistent note — 
his love for Laura. In vain he struggles to forget and even 
to despise it. His irresolution is as tragic as the death of 
Laura ; he can show others the way to happiness but he can 
not follow it himself. "Father in Heaven," he cries, "after 
so many days and nights spent in vain pursuits, let me turn 
to a higher life and to nobler undertakings," but the prayer 
is never answered. When, far from Laura, he resolves to 
banish her from his mind and take refuge in a religious life, 
the single thought that he has tarried too long sends him 
back to her.^ The motto of the Canzoniere might well be 
Daniel's verse, "Love is a sickness full of woes." 

To this self-analysis, astonishingly modern in its com- 
plexity and in its suggestiveness, Petrarch added the charm 
of artistic expression, for he sought to picture the beauty of 
the world, the charm and loveliness of womanhood. A thor- 
ough Platonist, he considered beauty to be an expression 
of divinity, another form of virtue, and therefore to be 
sought out and worshipped. Laura embodies every per- 
fection and in contemplating her, the mind rises to heaven 
and beholds the Creator. Writing in such a spirit, Petrarch 
is everywhere the artist. All through the Canzoniere he has 
scattered pictures, often as small as the miniatures of a 
missal, full of color, drawn to the life, whether he brings 
before us in a few phrases the woods and the song of the 
birds at evening, or an aged pilgrim, worn and bent, jour- 
neying painfully to the distant shrine. He realized that in 
the short sonnet form every word, each syllable, must count 
for its effect and therefore every line is carefully wrought ; 
yet in the finished expression we do not feel the labor of the 
artist and many of the quatorzains read as though they 
were improvisations. If we turn to the masterpiece of the 

1 See the sonnet "L'aspetto sacro." 


Canzoniere, "Chiare, fresche e dolci acque," we find all the 
traits we have been discussing. We have the poet's melan- 
choly as he thinks of Laura and dreams that some day she 
may sigh and weep above his grave ; we have that wonderful 
memory picture, worthy of the highest art of Botticelli — 
Laura seated on the grass, the Queen of Love, while around 
her and upon her the trees shower their blossoms. 

This psychological analysis, this descriptive art is ex- 
pressed with a verbal music in itself sufficient to make the 
sonnets immortal. As De Musset wrote: 

" Lui seul eut le secret de saisir au passage 
Les battements du coeur qui durent un moment; 
Et, riche d'un sourire, il en gravait I'image 
Du bout d'un stylet d'or sur un pur diamant."^ 

It is extremely doubtful whether we can ever grasp the full 
content of poetry written in a foreign tongue ; while we may 
understand the essential meaning, we miss the fine shadings, 
the subtle associations of words that are not our own. What 
Italian can appreciate the immeasurable loss had Cole- 
ridge written not "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," but 
"The Poem of the Old Sailor" ; yet the melody, the harmony, 
the enchantment of Petrarch's verse must appeal to every 
one. The sonnets were actually songs ; some were composed 
to the lute ("Perche, cantando, il duol si disacerba"), and 
in his own day his contemporaries set them to music. In the 
sixteenth century, the greater part of the Canzoniere — 
ballate, sestine, canzoni — were given a musical accompani- 
ment by the most famous composers. When Serafino 
deU' Aquila went through Italy chanting Petrarch's verses, 
we may easily believe the statement that "to hear him 
sing them to the lute, was to hear every other harmony 

lie Pila du Titien. 

2 F. Flamini, Varia, Livorno, 1906, p. 179. 


Petrarch frequently expressed the hope that death would 
not destroy his fame, that for centuries his sorrows would 
still bring tears to the eyes, and even his ambition would 
have been satisfied, possibly dismayed, could he have fore- 
seen the effect the Canzoniere was to produce. To the lyrists 
who came after his day, there was but one poet; in the six- 
teenth century but thirty editions of Dante were published 
in Italy, while in this same period one hundred and seventy- 
seven editions of the Canzoniere appeared. It is not too 
much to say that no poet in the world was ever so widely, 
so slavishly imitated. For more than two centuries, Pe- 
trarch ruled the lyric of the Renaissance as Aristotle had 
swayed the thought of the Middle Ages, and the same super- 
stitious veneration was paid to him. The house at Arqua 
in which he died became a shrine and the relics of the poet 
preserved there were gazed upon with a reverence that, to 
modern eyes, appears ridiculous.^ 

In one of the sonnets to his friend, Shakespeare asserts in 
a splendid phrase, "My spirit is thine, the better part of me" ; 
unfortunately the spirit of Petrarch did not descend upon 
his followers. His love for Laura had lasted half a century 
and there were of necessity many times when he wrote, not 
because he was a lover, but because he loved to write. In 
such uninspired moments he delighted in personifications, in 
allegories that seemed subtle to his followers but which to us 
are the essence of false wit ; he took pleasure in stringing 
together what seemed to him ingenious antitheses and para- 
doxes ; and he even descended to play upon words, to puns on 
Laura, lauro, I'aura ! If it is true that Homer cccasionaUy 
nods, it is equally certain that Petrarch at times falls into 
a sound slumber. This essentially false style arises from an 
attempt to elevate by sheer force of ingenuity situations 
that do not deserve poetic treatment, or thoughts that are 

1 A. Graf., Attraverso il Cinquecento, Torino, 1888, pp. 39-44. 


so trivial that there is no reason for expressing them. 
Petrarch tells us in the sonnet beginning "Del mar Tirreno 
alia sinistra riva," that while walking alone he fell into a 
brook which the tall grass had hidden. If such an episode 
is to be treated at all in verse, it should be in the spirit of 
comedy ; Petrarch approaches it with high seriousness. "At 
last," he observes, "I have changed my style. Formerly my 
eyes were bathed in tears for Laura — now my feet are wet." 
There is so much of this essentially insincere work in the 
Canzoniere that there is need of separating the good from 
the banal, as Matthew Arnold did with Wordsworth's 
poetry. This discrimination the followers of Petrarch 
could not exercise; they could not take the gold and leave 
the alloy, and as nothing is easier than to collect antitheses, 
or to invent allegories, or to talk vaguely of ideal beauty, 
they chose to imitate the poorer part of his work. Genius is 
inimitable but unfortunately the mannerisms and the weak- 
nesses of genius may be copied; hence it is that for two 
centuries the Italian lyrists, feigning a hopeless love, a lofty 
Platonic adoration of beauty, repeated in borrowed accents 
Petrarch's praise of Laura, his lamentations over her cruelty, 
his longing for death. The virtue of the Petrarchists was a 
certain grace of expression, for even the feeblest imitator 
had his musical moments; their vice was the deadliest of all 
poetic vices — insincerity. They produced literally hundreds 
of sonnets crying out on the woes of life and invoking death, 
but the sixteen lines of Leopardi's A se stesso have more 
truth than all their quatorzains put together. 

The followers of Petrarch were a mighty legion. No one 
has ever presumed to read and appraise their interminable 
sonnet sequences ; Vaganay's compendious survey of the field 
is not a complete one.^ The smallest towns had their 
sonneteers. Apparently in the sixteenth century every 

1 H. Vaganay, Le Sonnet en Italie et en France an XVIme sUcle, 
Lyon, 1903. Cf. Flamini, // Cinquecento, Milano, p. 203. 


Italian pretending to culture composed sonnets, even though 
he did not publish them, and unfortunately to do this was 
no more an indication of poetic ability than a college degree 
to-day is a proof of refinement. In 154i6 and 1547 Domen- 
ichi brought out two volumes of Ritne Diverse di molti 
eccelentissimi auttori, a collection completed in nine volumes 
in 1560; in these first two, there were represented one hun- 
dred and thirty-seven authors who contributed some nine 
hundred and fifty sonnets, and this was but one of many 
anthologies. The ease with which sixteenth century sonnet 
collections may be purchased in Italy strikingly indicates 
in what vast quantities they were issued from the press. 

Side by side with the sonnets there were pubhshed a large 
number of essays and dialogues on the nature of love. 
Bembo's Asolani (1505), reprinted again and again, inspired 
a whole hterature and we have Plato's conception of love, 
as expounded in the Phcedrus and the Symposium and modi- 
fied by the teaching of the early Church fathers, repeated in 
essays, dialogues, lectures, commentaries on poems, familiar 
letters, until we wonder how readers could be found for them. 
The one idea on which they ring the changes is that the con- 
templation of earthly beauty raises us to a vision of heavenly 
perfection, hence love is the golden stair from the earth to 
the skies. This doctrine, unfolded at times with real learn- 
ing but more often with ofBcious pedantry, supported by 
copious citations from the classics and from the writings of 
the Church, sanctioned with the utmost gravity that delight 
which the age took in Petrarch's sonnets. Frequently these 
treatises cite Petrarch as the past master of love and, without 
the slightest doubt, they increased the vogue of his school. 
But this lofty conception of love as a veritable means of 
grace, this high conception of the mission of beauty, was m 
reality as insincere and as remote from the real beliefs of 
the age as were the lamentations of the Petrarchists. A 
single illustration of this must suffice, though many could 


be given. Tullia of Aragon, famous for her amours, pub- 
lished her dialogue Dell' infinita d'Amore in 154<7, the very 
year the authorities of Florence took action against her for 
not wearing the head-dress prescribed by law for courtesans. 
The more the love literature of the sixteenth century, both 
prose and verse, is studied, the greater appears its con- 

The Petrarchian school of poetry was not confined to its 
own home. Fran9ois I, a lover of art and poetry, had been 
captivated by the beauty and the splendor of the South. 
His victory at Marignano is more important for the history 
of culture than for its political consequences; and under 
this king, "the father of letters," France became an artistic 
and literary province of Italy. He brought to his own 
country the art and poetry he had enjoyed under Italian 
skies ; and a veritable band of Tuscan artists and poets came 
to Fontainebleau and Paris where they found in the king 
the most generous of patrons. Fontainebleau became a 
magnificent Italian palace for which, in the words of Varchi, 
Batista della Palla had "robbed Florence of as many statues 
and paintings as he could," and it is not surprising 
that a king who had brought to France Benvenuto Cellini 
and Andrea del Sarto, "delighted marvelously in them." 
Italian became the court language, and the king and his 
sister, who knew it perfectly, wished to place it on an equality 
with their own tongue; in his memoirs Cellini frequently 
notes that this or that French nobleman spoke Italian 

In this atmosphere the verses of Petrarch and his fol- 
lowers were read and imitated; in literary circles at least, 
the lamentations over Laura were as well known on the 
banks of the Seine as on the Arno. Nor did this predilection 
for Italian literature content itself with reading the works 

1 See F. Flamini, 8tudi di Storia Letteraria Italiana e Straniera, 
Livorno, 1895, pp. 199-337; Varia, pp. 193-317. 


of former poets; for Luigi Alamanni and other Italian 
writers composed and published their sonnets and canzoni 
on French soil. Naturally this admiration for Italian verse 
is reflected in the writings of the French poets ; to take two 
such different natures as Clement Marot and Melin de Saint- 
Gelais, we find them both imitating or translating the most 
famous of the Italians, Petrarch and Serafino, Tebaldeo and 
Sannazzaro. To come under the spell of Italian culture, to 
be inspired by its art and poetry. Englishmen needed to 
cross not the Alps but the Channel. 


We have dwelt on the Italian school because of its influence 
on the English lyric, both directly and through the medium 
of the French. This subject deserves the most extended 
treatment, for it off'ers the student of comparative literature 
a fascinating field only partially surveyed; but before we 
consider the foreign element in EngHsh song, we must 
glance for a moment at the continuation of the native lyric 

The reign of Henry VIII opened so auspiciously that 
Erasmus believed the Golden Age had returned. In the 
universities the new learning flourished; at the court several 
poets and a small band of composers enjoyed the king's 
favor (for he was himself a writer and a musician), and 
aroused the artistic consciousness of the higher classes. 
Erasmus, a keen judge, notes that the English were the 
most musical nation, a testimony confirmed by other for- 
eigners. Particularly in courtly circles was musical accom- 
plishment prized ; the choir of the royal chapel was renowned 
far and wide. The king's musical efi'orts are not highly 
regarded to-day ; of his poetry we can at least say that he 
was never destined for the laurel, and in all his many 
alliances, never wedded to the Muse. 


" Pastime with good company 

I love and shall, until I die. 
Grudge who lust, but none deny. 
So God be pleased, thus live will I. 
For my pastance. 
Hunt, sing and dance. 
My heart is set. 

All goodly sport 
For my comfort 
Who shall me let?"i 

he writes, or in a more sentimental strain in which he should 
be a master 

" Do way, dear heart, not so ! 

Let no thought you dismay. 
Though ye now part me fro. 

We shall meet when we may. 

" When I remember me 

Of your most gentle mind, 
It may in no wise agree 

That I should be unkind. 

" The daisy delectable. 

The violet wan and bio, (pale) 
Ye are not variable. 

I love you and no moe."^ 

It must have been diiScult, even for a courtier, to discover 
inspiration in these lines, but they are interesting because 
they show the king setting a fashion in lyrical composition 
and we are not surprised to find the manuscript collections 
of lyrics becoming more and more numerous. 

^ Early English Lyrics, p. 213. Cf. E. Flugel, Neuenglisches Lese- 
buch, p. 146. This book contains an excellent selection of lyrics of this 
period. This, and the following song, are printed in modern notation in 
Vincent Jackson's English Melodies from the 13th to the 18th Century, 
London, 1910, pp. 17, 18. 

^ Early English Lyrics, p. 55. 


In general the language of these lyrics is more refined 
than that of the songs of the previous century, yet we have 
the same simplicity of thought and emotion and we find the 
same ideas constantly repeated. A few examples must 
sufBce : 

" 'Come over the woodes fair and green. 

Thou goodly maid, thou lusty wench. 
To shadow you from the sunne sheen. 

Under the wood there is a bench.' 

'Sir, I pray you, do none offence 
To me, a maid, this I make my moan. 

But as I came let me go hence. 
For I am here myself alone.' 

" 'The custom and the manner here 

Of maidens is, and ever was. 
That gather the flowers without a fere, (companion) 

To pay a trepitt, or they pass.' (fine) 

'Then of my mouth come take a bass; (kiss) 
For other goodes have I none 

But flowers fair among the grass 
Which I have gathered all alone.' " 

Here we have a duo between the lover and his lass as in the 
early Harleian MS. 2253. The songs in praise of May and 
the spring are as popular as ever: 

" Awake therefore, young men. 

All ye that lovers be, hey ho ! 

This month of May, 

So fresh, so gay. 

So fair be fields on fen; 

Hath flourish ilk again. 

Great joy it is to see, hey ho! 
Then dyry come dawn, dyry come dyry, come dyry! 
Come dyry, come dyry, come dawn, hey ho !"^ 

iPp. 64, 71. 


Many of the early sixteenth century love songs are abso- 
lutely charming: 

" My hearty my mind, and my whole power, 
My service true with all my might. 
On land or sea, in storm or shower, 
I give to you be day and night. 
And eke my body for to fight. 
My goods also be at your pleasure. 
Take me and mine as your own treasure."^ 

The following ditty is a typical one, well fitted for music : 

" My heart is yours, now keep it fast. 
Without your favour, my joy is past; 
I will not change while my life do last, 
I promise you, I promise you. 

" I joy in that I have your grace, 
I moan when pity lacks his place. 
Thus resteth all in your sweet face, 
I promise you. 

" You are my wealth, I am your woe, 
I think on you where ever I go, 
I love you heartily and no mo, 
I promise you." 

The songs in praise of beauty are innumerable and not all 
of them portray a hopeless love : 

" To laugh, to smile, to sport, to play, 
I will not let the truth to say. 
And be as jocund as the jay. 
For aye, for aye. 

1 From Bassua, a, book of twenty songs, printed in 1530 by Wynkyn 
de Worde. As the name indicates, it contains merely the music for the 
bass. It has been reprinted in Anglia, XII, pp. 589 ff. 


" My heart is locked within a chest, 
In keeping with her whom I love best. 
It may be glad to have such rest, 
And there to lie, to lie. 

" Her face so sweet for to behold. 
Her hair as bright as the wire gold. 
Another thing there should be told. 
Her yee, her yee. 

" Which twinkleth clear as the diamond pure. 
And hath welcomed me to the lure. 
To serve her still while life doth endure. 
Will I, will I." 

The lilt of the following song is irresistible : 

" My little pretty one, my pretty bonnie one. 
She is a joyous one, and as gentle as can be; 

With a beck she comes anon. 

With a wink she will be gone. 
No doubt she is a love of all that ever I see." 

The refrain becomes more and more a feature : 

" Of beauty yet she passeth all. 
Which hath mine heart and ever shall. 
To live or die what so befall, 

What would she more, what would she more. 

" She is so fixed in my heart 
That for her sake I bide great smart. 
Yet can not I my love depart. 

What would she more, what would she more. 

" Long have I lived in great distress, 
Long have I sought to have redress. 
Long hath she been mine own mistress. 

What would she more, what would she more."^ 

1 From Additional MS. 18753. I have reprinted the songs in this MS. 
in Anglia XXXIII, pp. 344-367. 


It is indeed difficult to make selections from the anony- 
mous lyrics of the early sixteenth century because there is 
such a large body of them, and an interesting anthology 
could be made of the songs of this period alone. Without 
the slightest doubt much remains to be discovered and pub- 
lished; but whatever new manuscripts may be brought to 
light, it seems safe to predict that the poems they contain 
will be composed in a few simple metres, with no attempt 
at a heightened or even polished diction, expressing in a 
direct and simple manner the joys of Spring, the praise of 
beauty, or the complaints of despised love. 

The lyrical element in the Moralities and Interludes of the 
age is prominent, as it was in the Mysteries. As we find in 
the love songs the earlier traditions of simple emotions 
untouched by imagination, so in the dramatic entertain- 
ments the songs continue the themes of the former age. 
Unfortunately many of them are not included in the printed 
texts which contain, however, frequent references to the 
lyrics, written for one voice or for several. Thus in The 
Four P's, printed about 154<0, the Pothecary asks the Pedlar 
"I pray you tell me, can you sing.'"' to which he replies, "Sir, 
I have some sight in singing," and after some further con- 
versation with the Palmer and Pardoner on the subject of 
their musical ability, the Pothecary exclaims, "Who that 
hst, sing after me," but the song is not given.^ The ones 
that have been preserved do not compare with the songs in 
the manuscript collections, for the dramatic lyric developed 
more slowly, as we may easily see by examining the songs in 
Dodsley's Old English Plays, for example ; nevertheless they 
are deserving of study because they lead directly to the songs 
of the Elizabethan dramatists. 

The most popular song in these early plays appears to be 

IW. C. Hazlitt-R. Dodsley, A Select Collection of Old English 
Plays, 4,th ed, London, 1874, vol. I, p. 353. 


the drinking song. Sensual Appetite sings one in the inter- 
lude of the Four Elements (cir. 1518) : 

" Make rome, syrs, and let us be mery. 
With hufFa galandj synge tyrU on the bery, 

And let the wyde worlde wynde ! 
Synge fryska joly, with hey troly loly. 
For I se wel it is but a foly 

For to have a sad mynd:"'^ 

Dissimulation, in Bale's King John (1550?), has this boister- 
ous tavern ditty : 

" Wassayle, wassayle^ out of the mylke payle, 
Wassayle^ wassayle, as whyte as my nayle, 
Wassalye, wassayle, in snowe froste and hayle, 
Wassayle, wassayle, with partriche and rayle, 
Wassayle, wassayle, that muche doth avale, 
Wassayle, wassayle, that never wyll fale."^ 

We come to the reign of Elizabeth in Fulwell's Like will to 
Like (printed 1563), which has seven songs, of which "Good 
hostess, lay a crab in the fire" is the continuation of the 
roistering theme : 

" And I will pledge Tom Toss-pot, 
Till I be drunk as a mouse-a: 
Whoso will drink to me all day, 

I will pledge them all carouse-a."' 

In Elizabeth's reign these songs culminate in the famous 
toper's song in Gammer Gurton's Needle (1575), which is 

1 Pollard, op. cit., p. 101. 

2 P. ISO. 

3 Hazlitt-Dodsley, vol. Ill, p. 339. 


perhaps the finest example of these roistering ditties ; cer- 
tainly no other song has a more rollicking swing : 

" Back and side go bare, go bare, 
Both foot and hand go cold: 
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough. 
Whether it be new or old. 

" I love no roast but a nut-brown toast. 

And a crab laid in the fire. 
A little bread shall do me stead. 

Much bread I not desire. 
No frost nor snow, no wind, I trow. 

Can hurt me if I would; 
I am so wrapt, and thoroughly lapt. 

Of jolly good ale and old."'^ 

Lusty Jwventus (cir. 1550) contains two songs, in a 
simple metre ; they are the most poetical ones to be found 
in all these early interludes. The first is sung by Youth : 

" In a herber green, asleep where as I lay. 
The birds sang sweet in the middes of the day; 
I dreamed fast of mirth and play: 

In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure." 

The other is sung by Hypocrisy and Abominable Living: 

" Do not the flowers spring fresh and gay. 
Pleasant and sweet in the month of May? 
And when their time cometh they fade away. 
Report me to you, report me to you."^ 

These are not masterpieces. The dramatic lyric had not felb 
the breath of the new poetry, and it awaited the Eliza- 

iP. 189. 

2 Vol. II, pp. 46, 89. 


bethans to make it one of the crowning beauties of our litera- 


The new impulse in the English lyric came from the songs 
of Wyatt and Surrey. In his Arte of English Poesie (1589), 
George Puttenham wrote: "In the latter end of the same 
King's [Henry the Eighth] raigne sprong up a new com- 
pany of courtly makers, of whom Sir Thomas Wyat th'elder 
and Henry Earle of Surrey were the two chieftanes, who 
having travailed into Italie, and there tasted the swete and 
stately measures and stile of the Italian Poesie as novices 
newly crept out of the schools of Dante, Arioste and 
Petrarch, they greatly poUished our rude and homely maner 
of vulgar Poesie, from that it had been before, and for that 
cause may justly be sayd the first reformers of our English 
meetre and stile." This statement of the EHzabethan critic 
modern scholarship confirms and even emphasizes more 

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) was a graduate of Cam- 
bridge, an excellent linguist well versed in French, Itahan, 
and Spanish, and a skilled musician. Not only was he repre- 
sentative of all that was best in the culture of the age, but 
he was a man of force and action, as we may see from the 
vigorous speech by which he freed himself from the generally 
fatal charge of treason. It is small wonder that he was 
selected by the king for important diplomatic missions and 
that his career was a political one. Poetry was his recreation 
and solace, for he was not in our modern sense a man of 
letters ; and in estimating his achievement we must remember 
as well that his life was cut short when he was but thirty- 
nine. In 1526 he was a member of a diplomatic mission to 
Paris and it is possible that he met at this time Luigi 
Alamanni, one of whose satires he imitated in the last years 


of his life. Wyatt was attracted by French poetry ; several 
of his poems show unmistakably French influence, and it is 
probable that he learned from Marot, whose works he knew, 
the rondeau form. The following year he was sent to Rome 
and in the course of his travels he visited Venice, Ferrara, 
Bologna, and Florence, all literary centers. It is not too 
much to assert that this journey, undertaken for matters 
of state, changed the history of the English lyric. Wyatt's 
tastes were literary; he was gifted with a strong poetical 
temperament; he was devoted to music. When he heard 
sung under the warm skies of Italy the sonnets of Petrarch 
and his followers, the strambotti of that brilliant musician 
and improvisatore, Serafino dell' Aquila, the idol of his time, 
he discovered a world of music and poetry that differed from 
his native songs as a Venetian sunrise from the fogs and 
mists of London.^ It takes but little imagination to perceive 
the enthusiasm that the Italian lyric awakened in him and it 
was inevitable that he should find in its songs the inspiration 
for his own verse. What Italy has given to the world would 
be a subject as inexhaustible as the long-drawn-out lamenta- 
tions of the Petrarchists, but what she gave to Wyatt can 
be expressed in a sentence or two. The wonderful Italian 
landscapes, the glories of the Renaissance sculpture, paint- 
ing, and architecture he does not allude to, for he sought but 
one thing- — the gift of song. He knew that the English lyric 
was crude and halting in its diction; the Muse stammered 
when she should sing; and he turned to those verse forms in 
which the Italians had attained such harmonies — the terza 
and ottava rima, and above all the sonnet. 

The sonnet is the most important, as it is the most perfect, 
of all modern lyric forms and had Italy done nothing more 
than to give it to the world, she would have been held in 
perpetual remembrance. Without attempting to be over- 

1 Flamini, Varia, pp. 169-190, has given a brief but vivid account of 


subtle, we may believe that through some law of sound and 
harmony the sonnet form exactly satisfies the ear as it does 
the mind, for it has become almost a universal metre; cer- 
tainly every nation in Western Europe has employed it. On 
the other hand, our Enghsh blank verse is not poetry to the 
French ear and the present-day writers who have tried to 
bring it across the channel have met with no success. To 
take another example, the Spenserian stanza is distinctly 
an English metre; but the sonnet is a world form. 

The Italians divided its fourteen lines into octave and 
sestet. In the first eight lines a thought, an emotion, a 
picture is completely presented and the verse sentence, so to 
speak, comes to an end ; while in the last six lines, the expla- 
nation, the comment, the summing up of the whole matter 
is given. As Watts-Dunton has well expressed it, the sonnet 
is a wave of melody rising in the octave to sink in the sestet, 
or receding in the octave, to rise and fall with a crash in the 
sestet. The wonderful variety, the almost endless effects that 
have been obtained from the sonnet's fourteen lines are as 
marvelous, though in a lesser degree, as the music that has 
sprung from the simple tones of the scale.^ 

In literary history, then, Wyatt is famous as the first 
Englishman to write in the sonnet form, but it is a curious 
fact that not one of his thirty-two sonnets follows strictly 
the usual Italian rhyme scheme ; his octaves may be correctly 
written but he ends his sestet with a couplet. Not one of 
them would be included in a collection of representative Eng- 
lish sonnets except to illustrate the history and the develop- 
ment of the form. Though much work yet remains to be 
done on the sources of his verse, nearly one half of his son- 
nets have been shown to be adaptations or translations. As 
a translator he showed little skill, for his versions of Pet- 
rarch are both clumsy and crude and the English language 

1 Cf. G. Saintsbury, A History of English Prosody, London, 1906, 
vol. I, pp. 303 ff. 


seems to him to be a difficult and unflexible medium of 
expression. Nothing could be further from Petrarch than 
the following rendering of "Amor, che nel penser mio vive 
e regna": 

" The long love that in my thought I harbour. 
And in my heart doth keep his residence. 
Into my face presseth with bold pretence. 
And there campeth displaying his banner. 
She that me learns to love and to suffer. 
And wills that my trust, and lust's negligence 
Be reined by reason, shame, and reverence. 
With his hardiness takes displeasure. 
Wherewith Love to the heart's forest he fleeth. 
Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry, 
And there him hideth, and not appeareth. 
What may I do, when my master feareth. 

But in the field with him to live and die? 

For good is the life, ending faithfully."^ 

This is not Wyatt at his best ; such lines are plainly an 
early attempt at composition, for both the rhythm and the 
rhyme are strangely defective, yet hardly one of Wyatt's 
sonnets can be read with much pleasure.^ His translations 
of Petrarch's canzoni are equally unsatisfactory. The one 
commencing "Quel antiquo mio dolce empio signore" was not 
composed in Petrarch's inspired moments, but it has his 
style, and rises and falls melodiously. Wyatt is utterly 
unable to reproduce this free movement and forces the poem 

1 The Poetical Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt, London, Aldlne edition, 
p. 1. 

2 A much better sonnet is: 

" Ye that in love find luck and sweet abundance. 
And live in lust of joyful joUlty, 
Arise for shame, do way your sluggardy: 
Arise, I say, do May some observance." p. 5. 


into a new mould, his favorite rhyme royal. The canzone 
beginning "Si e debile il filo" has this graceful envoy: 

" Canzon, s'al dolce loco 

La donna nostra vedi. 

Credo ben che tu credi 

Ch'ella ti porgera la bella mano 

Ond' io son si lontano: 

Non la toccar; ma reverente ai piedi 

Le di' ch' io saro la tosto ch'io possa, 

O spirto ignudo od uom di carne e d'ossa." 

This becomes, under Wyatt's pen: 

" My song ! thou shalt attain to find that pleasant place, 
Where she doth live by whom I live; may chance to have this 

When she hath read, and seen the grief wherein I serve, 
Between her breasts she shall thee put, there shall she thee 

reserve : 
Then tell her that I come, she shall me shortly see. 
And if for weight the body fail, the soul shall to her flee."' 

which is not only poor poetry, but a very poor translation. 
Wyatt clearly felt the lack of style and finish in the Enghsh 
lyric, for all through his poetry he seems to be experimenting 
in metres, of which he employs a large number. He has left 
one hundred and eighty-two lyrics and he has used in them 
fifteen distinct types of the single line, such as the pentam- 
eter, the trimeter, the dimeter, and by various combinations 
of these lines he has obtained great variety of stanza forms. 
These essays in metre we may regard as the result of his 
study of the Italian and the French lyric, for whereas 
hitherto English song had been satisfied with a few simple 
stanzas Wyatt wishes a richer mode of expression. 

Wyatt's translations are not happy in their subject 
matter. His admiration for Petrarch is unquestioned ; when 

1 See Wyatt's poem beginning "So feeble is the thread," p. 154. 


he mourns the death of his friend Cromwell nothing seems 
to him so fitting as to adapt for the occasion Petrarch's 
sonnet on the death of Colonna, yet he selects for para- 
phrase or imitation the poorer part of the Canzoniere. The 
veriest tyro would recognize to-day that in "Chiare, fresche 
e dolci acque" we have the flower of Petrarch's song, but as 
we have seen, he passes over this for two much inferior can- 
zoni. The sonnet we have quoted is in Petrarch's worst style, 
as are two others that Wyatt turned into EngHsh, "My 
galley charged with forgetfulness," a string of conceits, and 
"I find no peace," a collection of antitheses. It cannot be 
said that he has selected the best work of Tebaldeo, Giusto 
de' Conti, Serafino, Sannazzaro; and his subject-matter is 
most satisfactory when he continues the traditions of 
English song, employing a surer, a more straightforward 
style than the elder writers used. 

On the whole, Wyatt chose to write of unhappy love. 
"Sonnets be not bound 'prentice to Annoy," wrote Sir Philip 
Sidney sententiously, but the Petrarchists thought otherwise 
and Wyatt followed them, not alone in direct translation, 
but in the general tone of his verse. His lyrics, almost 
exclusively on the theme of love, lack what Donne has called 
"Love's sweetest part — variety." Wyatt himself remarked 
that his verse had "plenty of plaint, woe and mourning," 
and the reader tires of "The Lover complaineth," "The 
Lover lamenteth," "The Lover bemoaneth." Any classifi- 
cation of his poems by their contents is difficult because the 
same song may express both joy and despair, but from their 
general tenor, fourteen poems describe his renunciation of 
love, twenty-one picture the fickleness of womankind, and 
forty-nine express the pains of love. For the most part we 
may believe these songs to be mere imitations, conventional 
expressions, for so many of them lack the ring of sincerity ; 
they do not read as though they came from the poet's hfe, 
and therefore Wyatt's poetry, as a whole, fails to impress 


itself deeply on the reader's mind. With the exception of 
certain poems which we shall mention, few of his songs, or 
even phrases, linger in the memory and he is not one of those 
writers to whom we return again and again. So far as their 
aesthetic worth is concerned, it would make no difference 
whether the best of Shakespeare's sonnets were composed in 
the sixteenth or the nineteenth century for they are absolute 
works of art, independent of considerations of age and 
country ; we feel in reading Wyatt that much of his verse 
is valuable chiefly as illustrating the beginnings of the 
modern English lyric. 

When he is not openly translating or imitating foreign 
verse, his style is plain and unadorned. He uses few similes, 
few adjectives of color; there is little pictorial quahty in his 
work, for he did not have the power to bring before the 
reader in a vivid line, a garden, or a sunset, or to show us, 
in a single phrase, a whole landscape. The picture in the 
following stanza is so unusual in his writings that I suspect 
it to be a translation: 

" Thanked be Fortmie, it hath been otherwise 
Twenty times better; but once especial. 
In thin array, after a pleasant guise, 

When her loose gown did from her shoulders fall, 
And she me caught in her arms long and small. 
And therewithal so sweetly did me kiss. 
And softly said 'Dear heart, how like you this ?' " 

especially so if we compare it with the following description 
from a poem which seems to be original : 

" She wept and wrung her hands withal. 
The tears fell in my neck: 
She turned her face, and let it fall; 
And scarce therewith could speak: 
Alas ! the while !"^ 

1 See "They flee from me" and "There was never nothing," pp. 33, 57. 


Wyatt has left a small group of poems worthy of the 
highest praise. His "My lute, awake" has a grace which he 
may have learned from the Petrarchists, but a dignity which 
removes it from their complaints: 

" May chance thee lie withered and old 
The winter nights^ that are so cold. 

Plaining in vain unto the moon; 
Thy wishes then dare not be told: 

Care then who list, for I have done. 

" Now cease, my lute ! this is the last 
Labour, that thou and I shall waste; 

And ended is that we begun : 
Now is this song both sung and past; 

My lute ! be still, for I have done."^ 

Equally effective, and perfectly adapted for music, is his 

" And wilt thou leave me thus ? 
Say nay ! say nay ! for shame 
To save thee from the blame 
Of all my grief and grame. (sorrow) 
And wilt thou leave me thus? 
Say nay ! say nay !"^ 

His masterpiece, "Forget not yet," is one of the finest 
lyrics in our language, the simple and direct expression of 
a great passion. The reader accustomed to the more highly 
colored style of modern romantic verse must not be misled 
by the monosyllabic diction, for it is the language of an 
overpowering emotion: 

" Forget not yet the tried intent 
Of such a truth as I have meant; 
My great travail so gladly spent, 
Forget not yet ! 

iP. 30. 

2 P. 108. 


" Forget not yet the great assays, 
The cruel wrong, the scornful ways. 
The painful patience in delays. 
Forget not yet !"^ 

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1518-1547), a grandson 
of Edward IV, was a courtier and a soldier. He was finely 
educated; he had passed a year at the French court; and 
though he never saw Italy, he knew the poetry of the Pe- 
trarchian school. Haughty, impetuous, daring, he was one 
of the last victims of Henry VIII and was executed on a 
false charge of treason. The tragedy of his early death 
excited the pity of the age and he became in Nashe's tale of 
Jach Wilton (1594) a purely legendary hero, breaking 
lances in Italy and seeing in a magic stone the image of his 
mistress in England, a myth which Scott used in the Lay of 
the Last Minstrel. 

In discussing the writings of Wyatt and Surrey, Putten- 
ham states that their "conceits were loftie, their stiles stately, 
their conveyance cleanely, their terms proper, their meetre 
sweete and well proportioned, in all imitating very naturally 
and studiously their Maistre Francis Petrarcha," and that 
he can find very little difference between them.^ The differ- 
ence in their natures, however, is not hard to detect and it 
is clearly suggested if we place their portraits side by side, 
though remembering the Droeshout Shakespeare, we must not 
rely too confidently on such a comparison. Wyatt, unos- 
tentatiously dressed, gazes at us with a straightforward, 
vigorous, yet sad expression ; Surrey, in court costume, with 

ip. 123. 

Apart from the poems we have cited, the reader will find the following 
well worthy of study: "Help me to seek" (his best rondeau); "Disdain 
me not"; "Since love will needs"; "Blame not my lute"; "What should 
I say"; "A face that should content me"; "Tagus, farewell." 

2 ToUel's Miscellany, Arber's reprint, p. xiii. 


more delicate, aristocratic features, betrays in his look and 
carriage a certain haughty consciousness of rank. This 
difference of temperament is reflected in their poetry, for if 
Wyatt's verse has more fervor, Surrey's is more refined, 
more polished. In a word, Wyatt has the stronger poetic 
nature while Surrey is the better artist. This distinction 
must be explained at more length. 

Surrey has left a much smaller body of verse than did 
Wyatt, for he was a more fastidious writer. He admired 
his contemporary; there was no rivalry between them; and 
in a poem written on Wyatt's death he praises him in these 
terms : 

" A hand, that taught what might be said in rhyme ! 
That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit: 
A mark, the which (unparfited, for time) 
Some may approach, but never none shall hit,"^ 

yet in the matter of style and finish Wyatt is inferior to 
Surrey, who employed fewer metres and used them to much 
better advantage. It will be noticed that in the sonnet of 
Wyatt's which we have quoted the accent is constantly 
wrenched, that is, the common prose accentuation of a word 
is changed for the sake of the metrical stress. A good 
example of this is 

" And there campeth displaying his banner." 

Surrey avoids this fault in his translation of the same sonnet : 

" Love, that doth reign and live within my thought, 
And built his seat within my captive breast, 
Clad in the arms wherein with me he fought, 
Oft in my face he doth his banner rest. 

1 P. 29. In addition to this poem on Wyatt's death, Surrey wrote two 
sonnets in praise of him. 


" But she that taught me love and suffer pain^ 
My doubtful hope and eke my hot desire 
With shamefaced look to shadow and refrain. 
Her smiling grace converteth straight to ire. 

" And coward Love, then, to the heart apace 
Taketh his flight, where he doth lurk and plain 
His purpose lost, and dare not show his face. 
For my lord's guilt thus faultless bide I pain."^ 

Metrically this is a great advance, not only in the manner 
of accentuation but also in the careful avoidance of asson- 
ance, for Surrey, unlike Wyatt, refuses to consider "fleeth" 
and "appeareth," "banner" and "suffer," as rhymes. It is 
then as a refiner of English poetry that Surrey made his 
great reputation and for those times he seemed a perfect 
master of style. The sixteenth century poets delighted in 
recommending as a rule of conduct the golden mean — 
probably because they so rarely observed it — and they have 
left a whole group of poems on this subject, to which belongs 
Surrey's translation of Martial's Ad Seipsum. The con- 
cluding lines of one of its stanzas show the balanced sen- 
tence, reminding us of the more polished work of the age of 

" Martial, the things that do attain 

The happy life, be these I find: 
The riches left, not got with pain. 

The fruitful ground, the quiet mind."^ 

The judgment of a man's contemporaries is not always 
a safe verdict to follow, yet Turberville, in the succeeding 

1 This is not the version ordinarily printed in editions of Surrey. 
See F. M. Padelford, Early Sixteenth Century Lyrics, Boston, 1907, p. L. 

2 The Poems of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, London, Aldine 
edition, p. 56. 


generation, well summed up the opinion of the time in regard 
to Surrey : 

" Each word in place with such a sleight is couched^ 
Each thing whereof he treats, so firmly touched, 
As Pallas seemed within his noble breast 
To have sojourned, and been a daily guest. 
Our mother tongue by him hath got such light. 
As ruder speech thereby is banished quite."^ 

There is another important consideration in regard to 
his style. It will be noticed that in Surrey's translation of 
Petrarch's sonnet, he does not employ the Italian sonnet 
form but a new one, which he devised — three quatrains and 
a concluding couplet — a form which was so splendidly used 
by Shakespeare that it bears his name, though it should of 
right be called, not the Shakespearean but the Surreyan son- 
net. There have been many interesting discussions as to the 
comparative artistic values of the ItaKan rhyme scheme and 
the form used by Surrey.^ Not only is the musical effect of 
these two forms entirely different, but in the English sonnet 
there is not of necessity that marked division of the octave 
and the sestet, and this implies a difference in the treatment 
of the subject-matter.' We may be sure that no deep, 
artistic considerations led the sixteenth century poets to 
prefer the Surreyan to the Italian form; they adopted it 
because, as one may see by simple experiment, it is a much 
easier and more fluent means of expression, and fluency the 
Elizabethans prized most highly. That Shakespeare never 

1 Verse in Praise of Lord Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Chalmers, 
The Works of the English Poets, vol. II, p. 588. 

2 See W. Sharp, Sonnets of this Century, London, N. D., introduction; 
also Century Magazine, vol. LXXVI, p. 503. 

3 It is of course possible to observe the octave and sestet in the 
Shakespearean sonnet, as may be seen in When in disgrace with fortune 
and men's eyes. 


blotted a line is his greatest praise. Ben Jonson, taunted 
that he took fifteen weeks to compose his play The Poetaster, 
replies that he composed Volpone, an acknowledged master- 
piece, in five. The Elizabethans wrote rapidly because their 
manner of living demanded it. They could not spend days 
in searching for le mot precis, in putting together some 
highly wrought word mosaic, for their hours were too 
crowded ; they lived intensely, and their designs and ambi- 
tions were large. Spenser's Faerie Queene is but a small 
fragment of the projected work. The age, then, found 
Surrey's sonnet form, because of its more simple rhyme 
scheme, a readier instrument of song than Petrarch's. If 
Wyatt brought the sonnet to England, Surrey equalled 
his achievement by giving to it a new form, surely as great 
a claim to remembrance as the fact that he was the first 
Englishman to write blank verse. 

In the subject-matter of his verse, Surrey shows the all- 
powerful influence of Petrarch. In his translations and 
adaptations from the Canzoniere he chose, on the whole, 
much better poems than did Wyatt. We may refer also to 
the influence of the Italian school Surrey's sonnets to the 
Lady Geraldine, courtly compliments to a child that are no 
more to be considered serious expressions of feeling than are 
the effusions of Petrarch's followers.^ His debt to the ItaHan 
poets is a considerable one ; if he has not translated as freely 
from them as did Wyatt, in his style and in the general 
spirit of his verse we feel their influence. In spite of this 
fact, the subject-matter of his finest poem is all his own. His 
most sustained piece of writing is the poem describing his 
imprisonment at Windsor and lamenting the death of his 
brother-in-law, the Earl of Richmond. It is an elegy filled 
with picturesque details of their happy life together, in 

1 Only two sonnets, "From Tuscan came" and "The golden gift," can 
with any certainty be said to refer to her. 


The large green courts^ where we were wont to hove, (hover) 

With eyes cast up into the Maiden's tower, 

And easy sighs, such as folk draw in love. 

The stately seats, the ladies bright of hue. 

The dances short, long tales of great delight; 

With words and looks that tigers could but rew ; 

Where each of us did plead the other's right. 

The secret groves, which oft we made resound 
Of pleasant plaint, and of our ladies' praise; 
Recording oft what grace each one had found, 
What hope of speed, what dread of long delays. 
The wild forest, the clothed holts with green; 
With reins availed, the swift y-breathed horse. 
With cry of hounds, and merry blasts between. 
Where we did chase the fearful hart of force."^ 

This is no conventional list of passed pleasures ; every line 
is the actual living over again of happier days and the poem 
is one of the first elegies in our language in which a man 
recites his grief, using not allegory or biblical phrase, but the 
remembrance of definite events and of petty details to accen- 
tuate his sorrow. 

The technique of this verse is good and Surrey is equally 
master of a lighter style; the tripping movement of the fol- 
lowing lines clearly foretells the measures of the Elizabethan 
song writers : 

" Give place, ye lovers, here before 

That spent your boasts and brags in vain; 

My lady's beauty passeth more 

The best of yours, I dare well sayen. 

Than doth the sun the candle light. 

Or brightest day the darkest night."^ 

1 From So cruel prison how could betide, alas, Aldine edition, p. 19. 

2 P. 31. Equally good is "When raging love,'' p. 31. 


Even in his elegy Surrey does not reach that intensity of 
feeUng that gives such power to Wyatt's "Forget not yet," 
but his part in the development of the lyric is greater than 
Wyatt's because his style was a better one. In leaving these 
two poets we cannot do better than to quote the pithy couplet 
of the EHzabethan publisher, Richard Smith : 

" Sweet Surrey sucked Parnassus springs. 
And Wyatt wrote of wondrous things. "'^ 


Although the poems of Wyatt and Surrey were widely 
circulated in manuscripts and imitated during their hfe 
time, they were not actually published until after their death. 
In 1557 Richard Tottel brought out his famous Songes and 
Sonnettes written by the ryght honorable Lorde Henry 
Haward late Earle of Surrey, and other, the first printed 
anthology of English lyrics, generally called by the simpler 
title of TotteVs Miscellany. In the history of the lyric the 
publication of this book marks as distinct an epoch as did 
the appearance of the Lyrical Ballads in 1798. The effect 
it produced may be measured by its reception ; within two 
months it ran through two editions while in thirty years, 
eight editions were published, a remarkable record for those 
days. Shakespeare's sonnets, brought out half a century 
later when the reading public had gro;vn in numbers, were 
a hundred years in reaching their third edition. 

The second reprint of the Miscellany added thirty-nine 
poems by undesignated authors ; taking the first and second 
editions together, Tottel printed forty poems by Surrey, 
ninety-six by Wyatt (somewhat more than half his verse), 
forty by Nicholas Grimald, together with one hundred and 
thirty anonymous poems. In Arber's reprint of Tottel, 
the poems of Wyatt, Surrey, and Grimald occupy but one 
hundred and twenty-three pages ; those by uncertain authors 

1 Verses prefixed to the poems of George Gascoigne. 


cover one hundred and forty-four and form what we may 
call the school of Wyatt and Surrey, for these unknown 
writers follow them in nearly every phase of their work. 

Of all the poems printed by Tottel, only those by Wyatt 
and Surrey have any great hterary value. Grimald has a 
few naively pathetic phrases in the poem on the death of his 
mother, but in general his work is tiresome and often ludi- 
crous. At his best he writes : 

" What sweet relief the showers to thirsty plants we see. 
What dear delight the blooms to bees, my true love is to me. 
As fresh and lusty vere foul winter doth exceed, (spring) 
As morning bright with scarlet sky doth pass the evening's 

As mellow pears above the crabs esteemed be. 
So doth my love surmount them all, whom yet I hap to see;" 

but this is beyond his accustomed style. If it is hardly fair 
to quote from the Death of Zoroas and Ciceroes Death, terri- 
fying bits of doggerel in which not only those worthies but 
all poetry expired, at least the close of his Garden is charac- 
teristic : 

" O, what delights to us the garden ground doth bring. 
Seed, leaf, flower, fruit, herb, bee and tree, and more than I 
may sing."'^ 

The poems by uncertain authors are equally disappointing. 
The sonnet is not yet a popular form, for Grimald con- 
tributes but three — none of them are translations — while the 
anonymous writers give us but nine in all. Of these twelve 
sonnets, one follows the strict Italian rhyme scheme ;^ three 

1 Arber's Tottel, pp. 96, 112. 

2 P. 197. I believe this is the first English sonnet that observes the 
Italian rhyme scheme, though there is no pause between the octave and 
sestet. It is evidently a translation; it commences: 

" For love Apollo (his godhead set aside) 
Was servant to the king of Thessaly." 


are written in an irregular form resembling Wyatt's ; and 
eight adopt Surrey's arrangement of three quatrains and a 
concluding couplet, showing plainly what was to be the 
structure of the Elizabethan sonnet. Though two of the 
sonnets praise "Petrarch head and prince of poets all," on 
the whole there is but little direct imitation of the Canzoniere 
and very much of Wyatt and Surrey -^ repeating their 
themes, twenty-one poems depict in utterly conventional 
language the griefs of love. We look for an advance over 
Wyatt and Surrey, but though at times there is a sign of 
progress in an easier rhythm, on the whole the poems fall 
far below their level. There are some exceptions such as 
Heywood's Give place you ladies and begone: 

" If all the world were sought so far. 
Who could find such a wight ! 
Her beauty twinkleth like a star 
Within the frosty night. 

" Her rosial colour comes and goes 
With such a comely grace; 
Much ruddier, too, than doth the rose 
Within her lively face." 

Equally graceful is: 

" Such green to me as you have sent. 

Such green to you I send again; 

A flowering heart that will not faint. 
For dread of hope or loss of gain; 

A steadfast thought all wholly bent 

So that he may your grace obtain: 

As you by proof have always seen. 

To live your own and always green."^ 

1 P. 178. On p. 230 is » translation, not in sonnet form, of Petrarch's 
sonnet, Era il giorno. The poem on p. 14<l has many Petrarchian pas- 
sages, Imitating "Nel dolce tempo." 

2 Pp. 163, 187. 


The aged lover renotmceth love,, by Lord Vaux, attained 
great popularity; it will be remembered that the grave- 
digger in Hamlet, in attempting to sing it, badly muddles 
the words. A Shakespearean audience quite familiar with 
the song would appreciate the humor of his travesty; the 
modern play-goer misses it entirely. 

Tottel's Miscellany appeared in the last years of Mary's 
reign, on the very threshold of the Elizabethan era. Before 
we pass to this flowering time of the lyric we pause to con- 
sider what English poets had hitherto accomplished. To a 
certain extent the language had been refined; a model for 
verse had been found in the writings of the ItaUan and 
French poets; a small number of good English lyrics had 
been produced; but the English lyric was still undeveloped. 
It lacked a glowing style; it needed a more musical expres- 
sion; and in its content it had merely grazed the surface of 
life. Certain poems of Wyatt and Surrey contradict this 
statement, but they are few in number, rare exceptions. 
Strangely enough there existed side by side with the trans- 
lations and imitations of "Petrarch's long deceased woes," 
as Sidney called them, another body of poetry that con- 
tained the very qualities the English lyric lacked. The old 
EngKsh ballads were simple in their diction, swift in their 
movement, and strong in their portrayal of the great crises 
of human existence. They seized upon the impassioned 
moments of life ; they depicted men and women swayed by 
the greatest emotions ; and they stirred the hearts of those 
who heard them like a trumpet call. The English lyric had 
not done this. It is not a rule of lyric verse that it must 
always display the deeper feelings of humanity ; many a fine 
song has been written upon a simple, even a trivial fancy, 
but in that case the form, the art of the expression gave to 
the lyric its value. This art of adorning a slight theme, the 
English poets lacked. To bring to the lyric color and form 


and beauty, to breathe into it the breath of life was to be 
the work and the glory of the Elizabethan age. 

We began our chapter with a discussion of the Italian 
lyric; we close it with a brief reference to the poetry of 
France which directed and inspired so much of Elizabethan 
verse. The influence of the Italian writers lasted through- 
out the sixteenth century. Not only did the lesser French 
poets, Melin de Saint-Gelais, Maurice Sceve, Pontus de 
Tyard, De Baif , OUvier de Magny, pilfer the popular Itahan 
anthologies, but even Du Bellay and Ronsard did not disdain 
to copy line for line from the lesser sonneteers. Every 
French schoolboy knows Du Bellay's sonnet, "Si notre vie 
est moins qu'une journee" — it is as current as Gray's Elegy 
with us. The poem is an almost literal translation of a 
sonnet by Bernardino Daniello commencing, "Se'l viver 
nostro e breve oscuro giorno."^ This instance is a typical 
one. The Elizabethans were great admirers of Desportes and 
plagiarized from him shamelessly. His works, first published 
in 1573, pay ample tribute to the poetic supremacy of Italy; 
one hundred out of the four hundred and thirty-two sonnets 
in the eighth edition of his poems (1583) derive their 
inspiration from the other side of the Alps.^ 

But French verse, inspired by Italy, had its own triumphs 
and the Pleiade produced a large collection of lyrics, thor- 
oughly original, that three centuries have not faded. Con- 
trasted with the best sonnets of Ronsard, the quatorzains of 
Wyatt and Surrey have little poetic significance ; with all 
their experiments in metre, with all their seeking after refine- 
ment, these fathers of our lyric verse never approached either 
the grace or the music of Du Bellay's Chanson du Vanneur, 
to take a typical poem. The lover of poetry returns again 

1 See J. Vianey, Le Pitrarquisme en trance au XVIme siicle, 
Montpellier, 1909, p. 116. This book is indispensable for a study of 
Elizabethan verse. 

2 P. 24.0. 


and again to these French writers; he reads them for their 
sentiment and their charm of expression, but the Elizabethans 
regarded them as models of style, the ideal to which the 
EngHsh lyric must attain. 


The Elizabethan Lyeic 


The reign of Elizabeth is also the reign of song, for 
though we first think of that age as the blossoming time of 
the drama, rarely if ever in the history of literature has there 
been a period in which the lyric was so widely composed or 
when it entered so deeply into the life of the times. The 
Queen herself felt the lyric impulse and tried her hand at 
verse making (her great rival, Mary of Scotland, wrote 
French sonnets) and though Puttenham, as a faithful sub- 
ject, pronounces her most characteristic ditty to be "passing 
sweet and harmonical," it certainly is neither. There is no 
womanly grace in these lines aiming at Mary Stuart; but 
we see in them the strong mind and hand that ruled England : 

" The daughter of debate 
That eke discord doth sow. 
Shall reap no gain where former rule 
Hath taught still peace to grow. 

" No foreign banished wight 
Shall anchor in this port, 
Our realm it brooks no strangers' force; 
Let them elsewhere resort."'^ 

The lyric, then, became the fashion. Men courted their 
mistresses in sonnets, and if they could not compose them, 
employed others to write them. A well-turned copy of verses 
could secure the patronage of some powerful noble and make 

1 See George Puttenham, The Art of English Poesy, reprinted by 
Arber, London, 1869, p. 354. Cf. E. Fliigel, Oedichte der Konigin Eliza- 
beth, Anglia, XIV, p. 346. 


one's fortune ; a flattering song might rescue a courtier 
from disgrace and ruin. Friends addressed one another in 
rhyme and imitated each other's lyrics ; precisely as an open 
letter in a modern newspaper draws out replies, so Eliza- 
bethan lyrics had their answers. "Were I a king, I could 
command content," writes Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, 
and Sidney answers him "Wert thou a king, yet not command 
content," and another writer reminds him "The greatest 
kings do least command content." Dyer's long and unin- 
spired Fancy is transposed by Southwell to a Sinner's Com- 
plaint, while Fulke Greville plays another variation on it.^ 
Every mood had its song; if men were happy, they sang for 
sheer joy; in dejection they turned to verse making. The 
unfortunate Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, hardly pos- 
sessed the poetic temperament. A rash, impulsive soldier, 
lacking depth and balance, rushing headlong into danger, 
verse would seem too fragile a weapon for his hand, yet 
Wotton, once his secretary, informs us that "to evaporate 
his thoughts in a sonnet was his common way." There is a 
tradition that his moving lyric 

" Happy were he could finish forth his fate 

In some unhaunted desert, most obscure," 

was sent to EHzabeth from Ireland in 1599, where, his army 
deserting and his fame shattered, disgrace and ruin stared 
him in the face.^ 

We think of the Elizabethan lyric as a Hght and careless 
song of happiness, but men turned to it in the deepest 
moments of life. In the reign of James I — but this incident 
is perfectly typical of the spirit of Ehzabeth's day — John 

ij. Hannah, Poems of Wotton, Raleigh, etc., London, 187S, pp. 
14T-148; 154-173. 
2 P. 177. 


Hoskins lay in the tower, charged with treason, which almost 
invariably implied a death sentence. His wife petitioned for 
his release with the following curious document: 

" The worst is told; the best is hid: 
Kings know not all ; I would they did : 
What though my husband once have erred? 
Men more to blame have been preferred. 
Who hath not erred, he doth not live; 
He erred but once ; once, King, forgive !"^ 

This obtained the prisoner's pardon. Possibly the king 
feared another petition. In the tower, under the shadow of 
the block, men spent their last moments composing elegies 
and laments. "My prime of youth is but a frost of cares," 
writes Tichborne, facing execution, and Southwell, racked 
and tortured, awaiting death, writes his tenderest rehgious 
lyrics. On the deathbed itself, men wrote their songs, and 
Sidney, in contempt of pain, sang one which he had made 
about his fatal wound, La cuisse cassee. From a contem- 
porary account of the last hours of Walter Devereux 
(d. 1576) we read: "The night following, the Friday night, 
which was the night before he died, he called William Hewes, 
which was his musician, to play upon the virginal and to sing. 
'Play,' said he, 'my song. Will Hewes, and I will sing it my- 
self.' So he did it most joyfully, not as a howling swan, 
which still looking down waiteth her end, but as a sweet 
lark."^ And when a man died, his friends, not all poets by 
profession, felt it incumbent upon them to compose and pub- 
lish elegies for him. To-day, this would be the saddest injury 
one's memory could suffer. For every emotion, for every 
circumstance of life, men of all classes — courtiers and 

ip. 131. 

2 A. B. Grosart, Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies' Library, Poems 
of Vau.v, Oxford, etc. [London], 1872, Introduction, p. 13. 


scholars, priests and soldiers, adventurers and statesmen — 
have written their songs. With us the lyric is sung by a few 
choice spirits to a small group of listeners; in the days of 
Elizabeth, it was the voice of the nation. 

Within the compass of a single chapter it is difficult to 
deal with this wealth of lyric verse, or even to characterize 
it. The lyric spirit was aU-pervasive, often eluding defini- 
tion or analysis. The drama is full of lyrics, not the formal 
songs which we shall consider but song overflowing into 
dialogue, soliloquy and description ; the epic and narrative 
verse has its lyric moments not in the songs introduced, but 
woven into the very fabric of the poems. The song of the 
rose in the second book of the Faerie Queene is not more 
lyrical than many another passage. We find, however, that 
the lyrics fall roughly into four general groups — the son- 
nets; the miscellaneous lyrics; the lyrics of the drama; and 
the lyrics in the song books. We shall consider them in this 


The beginnings of the EUzabethan lyric were far from 
brilliant. One of the first writers to meet us is George 
Gascoigne (1525P-1577), whom an Italian admirer called 
"un' immitatore di Petrarcha, amico d'Ariosto, e parangon 
di Bocaccio, Aretino ed ogni altro poeta quanto sia piii 
famoso ed eccellente dell' eta nostra"!^ He is the most 
voluminous writer of verse since Skelton, but he has left 
few lyrics of value, for while at times he shows good metrical 
facility, he generally has little to say. His Arraignment of 
a Lover, one of his best lyrics, moves with a light step ; we 
may call it an early example of society verse : 

IJ. W. Cunliffe, The Posies of George Oascoigne, Cambridge, 1907, 
p. 29. 


" At Beauty's bar as I did stand. 

When false suspect accused me, 
'George,' quoth the judge, 'hold up thy hand. 
Thou art arraigned of Flattery: 

Tell therefore how thou wilt be tried? 
Whose judgment here wilt thou abide?' "^ 

His Lullaby of a lover treats originally, gracefully, and 
with a genuine pathos, the old theme of approaching age; 
while his Good morrow opens with lines that foretell the 
future charm of the lyric. Unfortunately after such musical 
and unaffected writing as : 

" You that have spent the silent night 

In sleep and quiet rest. 
And joy to see the cheerful light 

That riseth in the East; 
Now clear your voice, now cheer your heart. 

Come help me now to sing; 
Each willing wight come bear a part. 

To praise the heavenly king." 

we come to the statement that "the carrion crow" 

" The devil resembleth- plain. 
And as with guns we kill the crow 

For spoiling our relief, 
The devil so must we overthrow 

With gunshot of belief."^ 

He has little sustained work and writes well as if by accident. 
It is interesting to observe that he continues the Surreyan 
sonnet, but he has not written a single one of real poetic 

Gascoigne is the author of our first essay on verse com- 
position, one paragraph of which is most illuminating. After 
some very sensible remarks upon the necessity of using in 

1 P. 38. 

2 P. 55. 


verse the prose accentuation of words, and after recom- 
mending a monosyllabic diction ("the more monosyllables 
you use, the truer Englishman you are," he exclaims, and 
Addison repeats this thought in the Spectator), Gascoigne 
makes the following frank statement: 

" To help you a little with rhyme (which is also a plain young 
scholar's lesson) work thus: when you have set down your first 
verse, take the last word thereof and count over all the words 
of the self same sound by order of the alphabet : As for example, 
the last word of your first line is care; to rhyme therewith you 
have bare, dare, dare, fare, gare, hare, and share, mare, snare, 
rare, stare, and mare, etc. Of all these, take that which best 
may serve your purpose carrying reason with rhyme ; and if none 
of them will serve so, then alter the last word of your former 
verse, but yet do not willingly alter the meaning of your 

We have quoted this because most of the earliest Eliza- 
bethan lyrics seem to have been written on this principle of 
composition. This will be seen in glancing over the lyrics 
of George Turberville (1540.?-1610?), who enjoyed a high 
contemporary reputation, for Harrington wrote of him 

" When times were yet but rude, thy pen endeavoured 
To polish barbarism with purer style:" 

but he is a mere rhymester; he has no metrical skill; and 
nearly every page shows some evidence of a deplorable lack 
of taste, to say nothing of inspiration. He has left one good 
quatrain, a translation of a passage in Plato that has 
attracted many poets, among others, Shelley: 

" My girl, thou gazest much 
Upon the golden skies. 
Would I were Heaven, I would behold 
Thee then with all mine eyes."^ 

1 P. 4.69. 

2 A. Chalmers' The Works of the English Poets, vol. II, p. 635. 


We shall mention but one more of the early EKzabethans, 
Barnaby Googe ( 1540-1594) whose Eglogs, Epytaphes, and 
Sonnettes were published in a single volume in 1563, the year 
before Shakespeare's birth. The section of the book marked 
"sonnettes" does not contain an example of that form, for 
in general the EKzabethans used the term loosely, often 
calling any short poem, even a quatrain, a "sonnet." In 
Turberville's poems we find Master George his Sonnet of the 
Pains of Love : 

" Two lines shall tell the grief. 
That I by love sustain: 
I burn, I flame, I faint, I freeze, 
Of HeU I feel the pain.''^ 

As a matter of fact, this so-called "sonnet" contains all that 
we find in many later quatorzains. We discover in Googe 
the influence of TotteVs Miscellany, but except for a httle 
more smoothness in his metres, he falls far below the level of 
that book. Only two of his "sonnets" deserve citation: 
"When I do hear thy name," retains the simpKcity of the 
early songs : 

" Thy voice when I do hear. 

Then colour comes and goes. 
Some time as pale as earth I look. 
Some time as red as rose." 

while his best lyric, "The rushing rivers that do run," con- 
tains these verses, "to the tune of Apelles" : 

" O Nature, thou that first did frame 

My lady's hair of purest gold. 
Her face of crystal to the same. 

Her lips of precious rubies mold. 
Her neck of alabaster white, 
Surmounting far each other wight. 

IP. 587. 


" Why didst thou not that time devise. 

Why didst thou not foresee before. 

The mischief that thereof doth rise. 

And grief on grief doth heap with store. 

To make her heart of wax alone. 

And not of flint and marble stone ?"^ 

But these are scanty gleanings, and it was not until 1579 
that the new poetry was ushered in with Spenser's Shep- 
herd's Calendar, of which we shall speak later, for we are 
now at the commencement of the sonnet cycles.^ 

Thomas Watson ( 1557 ?-l 592) spent his time when a stu- 
dent at Oxford "in the smooth and pleasant studies of poetry 
and romance" and certainly obtained a thorough acquaint- 
ance not only with the Greek and Latin poets, but with the 
chief Italian lyrists from Petrarch down, and with Ronsard 
and his school. Beginning his literary career in 1589 with 
a Latin translation of the Antigone, he entered the field of 
the lyric the following year with his Hekatompathia or Pas- 
sionate Centurie of Love, a hundred poems ("century"), by 
far the greater part translations or adaptations from the 
classics, the Italian, and the French. To each of these 
"Passions" or "sonnets" as he called them, Watson prefixed 
an explanation of its contents and a reference to its source 
or sources and it is thus a simple matter to follow him in his 
renderings of Theocritus and Horace, Petrarch, Serafino, 
and Ronsard. Though but eight of the poems are taken from 
Petrarch, Watson has much of his spirit (he tells us he had 
made a Latin translation of the sonnets of the Canzoniere) 
and indeed he was regarded as his English counterpart. 
George Bucke, in a copy of commendatory vers'es, informs 
him that 

iGooge in Arber's English Reprints, London, 1871, pp. 95, 106. 

2 Strictly speaking the new movement in the Elizabethan lyric may be 
first discerned in Spenser's boyish translations from Petrarch and Du 
Bellay published in the Theatre for Worldlings, 1569. 


" The stars, which did at Petrarch's birthday reign. 
Were fixed again at thy nativity," 

and that compared with Petrarch and Laura 

" Thou and thy dame be equal, save percase 
Thou pass the one, and she excells the other."^ 

Watson did not imitate the Petrarchian sonnet form, but 
employed instead a combination of three six line stanzas of 
the type later made famous by Shakespeare's Venus and 
Adonis. The poems are free translations and at times 
mosaics, for in one, the first twelve lines are each taken from 
a different author. Lacking in inspiration, Watson fre- 
quently descended to what Addison called false wit. He 
possesses little imagination or feeling ; there is no force in 
his writing ; and it was hardly necessary for him to inform 
us that his pains are "but supposed." The best that can 
be said of him is that he shows, at times, an easy, graceful 
style and that he has a plaintive note, not without a certain 
charm, as in his ninth Passion : 

" The marigold so likes the lovely sun 

That when he sets, the other hides her face, 
And when he gins his morning course to run. 

She spreads abroad, and shows her greatest grace; 
So shuts or sprouts my joy, as doth this flower, 
When my sunshine doth either laugh or lower."^ 

There is a deHcacy of expression in such a line as 
" Each thought I think is friend to her I love, 

and the two Passions beginning '"My gentle bird, which sung 
so sweet of late," and "When May is in his prime," are good 
examples of his best qualities.^ 

1 Thomas Watson, in Arber's English Reprints, London, 1870, p. 33. 

2 P. 45. 

3 Pp. 52, 62. 


In 1593, the year after Watson's death, appeared his 
Tears of Fancie, a series of sixty sonnets in the Surreyan 
form. They are much better reading, though they bear the 
marks of foreign imitation. A single quotation shows their 
style : 

" Behold, dear mistress, how each pleasant green 
Will now renew his summer's livery: 
The fragrant flowers which have not long been seen, 
Will flourish now ere long in bravery. 
But I, alas, within whose mourning mind 
The grafts of grief are only given to grow. 
Can not enjoy the Spring which others find. 
But still my will must wither all in woe."^ 

Watson enjoyed a high reputation in his own day, but he 
deserves the oblivion into which he has fallen and from which 
Professor Arber gallantly tried to rescue him, for he has 
left us no poem of the first order and we remember him only 
as the author of our earliest love sequence and as one of our 
first writers of madrigals.^ 

The first Elizabethan sonnet sequence worthy to be com-; 
pared with the Italian or French cycles is Sir Philip Sidney's 
Astrophel and Stella. Sidney (1554-1586) was a scholar,! 
courtier, and soldier ; a critic, novelist, and poet, yet for all 
his varied interests and his recognized brilliancy, he had 
neither a fortunate nor a happy career. A member of a 
distinguished family, nephew to Elizabeth's favorite, the 
Earl of Leicester, he naturally looked forward to a position 
of influence in state affairs, but he displeased the queen, who 
gave him the trifle of three million acres in Virginia but no 
share in the government. Once in despair, for he was 
actually poor, he contemplated emigrating to this domain. 

1 P. 202. 

^Italian Madrigals Englished, 1590, reprinted in the Journal of 
Oermanic Philology, vol. II, No. iii, p. 337. 


An American can not forbear conjecturing what the early 
history of the Virginia colony would have been had Sidney 
and a group of his friends inaugurated it. Unfortunate in 
his public life, he found his greatest pleasure in his writings 
and in the friendship of a group of poets of whom Spenser 
was the chief. His nature was a serious one ; melancholy 
had marked him for her own ; and his Huguenot friend and 
counsellor Languet, a man whose character was anything 
but frivolous, protested that Sidney was of a too sober 
disposition. In his miniature painted by Oliver we see him 
seated beneath a tree, in a doublet slashed with black, 
pensive, mournful, one arm across his breast, the other hold- 
ing his sword — a Lover's Melancholy or II Penseroso, we 
might call it. Could any one be better fitted to continue the 
Petrarchian tradition of unhappy love? 

Astrophel and Stella was printed surreptitiously in 1591, 
five years after Sidney's death. So far from desiring it to 
be published, on his deathbed he begged his friends to burn 
his writings ; an injunction which certainly included the 
sonnets as well as the unfinished Arcadia. Ostensibly this 
sonnet cycle portrays Sidney's love for Penelope Devereux 
(1562P-1607). The daughter of the Earl of Essex, she had 
been destined by her father to marry Sidney, who showed 
no interest in her until after her unhappy match with Lord 
Rich in 1581. Some time between that date and Sidney's 
marriage to Frances Walsingham in 1683 these sonnets were 
written. Their interpretation is still a matter of dispute.^ 
Read Kterally they portray Sidney's devotion for a married 
woman who loves him in return. Restrained by a sense of 
honor, she makes of Sidney a Platonic lover. To us the situa- 
tion seems an impossible one, but the Renaissance treated it 
as seriously as we would a genuine passion swaying a man 
and a maid. Tasso could write to a bride on her marriage, 

1 J. B. Fletcher, The Eeligioti of Beauty in Woman, N. Y., 1911, pp. 
147-165, "Did Astrophel love SteUa?' 


urging her, in the inevitable sonnet, to reserve for him the 
best part of her love. Evidently to interpret Elizabethan 
sonnet cycles in terms of the nineteenth century is madness, 
yet Symonds, disregarding the exotic as well as the conven- 
tional element in Astrophel and Stella, has constructed from 
it a whole romance, with each step in the growth of Sidney's 
passion clearly marked — imaginative but scarcely reason- 
able criticism. On the other hand, Sidney Lee goes so far 
as to deny that these sonnets possess "any serious auto- 
biographic significance."^ The truth probably lies midway 
between these two opinions, in the "golden mean" which the 
Elizabethans praised. To draw an analogy from a sister 
art, the painters of the Renaissance often placed amid a 
group of figures, purely imaginary, their own portraits. 
It is very probable that at times, amid the translations and 
evident imitations of the sonnets, we may discover Sidney 
himself. It is this fact, as well as the inherent poetic worth 
of the sequence, that makes it a landmark in the history of 
the Enghsh lyric. 

After leaving Oxford in 1572, Sidney passed nearly three 
years on the continent. In the course of his journeys, he 
visited Venice, a home of the Petrarchian school. A tablet 
still marks the house on the Riva degli Schiavoni which the 
"liberality of the senate" offered to Petrarch, and thanks 
to Bembo and his followers, the influence of his song still 
lingered there. As in the case of Wyatt, this glimpse of 
Italy determined in a large measure Sidney's poetic career. 
That he entered with zest into Venetian life can not be 
doubted; he had his portrait painted by Veronese and he 
must have turned to that art which interested him more 
than painting. It would be strange indeed if he did not read 
the poetry of Petrarch and of his lesser clan. Though he 

IJ. A. Symonds, Sidney, in English Men of Letters; Sidney Lee, 
Introduction to Elizabethan Sonnets, vol. I, in the re-issue of Arber's 
English Garner. 


imitated the French sonneteers, I believe he derived much of 
his inspiration directly from Italy, rather than through the 
medium of French verse. Several of his songs were written 
to Italian music, and it is hardly necessary to point out that 
the situation in Astrophel and Stella is precisely that of 
Petrarch's Canzoniere, indeed the very title "Stella" is 
derived from the Petrarchians.^ Accordingly much of our 
analysis and criticism of the Canzoniere may be applied to 
Sidney's sequence. Coming from a reading of the Petrarch- 
ists, we hear their music re-echoing in many a line of Sid- 
ney's laments even when we can not detect formal imitation. 
It is unfortunate that despite Sidney's great reputation, 
Astrophel and Stella is little known to-day; for the most 
persistent reader of EngHsh verse would probably have 
difficulty in citing a dozen lines from his sonnets. Charles 
Lamb devoted an essay to them, quoting with a few com- 
ments the ones he most admired, yet he failed to awaken an 
interest in the poet ; at the present time Sidney is known 
only by those poems that attract compilers of anthologies. 
The reason for this neglect is the inequality of his work. 

1 L. Dolce begins a sonnet : 

" Stella ; che degna ben vi dimostrate 
Del nome, che si dolce e altero suona;" 

while Rinieri has two beginning, "Celeste forma, anzi lucente stella;''and 
"Questa nuova del ciel felice Stella." Marco Cavallo, a well-known 
Venetian, secretary to the Cardinal Marco Conaro, is fond of addressing 
his mistress under this name: 

" Si come I'amorosa, e vaga Stella, 
Ch'a I'alba inanzi sempre apparir sole. 
Con suoi fulgentirai fa scorte Sole, 

Tal la mia Donna; che dal quella luce 
Prese il bel nome, e i bei celeste rai." 

I take these quotations from Rime Diverse, vols. I and II. 


Although he asserted that he was "no pick purse of another's 
wit," he admitted that he had spent his time 

" Oft turning others' leaves^ to see if thence would flow 
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburnt brain,"^ 

and unfortunately in this process he absorbed too many 
ideas from the Petrarchists. A considerable number of son- 
nets, which the age considered witty and ingenious, we find 
insipid, tedious, and even ridiculous, for literary fashions 
soon change and it is quite possible that succeeding genera- 
tions will yawn as wearily over our twentieth century epi- 
grams and paradoxes as we do over Sidney's sonnet that 
describes Stella's face as a house (an old device) with her 
mouth the door, her hair the golden roof, and her eyes the 
windows.^ Equally uninspired are those sonnets in which 
Cupid appears ; in a typical one, Stella's eyebrows form his 
bow.^ As a rule, Cupid is the evil genius of the Elizabethan 
lyric ; there are rare exceptions such as Lyly's song Cupid 
and my Campaspe played, which employs this conceit of 
Sidney's. We must admit that many of the sonnets have 
neither personal nor poetical significance. 

Discarding the poorer element, we turn to the best, by 
which a writer must always be judged. It is impossible to 
avoid seeing in a small group of sonnets a presentation of 
Sidney's own life, for he did follow the Muse's injunction to 
"look in thy heart, and write" ; he has left many lines which 
"bewray an inward touch." We believe this because many 
of the sonnets square exactly with the course of Sidney's 
career. With Petrarch and his followers the enamorement 
comes at the first glance of beauty ; with Sidney it was not 
love at first sight: 

1 See Lee's Elizabethan Sonnets, vol. I, Astrophel and Stella, sonnet i. 

2 No. ix. 

3 No. xvii. 


" Not at the first sight, nor with a dribbed shot. 
Love gave the wound, which while I breathe, will bleed: 
But known worth did in mine of time proceed, (by slow 

Till, by degrees, it had full conquest got," 

and again he cries : 

" 'I might — unhappy word, O me ! — I might, 
And then would not, or could not see my bliss." 

The Petrarchians insist that their love incites the soul to 
virtuous deeds, and Sidney often follows them; in a sonnet 
speaking of Stella's goodness and beauty he writes : 

" And not content to be perfection's heir. 
Thyself dost strive all minds that way to move; 
Who mark in thee, what is in thee most fair: 
So while thy beauty draws the heart to love. 
As fast thy virtue bends that love to good. 
But ah ! Desire still cries, 'Give me some food !' "^ 

This last line is the significant one ; Sidney wears his rue 
with a difference, for Platonic idealism does not satisfy him. 
Moreover while the Petrarchists weary us with assertions 
that their love ennobles them, Sidney is aware that his 
passion can lead only to a dishonorable conclusion: 

" Alas ! have I not pain enough ? my friend ! 

But with your rhubarb words ye must contend 
To grieve me worse in saying 'That Desire 
Doth plunge my well-formed soul even in the mire 
Of sinful thoughts, which do in ruin end.' "^ 

After Sidney's death, Stella deserted her husband who had 
been forced upon her and who treated her with neglect and 

1 Nos. ii, xxxiii, Ixxi. 

2 No. xiv. 


even with brutality. In itself this is not a sufficient argu- 
ment to discredit Sidney's statement that her firmness and 
her affection for him prevented a catastrophe which would 
have involved them both. The two sonnets in which Sidney 
plays upon the name of Stella's husband, Lord Rich, are 
quite different from the sonnets in which Petrarch puns on 
Laura's name; Sidney writes in scorn and anger of 

" that rich fool, who by blind Fortune's lot, 
The richest gem of love and Ufa enjoys; 
And can with foul abuse such beauties blot."^ 

Hitherto the lyrical poets had not put into verse the 
trivial yet important happenings of their lives, and Sidney 
marks a progress when he does this. Many of his poems 
refer to definite events. He meets Stella riding uncovered 
when other ladies fear the sun ; he sees her moved to tears by 
the reading of a love tragedy; he hears her read his own 
verses ; Stella 

" Who, hard by, made a window send forth light :" 

(a splendid phrase) sees him win in a tourney.^ These are 
indeed slight occurrences but it is the weaving into verse of 
all a man's moods and impressions as well as his greater 
emotions that makes the lyric the real voice of the human 
spirit. From another point of view, on such slender happen- 
ings have depended the greatest artistic results. The song 
of a lark in the fields, of a nightingale in a covert, of a 
peasant girl in the Scottish highlands, have enriched English 
literature with three priceless lyrics. 

The sonnets certainly reveal Sidney's nature. He is an 
aristocrat, moving in courtly circles, proud of his birth and 

1 No. xxlv; cf. xxxvii, a sonnet suppressed in the first edition of 
Astrophel and Stella and not printed until 1598. 

2 Nos. xxii, xlv, Mil, liii. 


rank ; he remembers the achievements of his family and asks 

" Ulster likes of that same golden bit. 
Wherewith my father once made it half tame ?" 

He is proud of his horsemanship, his strength, his skill in the 
jousts which even the French, past masters in such pursuits, 
cover with applause : 

" Youth, luck and praise even filled my veins with pride." 

He has all the culture of his day ; we see him reading Plato, 

" The wisest scholar of the wight most wise," 

while "Aristotle's wit" he values as highly as Cffisar's fame. 
What a contrast between the sonnets of this young noble- 
man and those of that "unlettered clerk" who went here and 
there "a motley to the view." Yet many of Sidney's Hnes 
foretell Shakespeare. 

" With what sharp checks I in myself am shent, 
When into Reason's audit I do go; 
And by just coimts, myself a bankrupt know 
Of all those goods which heaven to me hath lent," 

might have come from the greatest of all Elizabethan son- 

Judging the sonnets from the purely artistic standpoint, 
not many are well written throughout ; they are frequently 
marred by roughness of phrase and by obscurity of con- 
struction and expression. In general they lack that sweet- 
ness of cadence which we associate with the sonnet form, for 
though Sidney employs the Petrarchian rhyme scheme, he 
ends his sestet, with disconcerting effect, in a couplet. If 
the verse is at times halting, it has vigor and movement: 

1 Nos. XXX, liii, xxv (cf. xxi), xvlil. 


" Highway ! since you my chief Parnassus be ; 
And that my Muse to some ears not unsweet, 
Tempers her words to trampling horses' feet 
More oft than to a chamber melody."^ 

In such an apostrophe we first see an individual style in the 
English sonnet. Even in his purely imitative verse, Sidney 
can be at his best. The Petrarchian school has left us many 
sonnets on sleep. Giovanni della Casa's masterpiece is a 
typical one: 

" O SonnOj o della queta^ umida, ombrosa 
Notte placido figlio; o de' mortali 
Egri conforto, oblio dolce de' mall 

Si gravij ond'e la vita aspra e noiosa; 

Soccorri al core omai, che langue, e posa 

Non have; e queste membra stanche e frali 
SoUeva :' a me te n' vola, O Sonno, e I'ali 

Tue brune sovra me distendi e posa." 

(O Sleep, peaceful son of the quiet, dewy, shadowy night; com- 
fort of weary mortals, sweet oblivion of heavy ills, whence life 
is rough and wearisome; aid now the heart that languishes nor 
has repose; lift up these limbs, weary and frail; fly to me, 
O Sleep, and thy brown wings spread over me.) 

Shakespeare, in his great speech of Macbeth, shows the 
influence of such lines and Sidney has as fine an imagery, as 
musical an appeal in his 

" Come Sleep ! O Sleep ! the certain knot of peace ; 
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe. 
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release, 
Th' indifferent judge between the high and low."^ 

1 No. Ixxxiv. 

2 No. xxxix. E. Koeppel, Bomanische Forschungen, V, p. 97, after 
having pointed out passages in which Sidney imitates the Italian lyric, 
observes justly: "Sidney could not escape the powerful influence of 
Petrarch, he has paid him rich tribute, but he has poured so much new 
wine in the old bottles that no one can contest his right to say, 'I am 
no pick-purse of another's wit.' " 


In the midst of the most ineffective sonnets there is gen- 
erally some spark of the divine fire, some noble line such as 

" Those lips ! which make death's pay, a mean price for a kiss." 

His best known sonnet is certainly his finest one; it is thor- 
oughly characteristic — unevenly written, obscurely ex- 
pressed in the concluding line, but infused with fine emotion: 

" With how sad steps, O INIoon, thou climb'st the skies ! 
How silently, and with how wan a face!"^ 

Shelley might have written this. Here for the first time in 
the English lyric we have a deep sorrow illumined by the 
light of the poet's imagination. 

In 1593 Barnaby Barnes (1569-1609) published his 
Parthenophil and Parthenophe. Sonnets, Madrigals, Elegies 
and Odes, a wearisome collection of verse — there are over 
one hundred sonnets alone- — which may be characterized as 
containing much matter but little art. At times he links 
his sonnets together. The first nine treat of the imprison- 
ment and release of his heart; sonnets xxxii-xUii describe a 
zodiac of love ; but on the whole the book is a series of dis- 
connected love poems, imitations or adaptations of Petrarch, 
Sannazzaro, Ronsard, and the French school, while the 
classics are represented by the Lost Cupid of Moschus. 
Although the greater part of the book has not been traced 
directly to its foreign sources, there are many reminiscences 
of the Petrarchian school. Barnes wishes his love to be 

1 No. xxxi. Cf. Shelley's 

" Art thou pale for weariness 
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth." 

It is interesting to remember that Sidney is the one Elizabethan poet 
who enjoyed a reputation in France. See the reference in Noe of Du 
Bartas to "milor Cydn6," "Cygne doux chantant," and contrast it with 
the slighting allusion to Ben Jonson in Saint Amant's Albion. 


" 'bove Stella placed; 
'Bove Lauraj" 

and employs the usual themes — death, sleep, a lover's suffer- 
ings — the old similes, the old phraseology. Of the writer 
himself, we see nothing. 

There is one interesting trait in his style; his penchant 
for legal terms, which he tortures and twists to meet a lover's 
woes. As Mr. Lee suggests, it is highly interesting to com- 
pare the similar phrases in Shakespeare's sonnets. 

" But when the mortgage should have cured the sore, 
She passed it off, by deed of gift before," 

he writes, or 

" And when, through thy default, I thee did summon 
Into the Court of Steadfast Love, then cried, 
'As it was promised, here stands his heart's bail! 
And if in bonds to thee, my love be tied. 
Then by those bonds, take forfeit of the sale.' "' 

How far is all this from : 

" When to the sessions of sweet silent thought 
I summon up remembrance of things past," 


" Farewell ! thou art too dear for my possessing. 
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate: 
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing ; 
My bonds in thee are all determinate." 

Shakespeare repeats in his sonnets the situations, the ideas, 
the emotions of his predecessors, but he has so refined and 
transformed them that we forget, as we do in reading the 
poems of Bums, how much has been suggested by unre- 
membered singers. 

'^ ParthenopMl, sonnets, nos. viii, xi; in Lee's Elizabethan Sonnets, vol. 


Barnes has one sure claim to remembrance. Like Arvers, 
the author of 

" Mon ame a son secret, ma vie a son mystere," 

he is the poet of one sonnet. We read on through allegories 
and the commonplaces of mythology, until we reach sonnet 
Ixv which closes as follows : 

" Oh that I never had been born at all. 
Or being, had been born of shepherds' brood! 
Then should I not in such mischances fall. 
Quiet, my water ; and Content, my food. 
But now disquieted, and still tormented. 
With adverse fate, perforce, must rest contented." 

There is nothing remarkable in all this, but these few hnes 
gave Barnes the suggestion, the impulse for the sonnet that 
immediately follows. It is marked by a pensive sweetness, 
a gentle melancholy (for Barnes had no deep feeling). To 
borrow a figure from music, when he bears hard on the 
strings, they scrape and grate. Here for once he found 
himself : 

" Ah, sweet Content! where is thy mild abode? 
Is it with shepherds, and light-hearted swains, 
Which sing upon the downs, and pipe abroad. 
Tending their flocks and cattle on the plains.'' 
Ah, sweet Content ! where dost thou safely rest ? 
In heaven, with angels ? which the praises sing 
Of Him that made, and rules at his behest. 
The minds and hearts of every living thing. 
Ah, sweet Content! where dost thine harbour hold.' 
Is it in churches, with religious men. 
Which please the gods with prayers manifold ; 
And in their studies meditate it then.'' 
Whether thou dost in heaven, or earth appear; 
Be where thou wilt ! Thou wilt not harbour here !"' 
1 Nos. Ixv, Ixvi. 


Two other sonnet series appeared in 1593. Thomas 
Lodge's Phillis consists of forty sonnets, gracefully written 
but for the most part boldly plagarized from Ronsard and 
Desportes, from Ariosto and other Italian writers. His 
collection is interesting chiefly as exhibiting in the most 
striking manner the dependence of the Elizabethan sonnet- 
eers on foreign models ; it contains hardly a sonnet worthy 
to be treasured in the reader's memory, although Lodge else- 
where shows lyric gifts of a high order. 

As for Giles Fletcher's Licia, the author tells us in his 
preface that he wrote it "only to try my humour," but its 
fifty-two sonnets are much more trying to the reader's 
patience ; we weary of the incessant appearance of Cupid, 
even though at times he is presented with some grace. 
Fletcher is unoriginal and has left little to be remembered. 
One of the best sonnets in Licia reminds us of Shakespeare 
as did the legal phraseology of Barnes : 

" In time the strong and stately turrets fall. 

In time the rose, and silver lilies die. 

In time the monarchs captives are and thrall. 

In time the sea and rivers are made dry. 


Thus all, sweet Fair, in time must have an end: 
Except thy beauty, virtues, and thy friend."^ 

The following year, 1594, saw the publication of five 
sonnet cycles, the anonymous Zepheria, Percy's Caelia, Con- 
stable's Diana, Daniel's Delia, and Drayton's Idea.' The 

1 No. xxviii In Lee's reprint of Licia, in op. cit., vol. II. For 
Fletcher's borrowings see A. B. Grosart's edition of Licia in Occasional 
Isanes, II. 

2 Reprinted by Lee, op. cit., vol. II. Diana was first issued 1592; 
re-issued, enlarged, 1S94. At the end of Astrophel and Stella, 38 of 
Daniel's sonnets were printed unauthorizedly. The following year he 
published 55 sonnets and in 1594 revised and enlarged this collection. 
See Lee, op. cit.. Introduction. 


most that can be said of the twenty sonnets in Ccelia, and 
the forty canzons in Zepheria is that their publication bears 
witness to the interest in sonnet hterature to which they add 
nothing. Constable's Diana is written with much more skill, 
and the following sonnet is interesting because it brings to 
a trite subject a new air: 

" If ever Sorrow spoke from soul that loves, 
As speaks a spirit in a man possest. 
In me, her spirit speaks. My soul it moves. 
Whose sigh-swoll'n words breed whirlwinds in my breast: 
Or like the echo of a passing bell. 
Which sounding on the water, seems to howl; 
So rings my heart a fearful heavy knell, 
7\jid keeps all night in consort with the owl."^ 

These are not the customary similes of the Ehzabethan son- 
net, and we seem to hear in them anticipatory strains of the 
lyric of melancholy, of Fletcher's 

" A midnight bell, a parting groan — 
These are the sounds we feed upon:" 

or Milton's far-oflf curfew, sounding 

" Over some wide watered shore, 
Swinging slow with sullen roar." 

The collections of Daniel and Drayton well repay the 
reader. Samuel Daniel (1562-1619) was educated at 
Oxford, had travelled in Italy, and enjoyed the friendship 
of the great. He was a careful writer ; his style was his best 
quality, for though many of his sonnets are taken from the 
Italian and the French (he certainly deserves the harsh title 
of plagiarist), they avoid that awkwardness of expression 
which often accompanies translation in a fixed poetic form. 
His lines have such grace and smoothness that they may be 

1 Sonnet iii of the "Fifth Decade" in Lee's reprint. 


regarded as something more than an echo of another's 
thought : 

" Rendez a Tor cette couleur qui dore 
Ces blonds cheveux," 

writes Du Bellay in his Olive (sonnet xci) : 

" Restore thy treasure to the golden ore. 
Yield Cytherea's son those arks of love !" 

is Daniel's version. Coleridge, commenting on his style, 
points out that in his phraseology Daniel is distinctly a man 
of our own day, and his vocabulary does indeed sound modern 
when contrasted with that of Shakespeare's sonnets. The 
father was a musician and the son certainly inherited the 
musician's ear, for his phrases have a dying fall ; their 
melody is tender, soft, and grave, but the deeper notes are 
never struck, and the stronger feelings are untouched. 

" Reign in my thoughts, fair hand, sweet eye, rare voice," 

is a typical line in its even modulation. 

As we have stated, the sonnets are a series of graceful 
translations, and we must not expect self-revelation here. 
The love he describes is a Platonic one: 

" My spotless love hovers, with purest wings. 
About the temple of the proudest frame ; 
Where blaze those lights, fairest of earthly things, 
Which clear our clouded world with brightest flame." 

and it is dedicated to 

" A modest maid, decked with a blush of honour. 
Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love; 
The wonder of all eyes that look upon her: 
Sacred on earth, designed a saint above." 

His subjects are the conventional ones. In contradistinction 
to the immortality which he can confer by his verses, he sings 


the fading of beauty — it is "Mignonne, allons voir si la rose" 
of Ronsard. 


" Look Delia, how we 'steem the half-blown rose," 

" Beauty, sweet love, is like the morning dew ; 
Whose short refresh upon the tender green, 
Cheers for a time, but till the sun doth show : 
And straight 'tis gone, as it had never been." 

His best known sonnet sums up his qualities, for it is gentle, 
musical, and above all — reminiscent of Cariteo, deUa Casa, 
and Desportes. 

■■ Care-charmer Sleep ! son of the sable Night, 
Brother to death ! In silent darkness born ! 
Relieve my anguish and restore the light. 
With dark forgetting of my cares, return."^ 

Michael Drayton (1563-1631) is frank enough in an 
introductory sonnet prefixed to his Idea in 1599 to warn the 
reader not to look for passion in his verses ; yet we must not 
conclude that he regarded his sonnets as a poetic pastime of 
small value, for he constantly reissued them, with revisions, 
suppressions and additions, until the original fifty-one had 
grown to a hundred by the last edition, 1619. Whether or 
not Anne Goodere is to be considered as the subject of these 
poems, it is evident that he is a frankly imitative writer, 
offering us the thoughts common to all the sonneteers. 
Realizing the conventionality of his themes and remembering 
his own frank statement, we can not but smile when he bids us 

" read at last the story of my woe, 
The dreary abstracts of my endless cares, 
With my life's sorrow interlined so. 
Smoked with my sighs, and blotted with my tears. 
The sad memorials of my miseries." 

1 Nos. xii, vi, xxxiv, xlv, xllx in Lee's reprint of Delia. 


Yet Drayton writes with such vivacity that even when he 
is artificial, indulging in conceits, he interests us. His note 
is not so grave or tender as Daniel's; he has an easier, 
simpler, and at times, an almost conversational style. 

" How many paltry, foolish painted things. 
That now in coaches trouble every street. 
Shall be forgotten (whom no poet sings) 
Ere they be well wrapped in their winding sheet !" 

Without the long, slow movement of Daniel, his verse is 
musical : 

" Dear, why should you command me to my rest. 
When now the world doth summon all to sleep ? 
Methinks, this time becometh lovers best. 
Night was ordained together friends to keep.'' 

Here we have the familiar sonnet on night, yet with a new 
motive. He strikes the old Platonic note in one of his best 
sonnets : 

" Clear Ankor, on whose silver-sanded shore 
My soul shrined Saint, my fair Idea lives; 
O blessed brook ! whose milk-white swans adore 
Thy crystal stream, refined by her eyes," 

but no counterpart has been found for the one on which his 
fame will rest. 

In the 1599 edition of his sonnets there is one To Humour 
which begins: 

" You cannot love, my pretty Heart! and why? 
There was a time you told me that you would." 

Here we have a brisk dialogue; the lines move trippingly as 
the poet smiles at the contradictions of woman, knowing 

" Your love and hate is this, I now do prove you. 
You love in hate, by hate to make me love you."'^ 

1 Nos. liv, vi, xxxvii, liil, xix in Lee's reprint of the Idea. 


It is not always that a poet's last word is his best, but in the 
final edition of the Idea, 1619, there appeared for the first 
time a sonnet in this same genre, "Since there's no help, 
come, let us kiss and part." Though we may well hesitate 
to call it, as did Rossetti, the finest sonnet in the language, 
it is certainly a masterpiece. Fortunately it is so well known 
that it needs little comment, though we may point out that 
the personification is perfectly employed, one of the rare 
instances in Elizabethan sonnet Hterature: 

" Now, at the last gasp of Love's latest breath, 
When his pulse failing. Passion speechless lies ; 
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death. 
And Innocence is closing up his eyes:" 

and that the concluding couplet is an epitome of the whole 
tragi-comedy of love: 

" Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over. 
From death to life, thou might'st him yet recover.'' 

The twenty sonnets by Richard Bamfield, published with 
his Cynthia in 1595, are interesting only in the fact that 
contrary to the established custom they picture not a maiden 
but a youth, Ganymede.^ This same year appeared a most 
important collection, Spenser's Amoretti. These sonnets 
are considered by critics as second only to Shakespeare's. 
This undoubtedly is a just estimate, for they maintain 
throughout a higher poetic level than the sequences we have 
considered, though there are many times when Sidney writes 
with more energy and poignancy ; no lines in the Amoretti 
have the imaginative force of his apostrophe to the moon. 
It is a sufficient criticism of the aesthetic worth of these 
poems to say that we clearly recognize in them the writer 
of the Faerie Queene and though in one of his sonnets 

1 Cynthia is reprinted in A. H. BuUen's Longer Elizabethan Poems, 
re-issue of Arber's English Garner. 


Spenser declares that he is worn out with his arduous work 
on the epic of Faeryland, his style shows little trace of 
exhaustion/ As he had invented his own metre for his 
greatest work, so here he devises a new sonnet form, linking 
the three quatrains together by rhyming the last line of one ; 
to the first line of the next. The verses have a slow, tender 
cadence; the music is delicate and gentle; there are few 
discords, rarely a harsh tone. 

" Fresh Spring, the herald of love's mighty king, 
In whose coat-armour richly are displayed 
All sorts of flowers, the which on earth do spring, 
In goodly colours gloriously arrayed; 
Go to my love, where she is careless laid. 
Yet in her winter's bower not well awake ; 
Tell her the joyous time will not be stayed. 
Unless she do him by the forelock take ; 
Bid her therefore herself soon ready make, 
To wait on Love amongst his lovely crew; 
Where every one, that misseth then her make. 
Shall be by him amerced with penance due. 

Make haste, therefore, sweet love, while it is prime ; 
For none can call again the passed time."^ 

No Elizabethan sequence gives the English reader so good 
an idea of the music of the Petrarchians as does the Amor- 
etti, even though Spenser abandons their rhyme scheme. 

Turning to the content of the poems, we observe that 
Spenser, like Prometheus so dear to the sonneteers, has 
"filched his fire" on many occasions. Ronsard and Desportes 
furnished him with numerous passages and there are many 
traces of the Petrarchists in his account of the truces and 
ambushes, the sieges and assaults of his heart ; or in such 
conceits as "My love is like to ice and I to fire." His mis- 

1 No. Ixxx. Cf. xxxiil, Lee's reprint, op. cit. 

2 No. Ixx. 


tress, now a "sweet" or "cruel" warrior, now his "saint," 
resembles the heroines of whom we have read. She is 

" The glorious image of the Maker's beauty. 
My sovereign saint, the idol of my thought, 


And of the brood of angels heavenly born ; 
And with the crew of blessed saints upbrought. 
Each of which did her with their gifts adorn."^ 

With every allowance, however, for the spirit of imitation 
which affected Spenser as it did in various degrees every 
sonneteer of the period, this collection was written for a 
creature of flesh and blood — the Elizabeth who became his 
wife and for whom he composed the Epithalamion, first 
printed with these sonnets.^ If Spenser frequently uses the 
popular imagery of the day, he is none the less sincere. 
The idealism that pervades these sonnets, the Platonic con- 
ceptions of love and beauty, were no empty phrases for the 
greatest Platonist in our poetry, and his worship of beauty 
and his belief that it is but a manifestation of a rarer beauty 
of soul re-echoes the splendid enthusiasm of his hymns : 

" Men call you fair, and you do credit it, 
For that yourself ye daily such do see: 
But the true fair, that is the gentle wit, 
And virtuous mind, is much more praised of me: 


That is true beauty; that doth argue you 
To be divine, and born of heavenly seed; — 
Derived from that fair Spirit from whom all true 
And perfect beauty did at first proceed."' 

1 No. Ixi ; of. xl-xiv, xxx, Ivii, xlix. 

2 1 cannot accept P. W. Long's contention that the Amoretti were 
composed in honor of Lady Elizabeth Carey. See M. L. Review, vol. Ill, 
p. 257; cf. vol. V, p. 273. 

3 No. Ixxix ; for other sonnets expressing the Platonic conception of 
love, see Ixxii, Ixxxvii. 


Love with him is a pure religion and changing Milton's hne : 

" the spur that the clear spirit doth raise 
To scorn delights, and live laborious days." 

There is no darker side to the picture, as in Shakespeare's 
sonnets; no storm, not even a cloud disturbs the lovehness 
of the spring day, for we are in a fragrant meadow where 

" The merry cuckoo, messenger of spring, 
His trumpet shrill hath thrice already sounded. 
That warns all lovers wait upon their king. 
Who now is coming forth with garland crowned. 


Though every sonneteer professes the conviction that his 
verses must live forever in the minds of men, when Spenser 
in his splendid sonnet "One day I wrote her name upon the 
strand" exclaims: 

" let baser thing devise 

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame: 

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize. 

And in the heavens write your glorious name. 

Where, when as death shall all the world subdue. 
Our love shall live, and later life renew,"^ 

we feel the ring of sincerity, for he believes that such a love 
as his must be eternal. 

The sonnet collections that followed the Amoretti are un- 
important. In 1596 appeared Griffin's Fidessa, Linche's 
Diella, and Smith's Chloris? The writers have nothing to 
tell us ; they plagiarize and imitate, and by this time the 
most energetic reader has become wearied of sonnets de- 
scribing the theft of Prometheus, the storm-tossed sailor, 

1 No. xix. 

2 No. Ixxv. 

3 Reprinted by Lee, O'p. cit., vol. II. 


the siege of a heart, the bird caught in the fowler's snare; 
he hstens unmoved to "sighs of most heart-breaking might" 
and to the portrayal of a lover's torments ; and he has 
I become impatient of the endless invocations to sleep, to 
Inight, and to death. Of the large number of sonnets which 
we have described, very few satisfy us, for we read them not 
to understand the literary fashions of the age, but to feel 
the thrill, the inspiration that inspired song awakens in us. 
The Elizabethan lyric, unequalled in certain of its aspects, 
jis not pre-eminent here, for the age that expressed itself so 
frankly and fearlessly in the drama, seemed to lose its per- 
sonality in the narrow form of the sonnet. The hand of 
Petrarch weighed too heavily on the sonneteer's shoulder 
and he wrote 

" As if his whole vocation 
Were endless imitation." 

Aside from the influence of Petrarch, it may not be altogether 
fanciful to ascribe in some measure to the character of 
Elizabeth herself that excessive, surfeiting flattery of woman- 
kind which is the most persistent note in the sonnets. The 
queen lived on adulation and her whole life was one courtship. 
Suitor followed suitor — Thomas Earl of Seymour, Eric of 
j Sweden, the Earl of Arundel, Sir William Pickering (whose 
I friends, we are told, wagered four to one that he would 
marry the queen), Philip of Spain, Don Carlos, the Due 
d'Anjou, the Due d'Alen9on, the Earl of Leicester — the list 
is by no means exhausted, and something of the court the 
world paid to the queen the sonneteers paid their real or 
imaginary mistresses.^ Be this as it may, if the reader will 
open William Sharp's Sonnets of this Century and select at 
haphazard not from the greatest names, but from the lesser 
poets, he will see that in the variety of its emotions and in its 

1 See Martin A. S. Hume's The Courtships of Queen Elizabeth, 
London, 1896. 


technique the modern sonnet bears comparison with the best 
sonnets of the Elizabethan age. 

But we have reckoned without Shakespeare, to whom, 
supreme in everything he touched, it was reserved to bring 
to its perfection the Elizabethan sonnet, and vindicate its 
place in our lyric verse. In 1609 was issued Shakespeare's 
sonnets, never before imprinted. The book met with no such 
reception as the published plays, of which the most popular, 
such as Hamlet and Richard the Third, went through several 
impressions in Shakespeare's lifetime. The second edition of 
the sonnets did not appear until 1640, the third until 1709 — 
three editions in a century. Daniel's sonnets were reprinted 
three times in two years ; Drayton himself brought out four 
editions of his sonnets and they were also reprinted eight 
times with his other works during his lifetime. One would sup- 
pose that Hamlet and Othello would have saved the sonnets 
from obscurity, but as late as 1793 Steevens wrote in his edi- 
tion of Shakespeare: "We have not reprinted the sonnets of 
Shakespeare because the strongest act of Parliament that 
could be framed would fail to compel readers into their ser- 
vice Had Shakespeare produced no other works than 

these, his name would have reached us with as little celebrity 
as time has conferred on that of Thomas Watson, an older 
and much more elegant sonneteer."^ He elsewhere informs us 
that the sonnets are composed in the "highest strain of affec- 
tation, pedantry, circumlocution and nonsense," they are 
"purblind and obscure stuff" — and this from an admirer of 
the bard! As late as 1815 Wordsworth wrote that Steevens 
ventured his condemnation of the sonnets simply "because 
the people of England were ignorant of the treasures con- 
tained in them."^ This seems incredible. During the last 
decade the sonnets have offered a chief point of discussion 
in Shakespearean study. 

1 Vol. I, p. vii. 

2 Essay, supplementary to the Preface of Lyrical Ballads. 


Into the much-debated questions of their date of compo- 
sition, the identity of W. H. to whom they are dedicated, 
or of the rival poet or the dark lady, we have not space to 
enter. It seems reasonable to assume that the greater part 
of the sonnets were composed when the other sequences were 
appearing, that is, before 1598, the year in which Francis 
Meres mentioned Shakespeare's "sugared sonnets among his 
private friends." Whatever their date, we must judge this 
sonnet collection in the light of the ones we have already 

[ We have seen that the sonnet sequences consist largely of 
imitations and translations ; that the poets followed each 
other, contented to sing the same theme with but slight 
variation. In the case of Shakespeare we can not point to 
such open borrowings from the Italian or the French as we 
find in Lodge, or Daniel, or Spenser, yet it has been main- 
tained that he conformed to the fashion of the times and 
though many sonnets have such intensity of expression that 
they apparently show us the writer, they are no more a self- 
revelation than is Browning's Dramatis Persona. Beyond 
dispute there is a purely conventional element in the sonnets. 
We have sonnets on sleep, on night, on absence from the 
loved one, on beauty and its power, on lust ; we have the 
customary promise of immortality in the poet's verses ; we 
descend to the most insipid and uninspired conceits — the 
dullest Petrarchian has never written poorer ones — in the 
debates between the heart and the eyes.^ Though the son- 
nets end with two translations of a Greek epigram, their 
debt to the classics is a remarkably small one ; we have no 
gods and goddesses and we escape the inevitable Prome- 
theus. When all is said and done, when we have made every 
allowance for the poetic tendencies of the day which must 
have impressed Shakespeare who lived so intensely in his 

1 Sonnets, Nos. xxiv, xlvl, xlvii. Debates between the eye and the 
heart go back to the troubadours. 


age, these poems have a tone that absolutely differentiates 
them from the other collections. It is not alone their style 
or their thought, it is a certain personal touch. We can not 
but believe that the unscholarly reader who thinks he dis- 
cerns in the sonnets something of the writer is nearer the 
truth than the critic who regards them as purely objective 
works of art. 

Coming to the sonnets after a long reading of Italian and 
French sequences, we notice that Shakespeare employs new 
themes. From the time of Dante, sonneteers addressed their 
friends in praise, in counsel, in reproof, but there is nothing 
imitative in Shakespeare's first seventeen sonnets. Written 
to a young man, they all have the same theme : he must 
marry that his beauty may live on in a child. With an 
artist's instinct, Shakespeare praises his patron's beauty 
until we see before us some young nobleman, painted by 
Van Dyck with such delicacy that we take the portrait to 
be that of a girl. No other sequences offer parallels for the 
episode of the rival poet or for that series depicting the 
darker side of life, the theft of the poet's mistress by his 
friend. Such unconventional poems are not mere imitative 
exercises in the sonnet form. It is harder to believe that the 
sonnets against the "black lady" are vituperative, inserted 
as a foil to the "sugared" writing, than that they shadow 
some actual experience. If we discover in other collections 
sonnets that express, as do Shakespeare's, doubt and dis- 
couragement or gratitude for friendship and help, we must 
remember that a writer may speak sincerely in conventional 
phrase. In the tragic climax of her life, when Eloisa took 
the veil, she turned to bid Abelard farewell. Her last word 
was not a simple, heart-moving phrase in her mother tongue ; 
it was a quotation from Lucan's Pharsalia! In Shakes- 
peare's own day, Tichbome, facing death at the block for 
his conspiracy against Elizabeth, laments his end in a string 
of conceits : 


" My prime of youth is but a frost of cares; 
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain; 
My crop of corn is but a field of tares; 

And all my good is but vain hope of gain; 
The day is fled, and yet I saw no sun, 
And now I live, and now my life is done."'^ 

In the sonnets of Ronsard there is much that is purely imita- 
tive of the Italians, yet his latest and best biographer finds 
in these very poems unmistakable accents of personal emo- 
tion and believes that many of them have their roots deep in 
the poet's hfe. We must not rule Shakespeare's sonnets out 
of court because we can match phrases in them with similar 
ones in other writers. As Faguet has expressed it : "Un 
humaniste pleure sincerement un etre cher avec une remi- 
niscence classique, comme un devot le pleure profondement 
avec une citation des livres saints."" 

Though we admit that Shakespeare's sonnets do not un- 
lock his heart, they disclose certain aspects of his mind, 
certain traits of character. We know that he was deeply 
devoted to a youth whose patronage and friendship rescued 
him from dejection; we learn that for a time he considered 
himself surpassed and supplanted in this patron's favor by a 
better writer : we hear him mourning his loss of caste, for 
while Sidney is proud of his birth and accomplishments, 
Shakespeare, the actor, feels that his name has received a 
brand and that he had made himself a motley to the view. 
He believes that the inheritor of heaven's graces is the man 
"unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow," and yet (the 
tragedy of the sonnets) he can not follow his own doctrine. 
]\Iost significant of all is the fact that the supreme artist 

1 Hannah, p. 114. These verses were set to music by Mundy, Este, 
and Allison. 

2 Paul Laumonier, Ronsard PoHe Li/rique, Paris, 1909, pp. 467-477. 
This is a most important passage for the interpretation of Ronsard's 
sonnets, and I believe it sheds light on Shakespeare's worlf. 


in English verse felt the same bitter discouragement that 
overtakes the poorest craftsman. We think of a great 
genius as a man self-reliant and confident, conscious of his 
power and cheered by his work; yet there were times when 
Shakespeare felt that the world was bent to cross his deeds; 
he had no hope, no friends; he descended to such depths of 
discouragement that he felt shamed by his writings and 
actually longed for "this man's art, and that man's scope." 
It will be objected that these are but moods which give us no 
clue to the poet's philosophy of life; that we know more of 
Shelley from a single sonnet, Ozymandias, or of Wordsworth 
from "The world is too much with us." It is true that these 
glimpses are tantalizingly brief, but where else in all Shakes- 
peare's works do we see him more clearly? 

There is danger of missing the artistic import of the son- 
nets in discussions of their autobiographic value, as if we 
should spend our time endeavoring to identify the portraits 
in a group by Franz Hals instead of admiring the artist's 
technique. Looking at the workmanship of these poems we 
are at once struck by that gift of language and that phrasal 
power which is as marvellous as the delineation of character 
in the plays, if we may compare small things with great. In 
a deprecatory mood, Shakespeare declared that 

" every word doth almost tell my name. 
Showing their birth and where they did proceed."^ 

This is true, for if the sonnets had been published anony- 
mously, their language alone would have proved Shakes- 
peare's authorship. His phrases are not curiously wrought 
out, as are the similes of the metaphysical poets, but the 
"thought seems of itself to find perfect utterance. Many a 
sonneteer has written "When you are old," or "When your 
beauty fades," but Shakespeare writes 

1 No. Ixxvi. 


" When forty winters shall besiege thy brow. 
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field." 

It was a common regret that winter destroys the joy of 
summer, but the commonplace is transformed in Shakes- 

" O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out 
Against the wreckful siege of battering days." 

Many a Petrarchist had declared that glory passes, but the 
thought becomes new in 

" The painful warrior, famoused for fight. 
After a thousand victories once foiled, 
Is from the book of honour razed quite. 
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled."' 

His creative power seems inexhaustible. He writes a sonnet 
urging his friend to marry and then repeats the same thought 
with variations for sixteen sonnets, and we feel that he could 
have continued indefinitely. Even when a sonnet as a whole 
reveals some imperfection, some weak line, it is usually re- 
deemed by a splendid phrase ; and if we take individual 
verses, we find here many of the treasures of the language, 
as when he speaks of the sun as 

" Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy," 

" Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May," 

" Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand. 
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;" 

" How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea 
Whose action is no stronger than a flower.''"^ 

1 Nos. 11, Ixv, XXV. 

2 Nos. xxxlil, xviii, civ, Ixv. 


The range of the sonnets is equally wonderful. Keats 
was nourished on them, as not only his letters but his own 
sonnets show. There are many of Shakespeare's lines which 
anticipate the sweetness, the sensuousness that we associate 
with the work of the poet of Endymion •} 

" Our love was new, and then but in the Spring, 
When I was wont to greet it with my lays ; 
As Philomel in Summer's front doth sing. 
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days. 
Not that the Summer is less pleasant now 
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night. 
But that wild music burthens every bough. 
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight." 

From this passage we turn to the sonnet 

" When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced 
The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age;" 

or to 

" Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments," 

and we have a largeness of style, a firmness of expression 
that show us how broad an effect may be gained by fourteen 
lines.^ The more we examine the sonnets, the more we are 
astonished at their variety, a quaHty not to be found in the 
other sequences of the day. We have the feeble quibbles on 
"Will" and "will," and the perfection of a simile in 

" Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore. 
So do our minutes hasten to their end.'' 

1 See his letter to Reynolds, November 22, 1817. Finch wrote Gis- 
borne, "the poetical volume, which was the inseparable companion of 
Keats, and which he took for his most darling model in composition, was 
the Minor Poems of Shakespeare.'' 

2 Nos. cii, Ixiv, cxvi. 


When we read 

" Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war, 
How to divide the conquest of thy sight; 
Mine eye my heart thy picture's sight would bar, 
My heart mine eye the freedom of that right." 

we seem by the awkward, ambiguous, unmusical expression, 
as well as by the triviality of the conceit to be reading some 
poetaster of the Cinquecento. We turn to 

" That time of year thou mayst in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold. 
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang," 

and we have the mood, the subdued coloring that appeals so 
strongly to us to-day, the grays and the blacks, the quiet 
tones of a modern etching ; few sonnets have more completely 
expressed this phase of our modem thought.^ Antique and 
modern; sublime and absurd; idealistic and sensual (Hallam 
wished that certain of the sonnets had never seen the light) ; 
confident and weary of the world ; from the very lack of 
uniformity in their contrasted moods, in their emotional 
inconsistency, these poems have the infinite variety of human 
character. In one of his finest moments Shakespeare wrote 

" The earth can have but earth, which is his due; 
My spirit is thine, the better part of me:" 

and it is that spirit, as well as the hand of the artist, that 
we feel in these writings. Wordsworth undoubtedly over- 
stated the case when he asserted 

" With this same key Shakespeare unlocked his heart " 

but he was strictly within the truth when he declared that 
"in no part of the writings of this poet is found, in equal 
compass, a greater number of exquisite feelings felicitously 

1 Nos. Ix, xlvi, Ixxiii. 



We shall now retrace our steps and consider the miscella- 
neous lyrics of the sonneteers. Sidney has left a large num- 
ber of lyrics, but unfortunately many of them are so plainly 
uninspired, so thoroughly artificial, that they detract from 
his reputation as a poet. This is the result of his Quixotic 
attempt to regenerate English poetry by inducing his con- 
temporaries to abandon completely English metres for 
classical verse forms, a plan as impossible as the one he 
advocated for the English stage — the rigid observance of the 
three unities. Desperate diseases need desperate remedies, 
and when we consider the condition of English poetry as 
shown by such writers as Googe and Turberville we can par- 
tially understand Sidney's attitude. For a time at least 
this classic imitation attracted even Spenser. Gabriel Har- 
vey of Cambridge, conceited, pedantic, without a touch of 
poetic ability, was the most enthusiastic member of this 
group; he desired it to be stated on his tombstone that he 
had composed hexameters in English! To write in classical 
metres has been an interesting pastime with our poets from 
Milton to Tennyson, but this was a serious undertaking, an 
attempt to change the whole genius of our verse. In 1579 
Spenser writes to Harvey: "[Master Sidney and Master 
Dyer] have proclaimed in their Areopagus a general sur- 
ceasing and silence of bald rhymers Instead whereof 

they have by authority of their whole senate prescribed 
certain laws and rules of quantities of English syllables for 

English verse .... and drawn me to their faction I 

am, of late, more in love with my English versifying than 
with rhyming." He enclosed in this letter an example of 
iambic trimeter, of which the following is a fair specimen : 

" If in bed, tell her that my eyes can take no rest; 
If at hoaxA, tell her that my mouth can eat no meat; 
If at her virginals, tell her I can hear no mirth. 


Asked why? say: waking love suffereth no sleep; 
Say that raging love doth appal the weak stomach; 
Say that lamenting love marreth the musical."^ 

These impossible lines (it is hard to believe that Spenser 
wrote them in all seriousness) Harvey gravely criticises, 
finding fault with the length of certain syllables, for Sidney 
had helped to frame some "rules and precepts of English 
verse." Spenser soon saw the futility of all this and the 
next year he is calling the English hexameter "a lame gosling 
that draweth one leg after her" ; but Sidney was quite com- 
mitted to this reform and carried it further than any of his 
friends. In the Arcadia he has given us a number of experi- 
ments in classical measures — and all are poor. The hexa- 
meter alone has met with some degree of success, partly 
because its rhythm is so strongly accentuated, partly because 
it bears a certain resemblance to our blank verse, yet neither 
Longfellow's Evangeline nor Clough's Bothie of Tober-Na- 
Vuolich has succeeded in popularizing it. In all these metri- 
cal experiments of Sidney's we do not find one good poem, 
anything, for example, to compare with Campion's 

" Rose-cheeked Laura, come; 
Sing thou smoothly with thy beauty's 
Silent music, either other 
Sweetly gracing," 

though even this is not a masterpiece. Sidney's best known 
and simplest song, 

" My true love hath my heart, and I have his," 

is worth all his "reformed verse." 

Published with Astrophel and Stella are a number of songs, 
of which two seem to throw light on the situation depicted 
in certain of the sonnets, for they show Lady Rich as much 

1 R. Morris, The Complete Works of Edmund Spenser, London, 1886, 
pp. 706-707. 


in love as Sidney, but restrained by a fear of the ruin that 
would overwhelm them both did she yield/ His best two 
lyrics appeared in the 1598 edition of his works. The first 
is written to "the tune of Non credo gia che piu infehce 
amante," for which he also composed another unmusical 
song, filled with trivial conceits. Here he employs his irreg- 
ular metre with skill, though the effect is a Uttle too much 
that of three superimposed stanzas, rather than of an 
organic whole : 

" The Nightingale — as soon as April bringeth 
Unto her rested sense, a perfect waking; 
While late bare earth, proud of new clothing, springeth — 
Sings out her woes, a thorn her song book making. 
And mournfully bewailing. 
Her throat in tunes expresseth 
What grief her breast oppresseth 
For Tereus' force, on her chaste will prevailing. 
O Philomela fair ! O take some gladness 
That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness. 
Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth; 
Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth." 

The second opens with a strain of pessimism that reminds us 
of Raleigh's Lie, though not so vigorous : 

" Ring out your bells ! let mourning shows be spread. 
For love is dead. 

All love is dead, infected 
With the plague of deep disdain; 
Worth as nought worth rejected. 
And fair, fair scorn doth gain. 

From so ungrateful fancy. 

From such a female frenzy. 

From them that use men thus. 

Good Lord deliver us!" 

1 Lee, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 70, 79. 


It is a misfortune that the other stanzas in the poem are 
marred by such trivial conceits as : 

" For Love is dead. 

Sir Wrong his tomb ordaineth, 
My mistress' marble heart; 
Which epitaph containeth 
'Her eyes were once his dart.' "^ 

The sonnets are Sidney's best lyrics. 

The pubKcation of Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar in 1579 
marked a new era in English poetry. The little book is a 
series of pastorals, frankly artificial as nearly all pastorals 
are ; it shows the influence of the classics, of Italian and 
French verse, and of Chaucer. It possessed the very quah- 
ties that English poetry lacked — spirit and feeling, a love 
of color and music, a sense of form. Here was the long 
expected "new poet" ; in the midst of description or dialogue, 
a fresh lyric note is heard: 

" See, where she sits upon the grassy green, 

(O seemly sight!) 
Yclad in scarlet^ like a maiden Queen, 

And ermines white: 
Upon her head a crimson coronet 
With damask roses and daff adillies set : 

Bay leaves between. 

And primroses green. 
Embellish the sweet violet."^ 

This is written "in praise of Eliza, Queen of the Shepherds," 
but we might almost take this "fourth Grace," crowned with 
flowers, dancing "deifly" and singing "soote," to be the Muse 
of the new lyric. 

Spenser at once declares himself a musician and above all 
an artist. We wonder not only at the great beauty of Tus- 

iPp. Ill, 133. 

2 The Shepherd's Calendar, April. 


can art of the Renaissance, but at the incredible number of 
masterpieces produced in that httle duchy. After all that 
has been lost by fire and by plunder, in addition to the treas- 
ures preserved at Florence, we find the works of Tuscan 
artists in every gallery of the world. Compared with such 
achievement, modern art appears weak and even sterile. At 
this period, when all Europe felt the influence of the new art, 
England did not produce a single masterpiece of painting 
or of sculpture; the artistic genius of the nation found its 
expression in poetry. Carpaccio paints on the walls of San 
Georgio degli Schiavoni at Venice the story of St. George 
and the dragon ; Spenser paints it in the Faerie Queene. He 
had the artist's love for form and shading ; leaving to others 
to depict in the lyric the conflicts of passion, he brought to 
English song the desire for beauty. 

Spenser's Epithalamion was published in 1595 with the 
Amoretti; the Prothalamion and the four Hymns appeared 
the following year. The latter poems explain so much of his 
spirit that we shall consider them first. 

Spenser had become a thorough-going Platonist at Cam- 
bridge, and his Hymns are the best exposition in English 
verse of the Platonic conception of Love and Beauty. To 
understand them we must read Plato's Phadrus and Sym- 
posium; the Latin commentary on the Symposium written 
by Marsilio Ficino, head of the Platonist academy at Flor- 
ence and "the chief exponent of Platonism for the whole 
of the Italian Renaissance"; and Bruno's treatise De gV 
heroici furori, written in England and published with a 
dedication to Sidney in 1585.^ A study of these works will 
show that the first two hymns, on Love and on Beauty, have 
practically no originality of thought. Following Plato, 

iSee Introduction to L. Winstanley's Edmund Spenser: The Fowre 
Hymnes, Cambridge, 1907. Cf. J. S. Harrison, Platonism in English 
Poetry of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, N. Y., 1903; J. B. 
Fletcher, op. cit., p. 116, also Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc, September, 1911. 


Spenser sings of a love that all "sordid baseness doth expell" 
for it is "gentle, loyal, true" — an emanation from God him- 

" For love is lord of truth and loyalty^ 
Lifting himself out of the lowly dust 
On golden plumes up to the purest sky. 
Above the reach of loathly sinful lust."^ 

Our souls lived in heaven before they descended to this earth. 
They can remember but faintly their first abode because the 
"shades of the prison house begin to close" too soon around 
us ; nevertheless they have shadovcy memories of it and the 
thrill, the awe which we feel in the presence of beauty is our 
soul's recognition of the heavenly in the earthly type. 
Beauty, then, is a manifestation of the divine ; it presents 
itself to our keenest sense, sight; it is the one thing on this 
earth that approaches the heavenly nature ; and the rapture 
of love it inspires is simply the recognition of the divinity in 

" Hath white and red in it such wondrous power, 
That it can pierce through the eyes unto the heart," 

he asks, and bursts forth in the most famous passage in the 
Hymns : 

" So every spirit, as it is most pure. 
And hath in it the more of heavenly light. 
So it the fairer body doth procure 
To habit in, and it more fairly dight 
With cheerful grace and amiable sight; 
For of the soul the body form doth take. 
For soul is form, and both the body make."^ 

Our quotations have shown that the idealism of this 
beauty worship is expressed with a lyric intensity ; the poems 
are indeed "Hymns." How far removed they are from the 

1 Hymn in honour of Love, 11. 176-179. 

2 Hymn in honour of Beauty, 11. 71-73, 127-133. 


verse essays of the eighteenth century ! One can imagine how 
Pope would have treated the following passage in an Essay 
on Love and Beauty : 

" Sometimes upon her forehead they behold 
A thousand Graces masking in delight; 
Sometimes within her eye-lids they unfold 
Ten thousand sweet belgards, which to their sight 
Do seem like twinkling stars in frosty night.""^ 

That Spenser's conscience should have been troubled by 
his first two hymns is rather surprising, for nothing could 
be further removed from 

" Lust in the robes of Love, 

The idle talk of feverish souls," 

than these poems ; his Puritan conscience saved him from the 
paganism that pervaded so much of the Renaissance writ- 
ings. However, to make amends for what he considered to 
be a fault, his last two hymns sing of heavenly love, Christ's 
sacrifice and death. Here, in this more exalted form, we meet 
again the early religious lyric: 

" Begin from first, where he encradled was, 
In simple cratch, wrapt in a wad of hay. 
Between the toilful ox and humble ass. 
And in what rags, and in how base array. 
The glory of our heavenly riches lay, 
When him the silly shepherds came to see, 
Whom greatest princes sought on lowest knee."^ 

The four hymns, interesting as they are, do not rise to the 
level of the marriage odes. Of these, the Prothalamion is 
the better known, for the modern reader, who shows himself 
impatient of lengthy descriptions in the novel or play, is 
wearied with the wealth of detail in the Epithalamion. Both 
poems are among the most musical pieces of writing in our 

ILI. 253-359. 

2 Hymn m honour of Heavenly Love, 11. 325-231. 


literature and Spenser has not only caught the rhythm, the 
flow of the Italian canzone, but he has equalled its verbal 
melody. Lowell says that the chief originality of Gray's 
Elegy is in the skilful use of the vowel sounds : 

" The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, 

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea," 

but Spenser surely knew this secret: 

" Calm was the day, and through the trembling air 
Sweet-breathing Zephyrus did softly play." 

Each line, exquisite in itself, seems to rise or fall with the 
poet's thought like a wave advancing and retreating, while 
to this highly wrought art form is added the refrain, the 
device of the earHer popular song: 

" Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song." 

If we admire the technique of the verse, the substance equally 
claims our attention. We have a picture such as Botticelli 
might have painted: the silver swans floating down the 
crystal Thames ; the nymphs, "all lovely daughters of the 
flood," each with her 

" little wicker basket 
Made of fine twigs, entrayled curiously," 

scattering flowers through which the birds pass along. If 
hitherto there had been no such music in the English lyric, 
there had been no such description of pure beauty. As the 
Florentines painted their own portraits among the kneeling 
saints or in the train of some prince, so Spenser draws himself 
unostentatiously in a few strokes. We see him, wearied with 

" long fruitless stay 
In princes' court," 

walking along the shore to ease his pain. 

Despite popular opinion, the Epithalamion is the greater 


achievement. Written for his own wedding, the poem glows 
with the poet's happiness; its enthusiasm as much as its 
inherent poetic value instantly separates it from the formal 
and flattering epithalamia of the period. The descriptions 
are not over ornate for their purpose, and they are a part 
of the very life of the poem. All that Spenser loved is here — 
music from the birds, from the minstrels, from the damsels 

"dance and carol sweet"; 

flowers in profusion; and the highest beauty in the bride, 
whose soul, he tells us, is still more fair. In his Envoi, Spen- 
ser regrets that he must send this song to her "in lieu of many 
ornaments," but no bride ever received a gift as enduring 
as this "endless monument." 

Before leaving these poems it is well to notice how far 
removed their spirit is from our own. Our eyes have been 
trained to see the shadows; Nature no longer sings a song 
of pure joy, for with Shelley we hear the winds 

" Moan for the world's wrong." 

What a contrast between Spenser's London with its clear 
river and its flower gardens, and the city seen by a modem 

" I see the loafer-burnished wall ; 

I hear the rotting match-girl whine ; 

I see the unslept switchman fall; 

I hear the explosion in the mine; 

I see along the heedless street 

The sandwichmen trudge through the mire; 

I hear the tired, quick tripping feet 

Of sad, gay girls who ply for hire."^ 

The beauty we see or dream eludes us ; we never reach it, 

for our aim exceeds our grasp. We feel in its presence not 

iJohn Davidson, St. George's Day in Fleet Street Eclogues, second 


the joy of Spenser, but a certain discouragement, a certain 
pathos, for to us beauty is brief lived; it fades and passes, 
but for Spenser beauty was something to be seized as one 
might gather flowers by the handfuls. It was near him 
everywhere ; he had only to stretch forth his hand. So with 
spiritual beauty, for the Platonists believed that the soul 
may be disciplined until it actually beholds before it Wisdom 
and Truth embodied. The art of these wedding odes is all 
the more admirable because it is a lost one. 

Apart from his sonnets Drayton has left a considerable 
number of odes, but they form a very small portion of his 
work compared with his Heroical Epistles, Barons' Wars, and 
Polyolbion (Mr. Bullen estimates that he has written sixty 
thousand lines of poetry). The lyric impulse was not strong 
in him, and he preferred narrative or descriptive verse. He 
published, in 1606, Poems Lyric and Pastoral, in which are 
found his Odes. He asks himself why he may not 

" Th' old lyric kind revive," 

but his odes are not the larger type of the lyric which we 
generally associate with that title. They have nothing of the 
ampler music of Spenser's Hymns, but are rather Horatian 
in spirit, if not in style. Drayton tells us that in writing 
them a poet must have a quick invention, and a nimble rhyme ; 
we see his conception of an ode in liis Virginian Voyage 
which tells of a marvellous land that produces 

" Without your toil. 
Three harvests more, 
All greater than your wish." 

where grows 

" The cedar reaching high 
To kiss the sky. 

The cypress, pine 
And useful sassafras." 


He does not forget that the laurel is found there : 

" Apollo's sacred tree^ 
You may it see, 
A poet's brows 
To crown, that may sing there."'' 

Unfortunately for his prophecy, the poetic laurel is not con- 
spicuously worn in America. 

Of the other lyrics, To His Coy Love has that easy, degage 
air which we noted in some of his sonnets, while the Shep- 
herd's Sirena, though too long, has an unusually attractive 
Hit and is worth whole books of the Polyolbion. Apart from 
his finest sonnet, Drayton's greatest lyrical achievement is 
his ballad of Agincourt. He composed this with the utmost 
care, making many revisions to good advantage, for cer- 
tainly it is the most stirring war song written in that martial 

" Fair stood the wind for France, 
When we our sails advance. 
Nor now to prove our chance, 

Longer will tarry; 
But putting to the main. 
At Caux, the mouth of Seine, 
With all his martial train 

Landed King Harry." 

It has all the swiftness of the old ballads and we have nothing 
to equal its gaudia certaminis until we come to Scott. The 
spirit never flags from the opening lines to the closing appeal 
of the last stanza: 

" O when shall English men 
With such acts fill a pen. 
Or England breed again 

Such a King Harry ?"^ 

1 C. Brett, Minor Poems of Michael Drayton, Oxford, 1907, pp. 71-73. 

2 P. 81. 


It is curious that Drayton, who never trailed a pike in the 
army and whose Muse was as gentle as his own nature, should 
have caught, better than any of his contemporaries in the 
lyric, the martial fervor. 

There is less of the song element in Daniel than in Dray- 
ton. His lyrics have the smoothness and melody which we 
found in his sonnets, but there is no personaUty or force in 
them. He uses irregular metres skillfully and his lines on 
the "happy golden age" have something of Spenser's style.^ 
In his plays and masques he has introduced a few choruses 
and songs, but they are uninteresting ; they lack quaHty ; 
the lyrics do not overflow naturally as they do in the masques 
of the period. Only one song (strangely entitled a chorus) 
in Hymen's Triumph is worthy of the EHzabethan lyric, and 
unfortunately Daniel nowhere else repeats this note: 

" Love is a sickness full of woes^ 
All remedies refusing: 
A plant that with most cutting grows, 
Most barren with best using. 
Why so? 
More we enjoy it, more it dies; 
If not enjoyedj it sighing cries. 
Hey ho !"' 

Thomas Lodge, in his prose romances, Rosalynde, 1590, 
and Margarite of America, 1596, introduces, as was the 
custom of the age, a number of lyrics. Two of these, both 
in Rosalynde, are among the best of the period, and are 
Lodge's chief claim for remembrance as a poet. In Rosalynde 
we have the beauty worship, the sensuousness of Renaissance 
art, expressed in the most musical verse that Lodge has 
written : 

1 See A. B. Grosart, The Complete Works of Samuel Daniel, London, 
1885-1896, vol. I, p. 260. 

2 Vol. Ill, p. 349. 


" Like to the clear in highest sphere 
Where all imperial glory shines. 
Of selfsame colour is her hair 
Whether unfolded or in twines : 

Heigh ho, fair Rosalynde! 
Her eyes are sapphires set in snow. 
Refining heaven by every wink; 
The gods do fear whenas they glow. 
And I do tremble when I think: 

Heigh ho, would she were mine !" 

Here is a canvas glowing with light. The other song is 
more restrained in its description but is equally melodic: 

" Love in my bosom like a bee 

Doth suck his sweet: 
Now with his wings he plays with me, 

Now with his feet. 
Within mine eyes he makes his nest. 
His bed amidst my tender breast. 
My kisses are his daily feast; 
And yet he robs me of my rest: 

Ah ! wanton, will ye !"^ 

Many of Lodge's songs have been traced to foreign 
sources ; he tells us himself that some of the lyrics in the 
Margarite of America are taken from Pascale, Dolce, Mar- 
telli, Desportes, and it is quite possible these songs may not 
be entirely his own composition. 

With the exception of Shakespeare, whose lyrics we shall 
consider with those of the dramatists, we have examined the 
lyrics of the sonneteers. We have by no means exhausted 
the list of lyric writers, but before coming to the lyrics of 
the drama and the song books, we have space to consider but 

1 Complete Works of Thomas Lodge, Bunterian Club, Glasgow, 1883, 
vol. I, pp. 64, 11. The best of Lodge's lyrics have been reprinted in A. H. 
BuUen's Lyrics from the Elizabethan Romances, London, 1890. 


three more poets — Breton, Southwell and Raleigh, and we 
could hardly choose three men more radically different in 
their characters. Nicholas Breton (1545?;1626?), the step- 
son of Gascoigne, lived by his pen. He was a fluent, grace- 
ful writer, both of verse and prose, but he was diffuse. 
He wrote too much, for while he has "a pretty flowery and 
pastoral gale of fancy," to quote Phillips's unsympathetic 
criticism of Herrick, there is little thought or deep feeling 
in his poetry. He is a skillful metrist, using the octosyllabic 
couplet well, and parts of his Passionate Shepherd (1604) 
remind us of the nature descriptions in L' Allegro. A typical 
song is his madrigal which won the favor of Elizabeth. It 

" In the merry month of May, 
In a morn by break of day. 
Forth I walked by the wood side, 
Whenas May was in his pride: 
There I spyed all alone, 
Phillida and Cory don. 
Much ado there was, God wot ! 
He would love, and she would not."' 

"On Wednesday morning about nine o'clock, as her Majesty 
opened the casement of her gallery window, there were three 
excellent musicians, who being disguised in ancient country 
attire, did greet her with a pleasant song of Corydon and 
Phillida, made in three parts of purpose. The song, as well 
for the worth of the ditty as the aptness of the note thereto 
applied, it pleased Her Highness after it had been once sung 
to command again, and highly to grace it with her cheerful 
acceptance and commendation. It was entitled The Plow- 
man's Song 'in the merry month of May.' "^ Breton's fame 

1 See A. B. Grosart, Works of Nicholas Breton, London, 1879, vol. 
I, t. p. 7. Bullen, op. cit., reprints a number of Breton's lyrics. 

2 T. Oliphant, La Musa Madrigalesca, London, 1837, p. 204. 


may rest on the lullaby in his Arbour of Amorous Devices 
(1597), a song of a deserted mother quieting the 

" Poor soul that thinks no creature harm." 

The pathos is sincere and not overemphasized; the whole 
poem is worthy of Blake at his best : 

" And dost thou smile ? O, thy sweet face ! 
Would God himself he might thee see ! 
No doubt thou wouldst soon purchase grace, 
I know right well, for thee and me: 

But come to mother, babe, and play. 

For father false is fled away." 

One of the most affecting touches is the mother's pride in the 
man who has left her: 

" Thy father is no rascal lad, 
A noble youth of blood and bone: 

His glancing looks, if he once smile. 
Right honest women may beguile."'^ 

The poems of Robert Southwell (1561 .''-1595), the Jesuit 
martyr, were published posthumously the year of his execu- 
tion at Tyburn. That he had intended to print them is 
shown by his preface and they were undoubtedly put in order 
and partly composed during his three years' imprisonment.^ 
They thus possess a melancholy interest and it is hardly 
surprising that critics have allowed their sympathy for the 
man to bias their judgment of his poetry. 

Southwell is the one religious poet of the age. Nearly 
all the lyrists (Breton, for example, whom we have just con- 
sidered) wrote religious songs or paraphrases, but South- 
well's whole body of verse is religious, written partly in pro- 
test against the love poems of the day. In his preface he 

1 Grosart, Breton, vol. I, d. p. 7. 

2 A. B. Grosart, Complete Poems of Robert Southwell, London, 1872, 


regrets that poetry has been degraded by the amorists, and 
appearing at the time of the sonnet sequences, these lines 
sound strangely: 

" O women! woe to men; traps for their falls; 

Still actors in all tragical mischances ; 
Earth's necessary evils, captivating thralls. 

Now murdering with your tongues, now with your glances ; 
Parents of life and love, spoilers of both; 
The thieves of hearts ; false, do you love or loathe."^ 

Thus, in Love's servile lot, he writes of Love's mistress : 

" A honey shower rains from her lips. 
Sweet lights shine in her face; 
She hath the blush of virgin mind. 
The mind of viper's race. 

" May never was the month of love. 
For May is full of flowers; 
But rather April, wet by kind, (nature) 
For love is full of showers. 

" Plow not the seas, sow not the sands. 

Leave oiF your idle pain; 

Seek other mistress for your minds. 

Love's service is in vain."^ 

Though he dislikes the substance of the sonneteers, he 
imitates their manner, and no Petrarchist has ever given us 
more extravagant conceits that has Southwell in describing 
the eyes of Christ. He compares them to sweet volumes, 
nectared ambrys (larders for alms) of soul-feeding meats, 
quivers of love darts, blazing comets, living mirrors, pools 
of Hesebon, turtle-twins, and Bethlehem-cisterns.' Crashaw, 

1 P. 24. 

2 Pp. 78-81. 

3 From St. Peter's Complaint, as is the following stanza (cxxi). 


in his descriptions of the Magdalene's eyes, could not outdo 
this. His lines on sleep have a familiar ring: 

' Sleep, death's ally, oblivion of tears. 

Silence of passions, balm of angry sore, 
Suspense of loves, security of fears. 

Wrath's lenitive, heart's ease, storm's calmest shore ; 
Senses' and souls' reprieval from all cumbers. 
Benumbing sense of ill, with quiet slumbers." 

The best poems of Southwell are the songs on the Nativity 
and those which describe his own feelings — his longing for 
death. Jonson, not an easy critic to please, was delighted 
with Southwell's Burning Babe, and A Child my choice or 
New Prince, new Pomp is nearly as good. In his personal 
poems we at last hear a man's own voice. The homely 
objects, the simple style of the following stanza are extremely 
effective and form a sharp contrast to his conceits : 

" The gown which I do use to wear. 

The knife wherewith I cut my meat, 

And eke that old and ancient chair 
Which is my only usual seat: 

All these do tell me I must die, 

And yet my life amend not I."^ 

His poem / die alive is not a masterpiece of poetic ex- 
pression but it possesses what so much of the smooth writing 
of the age lacked — sincerity, for it is the cry of a man, worn 
out by imprisonment and torture : 

" O life ! what lets thee from a quick decease ? 

O death ! what draws thee from a present prey ? 
My feast is done, my soul would be at ease. 

My grace is said; O death, come take away."^ 

1 P. 156, U'pon the image of Death. 

2 P. 84. 


The poems of Sir Walter Raleigh (1552P-1618) contain 
some of the strongest writing of the age. As befitted his 
nature, he is at his best in the short, vigorous expression of 
stirring emotion. His most characteristic work is rough- 
hewn and lacks grace, but it possesses individuality and 
character. He could write in the flowing song style of the 

" Conceit begotten by the eyes. 
Is quickly born and quickly dies;" 

he composed the best commendatory sonnet for the Faerie 
Queene, which critic after critic believes inspired Milton's 

" Methought I saw my late espoused saint " 

merely because the first three words in each sonnet are the 
same ; and he could write love songs in which an engaging 
directness of diction takes the place of sonneteering compH- 

" Silence in love bewrays more woe 

Than words, though ne'er so witty: 
A beggar that is dumb, you know. 
May challenge double pity.""^ 

Two of his lyrics are remarkable ; they are as distinctly 
original as Donne's, though different in quality. In the Lie, 
the most pessimistic lyric of the age, Raleigh bitterly 
arraigns the times ; all about him is rotten to the core ; 
church and state, court and college, high and low, all is 
corruption. It is the mood of Hamlet expressed with the 
intensity of Hotspur : 

" Say to the court, it glows 

And shines like rotten wood; 
Say to the church, it shows 

What's good and doth no good: 
If church and court reply. 
Then give them both the lie. 
1 Hannah, op. cit., pp. 22, 8, 21. 


" Tell fortune of her blindness ; 
Tell nature of decay; 
Tell friendship of unkindness; 

Tell justice of delay; 
And if they will reply, 
Then give them all the lie !"^ 

It is small wonder that such a poem called forth numerous 
rejoinders and imitations. Raleigh returns to the charge 
in his Give me my scallop-shell of quiet, where he writes of 

" heaven's bribeless hall. 
Where no corrupted voices brawl; 
No conscience molten into gold. 
No forged accuser bought or sold. 
No cause deferred, no vain-spent journey, 
For there Christ is the king's attorney. 
Who pleads for all without degrees. 
And he hath angels, but no fees."^ 

Whether or not his dirge of eight lines, 

" Even such is Time, that takes in trust 
Our youth, our joys, our all we have," 

was composed, as a tradition runs, the night before his execu- 
tion, he wrote it when he knew that the end of his imprison- 
ment was "the dark and silent grave," and for pure pathos, 
it has few equals. 

Many of the lyrics which we have quoted appeared in the 
various Miscellanies of the period and we must briefly review 
these successors to TotteVs Miscellany. It will be remem- 
bered that Tottel published his book in 1557 ; and it was not 
until 1576 that a new anthology appeared, the Paradise of 
Dainty Devices. In the dedication of this collection of songs, 
we are informed that the "ditties" are "both pithy and pleas- 

1 P. 24. The poem first appears in MS. Harl. 6910, circ. 1596. 

2 P. 38. 


ant, as well for the invention as metre, and will yield a far 
greater delight, being as they are so aptly made to be set to 
any song in five parts, or sung to instrument." The title 
rightly declares that the book contains "pithy precepts, 
learned counsels," for of the ninety-eight poems it offers, 
forty-three may be classed as admonitory verse. There is 
Kttle to be said for these poems, except that the age evidently 
took as much delight in them as Georgian readers did in the 
epigrams of Pope. Polonius' speech of advice to Laertes in 
the first act of Hamlet is utterly inconsistent with his char- 
acter, but it contained precisely the precepts that this gen- 
eration enjoyed. It is curious to see these moral effusions 
masquerading as songs. The following excerpt is from "a 
worthy ditty sung before the Queen's Majesty at Bristowe": 

" Mistrust not troth, that truly means, for every jealous freak; 
Instead of wrong, condemn not right, no hidden wrath to 

wreak : 
Look on the light of faultless life, how bright her virtues 

And measure out her steps each one, by level and by line."^ 

Of this whole collection only two songs, both by Richard 
Edwards, have survived. The first, "Where griping grief 
the heart would wound," is remembered because it is 
quoted by Peter in Romeo and Juliet; the second, Amantiwm 

" In going to my naked bed as one that would have slept, 
I heard a wife sing to her child, that long before had wept;" 

has a naivete of expression, not without charm, that has won 
for it a place in many modern anthologies.^ 

Of the ninety poems that compose the Gorgeous Gallery 
of Gallant Inventions (1578), the greater part are anony- 

1 See J. P. Collier's reprint, London, 1866, p. 44. 

2 Pp. 89, 73. 


mous. Fully one third of the poems are moral admonitions 
and many of the titles, such as "The Lover describeth his 
painful plight," or "The Lover in great distress comforteth 
himself with hope," are reminiscent of Tottel. The Paradise 
of Dainty Devices contained no sonnets, but there are three 
here, all mediocre. The collection is dreary reading; but 
one song from it — ^the Willow song of Desdemona — has sur- 
vived, and it is only occasionally that we come across such 
a lyric outburst as A proper Ditty. To the time of Lusty 
Gallant : 

" The glittering shows of Flora's dames 

Delights not so my careful! mind, 
Ne gathering of the fragrant flames. 

That oft in Flora's nymphs I find. 
Ne all the notes of birds so shrill. 

Melodiously in woods that sing. 
Whose solemn quires the skies doth fill. 

With note on note that heavenly ring."'- 

The songs in the Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584) are 
mostly anonymous and when they are ascribed to authors, 
the names are not those that suggest immortal verse — 
"P. Picks," "L. Gibson," or "a student in Cambridge." 
The songs are written for certain tunes — "Green Sleeves," 
"All in a garden fair," "The merchant's daughter went over 
the fields," or "To any pleasant tune," and while they have 
an easy flowing metre, their poetic worth is small. It is 
probable that Shakespeare had one song in mind, A Nose- 
gay, with its "Lavender is for lovers true, Rosemary is for 
remembrance, Violet is for faithfulness," when he wrote 
Ophelia's flower scene in Hamlet.^ 

The Phoenix Nest (1593) included poems by Raleigh, 
Breton, and Lodge, the last named contributing fifteen writ- 

1 Corner's Reprint, London, 1866, p. 36. 

2 See Arber's reprint in the English Scholar's Library, No. 3, Lon- 
don, 1878, p. 3. 


ten in fourteen different metres. There are fourteen sonnets, 
all but five on the pains of love, of which the best. Those eyes 
that set my fancy on a fire, is written with much spirit and 
fervor : 

" O eyes that pierce our hearts without remorse, 
O hairs of right that wear a royal crown, 
O hands that conquer more than Caesar's force, 
O wit that turns huge kingdoms upside down I" 

but as a whole the lyrics in this collection lack life. At their 
best they have artistic touches in phrasing or description, 
and their metrical charm is much more evident than any 
sincerity of thought or feeling. There is a night piece which 
is strikingly modern in its tone : 

" Let sailors gaze on stars and moon so freshly shining. 
Let them that miss the way be guided by the light, 
I know my lady's bower, there needs no more divining, 
AiFection sees in dark, and Love hath eyes by night," 

while the following well deserves to be remembered : 

" Sweet violets. Love's paradise, that spread 

Your gracious odours which you couched bear 
Within your paley faces. 
Upon the gentle wing of some calm breathing wind. 
That plays amidst the plain. 
If by the favour of propitious stars you gain 
Such grace, as in my lady's bosom place to find. 
Be proud to touch those places; 
And when her warmth your moisture forth doth wear. 
Whereby your dainty parts are sweetly fed. 

Your honours of the flowery meads I pray. 
You pretty daughters of the earth and sun, 
With mild and seemly breathing straight display 
My bitter sighs that have my heart undone."'^ 

1 See Collier's reprint, London, 1866, pp. 89, 120, 121. "Sweet violets" 
appears again in England's Helicon. 


Of all the miscellanies, England's Helicon (1600) contains 
the finest poetry.^ It is a collection of pastorals and lyrics 
by the best writers of the day, W'atson, Sidney, Spenser, 
Drayton, Lodge, and Breton, but it contains little new 
material and the book calls for no further comment. The 
selections have been made with discrimination, though for our 
modern taste there is too much of the pastoral and we tire of 
listening to the complaints of Tityrus and Thestilis, Corydon 
and Corin. 

The last of the Ehzabethan Miscellanies, Francis Davison's 
Poetical Rhapsody, appeared in 1602.^ Although it contains 
Raleigh's Lie and a series of sonnets by Watson, the collec- 
tion has few lyrics ; a great number of the poems are by 
unknown writers and are not in any way remarkable. In its 
pastorals, in its translations from the Italian, the book is 
thoroughly typical of the age; in poetic value, it is much 
inferior to England's Helicon. It includes, however, a num- 
ber of lyrics by a writer we have not mentioned — -Thomas 
Campion — reminding us that we have yet to consider the 
very flower of Elizabethan song, the lyrics in the drama and 
in the song books. 


The miracle plays, the moralities and interludes, were 
still witnessed in the early years of Elizabeth's reign. From 
them the Elizabethans inherited not only the "law of 
liberty" — freedom from the unities of the classic stage — but 
equally important, the tradition of song in the drama. The 
first playwrights did not emphasize this song element. 
Robert Greene (1560P-1592) has but one song in his five 
plays ; for his lyrics, we must read his prose tracts and 
romances. His style was singularly sweet and plaintive; 

1 See the reprint edited by A. H. BuUen, London, 1899. 

2 See Bullen's reprint, London, 1890. 


his wild life and his death in poverty and disgrace are in 
sharp contrast to the peaceful note of his lyrics which are 
marked not by outbursts of feeling, but by grace and 
delicacy : 

" Ahj what is love ? It is a pretty thing, 
As sweet unto a shepherd as a king; 
And sweeter too." 

Read in the light of his restless career, there is the very 
essence of tragic contrast in his song "Sweet are the thoughts 
that savour of content." 

" The homely house that harbours quiet rest; 

The cottage that affords no pride nor care ; 
The mean that grees with country music best; 

The sweet consort of mirth and music's fare; 
Obscured life sets down a type of bliss: 
A mind content both crown and kingdom is." 

His two best lyrics are his sonnet "Ah were she pitiful as she 
is fair," which Martin Person set to music, and Sephestia's 
song to her child, a counterpart to Breton's lullaby, with its 
refrain : 

" Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee ; 
When thou art old there's grief enough for thee."^ 

George Peele (1658P-1597) introduces lyrics freely in his 
dramatic compositions. David and Bethsabe opens with 
singing; there are many snatches of song in his Old Wives 
Tale; in his Arraignment of Paris we have a Latin song, an 
ItaUan song, and the gay duet, "Fair and fair, and twice so 
fair." "His golden locks Time hath to silver turned," the 
lyric which Thackeray admired, is certainly his best one. It 
was sung when Sir Henry Lea, master of the armory, bore 

1 A. H. Bullen, Poems, chiefly lyrical from Romances and Prose 
Tracts of the Elizabethan Age, London, 1890, pp. 23, 33, 15. 


arms for the last time in the yearly joust he had instituted in 
the Queen's honor.^ As she sat in the royal pavilion she heard 
strains of music, "accompanied with these verses, pronounced 
and sung by M. Hales her Majesty's servant, a gentleman 
in that art excellent and for his voice both commendable and 
admirable" : 

" My helmet now shall make a hive for bees. 

And lovers' sonnets turned to holy psalms, 

A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees, 

And feed on prayers, which are old age his alms : 

But though from court to cottage he depart. 

His saint is sure of his unspotted heart." 

Could a lyric have a better setting? 

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), whose genius trans- 
formed the drama, contented himself with splendid lyrical 
passages in dialogue and soliloquy and did not introduce 
formal songs in his plays. His one song is the most perfect 
expression of that pastoral ideal which fascinated the age ; 
it is small wonder that "Come live with me and be my love" 
had its numerous rejoinders and imitations. There is the 
spirit and music of many song books in the four lines : 

" Where we will sit upon the rocks. 
And see the shepherds feed their flocks 
By shallow rivers, to whose falls 
Melodious birds sing madrigals."^ 

The most notable series of dramatic lyrics by this first 
group of playwrights appeared in Summer's Last Will and 

iThe full account is in Segar's Honour, Military and Civil, Bk. Ill, 
chapter liv, cited by A. Dyce in his Works of Oreene and Peele, London, 
1861, p. 566. As usually printed, the song is in the third person. 

2 J. H. Ingram, Christopher Marlowe and his Associates, London, 
1904, p. 221. There are several versions of this song. 


Testament by Thomas Nashe (1567-1601). These songs 
make us regret the energy Nashe consumed in his unreadable 
controversies ; they will outlive all his prose. Their range is 
remarkable. The opening song by Ver who enters "with his 
train, overlaid with suits of green moss, representing short 
grass," has all the happy artlessness of the early folk lyrics : 

" The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet, 
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit; 
In every street, these tunes our ears do greet — 
Cuckoo, j ug-j ug, pu-we, to-witta-woo ! 
Spring, the sweet Spring !" 

but when Summer, who 

" terms himself the god of poetry. 
And setteth wanton songs unto the lute," 

feels his end at hand and cries : 

" Sing me some doleful ditty to the lute, 
That may complain my near approaching death," 

we hear a lament which is the cry of hopeless grief : 

" Beauty is but a flower 
Which wrinkles will devour. 
Brightness falls from the air; 
Queens have died j'oung and fair; 
Dust hath closed Helen's eye. 
I am sick, I must die: 

Lord, have mercy upon us." 

This is the very essence of melancholy ; each line is a dirge ; 
to affect the mind the sorrows of the past are added to the 
utter desolation of the present. We can imagine the effect 


of such a song, produced when the plague was ravaging 
London : 

" Strength stoops unto the grave, 
Worms feed on Hector brave. 
Swords may not fight with fate. 
Earth still holds ope her gate. 
Come, Come, the bells do cry. 
I am sick, I must die: 

Lord, have mercy upon us." 

Nashe could employ to perfection a long, slow, melancholy 

" Go not yet hence, bright soul of the sad year ; 
The earth is heU, when thou leav'st to appear." 

" Short days, sharp days, long nights come on apace. 
Ah, who will hide us from the winter's face? 
Cold doth increase, the sickness will not cease. 
And here we lie, God knows, with little ease: 
From winter, plague, and pestilence. 
Good Lord, deliver us."^ 

One does not question the sincerity of such writing. 

We have now come to the heyday of the drama and it 
would be far too great a task to consider not the individual 
lyrics, but even the lyric mood of each playwright. Songs 
are scattered lavishly through comedy and tragedy alike ; 
if at times we find a play without a single bar of melody, 
on the other hand one character alone in Heywood's Rape 
of Lucrece has eighteen lyrics ! Song has departed from 
the drama as it has very largely from our lives. In a mod- 
ern comedy the heroine may seat herself at the piano, strike 
a few chords, and sing a line or two, but it is done merely 

1 R. B. McKerrow, Works of Thomas Nashe, London, 1904, vol. Ill, 
pp. 338, 383, 237, 292. 


to give an air of reality to the play. Probably it is a bless- 
ing that our actors do not attempt to sing; but in Eliza- 
bethan times the boy actors were often members of church 
choirs and thus the dramatist had at his command well- 
trained voices. Two great companies, the "boys of Paul's" 
and "children of the Queen's chapel" were composed entirely 
of choir boys and were trained by choir conductors. More- 
over, the audiences, whose influence on dramatic composition is 
all-powerful, were brought up on the song books and were 
eager to hear new lyrics. When we lament the utter absence 
of the lyric in our modern plays we must remember that in 
Shakespeare's day the conditions were ideal for the develop- 
ment of song. 

in that refuge of weak intellects, the musical comedy, 
there are found what the play-bills generously entitle 
"lyrics," but they are usually destitute of any Uterary value 
and at their best show merely a clever, nimble metre. The 
lyrics we are considering are the perfection of art.'^ We 
frequently wonder whether a Shakespearean audience appre- 
ciated the beauty of the blank verse they heard, for very few 
of our actors understand it. These songs show a more elusive 
style in the refinements of metre. We have lost the musical 
setting for most of them ; yet no matter how lovely were the 
melodies, they could not have surpassed the music of the 
words. The variety of the lyrics is noteworthy ; we turn 
from the charming artificiality of the songs attributed to 
Lyly, such as : 

" Cupid and my Campaspe played 
At cards for kisses — Cupid paid;" 

1 For the lyrics that follow see R. Bell's Songs from the Dramatists, 
A. H. Biillen's Lyrics from the Dramatists of the Elizabethan Age, Lon- 
don, 1893, and that best of modern anthologies, indispensable for a study 
of the lyric, the Oxford Book of English Verse. For the music of these 
lyrics see An Historical Sketch of the History of Dramatic Music in 
England, in E. F. Rimbault's edition of Purcell's Bonduca, London, 1842. 


to that sturdy song of Thomas Heywood's with its enthu- 
siasm, its exultation of a spring mood : 

" Pack, cloudsj away ! and welcome, day ! 
With night we banish sorrow." 

or to Dekker's equally effective 

" Haymakers, rakers, reapers, and mowers. 
Wait on your summer-queen; 
Dress up with musk-rose her eglantine bowers. 
Daffodils strew the green." 

The flower songs are a small anthology in themselves ; they 
tell of the joys of life, as in Fletcher's superb 

" Now the lusty Spring is seen; 
Golden yellow, gaudy blue. 
Daintily invite the view;" 

they adorn the brows of beauty, they deck the graves of 
unhappy lovers: 

" Lay a garland on my hearse 
Of the dismal yew; 
Maidens, willow branches bear; 
Say, I died true." 

We hear an echo of the old drinking songs in Dekker's 
"Trowl the bowl, the jolly nut-brown bowl," or in Shakes- 
peare's "And let me the canakin clink, clink;" we have the 
sublimation of the old moral, sententious song in Dekker's 
"Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers.'"' Love, 
nature, and grief are the main motives of these lyrics and with 
such themes the variety of the songs may be understood. The 
love songs range from compliment to passion; the nature 


lyrics depict "All the flowers of the Spring" and re-echo the 
call of every bird ; the elegies turn from the graceful melan- 
choly of 

" Weep no more, nor sign, nor groan. 
Sorrow calls no time that's gone: 
Violets plucked, the sweetest rain 
Makes not fresh nor grow again;" 

to the blank despair of Webster's "Call for the robin-red- 
breast and the wren." 

It would be a most interesting study to observe at what 
points in the plays these lyrics are introduced. If they fre- 
quently appear to be interpolated at random, more often 
they plainly intensify the dramatic situation ; in many a 
scene they are a part of the very warp and woof of the plot. 
In losing the lyric from the drama, not only has our poetry 
been impoverished but the resources of the playwright have 
been distinctly weakened. 

The songs of Shakespeare are by no means an epitome of 
these lyrics ; he has nothing, for example, to equal Fletcher's 
praise of Melancholy, which might have been sung by 
Jacques : 

" Hence, all you vain delights. 
As short as are the nights 

Wherein you spend your folly ! 
There's naught in this life sweet. 
If men were wise to see't. 

But only melancholy. 

Oh, sweetest melancholy !" 

yet it is true beyond a doubt that in Shakespeare's lyrics 
this form of poetry found its most perfect expression. 
Within this small field of verse, he moves as freely and as 
commandingly as in the plays whose province is as wide as 
humanity itself. With his fondness for music, repeatedly 


expressed, he has caught all tones; the homely, half- 
humorous realism of the folk songs: 

" When all aloud the Wind doth blow, 

And coughing drowns the parson's saw, 
And birds sit brooding in the snow, 

And Marian's nose looks red and raw. 
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl. 
Then nightly sings the staring owl. 
Tu-whit ! 
Tu-who ! — a merry note. 
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot." 

the Platonic idealism in 

" Who is Silvia ? What is she. 

That all our swains commend her? 

Holy, fair, and wise is she; 

The heaven such grace did lend her. 

That she might admired be." 

There is the simpKcity of the early songs in "0 mistress 
mine, where are you roaming," or "It was a lover and his 
lass" ; there is the delicacy, the refinement of the art lyric 
in the strophe "Come unto these yellow sands" or "Over 
hill, over dale." We have heard so many times "Under the 
greenwood tree," and "Blow, blow thou winter wind" that 
these "sweets grown common lose their dear delight," but 
how marvellously the moral platitudes of the earlier mis- 
cellanies have been transformed in 

" Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky. 
That dost not bite so nigh 

As benefits forgot: 
Though thou the waters warp, 
Thy sting is not so sharp 

As friend remembered not." 


The style of these songs is as varied as their content, and 
the metres range from 

" Sigh no more^ ladies, sigh no more; 
Men were deceivers ever; 
One foot in sea and one on shore. 
To one thing constant never:" 

to the magic music of "Full fathom five thy father lies." 
Shakespeare gains his effects in such little space ; eight lines 
suffice for the most passionate of all his songs, "Take, take 
those lips away," and there is the essence of all spring songs 
and serenades in the single stanza "Hark ! hark ! the lark at 
heaven's gate sings. "^ It is small wonder that Hugo and 
the French romanticists, turning to Shakespeare's example 
in their fight against the classic drama, imitated his method 
of introducing lyrics in his plays as they did his mingling 
of tragedy and comedy ; yet no one has been able to imitate 
his style. We catch strains of the long-drawn-out sweet- 
ness of Spenser's Epithalamion in Tennyson's Lotos-Eaters; 
the vigor, the mordant tone of Raleigh's Lie may be found 
in our modern songs and ballads ; the sensuousness of the 
Elizabethan sonnet has been caught by Keats, but Shakes- 
peare's songs have no counterpart in all the verse that has 
been written since his day. As we read them, we seem to 
see above them that hne of John Donne's 

" The mystery, the sign you must not touch." 

We have said that the audiences in the theatres demanded 
songs because all classes of society delighted in singing 

1 "His songs possess in perfection all the essential elements of gaiety 
and tenderness, facility and grace, idiomatic purity, melody in the 
expression, variety, suddenness, and completeness. In their airiness and 
sweetness, their spontaneity and full-throated ease, they resemble the 
song of birds." Bell, op. cit., pp. 109-110. 


them; we find the confirmation, of this statement in the 
Stationers' Register. In 1530 Wynkyn de Worde published 
his song book, of which only the part for the bass has been 
preserved. No other book with music appeared until 1571, 
when there was published Songs of three, four, and five voices, 
composed and made by Thomas Whythorne, which we may dis- 
miss with the comment that the music is mediocre and the 
verses are doggerel.^ From 1587 to 1630 there were pub- 
lished eighty-eight song books containing between fifteen 
hundred and two thousand pieces. 

The first Elizabethan song books were directly inspired 
by the Italian madrigal collections, for Italy was the 
acknowledged home of song. In the Cortegiano, a work 
which both Italians and Englishmen regarded as a classic, 
we read : "Signori, .... avete a sapere ch' io non mi contento 
del Cortegiano, se egli noil e ancor musico, e se, oltre alio 
intendere ed esser sicuro a libro, non sa di varii instruments "^ 
To understand music, to play or to sing, was a necessary 
accomplishment for a gentleman. This produced an army 
of composers, who set to melodies the sonnets of Petrarch and 
his followers and the strambotti of Serafino. The favorite 
poetic form for these song writers was not the sonnet how- 
ever but the madrigal. Petrarch had written a small number 
of them, but the Neapolitan Dragonetto Bonifacio (1500- 
1529) was the first poet to gain fame in this genre. Luigi 
Cassola, considered by many the best of all madrigal writers, 
pubHshed in 1545 a collection of over three hundred, without 
music ; other well-known names are Muzio Manfredi, Guarini, 
and the two Strozzi who wrote over fifteen hundred. To show 
the tone of the Italian madrigal we shall quote one by 
Cassola : 

1 See the quotations in E. F. Rimbault's article in The Bibliographical 
Miscellany, No. 4, London, 1854. 

2 Book I, chapter xlvii. 


" Quando piu guardo le bellezze estreme, 
E quelle gratia rare, 
Ch'in la mia donna sola 
Fur per gratia del ciel raccolte insieme : 
Alhor piu penso come mai parola 
Possa d'altra parlare, 
E ch'in altra il pensier possa pensare: 
Che nel mirar sotto il suo bianco velo 
Veggo quanto puo far natura, e il cielo."^ 

(The more I see the highest beauties and those rare graces which 
by the grace of Heaven were united in my lady alone, the more 
I wonder how words can speak of any other, or the thought 
dwell on any one else; because looking beneath her white veil, 
I see all that nature, all that Heaven can do.) 

Here is graceful flattery, the characteristic trait of these 
madrigals, for they do not, so often as the sonnets, affect a 
high and passionate strain. In other respects their subject- 
matter is similar ; they sing of pastoral life, of beauty and 
its brief moment, of love with its many sorrows. Precisely 
as we have elegiac and religious sonnets, so we have mad- 
rigals written on the death of friends, madrigals that are 
prayers to Christ or the Virgin. In technique the sonnet and 
madrigal do not approach each other; the madrigal form 
was not a fixed one either in its rhyme scheme or in the num- 
ber of its verses. "The madrigal," writes Crescimbeni, "is 

the shortest lyrical composition used by good writers 

In regard to the number of its lines, the earliest fathers of 
song did not use less than six nor more than eleven," yet 
Cassola has madrigals with as many as twenty-four lines.^ 
The music of the madrigal followed an invariable tradition. 
Madrigals were unaccompanied part songs, frequently writ- 
ten for as many as five or six voices ; each part was carried 

1 See the 1545 edition of Cassola's madrigals, p. 91. 
^L'lstoria della Volgar Poesia, 3d edition, Venezia, 1731, vol. I, p. 


by but a single performer and not, as we arrange them 
to-day, by several singers. The music was a "combination 
of two elements originally totally separate, the contrapuntal 
secular music of the Italians and their resident masters of 
Netherlandish blood, and the harmonic Italian quasi-popular 

song All the English madrigal-writers show both the 

contrapuntal and the harmonic elements in their works, and 

indeed generally combine them in the same composition 

Even in the subsidiary form of madrigals known as Ballets 
or Fa Las, where the markedly rhythmical element is 
especially prominent, and the whole tendency is in the direc- 
tion of plainly melodic swing, there is still an attention to 
the delicate shades of individual part-writing which, even if 
there were not (as there usually are) occasional contrapuntal 
passages, would prevent us from regarding them merely as 
harmonized tunes. "'^ 

The first books of the new madrigal music were William 
Byrd's Psalms, Sonnets and Songs of Sadness and Piety 
(thirty-five in number), published in 1588, and Nicholas 
Yonge's Musica Transalpina. Madrigals translated, of four, 
five and six parts, chosen out of divers excellent authors, 
which appeared the same year, bringing into England, for 
the first time, the term "madrigal." Fifty-seven Italian and 
Netherlandish composers are represented in this collection, 
and the Italian poetry which accompanied their music has 
been clumsily translated into English. The success of these 
two books started a whole school of madrigal composition; 
we at once have English composers and English madrigal 
writers, although many Italian madrigals, translated or 
adapted, were constantly appearing side by side with original 
verse. The next step was to introduce musical accompani- 
ment and in John Dowland's First Book of Songs or Airs, 

IE. Walker, A History of Music in England, Oxford, 1907, p. 59. 
Chapter IV contains some interesting transcriptions of English mad- 


1597, there are twenty-one songs for four voices with lute 
accompaniment. In 1601 books of airs were pubHshed by 
Jones and by Campion and Rosseter, and in these two books 
there was not only an instrumental accompaniment, but a 
second innovation: the songs were written for one voice. 
The solo had long been found in the dramatic lyrics ; it enters 
the song books at a comparatively late date.^ 

To understand Elizabethan song, we must reconstruct 
our ideas of English music. In our own day Norway has 
produced in Grieg a song writer more famous than any one 
the great Anglo-Saxon race has given to the world in the 
last fifty years. Both in England and America we turn to 
foreign composers, players, and singers, while our native 
music constitutes a very small part of a concert programme. 
In the days of Elizabeth and James, English composers and 
performers were unsurpassed ; their music was frequently 
printed abroad — in Berlin and Utrecht, in Frankfort and 
Nuremberg— and their fame spread through Europe. John 
Dowland was made lutanist to the court of Denmark; John 
Bull was appointed organist of Antwerp cathedral ; Alphonso 
Ferrabosco was taken to Turin by the Duke of Savoy to be 
his chief musician. The tributes foreign critics paid to Eng- 
lish music are laudatory in the highest degree. In a letter 
of Monsieur de Champany not written to flatter English 
pride (it was intercepted by the government), we read: "I 
was invited to Eltham .... an house of the Queen. At 
which time I heard and saw three things that in all my travel 
of France, Italy and Spain, I never heard or saw the like. 
The first was a consort of music, so excellent and sweet as 
can not be expressed."^ From Elizabeth to the humblest 
peasant, all classes delighted in song. Wherever the Queen 

ij. Erskine, The Eliznhethan Lyric, N. Y., 1903, chapter VII, The 
Song-Book; W. Bolle, Die gedruckten englischen Liederbiicher bis 1600, 
Palmtra, XXIX, Berlin, 1903, p. iv. 

2 A. Dyce, Works of Oreene and Peele, p. 567. 


was entertained in her royal progresses, lyrics were sung in 
her honor ; to-day our distinguished guests are merely dined. 
It is doubtful whether we enj oy songs as did our forefathers ; 
certainly we lack their musical training. The preface to 
Morley's Canzonets (1597) has become a locus classicus: 
"Supper being ended, and music books (according to the 
custom) being brought to the table, the mistress of the house 
presented me with a part, earnestly requesting me to sing; 
but when, after many excuses, I protested unfeignedly that I 
could not, everyone began to wonder. Yea, some whispered 
to others, demanding how I was brought up.""^ This sight 
reading was the more difficult because the singer had before 
him not the full score but merely his own part, which was 
never a simple harmony, as in our part songs, but a melody, 
for madrigals were polyphonic. 

Though Morley probably exaggerated the case to recom- 
mend his book, the plays of the period show that song was 
not only a diversion but a necessary and highly prized 
accomplishment. In Othello's praise of Desdemona he cries 
admiringly, "O, she wiU sing the savageness out of a bear," 
and in his eyes it was not the least of her perfections. When 
Cassio desires to secure her favor, he arranges a serenade. 
In Cymheline the foolish churl Cloten courts Imogen with 
song : "I am advised to give her music o' mornings ; they say 
it will penetrate"; then follows "Hark! hark! the lark at 
heaven's gate sings." To turn from fiction to history, when 
David Rizzio wished to meet Mary of Scotland, he stationed 
himself on the stair at Holyrood and as she descended, care- 
lessly strummed a gittern. There could be no surer means 
of attracting her attention. As the lyric played such a part 
in life, there were songs for all occasions ; for weddings, for 
funerals, for dances, for feasts. There were special songs 
for all the trades — the tinkers, for example, were renowned 
for their catches — and the viol, the lute, or the virginals 

1 BoUe, p. iv. 


were commonly found in the houses of rich and poor. To-day 
at the barber's shop waiting patrons read the papers; in 
Elizabethan days they played the barber's gittem. We say 
"as cheap as dirt" ; that age expressed the idea in the phrase 
"as common as a barber's gittern," for every one used it.^ 

We have had music married to immortal verse — the lyrics 
of Shakespeare and Heine set to the melodies of Schubert 
and Schumann — but our popular songs have not the slightest 
poetic value. The Elizabethan composers wrote their music 
for poetry which in many respects has never been surpassed. 
The most striking feature of these madrigals and songs is 
their great metrical charm — they fairly sing themselves — 
yet this does not imply that their subject matter is trivial 
or uninteresting. The song writers are genuinely fond of 
country life ; they abandon the pastoral conventionalities of 
the Elizabethan romances for fresh descriptions of meadows 
and flowers, of May fields where a shepherd and his lass sing, 
dance, and make love: 

" See where my love a-maying goes 

With sweet dame Flora sporting ! 
She most alone with nightingales 
In woods' delights consorting. 

" Turn again, my dearest ! 

The pleasant'st air's in meadows; 
Else by the river let us breathe, 
And kiss among the willows." 

writes an anonymous poet in Pilkington's madrigals, and 
Morley's best-known ballet repeats the theme : 

" Now is the month of maying. 
When mery lads are playing 
Each with his bonny lass 
Upon the greeny grass. 
Fa la la ! 

1 W. Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Time, London, 1859, pp. 
98 ff. 


" The spring clad all in gladness 
Doth laugh at winter's sadness^ 
And to the bagpipe's sound 
The nymphs tread out their ground. 
Fa la la!" 

He returns to it again in: 

" Harkj joHy shepherds, hark; hark yon lusty ringing; 
How cheerfully the bells dance, the whilst the lads are spring- 
Go then, why sit we here delaying? 
And all yond merry wanton lasses playing?" 

These songs have a more homely tone than the lyrics of the 
drama ; they are simpler both in thought and expression. 
In the sonnets and in the longer Elizabethan lyrics the birds 
are often described as merely a part of some meadow scene, 
precisely as an artist might paint them in the corner of a 
picture; here, as in some of the lyrics from the plays, they 
are named as old, familiar friends : 

" The nightingale, the organ of delight ; 

The nimble lark, the blackbird, and the thrush; 
And all the pretty choristers of flight. 

That chant their music notes in every bush ; 
Let them no more contend who shall excell. 
The cuckoo is the bird that bears the bell."^ 


" Lady the birds right fairly 
Are singing ever early: 
The lark, the thrush, the nightingale. 
The make-sport cuckoo and the quail; 
These sing of love; then why sleep ye? 
To love your sleep it may not be."^ 

1 F. A. Cox, English Madrigals in the time of Shakespeare, London, 
1899, pp. 138, 112, 70, 149. 

2 T. Oliphant, Musa Madrigalesca, London, 1837, p. 132. 


It is in these songs, not in the formal pastorals of the period, 
that we find the truest expression of the spirit of outdoor life. 
Although the majority of these songs are light-hearted 
bursts of melody, both composers and poets wished to show 
their skiU in graver writing ; accordingly the sunniest day 
has its clouds and the lasses are not always kind. We have 
many complaints of inconstancy; Amaryllis writes on the 
sand "my faith shall be immortal" 

" But suddenly a storm of wind and weather 
Blew all her faith and sand away together." 

There is many a shepherd who with Philon, in William Byrd's 
finest lyric, sings "Untrue love, untrue love, adieu, love," 
still we feel these pastoral lovers will soon be reconciled. 
There are few tragedies such as "There were three ravens" 
and though the songs have a gentle melancholy, they lack 
deep feeling; they attract and deKght us, but they rarely 
touch us with a sense of the dark moments in life. This, 
their chief defect, is in a great measure due to their music. 
Polyphonic, unaccompanied songs are best adapted to light 
and graceful dialogues or descriptions ; in our modern music, 
the single voice, reinforced by an instrumental accompani- 
ment, expresses the deepest feelings, but the Elizabethan 
instruments could portray only a very limited range of 
emotions. The lute, the most popular of all, has a faint, 
far-ofF sound, like an etherealized guitar ; its music is deli- 
cate, but never strong. The gentle tone of the virginals has 
no sustained quality, and its rapid runs and trills which give 
to this instrument "a delightful shimmering, silver quality," 
would make it pathetically unfit to depict the terror of 
Schubert's ErlJconig, the passion of Brahm's Von Ewiger 
Liebe. It is true that at times these songs sound the high 
Platonic note : 


" Thy mind is fairer than thy face or eyes: 

And that same beauteous outside which thou hast. 
Is but a curious casket, in which lies 

The treasure of a mind, virtuous and chaste;"' 

they even attempt the invocations to sleep in the strain of 
the sonneteers: 

■■ Come, shadow of my end, and shape of rest, 
Allied to death, child of the blackest night,"^ 

but such verses are out of keeping; they break the charm, 
the mood of the songs is a quieter one. 

We have said that the most admirable feature of these 
songs is their metrical grace, and something of their art can 
be seen in the stanzas we have cited. To-day our song metres 
are comparatively few; the stanzas are invariably regular 
and simple in construction. These lyrics range from a 
Spenserian stanza to 

" April is in my mistress' face. 
And July in her eyes hath place: 
Within her bosom is September, 
But in her heart a cold December."^ 

a quatrain which Carew remembered; from Sidney's "The 
Nightingale as soon as April bringeth," with its stanza and 
refrain of thirty-two lines, to the three line 

" Why weeps, alas ! my lady love and mistress .'' 

Sweet-heart, fear not ; what tho' a-while I leave thee ; 
My life may fail, but I will not deceive thee."* 

1 Cox, p. 159. 

2T. OUphant, p. 159. 

3 P. 73. 

4 P. 92. This is a translation from the Italian. 


Fond of a quick beat to the measure, the tripping verses of 
these poets are without that vulgar facility which marks the 
modern song; they can be lively without being cheap. In 
equally sharp contrast to our lyric is the deHght of poets 
and composers for a long, slow line : 

" When thou must home to shades of underground. 
And there arrived, a new admired guest." 

" Though love and all his pleasures are but toys, 
They shorten tedious nights.'' 

" Dear, if you change, I'U never chose again; 

Sweet, if you shrink, I'll never think of love;" 

" I saw my lady weep. 
And Sorrow, proud to be advanced so 
In those fair eyes where all perfections keep." 

They seek new combinations of metre, and gain some of their 
most artistic effects in irregular stanzaic forms. From many 
examples we select but one — a slumber song quite different 
from the sonnet invocations to sleep : 

" Sleep is a reconciling, 

A rest that peace begets: — 
Doth not the sun rise smiling. 
When fair at even he sets ? 

— Rest you, then^ rest, sad eyes ! 
Melt not in weeping ! 
While she lies sleeping 
Softly, now softly lies 

1 Cox, p. 169. For the music of this song, see Jackson's English 
Melodies from the 13th to the 18th Century, p. 60. This valuable book; 
contains the airs for many of the lyrics we have quoted. 


This is the perfection of song writing ; the longer line of the 
first quatrain drops gently into a shorter measure and the 
singer's voice is almost hushed as the verse moves more and 
more quietly: 

" Softly, now softly lies 

The greater part of the poetry in the song books is anony- 
mous, though familiar names — Sidney, Dyer, Lodge, 
Daniel — appear here and there. One song writer, however, 
is well known ; his work contains all the best qualities of these 
lyrics and with a consideration of his verse we shall close our 

Thomas Campion (1567-1620) was a finely educated and 
highly gifted physician whose tastes were literary and musi- 
cal rather than scientific. He published a book of Latin 
epigrams ; he wrote a treatise on English versification ; he 
was the author of a well-known masque ; but to-day he lives 
in his lyrics. He possessed in the highest degree the art of 
writing verse exquisite in workmanship yet perfectly adapted 
for music. In one of his lyrics he wrote 

" Let well-tuned words amaze 
With harmony divine," 

and his rhythms are always beautifully modulated. Moore's 
Irish Melodies have the true singing quality, but they lack 
the surprises, the variety, and the delicate shadings of Cam- 
pion's metres. Where so much is remarkable, selection is 
difficult; he employs many styles and all successfully. In a 
gay mood he writes : 

" I care not for these ladies, 
That must be woo'd and prayed; 
Give me kind Amarillis, 
That wanton country maid ;'' 


from this he turns to a broader melody : 

" Where she her sacred bower adorns, 

The rivers clearly flow; 
The groves and meadows swell with flowers. 

The winds all gently blow. 
Her sun-like beauty shines so fair, 

Her Spring can never fade. 
Who then can blame the life that strives 

To harbour in her shade?" 

He can write in the naive spirit characteristic of so much in 
the song books, using an almost monosyllabic diction: 

" Never love unless you can 
Bear with all the faults of man:" 

at other times he uses a more heightened style and finely 
wrought phrase and writes the line that stirs the imagina- 
tion, as in his most famous song, "When thou must home to 
shades of underground" : 

" Then wilt thou speak of banqueting delights. 
Of masques and revels which sweet youth did make. 
Of tourneys and great challenges of knights. 
And all these triumphs for thy beauty's sake: 
When thou hast told these honours done to thee. 
Then tell, O tell, how thou didst murder me." !^ 

The subject-matter of Campion's lyrics is not always as 
admirable as his style; he gives us the art song rather than 
the lyric of life. There is personal feeling in his religious 
lyrics, "View me, Lord," for example, but as a rule he 
lacks emotional force. We search in vain through aU his 
songs for even an echo of such a poignant cry as "Ae fond 
kiss, and then we sever." 

iSee P. Vivian, Campion's Works, Oxford, 1909, pp. 7, 134, 173, 17. 


We have now considered briefly the chief writers of the 
Elizabethan lyric — their ideas, the emotions they expressed, 
their art — and the question naturally arises, Has this lyric 
of the golden time of song ever been surpassed? Has the 
modern age declined in the lyric as it has in the verse drama ? 
It is always difiicult to compare two ages because writers 
have a way of overlapping the purely artificial boundaries 
of a reign or of a generation; yet we may take as the basis 
of an estimate the lyrical poetry written during the twenty- 
four years between the publication of the Shepherd's Calen- 
dar, 1579, and the death of Elizabeth, 1603, and the modern 
lyrics composed in the twenty-three years between the 
appearance of the Lyrical Ballads, 1798, and the death of 
Keats, 1821. / In every respect save one, the modern lyric 
seems the greater. If some ten of Shakespeare's sonnets are 
unexcelled, the best sonnets of Wordsworth and Keats stand 
by them and surpass the work of the other Elizabethans. 
The modern sonnet has more variety and harmony in its 
music ; it has a greater wealth of observation ; and it is far 
deeper in its interpretation of life. The modem Odes are 
much more significant than those of the Elizabethans ; only 
Spenser's Hymns, and his Prothalamion and Epithalamion 
approach in poetic value and inspiration such typically mod- 
em work as the Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, the 
Ode to the Departing Year, Adonais, and the Ode to a Night- 
ingale, i^ How much more intense are the emotions of our 
modem poets, how much deeper is their outlook upon life! 
Their lyric verse is greater in its philosophy, in its purely 
spiritual content, while its technique is broader and more 
resourceful. The majority of Elizabethan lyrics disclose a 
purely personal mood of joy or sadness; the modern lyric 
shows these moods even more poignantly and in addition has 
what we may call the social mood, studying the thoughts and 
desires of whole peoples. To-day, the world seems to lie at 
the poet's feet. 


In one respect, as we have said, the modern lyric must 
yield to the Elizabethan: its songs lack the melody and 
charm of those of the earlier age. The care-free spirit ; the 
grace, the daintiness of metre ; those touches above the reach 
of art, we can not attain. Our lyric poets think and feel 
too deeply ever to 

" recapture 
The first fine careless rapture." 

This summing up is incomplete because we have not con- 
sidered among the Elizabethans Jonson and Donne. Most 
of Jonson's lyrics were written after Elizabeth's death, yet 
the songs of Donne belong to her reign. Both poets in 
departing from Elizabethan traditions founded new schools 
of lyric verse; it is for this reason that we have chosen to 
discuss them in the following chapter. 


The Jacobean and Caroline Lyric 

Early in the seventeenth century, if a citizen of London 
had been asked who was the foremost English writer, in all 
probability he would have replied, "Ben Jonson" (1573- 
1637). There have been great poets who have worked in 
retirement, who even shunned the life of their times, but 
Jonson was London born and bred. He lived in the open; 
his character was aggressive; his likes and dislikes were 
expressed in no uncertain language ; and even the most un- 
literary must have admired his commanding personality. 
He had won his way to fame by sheer ability allied with 
indefatigable industry. As a boy he had commenced his 
classical studies at Westminster School with the great Cam- 
den as his master (he addressed to him in later years an 
"epigram" full of reverence and gratitude) but apparently 
he was denied the opportunity of studying at Oxford or 
Cambridge. His stepfather, a master builder, desired Jonson 
to follow that trade, but as he told Drummond, he could not 
support it and ran off to the Low Countries to fight.^ Here 
he distinguished himself for his bravery, as he did, on his 
return to England, at the duelling ground ; but he was more 
the disciple of Mercury than Mars, and he soon began his 
literary career as a reviser of old plays. From this humble 
position he rose to the most honored place among the writers 
of his generation. Shakespeare confessed himself to be an 
"unlettered clerk"; Jonson, while deeply engaged in his 
dramas, continued his studies until he had gained the most 

1 Cunningham-GifFord, Works of Ben Jonson, nine volumes, London, 
1875, vol. IX, p. 388. 


extensive knowledge of the classic writers — he ranks with 
Milton, Gray, and Landor in this respect — and the two uni- 
versities in recognition of his scholarship, conferred upon 
him the Master's degree. In the social life of the times he 
played a most prominent part. He was a founder of the 
famous Apollo Club, where gathered the poets and wits, and 
at its meetings he presided over the choicest spirits of his day. 
His admirers, half in jest, half seriously, styled themselves the 
"Sons of Ben," and to be admitted by him to their number 
was no small compHment. Of lowly parentage, he was on 
familiar terms with the chief men of his day — Bacon, Selden, 
the Earl of Newcastle, Lord Falkland ; the list would be a 
long one — and he was an honored guest at the homes of the 
nobility. He was appointed poet laureate ; he became the 
writer of court masques ; his entertainments were the delight 
of the nobility ; and his verses were spoken by the members of 
the Royal household and of the Royal family. It is small 
wonder that the age admired the poet who had worked his 
way from the ranks to such social and literary triumphs. 

For a man of Jonson's temperament, creative work was 
not sufficient ; he was so confident of his own tastes and of 
his own Hterary theories that he wished to impose them on 
others. In his poem to Camden he exclaims 

" What weight, and what authority in thy speech !" 

and this force which he admired in his old teacher, he pos- 
sessed himself. Jonson is the one poet of his time who has 
left us any trenchant criticism of his contemporaries (for 
we may disregard the personalities of literary quarrels) ; the 
sole writer who has stated his literary creed. Though it has 
been shown that many of the criticisms and statements of 
opinion in his Discoveries are literal translations from the 
classics and from the writings of the humanists, yet these 
very passages were made his own simply because they coin- 
cided with his ideas. So far as disclosing Jonson's attitude 


of mind is concerned, they might as well have been written 
by him; it is accordingly no difficult matter to discover his 
theories in regard to the lyric. 

The first point that we notice is Jonson's utter lack of 
sympathy with the chief tendencies of the Elizabethan lyric. 
For many of his views we must rely on his conversations with 
Drummond, hurried, possibly inaccurate notes, taken by the 
Scottish poet whom Jonson had walked north to see. Drum- 
mond's admirations were Jonson's dislikes ; he must have been 
pained by many of his guest's caustic remarks ; and he made 
his notes in no admiring spirit. Would that this Jonson had 
found a Boswell ! "He is a great lover and praiser of him- 
self; a contemner and scomer of others," concludes Drum- 
mond, and he is hardly an impartial witness ; yet though we 
may shade down the tones of his picture, it is evidently true 
in its essentials.'^ We see Jonson, secure in his own opinions, 
turning his back on the acknowledged masters of lyric verse. 
Drummond's conversations were written in 1618, when the 
great vogue of the sonnet had passed, yet it is strange to 
hear that Jonson "cursed Petrarch for redacting verses to 
sonnets ; which he said were like that tyrant's bed, where some 
who were too short were racked; others too long, cut short," 
and that "cross rhymes and stanzas were all forced."^ Jon- 
son's dislike for the sonnet is shown in his first play, Every 
Man in his Humor, acted in 1598. Here he parodies a sonnet 
written by Daniel, and sneers at the form in Matthew, the 
"Town Gull," who asserts, "I am melancholy myself, divers 
times, sir, and then do I no more but take pen and paper, 
presently, and overflow you half a score, or a dozen sonnets 
at a sitting."' When we realize that for Jonson Petrarch 

ip. 416. 

2 P. 370. 

3 Act III, scene i, vol. I, p. 63. In a poem in the Underwoods, vol. 
VIII, p. 398, he alludes jeeringly to a sonnet written on the "lace, laid 
on a smock" and to a madrigal on the Lady Mayoress's "French hood 
and scarlet gown." 


and the whole Italian school meant nothing, we understand 
how radical were his views. 

We have seen that the Elizabethan lyric poets turned 
as eagerly to France as they did to Italy and that they 
"borrowed" prodigally from Marot, Desportes, Du Bellay, 
Ronsard; Jonson, in a poem prefixed to Sylvester's trans- 
lation of Du Bartas, states frankly that his praise is 

" the child of ignorance 
And utter stranger to all air of France."^ 

This was in 1605, and by 1618 Jonson had mastered enough 
French to compare the translation with the original and to 
appreciate Ronsard's odes, yet on the whole we are probably 
justified in accepting Drummond's statement that Jonson 
"neither doth understand French nor ItaKan" ; that is, he 
had no real knowledge of these hteratures.^ In ignoring the 
Renaissance poetry of the continent, Jonson condemned his 
own countrymen who were nourished by it. He could not 
follow the leadership of the men of his time ; he was not 
pleased with Spenser's stanza, nor did Donne's style, the 
opposite extreme, satisfy him. He was not a genius of the 
first order, striking out in new paths ; his studies had made 
him a thoroughgoing classicist; and he sought for his 
models in the poets of Rome. 

It is interesting to compare his strictures on his contem- 
poraries with his whole-hearted praise of the classics. He 
told Drummond that to correct his faults he must study 
Quintilian, and recommended for his reading Horace, Taci- 
tus, Martial, and Juvenal.' He sends to a friend a poetical 
invitation to dinner, and promises him, in addition to the deli- 
cacies of the table, 

1 Vol. VIII, p. 231. 

2 Vol. IX, p. 371. 

3 P. 366. 


" my man 
Shall read a piece of Virgil, Tacitus, 
Livy, or of some better book to us, 
Of which we'll speak our minds, amidst our meat."^ 

On the failure of his New Inn (1629), Jonson wrote one of 
his most vigorous pieces ; to quote his own words, "The just 
indignation the author took at the vulgar censure of his 
play, by some malicious spectators, begat the following Ode 
to himself" : 

" Come leave the loathed stage, 
And the more loathsome age; 
Where pride and impudence in faction knit, 
Usurp the chair of wit !" 

He is thoroughly moved, he is hurt to the quick, and every 
line betrays that he is speaking from his heart. At this 
time, he turns to his classics : 

V " Leave things so prostitute. 

And take the Alcaic lute; 
Or thine own Horace, or Anacreon's lyre; 

Warm thee by Pindar's fire: 
And though thy nerves be shrunk, and blood be cold 
Ere years have made thee old. 
Strike that disdainful heat 
Throughout, to their defeat. 
As curious fools, and envious of thy strain. 
May blushing swear no palsy's in thy brain."^ 

It would be a simple matter to cite passage after passage 
in which Jonson shows that he is a child of Greece and Rome ; 
these will suffice for our purpose. 

1 Vol. VIII, p. 204. 

2 Vol. V, p. 415. 


Jonson turned to the classics because he was satiated 
with the "sugared" sonnet and weary of the rich melodies 
of Elizabethan song. He believed the lyric lacked force and 
to a man of his sturdy disposition, this was a fatal defect. 
"Others there are," he wrote in his Discoveries, "that have 
no composition at all; but a kind of tuning and rhyming 
fall, in what they write. It runs and slides, and only makes a 
sound. Women's poets they are called, as you have women's 
tailors ; 

" They write a verse as smooth, as soft as cream. 
In which there is no torrent, nor scarce stream."' 

He wished a more masculine style ; the delicate graces of the 
song books, the richer tones of the Prothalamion he did not 
desire. Once at least he expressed vigorously a dislike of 
rhyme : 

" Greek was free from rhyme's infection, 
Happy Greek by this protection. 
Was not spoiled."^ 

He might have agreed with Milton in wishing the English 
language freed from "the troublesome bondage of rhyming." 
He desired no lyric outbursts, but a regular, well-ordered, 
sober metre ; accordingly he told Drummond that "couplets" 
were "the bravest sort of verses." In a preface to a song 
book, Morley wrote : "You must in your music be wavering 
like the wind, sometime wanton, sometime drooping, some- 
time grave and staid, otherwhile effeminate .... and 

1 Vol. IX, p. 157. 

2 Vol. VIII, p. 379. 


show the uttermost of your variety, and the more variety 
you show, the better shall you please."' This description of 
Elizabethan music applies equally to Elizabethan metres. In 
place of this fluid verse, Jonson wished a fixed form; the 
lyric structure must be more solid, more compact, with each 
verse well balanced and carefully polished. There are no 
"native wood notes wild" in his songs ; his compositions, says 
Clarendon, who knew him, "were slow and upon deliberation," 
for Jonson possessed "judgment to order and govern fancy, 
rather than excess of fancy. "^ 

If he disapproved of the style of the contemporary 
lyric, he was displeased also with its subject-matter. Many 
of the lyrics are pure music, Httle else ; he wished for more 
substance. He disliked, as he expressed it, "those that 
merely talk and never think" ; he was a moralist, and he was 
not contented as were many of the Elizabethans to enjoy 
the beauty of the world and the pleasures of life. Spenser 
was also a moralist, but he saw the world with the eyes of 
Plato; Jonson, from the standpoint of Horace and Martial. 
How different from the style of Spenser's Hymns is the close- 
knit verse of Jonson's Epode: 

" Not to know vice at all, and keep true state, 
Is virtue and not fate: 
Next to that virtue, is to know vice well. 
And her black spite expel. 

" He that for love of goodness hateth ill. 
Is more crown-worthy still, 
Than he, which for sin's penalty forbears; 
His heart sins, though he fears."' 

1 Cox, p. xl. 

2 Jonson, vol. I, p. ccxxv. 

3 Vol. VIII, p. 363, 265. 


This epigrammatic expression reminds us of the Queen Anne 
poetry, though the polish is not here, and indeed so many 
traits of the English classical school are found in Jonson's 
work that he has been called its founder. 

To illustrate further Jonson's style and thought, we shall 
make one more citation, this time from his Pindaric Ode — 
another example of his classical tastes, for he is the first 
EngHsh writer to imitate the Greek ode with its strophe, 
antistrophe and epode : 

" It is not growing like a tree 

In bulk, doth make men better be; 
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, 
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear: 
A lily of a day 
Is fairer far in May, 
Although it fall and die that night; 
It was the plant and flower of light. 
In small proportions we just beauties see; 
And in short measures, life may perfect be."^ 

If we compare these verses, among the noblest in the lan- 
guage, with the stanza of Spenser's Epithalamion, in which 
he describes the perfections of his bride, "the inward beauty 
of her lively spright," we realize the change that has come 
over EngHsh poetry. 

It was impossible for Jonson to withdraw himself entirely 
from Elizabethan influences and some of his songs are in 
the manner of that age and have the music of the madrigals, 
for example: 

" Slow, slow, fresh fount; keep time with my salt tears: 
Yet slower, yet; O faintly, gentle springs;"^ 

1 Vol. IX, p. 13. 

2 Cynthia's Bevels, produced in 1600, Act I, scene i, vol. II, p. 233. 


or still better, because of its lyric rapture: 

" Have you seen but a bright lily grow. 
Before rude hands have touched it? 
Have you marked but the fall of the snow, 

Before the soil hath smutched it? 
Have you felt the wool of beaver? 

Or swan's down ever? 
Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier? 

Or the nard in the fire? 
Or have tasted the bag of the bee ? 
O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she !"^ 

This, however, is not his customary style; much more char- 
acteristic in its polish and restraint is his 

" Queen and huntress, chaste and fair. 
Now the sun is laid to sleep. 
Seated in thy silver chair. 
State in wonted manner keep: 

Hesperus entreats thy light. 
Goddess excellently bright."^ 

His two best known lyrics show this same finish. "Still to 
be neat," a translation of a poem in the Pancharis of the 
contemporary writer, Jean Bonnefons, has the careful bal- 
ancing, the antithetical manner of Pope: 

" Still to be neat, still to be drest. 

As you were going to a feast ; 
Still to be powdered, still perfumed; 

Lady, it is to be presumed. 
Though art's hid causes are not found. 

All is not sweet, all is not sound."' 

1 This song first appeared in The Devil is an Ass, produced in 1616, 
Act II, scene ii; Jonson afterwards Included it in the Celebration of 
Charis, a series of love poems, in the Elizabethan manner, written when 
he was fifty years of age. 

^Cynthia's Bevels, Act V, scene ili, vol. II, p. 339. 

3 The Silent Woman, produced in 1609, Act I, scene i, vol. Ill, p. 337. 


Every effect is calculated; the thought could not be more 
tersely expressed; and we may well believe Jonson's state- 
ment that hJe wrote his poems in prose before turning them 
into verse. 1 His masterpiece is a triumph of workmanship, 
for "Drink to me only with thine eyes" is based on a few 
scattered phrases in the love letters of the Greek sophist 
Philostratus. \ It is interesting to compare the original with 
the finished song: "Drink to me with thine eyes only — Or, if 
thou wilt, putting the cup to thy lips, fill it with kisses, and 
so bestow it upon me." |If we look at the first stanza, so 
familiar we need not cite it, we find that its two splendid 
lines which Jonson never surpassed: 

" The thirst that from the soul doth rise. 
Doth ask a drink divine,"| 

are not in the Greek.^ The whole poem is one of the most 
remarkable examples in the history of the lyric of the fusion 
of imitative work and pure creation. 

We have not space to mention the rest of Jonson's lyrics. 
His epitaphs are among the finest in the language ; the two 
written for his children have more pathos than all the formal 
elegies of the Elizabethans.^ His four religious lyrics, of 
which the most impressive, because of its feeling, is 

" Good and great God ! can I not think of thee. 
But it must straight my melancholy be.^" 

point the way to Herbert and Herrick.' There are a large 
number of lyrics scattered through his Masques, the Forest, 
and the Underwoods. All of them show his workmanship, 
though few equal his 

1 Vol. VIII, p. 259. See The Academy, December 6, 1884., p. 377. 

2 Pp. 155, 167. 

3 P. 279. 


" O do not wanton with those eyes. 
Lest I be sick with seeing,"^ 

a lyric whose simple, straightforward style reminds us of 
Restoration song at its best. Though Jonson, save in two 
or three instances, never reached the heights attained by 
even the lesser EHzabethan lyrists ; though we may agree 
with Swinburne that "to come so near so often and yet never 
to touch the goal of lyric triumph has never been the for- 
tune and the misfortune of any other poet," we must remem- 
ber, in estimating Jonson's achievement, that he lives in the 
work of his followers as well as in his own verses. To name 
but one instance, the lyrics of Herrick owe, in a great meas- 
ure, their charm, their perfection to the inspiration he re- 
ceived, as he gratefully acknowledged, from his patron 
saint, "Father Ben." 

Jonson informed Drummond that he considered Donne for 
some things the finest poet in the world, and in three sets of 
verses he has recorded, in no qualified terms, his admiration 
for him'.^ He was not alone in his high estimate of Donne's 
genius, for the age lavished its praise upon the poet whose 
influence impressed itself, to an extraordinary degree, upon 
the writings of the time. To-day Donne's poems are never 
imitated; they are not even widely read, for though he has 
his circle of devoted admirers, their number is small. What 
is there in his work that compelled the admiration of his 
contemporaries, that wrought such changes in the lyric ; and 
why is he not, with Sidney and Spenser, with Shakespeare 
and Jonson, a household word to our own time ? 

John Donne (1573-1631) was in turn student, soldier, 

traveller, secretary to the Lord Chancellor, and a penniless 

lawyer subsisting on the bounty of friends and patrons. 

Late in life, at the insistence of King James, he took orders 

and ended a career filled with sickness, poverty, and dis- 

ip. 306. 

2 Pp. 156, 197, 200. 


couragement that dreamed of suicide, as Dean of St. Paul's 
and the greatest preacher of his age. One of the most fas- 
cinating characters in English literature, it is unfortunate 
that with the exception of his hymns, his lyrics do not repre- 
sent the different stages of his development ; they do not 
spring from years of thought and experience, for they are 
sparks struck out in youth by his vigorous nature. Walton 
states that most of them were written before Donne was 
twenty ; Jonson, who knew Donne well, says before he was 
twenty-five. Donne never sent them to the press. They 
were first published a few months after his death, but they 
had long circulated in manuscript, working as great a 
change in English poetry as though they had gone through 
edition after edition. 

The moment we open Donne's lyrics, we find ourselves in 
an unexplored realm. As a rule the young poet follows his 
models until he has attained the difficult art of self-expres- 
sion. Chatterton imitates the ballads ; Keats writes with his 
Spenser before him, but over Donne's pages we might place 
his own line, "To all, which all love, I say no." The age was 
fascinated not only by the emotional force and the uncon- 
ventional thought of his poems, but by their new and strange 
style. In the case of Donne it is peculiarly unsatisfactory 
to consider the style apart from the content of his verse, but 
we shall attempt this and examine first his manner of ex- 
pressing himself. 

We have seen that Elizabethan verse was lyrical in the 
oldest sense of that term, for an astonishingly large number 
of poems were written for music and many that were never 
sung are perfectly adapted for instrumental accompaniment. 
Few of Donne's poems are actually songs ; they are lyrics 
because they arc short, subjective pieces, showing in every 
line the poet's dominating personality. If we do not find 
the lilt of song in most of his work, it is not because song 
was beyond him. He could write, Walton pointed out, verses 


"soft and smooth when he thought them fit and worth his 
labour," as in his adaptation of Marlowe : 

" Come live with me, and be my love. 
And we will some new pleasures prove 
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks. 
With silken lines and silver hooks." 

If this meter seems too facile, we turn to "Go and catch a 
falling star," with a tripping refrain in each stanza : 

" And find 
What wind 
Serves to advance an honest mind," 

or the better known, and far more sincere 

" Sweetest love, I do not go, 
For weariness of thee. 
Nor in hope the world can show 
A fitter love for me."' 

If we could restrict ourselves in the selection, it would be 
possible to show that Donne's work had rare metrical beauty. 
His ear was not defective ; he did not possess an imperfect 
sense of rhythm, for no man can write splendidly again and 
again by sheer accident. He deliberately put aside the popu- 
lar manner of the day and going to the other extreme, wrote 
verses crabbed and unmusical in their movement and dis- 
concerting, to say the least, in their rhymes : 

" Whether abstract, spiritual love they like." 

" For I am a very dead thing." 

" Ends love in this, that my man 
Can be as happy as I can, if he can 
Endure ?"2 

1 E. K. Chambers, Poems of John Donne, Muses' Library, London, 
1896, vol. 1, pp. 47, 4, 16. 
2 Vol. I, pp. 31, 45, 41. 


These are typical examples of harsh rhythm; for slovenly 
rhymes take the triplet : 

" When this book is made thus, 
Should again the ravenous 
Vandals and the Goths invade us."^ 

To select from Donne's poems lines that lack all metrical 
charm, verses as uncouth as Skelton's, is a simple task ; the 
difficulty is to reconcile them with stanzas marked by a rare 
and haunting beauty : 

" Twice or thrice had I loved thee, 

Before I knew thy face or name; 
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame. 
Angels aiFect us oft, and worshipped be." 

" Whoever comes to shroud me, do not harm. 
Nor question much. 
That subtle wreath of hair, which crowns my arm; 
The mystery, the sign you must not touch." 

" I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I 
Did, till we loved.? were we not weaned till then? 
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly? 
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den? 
'Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ; 
If ever any beauty I did see. 
Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee."^ 

The simplest, most familiar metres acquire a new tone at his 
hands : 

" If, as I have, you also do 
Virtue in woman see, 
And dare love that, and say so too. 
And forget the He and She; 

iP. 31. 

2 Pp. 21, 61, 3. 


" And if this love, though placed so, 
From profane men you hide. 
Which will no faith on this bestow. 
Or, if they do, deride; 

" Then you have done a braver thing 
Than all the Worthies did; 
And a braver thence will spring. 
Which is, to keep that hid."^ 

Such work as this unfortunately comprises the smaller part 
of his verse, and taking his poems as a whole, we can readily 
understand Jonson's vigorous remark, that Donne, for not 
keeping accent, deserves hanging. 

There are several reasons we may give to account for his 
unmusical moments. Undoubtedly many of the poems were 
struck off at white heat, and were never revised. All that 
he wished was to express the thought, the emotion of the 
hour. At times, his ideas found perfect expression ; at others, 
language faltered, and instead of deliberating and search- 
ing painfully for the well-made phrase, he was content with 
the first imperfect utterance. Moreover, as we shall see, he 
flouted the ideas of the day, and what more natural than 
that he should dislike the sweetness of Spenser, the grace of 
the song writers, the refinement of Jonson.? There was a 
morbid strain in Donne ; the grotesque appealed strongly to 
him ; and as it affected his thought, it made itself felt in his 
style. We can endure his worst dissonances because at his 
best his verse has a music which no other writer of his day 
could reach. 

Turning to the poems, we find that many of them bear 
the marks of that irregular life he led when he left the uni- 
versity for the town, of wild days whose memories long 
troubled his mind. Several poems are frankly sensual in 
tone, but their cynicism is too much on parade; one detects 

ip. 6. 


in them the swagger of precocious youth delighting to shock 
old-fashioned morality. Donne declares for community in 
love ; boasts of his inconstancy ; and asserts that no true 
woman exists. It would be a mistake to refuse to see in such 
writing the marks of days ill spent, but it is equally a mistake 
to read too much into them or to construct from them, as 
Mr. Gosse has done, a definite tale of dishonorable intrigue. 
To his own times, the boldness of these poems must have 
seemed amazing. The Petrarchian tradition stiU lingered; 
the poets of the age worshipped woman from afar; she was 
a goddess, a saint, or at the very least a shepherdess of sur- 
passing virtue and beauty. Donne writes that women 

" are ours as fruits are ours ; 
He that but tastes, he that devours. 

And he that leaves all, doth as well; 
Changed loves are but changed sorts of meat; 
And when he hath the kernel eat. 

Who doth not fling away the shell ?"^ 

So absurdly cynical are such poems as The Indifferent, Com- 
Tnimity, Confined Love, or Love's Alchemy with its ending 

" Hope not for mind in women; at their best. 
Sweetness and wit they are, but mummy, possess'd," 

that Donne loses the very effect he seeks to gain. 

Had he written in this fashion only, he would never have 
made his impression upon the lyric. Side by side with 
these poems, which explain in part the neglect of Donne 
to-day, are found a sharply contrasted group of lyrics ex- 
pressing in tones of passionate sincerity the deepest affec- 
tion and devotion. This sudden change in his mood may be 
attributed to his meeting with Anne More, whom he married 
in 1601 despite the opposition of her family. This run- 
away match cost him his secretary's position and reduced 

1 Vol. I, p. 33. 


him to utter poverty, yet through years of ambitions un- 
realized and hopes deferred, his devotion to her never fal- 
tered; when she died in 1617, he grieved until his friends 
despaired for his own life. We know that "Sweetest love, 
I do not go," was written for her; we may assume she in- 
spired his finest work. 

Donne was a romanticist at heart. He thought of love 
as a mystic power transcending all boundaries of time and 
space ; it was a union of two spirits forming a new and con- 
trolling soul. To depict such a love he brought all the 
strength of his vigorous intellect, all the emotion of his sen- 
sitive nature ; in celebrating it he departed as widely from 
Elizabethan tradition as when he mocked it. He wastes no 
words in praising a woman's beauty, in comparing her eyes 
to stars, her hair to golden wires : 

" But he who loveliness within 

Hath found, all outward loathes. 
For he who colour loves, and skin. 
Loves but their oldest clothes."'^ 

To the familiar situations of Elizabethan love poetry Donne 
brings his own, never the conventional point of view. The 
Elizabethans uttered bitter complaints on absence from 
their loves ; for Donne there can be no such thing as real 
separation : 

" Dull sublunary lovers' love 

— ^Whose soul is sense — can not admit 
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove 
The thing which elemented it. 

" But we by a love so far refined. 

That ourselves know not what it is. 
Inter-assured of the mind. 

Care less eyes, lips and hands to miss."^ 

IP. 6. 

2 P. 52; cf. p. 54. 


Nothing is commoner in the song books or the sonnet col- 
lections than pictures of a lady weeping ; descriptions of 
beauty in distress with a comparison of tearful eyes to flow- 
ing springs. By his unusual and forceful similes, and by 
the rush of his final apostrophe, Donne completely trans- 
forms this stock theme : 

" O! more than moon. 
Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere; 
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear 
To teach the sea, what it may do too soon."^ 

Though many illustrations of Donne's avoidance of the 
beaten track could easily be given, one more must suffice. 
It was a custom for men of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries to wear bracelets made of their ladies' hair. 
Among the slain at Marston Moor, Sir Charles Lucas recog- 
nized "one cavalier with a bracelet of hair round his wrist. 
He desired the bracelet to be taken off, saying that he knew 
an honourable lady who would give thanks for it."^ Verses on 
these love tokens are common in all languages ; INIelin de 
Saint-Gelais has a poem, Alessandro Gatti a madrigal, both 
in the tone of gallantry, on such a gift. Donne writes of 
one, but disdaining the spirit of trifling compliment, his 
imagination pierces the tomb and sees there a mouldering 
skeleton with "A bracelet of bright hair about the bone." 

Originality is not enough to establish a poet's fame ; it 
may or may not lead to the finest work. With Donne's un- 
conventionality went two rare qualities which our citations 
have illustrated : he stirred the feelings, he awoke the imagi- 
nation by far-reaching suggestion. In Canonization he 
speaks of two lovers "who did the whole world's soul con- 
tract" into their eyes, and Donne could put the heart of a 

1 P. 40. 

2 C. R. Markham, A Life of the great Lord Fairfax, London, 1870, 
p. 174.. 


poem — contract the soul — ^into a single phrase. The Eliza- 
bethans would express in a sonnet what he tells in a line. By 
sheer intellectual force, far removed from mere cleverness, he 
could transform a thought or feeling by expressing it in 
similes startlingly quaint yet apposite. The best of them 
were not sought out with care and calculation; his mind, 
deeply moved, found them instinctively. When Shelley com- 
pares the skylark, hidden in the cloud, to a poet, a maiden, a 
glow worm, a rose, we do not feel that he painfully seeks these 
comparisons, but that his mind naturally overflows in them. 
So with Donne ; every stanza in his Fever embodies a new and 
strange thought: 

" But yet thou canst not die^ I know ; 

To leave this world behind, is death; 
But when thou from this world wilt go, 

The whole world vapours with thy breath. 

" O wrangling schools, that search what fire 

Shall burn this world, had none the wit 
Unto this knowledge to aspire. 

That this her fever might be it?"^ 

This peculiar turn of mind persisted to the end. In the 
Hymn to God, my God, in my sickness, written on his death- 
bed, after a touching and beautiful opening stanza, he com- 
pares himself to a map which his doctors, "grown cosmo- 
graphers," are studying. 

Attempting to discover the secret of Donne's power, the 
age thought it lay in this ability to detect curious analogies. 
This was called "wit," but with our modem notions of the 
meaning of that word, it is strange to read of the "witty 
Donne." Dr. Johnson was more misleading when he applied 
the term "metaphysical" to this trait of Donne's mind.^ 

1 Vol. I, p. 20. 

2 See that lociis classicus, Johnson's Life of Cowley. 


Moved by this poetry and desiring to imitate it, the men of 
the day seized upon "wit" as the one thing needful. At 
times they partially caught Donne's manner ; his spirit 
escaped them. Through all the ingenuity of Donne's 
thought, we feel the glow of emotion. The Fever ends with 
this passionate declaration : 

" Yet 'twas of my mind, seizing thee, 

Though it in thee can not persever ; 
For I had rather owner be 

Of thee one hour, than all else ever." 

It is small wonder that such writing changed the whole 
spirit of the lyric. 


It must not be presumed that all the lyrists of this age 
were followers of either Donne or Jonson; as a rule, they 
showed traces of their influence, but we may name two poets, 
whose writings extended over this period, and yet were 
Elizabethan in their spirit. William Browne (1591-1645), 
a student at Oxford and the Inner Temple, a friend of Dray- 
ton and Jonson, passed his life quietly in the country and 
his poetry is as peaceful as was his career. He had a gentle 
fancy; a genuine love for nature (his descriptions of a 
"musical concert of birds" in the third song of Britannia's 
Pastorals, his chief work, is a most delightful bit of writ- 
ing) ; but he adds nothing to the development of the lyric.'' 
Skelton, of whom he speaks slightingly, had a decided indi- 
viduality ; Browne is content to be a humble imitator of Spen- 
ser, writing with his eye on the Visions, the Shepherds Cal- 
endar, and the Faerie Queene, but never catching either the 

1 Gordon Goodwin, The Poems of William Browne, Muses Library, 
London, 1894, vol. I, p. 89. 


color or the music of his model. He had but little of the 
song spirit ; his "Steer, hither steer your winged pines," 
and "Now that the Spring hath filled our veins," are well writ- 
ten but in no respect remarkable.^ He has caught the lilt 
of the song books in 

" For her gait if she be walking. 
Be she sitting I desire her 
For her state's sake, and admire her 
For her wit if she be talking. 

Gait and state and wit approve her; 

For which all and each I love her."^ 

He will be remembered for one poem, the first half of his 
epitaph on "Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother." He has 
won immortality by six lines, and in these well-known verses 
we may see the influence of the epitaphs of Jonson, who was 
long considered the author of this httle masterpiece. 

One of Browne's warmest friends was George Wither 
(1588-1667), a writer who shared with Quarles the doubtful 
honor of being the favorite poet of the unlettered multitude. 
In the fourth eclogue of the Shepherd's Hunting, in which 
he introduces William Browne, he says of himself that he is 
one of those 

" Who at twice-ten have sung more 
Than some will do at fourscore," 

and he is indeed a most voluminous writer, but unfortu- 
nately his good work was over by the time he was thirty — he 
should have had the grace to die then — and he degenerated 
into a writer of doggerel. In Fair Virtue, composed in 1612, 
but published ten years later, and in the Shepherd's Hrnit- 

1 Vol. II, pp. 170, 213. 

2 P. 226. 

3 1 have discussed the question of Browne's authorship in the 
AthencBUm, August 11, 1906. 


ing we see him at his best. In the songs included in these 
poems, and in their lyrical passages, his verse moves lightly 
and harmoniously ; it is unaffected, simple, and so sponta- 
neous that it seems improvisation. He had, unfortunately, 
the fatal gift of fluency ; even his best work is improved by 
condensation. Could he have learned from Jonson the art 
of self-restraint, he would have stood with the best lyrists 
of the age. He was an idealist ; he had the poet's vision, an 
enthusiasm for verse, that remind us of the greater Eliza- 
bethans. His light-heartedness, which instantly attracts us, 
even unhappy love can not destroy; we see it in two of his 
best lyrics : 

" Many a merry meeting 

My love and I have had; 
She was my only sweeting. 

She made m^y heart full glad; 
The tears stood in her eyes 

Like to the morning dew; 
But now, alas ! sh'as left me, 

Falero, lero, loo !" 

The second one we need not cite, for 

" Shall I wasting in despair 
Die because a woman's fair.' 

which struck the fancy of Wither's age and called forth 
nearly as many replies and imitations as Raleigh's Lie, has 
retained its popularity to this day. 

We now come to a group of lyric poets who are closely 
connected with Charles I and his court. With all his pedan- 
try, James I had an appreciation of poetry, and he even 
tried his own hand at verse composition, with sad results. 
In Henry Glapthorne's White Hall (1642), we have five and 
a half pages given to a eulogy of the Elizabethan era — the 


glories of the Queen's court, the defeat of the Armada, the 
bravery of Drake and Essex, but not a hne devoted to the 
Elizabethan poets. Coming to James's reign, we are told 

" The Muses then did flourish, and upon 
My pleasant mounts planted their Helicon. 
Then that great wonder of the knowing age, 
Whose very name merits the amplest page 
In Fame's fair book, admired Jonson stood 
Up to the chin in the Pierian flood. 
Quaffing crowned bowls of Nectar, with his bays 
Growing about his temples ; chanting lays 
Such as were fit for such a sacred ear 
As his majestic Master's was, to hear. 
Whom he so often pleased with (those mighty tasks 
Of wit and judgment) his well laboured masks." 

Charles was not only a greater lover of poetry than was his 
father, but he was highly endowed with artistic tastes and 
gifts ; he said that he could have earned his livelihood at any 
of the arts except tapestry making. He was extremely fond 
of music and could play on the viola da gamba, the prototype 
of the modem violoncello. In sculpture and painting he had 
the reputation of being the finest connoisseur in Europe, and 
his love of the fine arts is strikingly shown, not only in the 
many portraits of himself and of the royal family which he 
commissioned Van Dyck to make, but by the superb collection 
of pictures which he purchased, and which the Puritans, in 
their ignorance, sold for a few pounds. It was the ambition 
of Charles to make the English court famous in art and let- 
ters ; the banqueting room of Whitehall was to have been 
the most magnificent in all Europe, for Van Dyck was to have 
decorated it at an expense of eighty thousand pounds. Per- 
fectly versed in modern languages, Charles was well ac- 
quainted with the French and Italian writers, and showed 
the soundness of his literary tastes by his admiration for 


Shakespeare and Spenser. If we add to all this the fact that 
Charles was of a romantic temperament, as his runaway 
journey to see the Spanish Infanta startlingly shows (we 
wonder why the historical novelist has overlooked this excit- 
ing episode), it is quite natural that his court attracted and 
inspired many a lyric poet. 

Thomas Carew (1594-1639) studied at Oxford, had a 
brief diplomatic career in Italy and at Paris, and was finally 
made by Charles a gentleman of the bed-chamber. He be- 
came a brilUant figure in court circles of which he was the 
laureate, and though his poems were not pubhshed until after 
his death, they were well known and made him honored for 
his "delicate wit and poetic fancy." We are not surprised 
when we read of him that he "pleased the ladies with his 
courtly Muse." 

The moment we open Carew's poems, we see in his first 
lines, the Spring, an epitome of all his work.'^ In their de- 
scriptive poems, especially of nature, the Elizabethans rev- 
elled in a wealth of detail; here we have a complete picture 
in twelve highly wrought couplets. It is art rather than 
nature that we find in such verses as : 

" Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost 
Her snow-white robes ; and now no more the frost 
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream 
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream." 

Where the Elizabethans had passion, or at least deep senti- 
ment, we have gallantry : 

" Now all things smile; only my love doth lower, 
Nor hath the scalding noon-day sun the power 
To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold 
Her heart congealed, and makes her pity cold." 

1 Arthur \'incent, Poems of Thomas Carew, Muses' Library, London, 
1899, p. 1. 


In place of high, Sidneyan devotion, we have compliment 
expressed with epigrammatic point: 

" Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep 
Under a sycamore, and all things keep 

Time with the season : only she doth carry 
June in her eyes, in her heart January.'' 

If we may speak of two schools of lyric verse — the school 
of Jonson and of Donne — we find that Carew is a son of Ben. 
With all his age, he had a deep admiration for Donne, whom 
he considered not only greater than Virgil and Tasso, but 
"worth all that went before." His elegy upon him is no con- 
ventional expression of mourning ; it shows a very clear per- 
ception of Donne's genius, of his effect on English poetry, 
and it is not often that contemporary criticism is so just in 
its appreciation."^ We find in Carew's poems many verbal 
reminiscences of Donne, faint echoes of his lines : 

" Then though our bodies are disjoined, 

As things that are to place confined, 

Yet let our boundless spirits meet. 

And in love's sphere each other greet;" 

" This silken wreath, which circles in mine arm. 

Is but an emblem of that mystic charm 

Wherewith the magic of your beauties binds 

My captive soul," 

but Donne's imagination, his intensity of emotion is not re- 
flected even faintly in the poem which ends in antithesis and 
epigram : 

" That knot your virtue tied ; this, but your hands ; 
That, Nature framed ; but this was made by art ; 
This makes my arm your prisoner; that, my heart."^ 

1 Pp. 104, 100. 

2 Pp. 29, 39. 


The last line, though much less effective, reminds us of 

" They strike mine eyes, but not my heart." 

If we wish to measure the diiference that separates Donne 
from Carew, we have only to compare the former's Fever 
with Carew's Song to his mistress "she burning in a fever."^ 
Carew had but little of Donne's "wit," and he can not be said 
to have caught his manner in such poems as the one on "A 
fly that flew into my mistress' eye," and which, playing about 
Celia's cheek 

" Sucked all the incense and the spice. 
And grew a bird of paradise. 
At last into her eye she flew, 
There, scorched in flames and drowned in dew. 
Like Phaethon from the sun's sphere, 
She fell," 

or the Looking Glass 

" whose smooth face wears 
Your shadow, which a sun appears, 
Was once a river of my tears. 

" About your cold heart they did make 
A circle, where the briny lake 
Congealed into a crystal cake."^ 

It is as an artist that Carew lives ; his poems are "neat and 
polished," to use his own phrase, and even the most trivial 
are written with a care that provoked the ridicule of Suck- 

ip. 47. 

2 Pp. 53, 35. 


" Tom Carew was next, but he had a fault 
That would not well stand with a laureat; 
His muse was hide-bound, and th' issue of's brain 
Was seldom brought forth but with trouble and pain."^ 

This is Carew's chief virtue, for lacking inspiration, he did 
not simulate passion but was content to perfect his style, 
charming the ear by a well-balanced line, by a delicate modu- 
lation in the metre. 

" Thy laboured works shall live, when Time devours 
Th' abortive oflPspring of their hasty hours," 

he wrote to Jonson, defending him from his detractors, and 
there are no hasty moments in Carew's writings.^ He does 
not paint on a large canvas, but offers us miniatures ; every 
stroke is well considered ; every simile is beautifully wrought, 
as in the picture of the pilgrim drinking at the spring in his 
Good Coimcil to a young Maid. The old fire has gone and 
moderation takes its place. Carew is urged to write an elegy 
on Gustavus Adolphus, but he knows his own limitations and 
replies : 

" Alas ! how may 
My lyric feet, that of the smooth soft way 
Of love and beauty only know the tread 
In dancing paces, celebrate the dead 
Victorious King."^ 

Not only in his style but in his thought does Carew show 
the change that has taken place in lyric poetry. Graceful 
compliment is his prevailing tone ; he never strikes deep. 

^A Session of the Poets. 

2 Carew, p. 91. 

3 P. 104. 


Carpe diem is his motto, yet the passing of beauty awakens 
in him real sadness : 

" But if your beauties once decay, 
You never know a second May. 


Spend not in vain your life's short hour 
But crop in time your beauty's flower. 
Which will away, and doth together 
Both bud and fade, both blow and wither."^ 

His epitaphs, which bear the marks of Jonson's influence, are 
more remarkable for their polish than for their pathos. In 
his love poems, I find it diiBcult to discover the "sincere and 
tender passion" which Mr. Gosse attributes to them. 

" Give me more love or more disdain; 

The torrid or the frozen zone 
Bring equal ease unto my pain, 

The temperate affords me none: 
Either extreme of love or hate. 
Is sweeter than a calm estate," 

writes Carew, but there is nothing of the old fervor of the 
sonneteers in his songs. Sidney's Muse "tempers her words 
to trampling horses feet" ; Carew's, to a "chamber melody," 
or to use his own phrase, to the "sweet airs of our tuned 
violins."^ His poems are the love songs of the court, sere- 

" which the starved lover sings 
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain." 

The old idealism has disappeared ; too often Carew's profli- 
gate life is reflected in his verses, and though he praises, 
"gentle thoughts and calm desires," though he writes 

ip. 4. 

2 Carew, pp. 16, 107. 


" But as you are divine in outward view, 
So be within, as fair, as good, as true,"^ 

his mistress is not, as was Wither's, Fair Virtue. 

We have contrasted Carew's spirit with that of the Eliza- 
bethans ; in his two best lyrics their spirit is reflected, for 
they are Caroline in style, Elizabethan in their sentiment. 
The first two stanzas of "He that loves a rosy cheek" are 
worthy of the best traditions of Elizabethan song; the con- 
cluding stanza, utterly conventional, written in a different 
metre — it seems to be a most unhappy afterthought — is 
generally omitted in anthologies. Carew's masterpiece rises 
beyond his mood of gallantry ; its music is richer, its feeling 
deeper, and in its charm and grace we forget the courtier 
and hear only the poet: 

" Ask me no more where Jove bestows. 
When June is past, the fading rose; 
For in your beauty's orient deep 
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep. 

" Ask me no more whither do stray 
The golden atoms of the day; 
For in pure love heaven did prepare 
Those powders to enrich your hair. 

" Ask me no more if east or west 
The phcEnix builds her spicy nest; 
For unto you at last she flies. 
And in your fragrant bosom dies."^ 

One of Carew's intimate friends at court was Sir John 
Suckling (1609-1642). He studied at Cambridge, where he 
was known as "a polite but not a deep scholar"; travelled 

1 Ibid., p. 136. 

2 P. 141. The popularity of this poem is shown by the fact that 
it was turned into a political song. See A Collection of Royal Songs 
written against the Rump Parliament, London, 1731, vol. I, p. 41. See 
also the imitations and answers in the reprint of Musarum Deliciw. Wit 
Restored, etc., London, N. D., vol. I, pp. 239-334. 


abroad for three years; and joined the forty English gentle- 
men volunteers who fought under Gustavus Adolphus. In 
1632 he returned to Whitehall, where his gaiety, his wit, and 
his lavish expenditures made him a favorite. He was a spend- 
thrift ; he squandered his fortune ; and to repair his losses, 
became a reckless gambler, the gossip of the day asserting 
that he stooped to dishonorable methods to win. Certain it 
is that his court Hfe ruined him. For the Scottish expedi- 
tion he raised a company of one hundred horse, gorgeously 
equipped at his own costs, but its career was brief and in- 
glorious. Henrietta Maria admired Suckling — he had much 
of the Gallic brilHancy — and at her instigation he engaged 
in a plot to rescue Straiford from the Tower, but his plans 
were discovered and he fled to Paris, where he died in pov- 
erty and obscurity. The Puritans did their best to blacken 
his memory; in the anonymous News from Rome (1641), we 
are told that he had plotted to restore Catholicism. The 
Pope, speaking of Englishmen, declares : 

" But some there are who to me faithful were, 
But they are gone, th' are fled I know not where; 
My Goldfinch, Windebanke, my Suckling young, 
Who could so well pray in our Roman tongue; 
Are gone for fear of chiding; O they would 
Have elevated me, if that they could." 

Suckling's poems, as Carew's, were published post- 
humously ; unlike Carew's, many of them bear the evident 
marks of hasty composition. If we accept Suckhng's own 
assertion, he had little regard for the art of writing, for 
"he loved not the Muses so well as his sport," yet we feel in 
reading him that he never showed the better side of his 
nature ; that he was more thoughtful and sincere than he 
appears in his verses.'' That the finest writing appealed to 

1 A. H. Thompson, The Works of Sir John Suckling, London, 1910, 
p. 11. 


him is shown by his preference for Shakespeare. He is one 
of the few men of that age who repeatedly expresses an 
admiration for him ; he imitates him in his plays, writes sup- 
plementary verses for Lucrece, refers to him in a letter as 
"my friend, Mr. William Shakespeare," and is painted by 
Van Dyck, holding a copy of the plays in his hand.^ He 
knew Donne's poems, for certain of his phrases reappear in 
his own verses, and he has parodied Jonson's "Have you seen 
but a bright lily grow." He was then well acquainted with 
the work of the masters of lyric verse, yet he is not content 
to imitate them, but seeks a style of his own. 

In A Session of the Poets SuckUng declares that "A Laure- 
at Muse should be easy and free"; he speaks admiringly of 
"gentle Shakespeare's easier strain," in another place. It 
is evident that his aim in verse was to appear straight- 
forward, unaffected, and even careless. He would have 
deemed it an honor to be called one of the "mob of gentle- 
men who wrote with ease." His lyric Muse was not to be 
wooed but to be jested with; nothing must smeU of the lamp, 
every verse must have the light, careless tone of improvi- 
sation. With such a method, if we may use so dignified a 
term, he naturally cared little for the point and polish of 
Carew. At times Suckling descends to epigram : 

" Women enjoyed (whate'er before th' have been) 
Are like romances read, or sights once seen: 
Fruition's dull, and spoils the play much more 
Than if one read or knew the plot before. 
'Tis expectation makes a blessing dear; 
Heaven were not heaven, if we knew what it were."^ 

This has the tone of the Augustan school, but such Hues are 
not characteristic. His metres are the simplest, and if a 
verse were rough, or a rhyme false, it did not disturb him. 

1 Pp. 24, 332. 

2 p. 18. 


As for "poetic diction," he scorned it. He adopted the con- 
\ersational tone, and his language is that of everyday life, 
almost monosyllabic in its simplicity : 

" I prithee send me back my heart, 
Since I cannot have thine: 
For if from yours you will not part, 

Why then shouldst thou have mine? 

" But love is such a mystery, 
I cannot find it out: 
For when I think I'm best resolved, 
I then am in most doubt. 

" Then farewell care, and farewell woe, 
I will no longer pine: 
For I'll believe I have her heart 
As much as she hath mine."' 

In Congreve's Way of the World, Millimant, after repeating 

" I prithee spare me, gentle boy; 
Press me no more for that slight toy. 
That foolish trifle of an heart," 

exclaims "Natural, easy Suckling." He would have desired 
no higher praise. 

His songs, set to music by Henry Lawes, are almost en- 
tirely love poems, quite different in spirit from the lyrics of 
the Elizabethans or from those of his friend Carew. Pope's 
line altered to "Love is a jest, and all things show it" might 
well be the motto for these light-hearted effusions, too trifling 
in their tone to be contemptuous or even cynical. The son- 
neteers loved to display their griefs ; Suckling informs the 
"whining lover" that compared to his sufferings, "A finger 

1 P. 49. 


burnt's as great a pain." Love is troublesome, but so are 
debts : 

" 'Tis only being in love and debt that breaks us of our rest ; 
And he that is quite out of both, of all the world is blest." 

There is no lover's melancholy in the moods of this poet ; he 
haunts no "fall of fountains on a pathless grove," but is sat- 
isfied with Blackfrairs and Whitehall. He never rises hun- 
gry from the table from "much gazing on her face," as he 
declares in a poem with the characteristic refrain : 

" She's fair, she's wondrous fair. 
But I care not who know it. 
Ere I'll die for love, I'll fairly forego it." 

The Elizabethans protested eternal devotion; three days' 
constancy is a miracle of faithfulness to Suckling: 

" Out upon it ! I have loved 

Three whole days together. 
And am like to love three more. 
If it prove fair weather."^ 

His chief maxim in love is that fruition spoils all; admire at 
a distance and care little; the very essence of his spirit is 
contained in "Why so pale and wan, fond lover." 

More distinctly than Carew, Suckling points to the 
Restoration lyric ; he foretells the "town" in his mention of 
patches, masks and hackney coaches; his wit, too, is not the 
wit of Donne, for he has much of our modern humor: 

" The little boy, to show his might and power. 
Turned lo to a cow, Narcissus to a flower; 
Transformed Apollo to a homely swain. 
And Jove himself into a golden rain. 
Such shapes were tolerable, but by th' mass! 
He's metamorphosed me Into an ass."^ 

1 Pp. 23, 48, 47, 45. 

2 P. 62. 


Modern also are the little humorous touches in his master- 
piece, The Ballad upon a Wedding, which portrays in a few 
strokes the point of view of a country yokel: the ring too 
large for the bride's finger, looking 

" Like the great collar (just) 
About our young colt's neck ;" 

the comparison of the red and white of the bride's face to the 
daisy or the streaks 

" Such as are on a Katherne pear 

(The side that's next the sun)."' 

There is more dramatic characterization in these few stanzas 
than in all his three plays. 

We have said that SuckHng concealed beneath his jesting 
a finer nature than the world granted to him ; we see the 
deeper side of his character in 

" When, dearest, I but think of thee, 
Methinks all things that lovely be 
Are present, and my soul delighted:"^ 

a poem written with unmistakable feeling and expressing not 
the gallantry of Carew but a manly devotion. The world 
remembers him only as a wit and a trifler, the author of 
"The Devil take her" ; he openly slighted the Muse and this 
is the retribution of such a rash contempt. 

Richard Lovelace (1618-1658) studied at Oxford; fol- 
lowed the King in the unfortunate Scottish expeditions of 
1639 and 1640; and prominently identified himself with the 
Royalists by presenting to Parliament in 1642 the Kentish 

IP. 30. This poem won instant popularity; it constantly appears in 
the verse collections and song books of the Restoration. Robert Baron 
has an interesting adaptation of it in his Pocula Castalia, 1650, pp. 66-72. 
He was a, warm admirer of Suckling and has two epigrams on "the 
sweetest plant in the Pierian green." 

2 P. 67. 


petition, praying for the restoration of the Bishops, Liturgy, 
and Prayer Book. For this act he was imprisoned in the 
Gate. House seven weeks, a fortunate punishment, for it led 
him to compose To Althea from Prison. On his release, he 
followed the fortunes of the King; took refuge on the conti- 
nent, where he fought in the service of Louis XIV; and re- 
turning to England, was again imprisoned in 164!8. To 
beguile the tedium of captivity he prepared his poems 
for publication, and they were issued under the title of 
Lucasta in 164!9. He was released this same year; he had 
given everything to the royal cause; and he died in poverty 
if not in actual want, in 1659. From these simple facts of 
the poet's life, it is difficult to understand the admiration he 
inspired in his contemporaries. His character did not find 
adequate expression, for he was neither a distinguished sol- 
dier nor a great poet. Winstanley, writing a quarter of a 
century after Lovelace's death, pays an exaggerated tribute 
to him, yet it shows the judgment of his generation: "I can 
compare no man so like this Colonel Lovelace as Sir Philip 
Sidney .... both of them endued with transcendent sparks of 
poetic fire, and both of them exposing their lives to the ex- 
tremest hazard of doubtful war."' 

As a lyric poet, Lovelace is singularly disappointing. He 
has won immortality with two songs, whose note is not heard 
again in all his writings. The two poems to Lucasta entitled 
Going beyond the Seas and The Rose, are well-written lyrics ; 
they stand out above the rest of his work, but they have no 
touch of that nobility of feeling which distinguishes "Tell me 
not, sweet," or "When Love with unconfined wings. "^ Like 
Suckling, he cared nothing for the painful process of revision ; 
he is satisfied with such lines as "Thou thee that's thine dost 
discipline," but unlike Suckling, he can not assume a degage 

1 Lives of the moat famous English Poets, London, 1687, p. 170. 

2 The Poems of Richard Lovelace, Hutchinson's Popular Classics, 
London, 1906, pp. 17, 33, 18, 69. 


air which persuades the reader to overlook defects of work- 
manship. Apparently Lovelace lacked the critical sense; 
he could not separate the good from the bad in his writing. 
Amyntor' s Grove is utterly conventional and uninteresting, 
yet we find in it delicate and musical verses, which removed 
from their context, might have lived; in a verse epistle to 
The Lady A. L. occur lines, which printed alone, would form 
a graceful lyric, but in their context they are forgotten. 
Lacking Jonson's art, Lovelace is attracted by the wit of 
Donne, but his conceits are trivial. The patch on Lucasta's 
face is a bee seeking honey ; the poet's heart is a ball for 
Cupid ; the snail is an "epitome of Euclid," a warlike 
Scythian moving his men and cities, a hooded monk walking 
in his cloister — a quaint conceit which partially atones for 
the insipidity of the others. It can not be said then that 
Lovelace is identified with any school ; he is a transitional 
writer and if we have a faint reminiscence of Donne's method, 
we have an anticipation of Dorset or Sedley in such a stanza 

" Oh, she is constant as the wind 

That revels in an evening's air ! 
Certain, as ways unto the blind, 

More real than her flatteries are ; 
Gentle, as chains that honour bind, 

More faithful than an Hebrew Jew, 
But as the Devil not half so true."' 

One trait of Lovelace that points to later writers is his ob- 
servation of animal Hfe ; he watches with interest the ant, the 
grasshopper, the falcon, for Lovelace was not a courtier but 
a country gentleman. There is quiet humor in his address 
to the "great good husband, little ant" : 

" Down with thy double load of that one grain ; 
It is a grainery for all thy train." 

1 P. 86 ; cf . The Scrutiny, p. 25. 

Better still is his grasshopper that swings 

" upon the waving hair 
Of some well filled oaten beard, 
Drunk every night with a delicious tear 

Dropt thee from Heaven, where now th'art reared."' 

The tone of these poems recalls the fieldmouse of Robert 

In his two best lyrics, Lovelace has caught the finest spirit 
of EHzabethan chivalry. "TeU me not, sweet," is the better 
known, because of its concluding stanza, but it is not the 
better poem. Though it is an ungracious task to criticise 
an acknowledged classic, if we look critically at the second 
stanza we find that its wit — 

" True ; a new mistress now I chase, 
The first foe in the field;" — • 

seems a little out of place, and unworthy of the rest of the 
song. To Althea is a more sustained piece of writing ; it has 
a broader sweep: 

" When (like committed linnets) I 

With shriller throat shall sing 
The sweetness, mercy, majesty. 

And glories of my King; 
When I shall voice aloud how good 

He is, how great should be. 
Enlarged winds that curl the flood 

Know no such liberty." 

Such a stanza contains the very essence of that unswerving 
loyalty which the Stuarts were destined to inspire. For 
more than a century that devotion found expression in the 
finest political lyrics that any literature possesses ; the humor 

1 Pp. 125, 35. 


and pathos, the tenderness, the enthusiasm, the spirit of dar- 
ing that animates these Jacobite songs won many a follower 
to a desperate cause and their effect on the modern lyric has 
been no small one. Scott and Burns owe some of their finest 
stanzas to the forgotten writers of these deeply felt poems. 

LoweU, who constantly showed towards the lesser poets a 
certain lofty impatience, has characterized Lucasta as "dirt 
and dullness." The first charge is unfair, for Lovelace is 
free from the sensual taint that mars Carew's poems ; on the 
other hand, it must be admitted that many of his poems are 
wearisome reading. There is no half way point in his writ- 
ings ; he reaches the two extremes, and in the greater part 
of his book the worse prevails. Ten lyrics, at the most, are 
worthy of remembrance ; it is a small number, yet two of 
these are the finest expression in our language of the love, 
honor, and loyalty of the Cavaliers. 

We may consider at this point a group of minor poets, 
who were outspoken Royalists. William Cartwright (1611- 
1643) and Henry King (1592-1669), Bishop of Chichester, 
enjoyed in their day a considerable reputation, yet they are 
by no means inspired writers and their few lyrics need not 
detain us.' Alexander Brome (1620-1666) had three themes 
— love, loyalty, and above all, wine. His songs, written 
to be sung in the tavern or the camp, have small literary 
merit, but their lively stj'le made them popular. His love 
poems, of whicli the Resolve is the best, adopt the attitude 
of Suckling, for Brome imitates him freely. He is indeed 
the laureate of wine ; he sings the praises of claret and 
canary, sack and ale in no uncertain tones ; and even in his 
Ro3'alist lyrics he seems ready to lay aside the sword for the 
bottle. The Cavalier in prison consoles himself readily: 

1 Cartwright's best poem, Valediction, is not included in the Oxford 
Book of English Verse which prints King's touching elegy upon his wife, 
one of the sincerest poems of the age. There is need of a new edition of 


" Come pass about the bowl to me, 

A health to our distressed King; 
Though we're in hold, let cups go free, 
Birds in a cage may freely sing."^ 

Perhaps the most attractive feature of these poems is their 
recklessness. Without a doubt they inspired devotion for the 
Stuarts, and Isaac Walton tells us in an "humble Eglog" 
that these are the songs 

" that we 
Have sung so oft and merilie. 
As we have marched to fight the cause 
Of God's annointed, and our laws." 

War songs are seldom effective in proportion to their literary 
merit .^ 

A much more important figure is John Cleveland (1613- 
1658), fellow of St. Johns, Cambridge, and for "about the 
space of nine years, the delight and ornament of that 
society." Driven from his college by the Puritans, he fol- 
lowed the King, fighting valiantly with his pen. His satire. 
The Rebel Scot, was one of the most effective blows struck 
by either side. 

Cleveland's poems on Jonson express the warmest admira- 
tion, but he was attracted by the satiric rather than by the 
lyric element in the elder poet's work. He attacks more 
often than he sings. In his descriptive poems and in his 
satires he adopts the "metaphysical" manner; in his few 
lyrics — none are included in such anthologies as Palgrave's 
Golden Treasury or the Oxford Book of English Verse — 
he shows more vivacity than "wit." Th€ General Eclipse 

lA. Brome, Songs and other Poems, third edition, 1668, p. 50. 

2 If any proof of this statement Is needed, it is only necessary to 
remember tiiat the doggerel, "When the King shall enj oy his own again," 
was the most popular song of the age. Ritson called it the most famous 
song of any time or country. 


is an interesting parody on Wotton's best lyric, "Ye meaner 
beauties of the night" ; Mark Antony, with its good opening: 

" When as the nightingale chanted her vespers 

And the wild forester couched on the ground," 

has a lilt that foretells the Restoration song books and 

" First on her cherry cheeks I mine eyes feasted. 
Thence fear of surfeiting made me retire; 
Next on her warmer lips, which, when I tasted. 
My duller spirits made active as fire. 
Then we began to dart. 
Each at another's heart, 
Arrows that knew no smart, 
Sweet lips and smiles between. 
Never Mark Antony 
Dallied more wantonly 
With the fair Egyptian Queen."^ 

We leave the minor poetry of the period with a brief notice 
of two other well-known writers. Thomas Randolph (1605- 
1635) was in residence at Cambridge until 1632, when he 
forsook the university for London, attracted by the pleas- 
ures of the town and by the reigning poets, especially Jonson. 
He enjoyed life too recklessly and died before he had justi- 
fied his reputation as a highly gifted and brilliant writer. 
He lives in a single lyric, his delightful Ode to Master Staf- 
ford to hasten Him into the Country, one of the best poems 
on pastoral life written during this whole century. Randolph 
is tired with "the chargeable noise of this great town," weary 
of foppery and the war of wits : 

" 'Tis time that I grow wise, when all the world grows mad," 

iJohn M. Berdan, The Poems of John Cleveland, New Haven, 1911, 
pp. 158, 103. 


he cries, and so he spurs away to see "old simplicity," to 
watch "the wholesome country girls make hay," and to hear 
the choir of birds. There is nothing conventional in such 
writing; every verse rings true. 

Thomas Stanley (1625-1678) wrote many songs; over 
eighty of them were given a musical setting by John Gamble 
in his Ayres and Dialogues, 1657, who finds that they possess 
"flowing and natural graces" for the words are "pure har- 
mony in themselves." Though correctly written, these lyrics 
lack the inward touch; they are of the school of Carew, yet 
have neither his charm nor sentiment. With Donne, Stanley 
writes of a bracelet of hair, "This mystic wreath which crowns 
my arm," but his verses are merely a formal compHment. At 
his best he has something of Jonson's simple, direct style in 
the Relapse, or in the song: 

" I prithee let my heart alone ! 

Since now 'tis raised above thee: 
Not all the beauty thou dost own 
Again can make me love thee."' 


The greatest of Jonson's sons was Robert Herrick (1591- 
1674), in turn a goldsmith's apprentice, a student at Cam- 
bridge, a poet at London dependent on the patronage of 
courtiers, a chaplain to Buckingham's expedition to the Isle 
of Rhe, and finally a country parson, vicar of Dean Prior, 
Devonshire. He was a Royalist at heart ; in several poems he 
expresses attachment to the King and his cause, yet he 
mourns over the troubled times principally because they are 
untunable and unfit for song. After nineteen years at Dean 
Prior, he was ejected by the Puritans in 1648, and returning 
to London, brought out that same year his Hesperides. In 
1662 he was restored to his vicarage, where he died in 1674, 

1 L. I. Guiney, Thomas Stanley, Hull, 1907, p. 65. 


the year of Milton's death. He pubHshed but one poem, and 
that a poor one, after the appearance of the Hesperides} 

In a previous chapter, we spoke of the neglect that over- 
took Shakespeare's sonnets ; the Hesperides had even a harder 
fate. Quite contrary to the custom of the day, they were 
published without any commendatory verses. Though Her- 
rick was a son of Ben and addresses him most famiharly, 
Jonson never mentions his name ; he is not included in Suck- 
hng's Session of the Poets, and the earliest allusion to the 
Hesperides, a Latin couplet prefixed to Lucasta, actually 
ranks Lovelace with Herrick. Three lines in the Mmarum 
Delicice (1656) ; a really appreciative stanza in Naps upon 
Parnassus (1658) f a ridiculously patronizing reference in 
Phillips's Theatrum Pcetarum Anglorum (1675) is all that 
we hear of Herrick until 1796, when some articles concerning 
him appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine. To show how 
completely he had been forgotten, when Giles Jacobs brought 
out in 1723 his Poetical Register, or Lives of all the English 
Poets, though he was assisted by Congreve, "the celebrated 
Mr. Prior," and many others, no one had heard of Herrick's 
name. Scores of poetasters are noticed in this work ; Her- 
rick had passed entirely from the memories of English poets 
and readers, one more illustration of the vanity of contem- 
porary criticism. 

Though the world of letters long neglected him, though 
the fame he desired was long delayed, the unlettered peasants 
repeated his verses ; his wassail and harvest songs, his Christ- 
mas glees, were handed down from father to son. There 
must have been many country squires who, with Irving's host 

1 The New Charon. Upon the Death of Henry Lord Hastings. 

2 " And then Flaccus Horace, 
He was but a sour-ass, 
And good for nothing but Lyricks. 
There's but one to be found 
In all English ground. 
Writes as well, who is hight Robert Herrick." 


at Bracebridge Hall, would have nothing but "Herrick's 
good old English songs." In 1810, a visitor at Dean Prior 
found a woman of ninety years who had repeated from child- 
hood Herrick's Litany, and knew a few traditions concern- 
ing the poet ; as late as 1843 Mr. King wrote : "Many of the 
spells, charms, bits of folk lore that are scattered through 
his volumes are still to be found in his parish and in a flour- 
ishing condition."^ 

Though the Hesperides had no effect upon the develop- 
ment of the lyric, Herrick drew inspiration from the classic 
lyric and from the songs of Jonson. Catullus, Ovid, Martial, 
Theocritus, Anacreon, are easily discernible in his poems, 
sometimes in direct translation, oftener by allusion or free 
imitation. It is with Horace that he has the closest affinity, 
for with as much art and with greater color and feeling, he 
repeats the Horatian warnings of the inevitable approach of 
death and of the brief time given us to pluck the joys of life. 
This classical influence never fetters him ; there is not the 
slightest air of pedantry in his imitations ; and his trans- 
lations, especially those of Anacreon, in their lightness and 
graceful finish rank with his best work. 

It is a rather remarkable fact that the greatest of the sons 
of Ben was not a dramatist but a lyric poet. Herrick leaves 
no doubt as to his indebtedness to the "best of poets," whom, 
in his Elysium, he places above Catullus, Pindar and Homer, 
and the number and nature of his references to his "father 
Ben" can hardly be paralleled in the case of any other poet 
of the period and one of his followers. They express more 
than friendship and admiration ; Herrick asks Jonson to aid 
him "when he a verse would make," and these words are not 
altogether figurative. From Jonson's Underwoods, and 
Forest, Herrick, to use his own phrase, has "adopted" several 
poems and at times the imitation is very exact. As has been 
often pointed out, "Still to be neat, still to be drest," evi- 

i Quarterly Review, 1810; Fraser") Magazine, vol. 47, p. 103. 


dently inspired Herrick's charming poems on clothes — 
"When I behold a forest spread," and "A sweet disorder in 
the dress,"^- — while "Drink to me only with thine eyes" re- 
echoes in Herrick's: 

" Reach, with your whiter hands to me 
Some crystal of the spring; 
And I about the cup shall see 
Fresh lilies flourishing. 

" Or else, sweet nymphs, do you but this, 
To th' glass your lips incline; 
And I shall see by that one kiss 
The water turned to wine." 

Or, more plainly, in : 

" 'Twas but a single rose. 

Till you on it did breathe. 
But since, methinks, it shows 

Not so much rose as wreath."^ 

Herrick's exquisite Night-Piece to Julia far surpasses the 
following song from Jonson's masque, The Gypsies Metamor- 
phosed, though certainly modeled upon it : 

" The faery beam upon you. 
The stars to glister on you; 
A moon of light. 
In the noon of night. 
Till the fire-drake hath o'ergone you."' 

To point out actual imitation, similarities in thought and 
diction, does not bring us to the heart of the matter; it is 
more important to notice how completely Herrick escaped 

1 A. W. Pollard, Herrick's Works, Muses' Library, London, 1891, vol. 
1, pp. 354, 32, 232. 

2 Pp. 232, 61. 


the influence of Donne. Though he loves to play with a sub- 
ject, to repeat with variations one idea, there are scarcely 
a dozen poems in the Hesperides containing strained conceits 
or fantastic ingenuity of thought. This may well be due to 
Jonson's influence and it is certain that Herrick's self- 
critical spirit, his sense of art, was fostered by Jonson's pre- 
cept and practice. In no small degree, Jonson's fame as a 
lyric poet will rest upon this fact. Since in this instance 
the disciple is above his master, we may apply to the verses 
of Herrick the hne which Jonson placed over his own child's 
grave : 

" Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry."^ 

Whether or not Herrick is our foremost lyric poet is a 
subject for critical discussion; that he is one of our foremost 
artists is unquestionable. Because at times he condescended 
to carve cherry stones ; because he illuminated the pages of 
a manuscript when others spread whole landscapes on their 
canvas, we should not forget how remarkable is his technique. 
He lacked romantic passion, he was not one of those who had 
loved much, but to some men art is as real a mistress as one 
of flesh and blood ; to certain natures, the beauty of a splen- 
did line of poetry appeals as strongly as the beauty of a fair 
face. Endowed with artistic perception above his fellows, 
able to give to his songs the crowning touch, he had that 
rarest gift — the power to conceal his art. In his Farewell 
to Sack he exclaims 

" what's done by me 
Hereafter shall smell of the lamp, not thee," 

but he belies himself, and so supreme is his skill that song 
after song seems to be unpremeditated, full of those "name- 

1 1 have discussed this more fully in "Herrick's Indebtedness to Ben 
Jonson," Modern Language Notes, December, 1902. 


less graces that no art can teach." In Elizabethan poetry, 
we find splendid lyrical passages, unforgettable lines that we 
may detach from their setting, but Herrick's poems are com- 
plete. We cast aside the last stanza of Carew's "He that 
loves a rosy cheek," or of Browne's "Underneath this sable 
hearse" ; we discard line after line of Crashaw's Wishes to 
his supposed Mistress, and thereby improve indisputably 
these poems, but we would not touch a syllable in To 
Meadows, To CEnone, To Anthea — the Hst is an unending 
one. Herrick's aim never exceeded his reach; he kept in 
sight perfection and obtained it. There are in the Hesperides 
no lines more significant than the simple couplet : 

" Better 'twere my book were dead, 
Than to live not perfected."' 

Herrick's volume consisted of two parts- — the Hesperides 
and the Noble Numbers, or His Pious Pieces. His rehgious 
poems are distinctly inferior to his secular verse, for though 
a passage in his Farewell to Poetry apparently proves that 
he voluntarily took orders, not driven to the priesthood by 
need, yet his Farewell to Sack has more feeling in it than 
we find in all but a few of his sacred poems.^ He has none of 
Herbert's spiritual conflicts, nothing of Vaughan's mysticism 
or of Crashaw's glowing emotion. Keenly sensitive to the 
beautiful, it is a material loveliness that attracts him, and 
his religion is one of incense and of floral oflf^erings. This 
absence of mysticism is best seen in a little poem on the Com- 
munion, where Herrick looks chiefly at the golden altar with 
its covering of figured damask.' There is a simplicity of 
spirit in his religious verse that recalls the lyrics of the 
miracle plays : 

iVol. I, p. 59. 

2 Vol. II, p. 265, a poem not included in the Hesperides; vol. I, p. 53. 

3 Vol. II, p. 191. 


" Go, pretty child, and bear this flower 
Unto thy little Saviour; 

And tell Him, for good handsel too, 
That thou hast brought a whistle new, 
Made of a clean straight oaten reed, 
To charm His cries at time of need."^ 

He sings the birth of Prince Charles in much the same way, 
and his shepherds bring the same offerings to him. Her- 
rick's carols are especially good, with their quaint touches, 
as when he calls Christ the "Lord of all this revelling," or 

" Our pretty twelfth-tide King, 
* * * * * 
And when night comes we'll give him wassailing."^ 

Mr. Gosse has pointed out that Herrick is at his best when 
his religious poems are most secular, when he can describe 
the flowers brought to Christ or sing a dirge for Jephthah's 
daughter. He is the artist who makes the shrine, not the 
saint who kneels before it. He wishes in his old age some 
hermitage where 

" the remnant of my days I'd spend, 
Reading Thy Bible and my Book; so end."' 

The order is significant, and we suspect that Herrick's read- 
ing would be chiefly the Hesperides. 

There are in the Noble Numbers several poems marked by 
the sincerest feeling — poems of repentance and gratitude. 
His material view of life makes his Thanksgiving to God for 

1 No. 59. 

2 Pp. 206, 308. 

3 P. 313. 


his House one of his finest pieces. In the hands of many 
writers the list he gives of his humble possessions would be 
ineffective, even grotesque : 

" The worts, the purslain, and the mess 
Of water cress, 


Thou mak'st my teeming hen to lay 
Her egg each day."^ 

In his Litany to the Holy Spirit, he shows an intensity of 
emotion which does not appear elsewhere in his verse : 

" When the flames and hellish cries 
Fright mine ears, and fright mine eyes, 
And all terrors me surprise. 

Sweet Spirit, comfort me !"^ 

Such lines sound strangely amid the songs of flowers and 

It is in the Hesperides that Herrick's art finds its most 
perfect expression. Whatever he owed to the classic writers 
or to his "Saint Ben," he is one of the most original of lyrists, 
and his province is all his own. He had no followers in his 
own day ; in our own times, he has no imitators, for the ob- 
jectivity of so much of his work is alien to our mood. Yet 
the personal note in his writings is decidedly modem, and 
modern too is his love for nature. Herrick's parish was a 
small one ; his people "rude and churlish as the sea" ; and it 
is scarcely difficult to understand the inconsistencies in his 
lyrics, his praise of Devonshire mingled at times with expres- 
sions of utter contempt for it. Cut off' from his London 
friends and lyric feasts, he turned with genuine delight to 

IP. 184. 
2 P. 181. 


the rustic life about him. Though his Julias and Dianemes 
live in a world of fancy, a world of spices and silks, there is 
no conventionality in his songs of the country. He saw 
more in the pastoral life than did his contemporaries, yet 
his vision was limited, for he is the singer of meadows and of 
blossoms. There is a refinement in his descriptive touches, 
a delicacy in his flower songs quite different from the hearti- 
ness of Heywood's "Pack clouds away and welcome day," 
yet this delicacy of treatment is far removed from artifi- 
ciality, and though he sought for new and difficult verse 
forms, they never restrained his thought nor impeded the 
song-like flow of his style. There are no more exquisite lines 
on flowers than To Primroses, To Daffodils, or To Blossoms. 
They combine the triumph of art — ^the songs themselves are 
as fragile as the flowers they celebrate — with a sympathy, 
and a tenderness for the short-lived "whimpering younglings." 
Herrick has been reproached for lacking that strength 
of emotion seen in the songs of the Elizabethans, and it is 
said that many a minor lyrist has shown a depth of feeling 
he never reached. When he so wished, he could write a 
spirited love song: 

" Thou art my life, my love, my heart, 
The very eyes of me: 
And hast command of every part 
To live and die for thee,"^ 

but as he concealed his art, so he chose to conceal his emo- 
tion. He has been called a trifler, but there is too much 
pathos in his work to justify that epithet. He is the singer 
of flowers and meadows, but his songs are elegies. We think 
of him as the poet of May and of the joys of fields and 
woods, but he never forgets the fast-approaching end of all 
that charms him : 

iVol. I, p. 135. 


" But you are lovely leaves^ where we 
May read how soon things have 
Their end, though ne'er so brave: 
And after they have shown their pride 
Like you awhile, they glide 
Into the grave. "^ 

His emotion is the more poignant because it is restrained. 
With all his love for the earth, with his delight in jewels, 
silks and spices, he can not lose sight of the shadow of death. 
His mistresses in their taffetas and laces, fragrant with 
those perfumes that so pleased him, are flowers blooming for 
the moment: 

" You are a tulip seen to-day, 
But, dearest, of so short a stay 
That where you grew, scarce man can say."^ 

He can not rid himself of this thought ; he recurs to it again 
and again, expressing it nowhere more perfectly than in 
"Sweet, be not proud of those two eyes." As he gazes on the 
beauty of Dianeme, he bids her forget the star-light sparkle 
of her eyes, the wealth of her rich hair, for her ruby 

" Will last to be a precious stone 
When all your world of beauty's gone."' 

Here is no graceful compKment, no gallant serenade, but 
a lament at the irony of fate, the tragedy of life. In a 
poem containing his finest qualities — his love of nature, his 
graceful description, his musical expression — we find the 
same note. After he has pictured to Corinna the lovehness 

1 P. 221. 

2 P. 108. 

3 p. 74. 


of the May day, the pleasures of the budding boys and girls 
gone a-Maying, he forgets the spring and its flowers : 

" Our life is short, and our days run 

As fast away as does the sun. 
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain 
Once lost, can ne'er be found again. 

So when or you or I are made 

A fable, song, or fleeting shade. 

All love, all liking, all delight 

Lies drowned with us in endless night. 
Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying, 
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying."^ 

The poet who stands nearest Herrick in his love of 
nature — at times he surpasses him — is Andrew Marvell 
(1621-1678). He was educated at Trinity College, Cam- 
bridge, travelled on the continent, and in 1650 was taken 
by Lord Fairfax to his Yorkshire estate, to be the tutor of 
his daughter. Here, in the retirement of the country, Mar- 
vell composed his finest poems Upon Appleton House, the 
Horatian Ode, The Garden, On a Drop of Dew, and in all 
probability, The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her 
Fawn. Fairfax delighted in poetry, but could not write it, 
though he made many attempts. Undoubtedly he encouraged 
MarveU, but the young tutor's lyric period was a brief one. 
As Milton's colleague in the Latin secretaryship, and later, as 
member of Parliament from Hull, he became absorbed in 
politics ; in place of nature poems, he wrote verse satires, 
brutally frank, or pamphlets full of vigorous, ironical prose. 
English history gained a patriot at a time when honesty and 
courage seemed forgotten virtues ; the English lyric is the 
poorer since it possesses not the achievement, but the promise 
of Andrew Marvell. 

If Herrick avoided Donne's influence, Marvell shows it 
most plainly. He never mentions Donne's name; he does 

IP. 84. 


not imitate any one poem, or even lift any phrase, but the 
spirit of Donne is in many a line. At times he can be as 
fantastic as any of the metaphysical poets : 

" Tears (watery shot that pierce the mind,) 
And sighs (Love's cannon filled with wind;)" 

and the Dean of St. Paul's might have written such stanzas 

" My love is of a birth as rare 

As 'tis, for object, strange and high; 
It was begotten by Despair, 
Upon Impossibility. 

# * * * * 

" As lines, so love's oblique, may well 

Themselves in every angle greet: 
But ours, so truly parallel. 

Though infinite, can never meet."^ 

As a rule Marvell's conceits are quaint and charming rather 
than extravagant and grotesque. We see this in such a 
couplet as 

" And stars show lovely in the night. 
But as they seem the tears of light,"^ 

and better in these stanzas from The Mower to the Glow 
Worms : 

" Ye living lamps, by whose dear light 
The nightingale does sit so late. 
And studying all the summer night. 
Her matchless songs does imitate; 

1 G. A. Aitken, Poems of Andrew Marvell, Muses' Library, London, 
1892, pp. 31, 73, 74. 

2 P. 37. Cf. Sully Prudhomme, La Voie LacUe : 

" £tes-vous touj ours en prifere ? 
£tes-vous des astres bless6s? 
Car ce sent des pleurs de lumi^re, 
Non des rayons, que vous versez." 


" Ye country comets, that portend 
No war nor prince's funeral, 
Shining unto no higher end 
Than to presage the grass's fall."'^ 

Such verses show plainly what Lamb has called the "witty 
delicacy" of Marvell. 

The themes of Marvell are not those of Donne ; he lacked 
the romantic temperament and writes coldly of women. 
Only one of his love poems is worthy of him ; it has some- 
thing of Donne's wit, and far more important, fine moments 
of imagination and passion, for Marvell is continually hint- 
ing at greater things. His Coy Mistress has the same theme 
as Herrick's Corvnna, but not Herrick's art. Contrasted 
with this poem, Marvell's octosyllabics are rough and un- 
finished; his humor seems out of keeping and too grotesque. 
He tells his coy love that the days haste away ; if there were 

" I would 
Love you ten years before the flood, 
And you should, if you please, refuse 
Till the conversion of the Jews." 

Then, in this quaint tirade, he pauses and cries with an in- 
tensity of emotion which Herrick never expressed: 

" But at my back I always hear 
Time's winged chariot hurrying near, 
And yonder all before us lie 
Deserts of vast eternity. 

Let us roll all our strength and all 
Our sweetness up into one ball. 
And tear our pleasures with rough strife. 
Thorough the iron gates of life."^ 

1 P. 89. 

2 Pp. 56, ST. 


Never again does this mood seize him ; instead of love poems, 
he writes verses to children, "young beauties of the woods." 
If Marvell forsook the greatest lyric theme of all, he at 
least brought new ones to English verse. Through the 
Elizabethan period, when Italian influence was supreme, the 
patriotism of the Italian sonneteers was never imitated; we 
have no sonnets, no odes to England or to English leaders, 
whereas the Italian poets took the deepest interest in the 
political fortunes of their towns or provinces. Marvell con- 
sidered Cromwell to be the savior of his country ; moved by 
the sincerest admiration for him he became his laureate. 
Where other poets flattered subserviently, he praised boldly 
and, on the whole, justly, though he is not free from certain 
absurd touches of adulation. We can hardly call his elegy 
on Cromwell a lyric, for it is rather a descriptive poem, rising 
at times to a Miltonic diction : 

" When up the armed mountains of Dunbar 
He marched, and through deep Severn, ending war," 

with lines that move with the rugged strength of Cromwell's 

" Thee, many ages hence, in martial verse 
Shall the English soldier, ere he charge, rehearse;"^ 

but his Horatian Ode upon CromwelV s Return from Ireland 
falls well within our province. It is one of the most success- 
ful attempts to reproduce in English the effect of Horace's 
close-knit stanzas. Abandoning the experiment of forcing 
English thought into a Latin metre — a tour de force which 
diverts the reader's mind from the substance of the poem — 
he uses his own difficult measure with such success that we 
forget his metrical skill in admiring the nobility of thought 
and the dignity of expression as he praises the man 

iPp. 160, 165. 


" Who from his private gardens, where 
He lived reserved and austere 
(As if his highest plot 
To plant the bergamot;) 

" Could by industrious valour climb 
To ruin the great work of time. 
And cast the kingdoms old, 
Into another mould."^ 

It is more than a century before the English lyric can equal 

Turning to Marvell's nature poenms, we find their spirit 
astonishingly modern ; he views nature not as an artist but 
as a lover. He belonged to his generation, for he was the 
poet of meadows and woods, and with Howell regarded 
mountains as "hook-shouldered excrescences." Summer was 
his season; the warm earth with its flowers and fruits, his 
delight ; he says little of sky or clouds. Keen in his observa- 
tion, nature is to him an end ; his descriptions are not orna- 
ments to his poems. There is all the languor and luxury of 
a summer's day in the tropical richness of his Garden. Here 
and in his Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn, 
he has the sensuousness of Keats. "I stood tip-toe upon a 
little hill" is more delicate ; it has a greater wealth of detail 
and a finer finish; but its spirit differs in no wise from that 
of Marvell's verses. 

But Marvell sees more than the loveliness of the earth; he 
has a touch of that transcendentalism that characterizes our 
modem conception of nature. Overpowered by the beauty 
about him he cries, in Wordsworth's spirit: 

" Thrice happy he, who, not mistook. 
Hath read in Nature's mystic book!" 

ip. 134. 


He becomes a part of the life around him ; he confers with 
birds and trees ; he casts aside the "body's vest" ; his soul flies 
into the boughs and 

" TherCj like a bird, it sits and sings, 
Then whets and combs its silver wings." 

The visible world disappears, and the mind creates other 
regions for itself 

" Annihilating all that's made 
To a green thought in a green shade."^ 

No other Enghsh poet had approached nature in this spirit. 
Marvell's poems are lyrical because of the intensity of 
his feeling ; even those poems which he has entitled songs do 
not suggest a musical accompaniment. His verse is too com- 
pact, too overladen with thought and emotion for the lute's 
melody of 

" lesser intervals, and plaintive moan 
Of sinking semitone." 

The lyric is becoming more and more an art form, inde- 
pendent of music. We see this in the song of the English 
emigrants in the Bermudas, a poem worth all the pages of 
Tom Moore's lyrical description of these islands. 


In this age when men went to war for their faith we look 
for writers of the religious lyric; we find them in Herbert, 
Crashaw, and Vaughan. 

George Herbert (1593-1633), distinguished at Cambridge 
and at the court, entered the church in 1626 ; in 1630 he was 
made priest at Bemerton, where he died. On his deathbed 
he sent the manuscript of the Temple to Nicholas Ferrar, 

iPp. 26, 100. 


who published it within a few months. It became popular 
at once and six editions were brought out in eight years. 

Though Herbert was not the first Englishman to compose 
religious lyrics, he created a new school of verse. The reli- 
gious poetry before him had been Scriptural paraphrases 
(chiefly of the Psalms), penitential verses, hymns, and medi- 
tations. Generally, as in the case of Ben Jonson, they formed 
but a small part of any writer's work; often, especially 
in the sonnet sequences, they served as foils for the secular 
verse. No poet, except Southwell, had written rehgious 
poetry exclusively ; no one had analyzed the religious expe- 
rience, or pondered deeply on the life of the spirit, or re- 
corded the defeats and victories of his own soul. Herbert, 
therefore, adopted deliberately a style and a theme for which 
he had no models. As an undergraduate he had regretted 
that poetry wore the livery of Venus ; as a priest he felt the 
need of expressing his own spiritual conflicts and thus from 
piety, from the impulse of confession and the desire to give 
sorrow words, sprang the lyrics of the Temple. 

Among Herbert's warmest friends was John Donne; in 
his poetic method Herbert stands with him and not with the 
Elizabethans, for his keen and brilliant mind expressed itself 
readily in Donne's manner. We certainly can not say that 
without Donne's poems the Temple would not have been 
written, yet without his example Herbert's book would not 
have assumed its present form. To us Herbert's conceits 
may seem too ingenious to be anything but artificial, but 
they are not a mere ornament to his verse, for he uses them 
when he is most deeply moved. Because the great emotions 
of life do not vary from generation to generation, we forget 
that the natural method of expressing these feelings has 
constantly changed. When Herbert calls aloud to England: 
"Spit out thy phlegm and fill thy breast with glory," he is 
not endeavoring to startle us by a strange phrase ; he is 
deeply stirred and wishes to arouse his country. Few of his 


poems contain more conceits than Sunday — the sabbath is 
man's face while the week days are his body; Sundays are 
the pillars of Heaven's palace while the other days are the 
empty spaces between them ; Sundays are the pearls threaded 
to adorn the bride of God — yet Walton asserts that Herbert 
sang this song on his deathbed. He has many conceits that 
mar his work — we could do without the comparison of spring 
to a box of sweetmeats in "Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so 
bright" — yet they are an essential element in his writing. 

Like Donne, Herbert is impatient of melody ; his verse is 
grave and lacks the sweetness of Crashaw's hymns. Though 
full of striking felicities of phrase, his lyrics are rarely metri- 
cally perfect throughout. He knew the work of the sonnet- 
eers and in the style of their sonnets on sleep he composed 
one on prayer: 

" Prayer, the Churches banquet, angel's age, 

God's breath in man returning to his birth. 

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage, 

The Christian plummet sounding heaven and earth;"' 

but there is little of Elizabethan music here. His most im- 
pressive sonnet, My comforts drop and melt like snow, has 
a splendid opening and is suffused with the deepest feeling, 
but it too, drops and melts into such a line as "But cooling 
by the way, grows pursy and slow."^ He envied, so he said, 
"no man's nightingale or spring" ; he lacks the graces of 
his contemporaries ; yet The Quip, The Collar, Virtue, have 
a music rarer than the facile strains of the earlier age. At 
his best he has a sober harmony that grows in impressive- 
ness the more it is heard, for with few exceptions, the musical 
appeal of Herbert's verse is not an immediate one. 

The great value of Herbert's lyrics consists in their reve- 

IG. H. Palmer, English Works of Oeorge Herbert, Boston, 1905, 
vol. II, p. 181. 
2 P. 351. 


lation of his character, for the religious lyric gains in power 
according to the degree in which it discloses a man's soul. 
In many of the lyrics we see the struggle for holiness, but 
more impressive is his struggle for peace; this it is that 
makes him such a human figure. The average man does not 
long for spiritual perfection, but he does desire the calm 
and steadfast mind. What Herbert could not say from the 
pulpit he wrote in his lyrics. Of a noble family, the friend 
of courtiers and the King, famed for his scholarship and wit, 
he found himself ministering to the needs of fifty peasants — 
his little church would not hold more. He could not forget 
the things of earth, his old dreams and hopes of worldly 
greatness; he is "full of rebellion," and longs to fight, to 
travel, to deny his service.^ Sickness and doubt overtake 
him ; he has drunk from a bitter bowl ; he believes his nature 
has been thwarted: 

" Whereas my birth and spirit rather took 
The way that takes the town. 
Thou didst betray me to a lingring book, 
And wrap me in a gown." 

He feels that he has accomplished nothing in the world, that 
the struggle naught availeth : 

" Now I am here, what thou wilt do with me 

None of my books will show. 
I read, and sigh, and wish I were a tree, 

For sure then I should grow 
To fruit or shade. At least some bird would trust 
Her household to me, and I should be just."^ 

He is constantly reproaching himself with his empty days; 
the very plants and bees do more than he : 

" Poor bees that work all day 
Sting my delay." 

IP. 303. 
2 P. 339. 


When, moreover, we remember that the world and its train- 
bands still call him ; that Beauty creeps into a rose and 
tempts him ; that he feels the scorn of "proud Wit and Con- 
templation," we can understand why he writes so often on 
affliction. The frankness of these poems points to a new era 
in the lyric ; Herbert conceals nothing, and his heart, so he 
tells us, bleeds on his writing. 

It must not be presumed that these lyrics are depressing 
reading; with few exceptions they are not morbid, for Her- 
bert has reconciled these unhappy experiences with a divine 
plan to bring the soul to felicity. This restlessness and dis- 
content is thrust upon him to draw his soul to God : 

"If goodness lead him not, yet weariness 
May toss him to my breast."' 

The lyrics of the Temple lead not to pessimism but to hope. 

Looking at the lyrics from the artistic standpoint. Virtue, 
to which Isaac Walton has given a perfect prose setting, 
deserves its popularity, for it is the most beautiful of all his 
poems. The Elixir is equally well known, because of those 
lines quoted as frequently as Pope's epigrams : 

" Who sweeps a room but for thy cause 
Makes that and the action fine," 

but more characteristic than either of these two lyrics is Man. 
It has his peculiar music, his quaintness of style, and deep 
thought : 

" Man is all symmetry, 
Full of proportions, one limb to another. 
And all to all the world besides. 
Each part may call the farthest, brother; 
For head with foot hath private amity. 
And both, with moons and tides.^ 

1 Vol. Ill, p. 149. 

2 Vol. II, p. 217. 


The lyrics of Herbert make a man look more deeply both 
into his own heart and into the world about him. 

Richard Crashaw (1613?-164!9), son of a bitter opponent 
of Rome, was driven by the Puritans in 1644 from Peter- 
house, Cambridge, where he was a feUow. He turned Cath- 
oKc, fled to Italy, and died a lay priest at the famous shrine 
of Loretto. He lived far from the world; his life history 
is a series of spiritual experiences to be read in his poems. 
He never stands apart from his work ; his sensitive and emo- 
tional temperament is disclosed in every page of his writ- 
ings. He fell on evil days, yet even in a time of peace his 
story would have been a simple one — that of a dreamer and 
a recluse. 

During the twelve years Crashaw spent at Cambridge, he 
came under the influence of Spanish mysticism and chose 
Theresa of Avila as his Saint. When we say that her 
visions and ecstasies were his spiritual food, we have defined 
both his character and his poetry. He made St. Mary's 
church his home and offered there more prayers at night 
than others did in the day. Little Gidding is near Cam- 
bridge ; he was a frequent visitor at this retreat ; and the 
vigils and prayers of this household intensified his fervor. 
Many of his religious lyrics are not songs, but the impas- 
sioned cry of his soul; he writes hymns but they are too 
glowing and mystical to be hymns of the church. His sacred 
verse has never been adopted by English Catholics ; it holds 
no such place as Herbert's Temple, which is read as much 
for its religious spirit as for its poetry. 

It is not difficult to discover why Crashaw has a fit 
audience, but few. He declares that in spiritual matters 
there is no distinction of race or country. Speaking of St. 
Theresa he says: 

" What soul soe'er, in any language, can 
Speak Heaven like hers, is my soul's countryman." 


Yet fine as the thought may be, for most of us it is not the 
truth. With all his tolerance, the author of the Religio 
Medici realized that there was "a geography of religions as 
well as lands," and there is an unmistakable difference be- 
tween English and Spanish religious thought and emotion. 
There have been English mystics since the days of Richard 
Rolle, yet Crashaw seems un-English. He has nothing of 
Quarles's dull morality, Herbert's expression of doubts and 
discouragements common to us all, or of Vaughan's moral 
interpretation of nature. His poems, the product of long 
fasts and prayers, are the work of an ascetic ; they have a 
tropical air and seem to have been written under warmer 
skies. He fed on the mystical writings of St. Theresa until 
he trembles in his ecstasy ; his fervor is unquestionably as 
sincere as it is intense, but to the lay mind its "immortal 
kisses," "flames," and "bleeding wounds" are somewhat in- 
comprehensible. He sings of a spiritual love with 

" Amorous languishments ; luminous trances ; 
Spiritual and soul-piercing glances. 

Delicious deaths, soft exhalations 

Of soul ; dear and divine annihilations."^ 

Much nearer our modern thought are Newman's deprecations 
of these "brightest transports" which "bloom their hour and 
fade" : 

" But he who lets his feelings run 
In soft luxurious flow. 
Shrinks when hard service must be done. 
And faints at every woe."^ 

1 A. R. Waller, Poems by Richard Crashaw, Cambridge, 1904, p. 280. 

2 Flowers without Fruit. 


If we consider the artistic import of these lyrics, we find 
them brilliant in color, musical in their expression, and thrill- 
ing in an emotional power that recalls Shelley and Swin- 
burne. They are filled with such splendid phrases as 

" Whose blush the moon beauteously mars^ 
And stains the timorous light of stars ;" 

with such stanzas as 

" Not in the Evening's eyes 
When they red with weeping are 
For the sun that dies, 
Sits sorrow with a face so fair."' 

The final apostrophe to "the seraphical Saint Theresa" in 
the poem upon her book and picture is unequalled in all the 
range of the religious lyric. 

Crashaw's secular verse lacks the enthusiasm of his hymns, 
yet it has their music and color. His two most graceful love 
lyrics are a translation from the Italian, "To thy lover, dear 
discover," and his well-known Wishes to his supposed Mis- 
tress, a poem which shows his defects as well as his virtues. 
He was too versatile — an engraver, musician, and poet — 
and he expressed himself too readily. Language was a 
facile instrument ; metrical expression offered no difficulties ; 
and his style, easy and brilliant, is often too diffuse. With 
few ideas to express, he prolongs his poems through several 
pages ; the thought that the Magdalene is weeping suffices 
for thirty-three stanzas, some of the greatest beauty, others 
pure bathos. He needed the restraint of Jonson; his most 
sustained poems are adaptations (one can hardly call them 
translations), such as his Music's Duel, taken from the Latin 
of Strada — a most successful attempt to express one art in 
terms of another. His Wishes, full of that Platonism that 
inspired Spenser, 

1 Crashaw, p. 260. 


" Till that divine 
Idea, take a shrine 
Of crystal flesh, through which to shine;" 

is greatly improved by the excisions made by Palgrave. 

It is interesting to observe the effect of Crashaw's writings 
on other poets. Milton, his contemporary, did not disdain 
to borrow from him ; Pope and Coleridge, the extremes of 
opposing schools, acknowledge their indebtedness to him. 
Pope sends to his friend, Henry Cromwell, a copy of Crashaw 
and states that he has read his poetry several times.^ He 
selects as very remarkable lines from Crashaw, balanced 
couplets from Music's Duel, almost the only verses that ap- 
proach his own style, for the poem is marked by its free 
handling of the heroic metre. He was untouched by Cra- 
shaw's spirit and merely hfted phrases.^ On the other hand, 
Coleridge complains of Crashaw's lack of form and sweetness, 
but goes so far as to assert that "where he does combine rich- 
ness of thought and diction, nothing can excel." He con- 
tinues : "his lines on St. Theresa are the finest These 

verses were ever present to my mind whilst writing the 
second part of Christ abel; if, indeed, by some subtle process 
of the mind, they did not suggest the first thought of the 
whole poem."' The influence here asserted is such a subtle 
one that without Coleridge's statement, it would not be sus- 
pected, yet it must be remembered as no small part of 
Crashaw's accomplishment, that he inspired one of the finest 
achievements of the romantic school. 

It is difficult to assign to Crashaw his position in our lyric 
poetry because of his unevenness. When, in his own words, 
he is 

1 Elwin and Courthope, The Works of Alexander Pope, vol. VI, 
London, 1871, pp. 109, 116. 

2 For example, "Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep," in 
Eloisa to Abelard. 

3 J. W. Mackail, Coleridge's Literary Criticism, London, 1908, p. 149. 


" Dressed in the glorious madness of a Muse 
Whose feet can walk the milky way and choose 
Her starry crown,"^ 

he seems more truly inspired than any of his contemporaries, 
always excepting Milton. In a degree, Herrick includes 
Carew; Herbert and Vaughan stand near each other; the 
sons of Ben, the followers of Donne have much in common ; 
but Crashaw, a romanticist born out of due time, stands 
absolutely alone. 

The numerous editions of Herbert's Temple are not the 
only proof of its popularity. More important, as an indi- 
cation of its effect on the lyric, are the imitations it inspired. 
"After him followed divers, Sed non passibus sequis ; they 
had more of fashion than force," writes Vaughan of Herbert,^ 
and we see this imitation, sometimes throughout a whole 
book, as in Harvey's Synagogue (1640), at other times in 
single poems, as in Meditation or The Mercy Seat in Thomas 
Beedome's Poems Divine and Human (1641). The most 
important follower of Herbert (he was more than a follower, 
for in many respects he surpassed him) was Henry Vaughan 
(1621-1695) the Silurist, as he calls himself, from Siluria, 
the Roman name for his birthplace, South Wales. After his 
student days at Jesus College, Oxford, and at London, he 
passed his life in Wales as a country doctor, unknown and 
unmentioned by the Restoration writers. 

Unlike Herbert, Vaughan published two collections of 
secular verse. Poems (1647) and Olor Iscanus (1651). His 
love poetry is very tame indeed; his verses to Amoret are 
smoothly written but lifeless, and it is amusing to hear 
Vaughan, in his religious lyrics, speaking regretfully of his 
"Idle Verse." 

1 Crashaw, p. 146. 

2E. K. Chambers, The Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist, Muses' 
Library, London, 1896, vol. I, p. 7. 


" Go, go, quaint follies, sugared sin. 
Shadow no more my door; 
I will no longer cobwebs spin; 
I'm too much on the score. 


" Blind, desperate fits, that study how 
To dress and trim our shame; 
That gild rank poison, and allow 
Vice in a fairer name; 

" The purls of youthful blood and bowls, 
Lust in the robes of Love; 
The idle talk of feverish souls 
Sick with a scarf or glove."^ 

There is a slight possibility that the last stanza may refer to 
Suckling's poetry ; in any case, he would have smiled at the 
mild verses written in what Vaughan called his "warmer 
days." It is believed that Vaughan fought in the Royal army, 
but at heart he is a Puritan ; in The World, the doting lover 
is placed with the perjured statesman and the downright 
epicure, fools that 

'■ prefer dark night 
Before true light !"^ 

As a writer of love lyrics, Vaughan does not deserve remem- 

His genius found adequate expression in his Silex Scintil- 
lans (Part I, 1650 ; Part II, 1652). Here are some one hun- 
dred and thirty religious lyrics and didactic poems ; fifty of 
them show Herbert's influence, at times imitating line for line 
a given poem from the Temple, at other times reflecting Her- 
bert's spirit, or catching up a phrase here and there. As an 
illustration of this, Vaughan's SortrDays imitates two poems 

ip. 113. 
2 P. 150. 


of the Temple which we have cited, Prayer, and Simday; a 
glance at a single stanza will show that the decisive event in 
Vaughan's poetic development was his receiving a copy of 
Herbert's poems. Sundays are 

" The pulleys unto headlong man ; Time's bower ; 
The narrow way; 
Transplanted Paradise ; God's walking hour, 

The cool o' th' day ! 
The creature's jubilee; God's parle with dust; 

Heaven here ; man on those hiUs of myrrh and flowers ; 
Angels descending; the returns of trust; 
A gleam of glory after six days showers !"* 

As a rule Vaughan does not improve on Herbert in his poems 
deliberately modelled on definite lyrics in the Temple; his 
Easter Day lacks the force of Herbert's Dawning; his Pur- 
suit the vividness and deep feeling of the Pulley; his Orna- 
ment the beauty of expression and the personal touch that 
makes Herbert's Quip one of his most notable poems. Her- 
bert's enduring effect on Vaughan was gained not by fur- 
nishing him definite models for his verse but by stirring his 
spiritual emotions, by showing him what feelings the religious 
lyric could express. Vaughan differed from Herbert in tem- 
perament ; he is equally devout, but more calm, more satisfied 
with the world. There is pathos in Vaughan, but not the 
pathos of indecision and unrest. Nature too often brought 
to Herbert a message of reproach ; the trees bore their fruit 
and sheltered the birds in their branches, but his own life 
seemed empty. Vaughan found the world beautiful to con- 
template; he believed that nature was full of consolation 
and hope. Marvell's Garden had no religious significance 
for him; to Vaughan the bird driven in his window by the 
storm tells of the life of the spirit. He finds a flower fresh 

1 P. 114. 


and green beneath the snow; in thoroughly characteristic 
Hnes he seeks its message : 

" Yet I, whose search loved not to peep and peer 
I' th' face of things. 
Thought with myself, there might be other springs 
Besides this here." 

As Tennyson would question the flower in the crannied wall, 
so to the plant 

" Many a question intricate and rare 
Did I there strow;"^ 

and as he sees the flower sleeping in the cold of winter, he 
realizes that the dead rest in peace. It must not be thought 
that Vaughan pushes this spiritual interpretation of nature 
to excess ; he is not always pointing a moral ; he can view 
nature with the eyes of an artist : 

" I see a rose 
Bud in the bright East, and disclose 
The pilgrim sun."^ 

His poems are fiUed with little descriptive touches that show 
a man who lived out of doors, who loved the earth and the 
sky. We are struck more frequently by the observation 
shown in his verses than by their technique ; he is, for ex- 
ample, one of the first English poets to write often of clouds. 
Vaughan was more than an observer ; he possessed imagin- 
ative insight and if on the whole he does not appear as 
thoughtful as Herbert, he often strikes deeper. A good 
instance of this are the famous opening Hnes of The World, 
in which he pictures eternity as "a great ring of pure and 
endless light. All calm as it was bright." Herbert has noth- 

1 Pp. 171, 172. 

2 P. 33. 


ing to compare with Vaughan's Retreat, a panegyric on 
childhood that is the poetic converse to Browning's Rabbi 
Ben Ezra. Former poets had written in praise of beautiful 
children ; it was reserved for Vaughan to discern the spiritual 
beauty of childhood: 

" When on some gilded cloud, or flower, 
My gazing soul would dwell an hour. 
And in those weaker glories spy 
Some shadows of eternity." 

It is the age of innocence that he both praises and mourns ; 
he would call back that time when he felt 

" through all this fleshly dress 
Bright shoots of everlastingness."^ 

Vaughan appears more modern than Herbert, especially in 
"They are all gone into the world of hght," one of the most 
beautiful of all English elegies. It contains Vaughan's finest 
traits ; exquisite are the nature descriptions which the lyric 
was soon to lose for over a century : 

" It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast. 
Like stars upon some gloomy grove. 
Or those faint beams in which this hill is dress'd 
After the sun's remove." 

For a perfect comparison few stanzas can equal: 

" He that hath found some fledged bird's nest, may know 
At first sight, if the bird be flown; 
But what fair well or grove he sings in now. 
That is to him unknown." 

Except for the metre, it might well be found in In, Memorian. 
How utterly removed is such writing from the formal similes 
with which the lyric poets of the coming generation con- 

ip. 69. 


tented themselves. For intense but restrained feeling per- 
fectly expressed this poem has rarely been surpassed. What 
the Italian sonneteers tried in vain to do in their apostrophes 
to death, Vaughan has accomplished in a single quatrain : 

" Dear, beautous Death! the jewel of the just. 

Shining nowhere, but in the dark; 
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust. 
Could men outlook that mark !"^ 

Vaughan was not always such an artist; many of his poems 
are marred by infelicitous passages, but this does not account 
for Herbert's greater popularity. The explanation lies in 
the fact that the moods of the Temple are nearer everyday 
experience than those of Vaughan, who loved "strange 
thoughts" that 

" transcend our wonted themes 
And into glory peep." 

We remembered the influence of Crashaw upon Christabel; 
we must not forget the closer connection between Vaughan's 
Retreat and Wordsworth's Ode on the Intimations of Immor- 
tality from Recollections of Early CMldhood. To compare 
these two poems differing widely in their genres would be 
absurd ; if we must make a choice we would not lose the great 
ode, yet in its simpler metre, its quieter manner, its quainter 
diction, the Retreat seems nearer to that age of innocence 
which both poets celebrate. 

Herbert, Crashaw, and Vaughan, though the chief, were 
by no means the only writers of religious lyrics in this age 
we are considering. William Habington (1605-1654) pub- 
lished in 1634 Castara, a collection of secular and religious 
verse that went through three editions before the poet's 

ip. 182. 


death. A country gentleman writing poetry for his amuse- 
ment, Habington has little sentiment or imagination in his 
love lyrics though he assures us that he "feels a distracted 
rage" and that 

" All those tortures, poets (by their wine 
Made judges) laid on Tantalus, are mine." 

His rehgious lyrics show more emotion : 

" Place me alone in some frail boat, 

'Mid th' horrors of an angry sea. 
Where I, while time shall move, may float 
Despairing either land or day ! 

■■ Or under earth my youth confine 

To th' night and silence of a cell; 
Where scorpions may my limbs entwine. 
O God ! so thou forgive me hell."^ 

This is quite different in its intensity of feeling from To 
Cupid, Upon a dimple in Castara's Cheek. Although a Cath- 
olic, he has little in common with Crashaw ; Nox Nocti Indi- 
cat Scientiam, his best lyric, has in certain of its stanzas a 
dignity of thought and expression that approach the vigor 
of Dryden. 

More famous than Habington, "in wonderful veneration 
among the vulgar," was Francis Quarles (1592-1644), "the 
sometime darling of our plebeian judgment," as Wood calls 
him. He was unfortunately a most energetic writer (his 
widow informs us that he began his composing at three in 
the morning!) and his verse, plebeian in tone, lacking charm 
and distinction, is depressing reading. The lyrical element 
in his work is small; he is a didactic writer, yet his strong 

1 E. Arber, Castara, in English Reprints, London, 1870, pp. 19, 133. 


religious feeling finds expression at times in a Gottesminne 
that has much of Crashaw's spirit. Gosse notices that some 
of these religious lyrics, sHghtly altered, were adapted to 
baser uses and published with Rochester's and Dorset's 
erotic verse, yet such poems are few in number. He has left 
hardly a single lyric that is sustained throughout. A song 
against the Puritans in his Shepherd's Oracle, published 
posthumously, points to Butler's satire on the Roundheads : 

" Know then, my brethren, heaven is clear, 
And all the clouds are gone; 
The righteous now shall flourish and 
Good days are coming on; 

■■ Come then, my brethren, and be glad, 
And eke rejoice with me: 
Lawn sleeves and rochets shall go down. 
And, hey ! then up go we."^ 

but this is neither better nor worse than many anonymous 
songs of the war. The fourteenth poem of the Hieroglyphics 
shows Quarles at his best. It is an elegy, its long, slow metre 
corresponding well with its gloomy thought : 

" The day grows old, the low-pitched lamp hath made 
Now less than treble shade," 

while in such verses as 

" And now the cold autumnal dews are seen 
To cobweb every green; 
And by the low-shorn rowins doth appear 
The fast-declining year,"^ 

1 A. B. Grosart, Complete Works in Prose and Verse of Francis 
Quarles, Edinburgh, 1870, vol. Ill, p. 235. 

2 P. 196. 


we have really effective description of nature. Such occa- 
sional passages are all that will save Quarles from total 

We have reserved for the closing pages of our chapter the 
greatest genius of this age, John Milton (1608-1674), and 
with him we may mention Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639). 
Among the minor poets of the day, Wotton holds an honor- 
able place. Finely educated at Oxford, then for eight years 
a student in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, he became 
the most cultured man of his generation and fittingly ended 
his career as Provost of Eton. He was an accomplished critic 
of painting and architecture and his long residence abroad 
as ambassador at Venice gave him ample opportunity to 
develop his artistic tastes. His own poetry was dignified and 
graceful, but like many critics, he lacked creative force. His 
little pastoral, admired by Walton, "As on a bank I sat 
reclined," anticipates Milton's L' Allegro; his "How happy is 
he bom and taught," has a moral earnestness expressed elo- 
quently ; his best lyric, "Ye meaner beauties of the night," 
written for the unhappy Elizabeth of Bohemia, has much of 
the polish and of the gallantry of Carew. 

Shortly before leaving on his Italian journey, Milton sent 
to Wotton a copy of Comus. The letter of thanks which he 
received for it must have thrilled him with pride and sent 
him on his way with a renewed confidence in his powers. 
While Wotton commends the "tragical part" of the masque, 
he prefers the lyrical passages ; he is ravished "with a certain 
Doric delicacy in your songs and odes, whereunto I must 
plainly confess to have seen yet nothing parallel in our lan- 
guage : Ipsa mollities." Never was there a juster criticism ; 
the lyric note that Milton struck had not been heard. 


The first of Milton's lyrical achievements, the Ode on the 
Morning of Christ's Nativity, showed this same originality 
and revealed, as did Pope's earliest compositions, the essen- 
tial marks of the poet's genius. Written when he was twenty- 
one, an undergraduate at Cambridge, it is not surprising that 
the ode, for all its greatness, is an uneven performance. 
That Milton was attracted by the conceits of the day is 
shown in several fantastic touches: we could well spare the 
penultimate stanza with its description of the sun in bed, 
drawing the clouds as curtains and pillowing "his chin upon 
an orient wave" ; but whereas the metaphysical poets made 
their conceits prominent, in this hymn they are merely mis- 
taken touches of ornamentation. Milton writes, then, not in 
the style of the day but in his own manner. 

We see in the ode that reticence which always marked Mil- 
ton's poetic utterances ; even in the most personal sonnets we 
feel a certain reserve. He chooses a religious theme and 
writes of it obj ectively at the very time when George Herbert 
was finding in the religious lyric the most vital medium of 
personal expression. We must not push this point too far; 
obviously it would have been inartistic for the poet to intrude 
himself in such a hymn, but there was legitimate opportunity 
for the personal note, if but in a phrase here and there. 
Milton eventually turned from the lyric because of the aloof- 
ness of his nature ; the reticence he maintains, his suppression 
of personal emotion, is fatal to the song impulse. Critics 
constantly attribute the veiled personal utterance in Paradise 
Lost, Milton's scorn for the sons of Belial, his contempt for 
the pomp of court processions and "grooms besmeared with 
gold" to his precarious position in Restoration London. As 
a matter of fact, Milton would have written with the same 
reserve had Cromwell been governing England. In his prose 
he tells of himself and his ambitions fearlessly ; in his verse, 
excepting a few sonnets, he soars far above the earth. 


If the lyric does not gain with Milton a fuUer revelation 
of personality, it finds in this ode a new music. Though 
Milton admired Spenser, he has not sought to reproduce his 
lusciousness of phrase; the richness of his melody has dis- 
appeared and in its place we find a vigor of phrase and a 
haunting music. "Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my 
song," is a typical strain of the Prothalamion. "The 
trumpet spake not to the armed throng," represents the 
movement of Milton's ode. Yet Milton felt the fascination 
of strange words and sounds ; we find here that magic use of 
unfamiliar names which he employs so often in his epic : 

" Peer and Baalim 

Forsake their temples dim/' 

" Nor is Osiris seen 

In Memphian grove or green." 

That a new master had taken up the lyre is felt at once in 
such a superb stanza as 

" The lonely momitains o'er, 
And the resounding shore, 
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament; 
From haimted spring, and dale 
Edged with poplar pale. 
The parting Genius is with sighing sent; 
With flower-inwoven tresses torn 
The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn." 

These lines are among the imperishable trophies of the Eng- 
lish lyric. 

The thought of the ode is indicative of the change that 
had come over English song. There is little description for 
its own sake; where the Elizabethans would have lavished 
detail, Milton employs economy of phrase. One stanza suf- 
fices for the description of the mother and child : 


" But see ! the Virgin blest 
Hath laid her babe to rest, 
Time is our tedious song should here have ending: 
Heaven's youngest-teemed star 
Hath fixed her polished car. 
Her sleeping Lord veith handmaid lamp attending; 
And all above the courtly stable 
Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable." 

Instead of elaborating one or two incidents or describing 
clearly defined events, the poet's thoughts wander through 
eternity ; he muses on the destruction of the false gods or 
on the cessation of the oracles. The range of thought and 
imagination in this ode is as remarkable as its music. Here 
Milton points to the lyric of the next century. The deepen- 
ing of the content of song, the significant work of the poets 
of Milton's age, is as extraordinary as the artistic changes 
wrought by the Elizabethans. 

At Cambridge Milton had practiced what he called the 
"Petrarchian stanza." His sonnet to the nightingale, which 
stands alone among his English lyrics in its suggestion of 
romance, is proof that before he left for the continent, he 
had acquired the grace of expression that characterized the 
successors of Petrarch. Love plaints, the usual theme of 
sonnet collections, he disdained, but he imitated the Italian 
use of the sonnet for the expression of friendship and praise. 
Always a law unto himself, Milton observes the Italian 
rhyme scheme, but not the sharp separation of the octave 
and sestet. We have said that Shakespeare's sonnets find 
an echo in the sonnets of Keats ; Milton's stand alone. The 
sonnets on his blindness have such nobility and dignity of 
expression, such restraint in their pathos, that the laments 
of our modem romanticists, when compared with them, read 
like the complaints of querulous children. The greatest of 
all his sonnets, "Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints," is 
the most forceful expression of a burning anger in all our- 


sonnet literature. That fourteen lines could express so per- 
fectly and so adequately such intense feeling is one of the 
miracles of verse. 

The greatest lyrical achievement of Milton is Lycidas. 
Its sole detractor is Dr. Johnson, who objected to the metri- 
cal scheme of the poem and above all, to its pastoral setting. 
Lycidas, he argued, is not the expression of real but feigned 
sorrow, "for passion runs not after remote allusions and 
obscure opinions. Where there is leisure for fiction, there 
is little grief. "^ Many a modem reader has felt, though to 
a lesser degree, the contrast between the clear, outspoken 
frankness of our modern elegies and Milton's allegorical 
presentation of his sense of loss. The death of King seems 
forgotten in Milton's attack on the church or in his search 
for the right adjective to picture the primrose or the violet. 

It must be remembered that the pastoral had been con- 
secrated to complaints and elegies ; so far from being an 
artificial means of expression, for a poet versed in the classics 
and in Itahan literature, it was the most natural one. Cer- 
tainly Milton turned to it instinctively. There can be no 
doubt of the sincerity of his grief at the death of his best 
friend, Diodati, a man who had stood much nearer to him 
than did King. To mourn him, Milton wrote not only a 
pastoral, but a Latin pastoral in which occur the same 
phrases which Dr. Johnson considered meaningless in 
Lycidas — flocks, fields, "copses, flowers, heathen divinities." 
In adopting this form, Milton has added to traits common 
to all Italian and English pastoral elegies, elements that 
seem strangely at variance. No one but the greatest artist 
could have made of such material a perfect whole. Here is 
Christian and Pagan thought; idyllic description and the 
fierce denunciation of the reformer; classic imagery and the 
very essence of the shudder and mystery of romance in the 
thought of the shipwrecked friend washed far away 

lii/« of Milton. 


" beyond the stormy Hebrides, 
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide 
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world." 

Not only is Lycidas supreme in English pastoral elegy, but 
what can surpass it in other literatures? 

The music of the poem is as remarkable as its beauty of 
expression. Here, as later in Paradise Lost, Milton employs 
verse paragraphs, each one different in its movement, yet all 
blending perfectly, as the various instruments in an orches- 
tra make up one great volume of sound. We marvel not so 
much at the rhythm of individual verses, or at the music of 
certain phrases, but rather at the harmony of the whole 
elegy. Spenser's odes have no such strength of sound; 
even the most aspiring passages of his hymns lack the force 
of this measured cadence. The Elizabethan lyric is written 
for the tabor, the lute, the virginals ; here we listen to the 
tones of an organ. The art of the poem is as great as the 
inspiration; we are carried on and on by the sweep of the 
verse until the elegy reads as though it had been struck off 
in the white heat of the poet's emotion, yet Milton's manu- 
script shows how patiently he revised word and phrase. 
Familiarity with Lycidas but deepens admiration; its music 
haunts the ear, its phrases the memory. It is the most truly 
inspired lyric that England had yet produced. 

If, at the close of this chapter, we attempt to gather up 
in a few sentences the chief distinctions between the Eliza- 
bethan lyric and Jacobean and Caroline song, we perceive 
that the later lyric is less spontaneous in its expression and 
that it has less of the hght-hearted attitude towards life. 
Men are no longer content to paraphrase Petrarch; they 
have begun to peer in the face of things, to analyze their 
feelings, to question their thoughts. Technically, the later 
lyric shows more reserve. With exuberance of fancy has 
gone the freer metrical movement of song; the lyric measures 


are more restrained; the art is more evident. The old ideal- 
ism is passing away, yet its light has not wholly vanished. 
If we miss the Elizabethan spirit, we must remember that in 
compensation, song has deepened its message ; it has come 
closer to the hearts and minds of men. If there is less bril- 
liancy of phrase in the Caroline lyric, there is in the love 
poetry a charm and a grace, an unmistakable touch that 
lends distinction and that brings us back to these songs 
again and again. 


The Lyric feom the Restoeation to the Death of Pope 

The Restoration marks a new epoch in the lyric as well as 
in the drama. The proof of this statement is to be found in 
the neglect which overtook the poets we have just considered. 
"Theirs was the giant race before the flood," wrote Dryden, 
and the change in taste was indeed a deluge that spared the 
dramatic writings of Shakespeare, Jonson, and Fletcher, but 
entirely submerged the less pretentious works of their con- 
temporaries. Donne, no longer a force, was vaguely remem- 
bered as a wit; Herbert, adopted by the church, was read 
more as a preacher than as a poet ; the other lyrists — ^Love- 
lace, Herrick, Crashaw, we need not name them all — were 
quite forgotten: 

" But for the wits of either Charles's days. 
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease; 
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more, 
(Like twinkling stars the miscellanies o'er) 
One simile, that solitary shines 
In the dry desert of a thousand lines. 
Or lengthened thought that gleams through many a page, 
Has sanctified whole poems for an age."^ 

So wrote Pope three quarters of a century after these writers 
flourished. Of the poets who lived previous to the Restora- 
tion, he mentions only Carew ; the rather ambiguous "hundred 
more" suggests that he did not know even the names of 

1 The First Epistle of the Second Book of Horace, 11. 107-114. 


Carew's contemporaries.^ That he had not studied them is 
perfectly evident, for he complains of the absence of brilliant 
similes and striking thought in Caroline verse. The average 
reader would have even less knowledge of these lyrists, for 
Pope was a close student of poetry. 

It is customary to explain the difference that exists be- 
tween Elizabethan and Jacobean verse on the one hand and 
Restoration and Queen Anne verse on the other, by a short 
and convenient phrase — ^French influence. Like many other 
formulas, it offers no real solution of the question; when we 
seek for such borrowings from the French as we found in 
Elizabethan poetry, we discover nothing. Pope indeed drew 
from Boileau, but the spirit of English verse had been trans- 
formed before Pope wrote his satires. Had France pos- 
sessed no literature, English poetry would have undergone 
precisely the same change we find in it. 

The descent from the heights of Elizabethan song to the 
plains and even the marshes of the Restoration lyric is such 
a deep one that it is natural to look for some compelling 
influence from without rather than to the perfectly compre- 
hensible desire of a new generation for new themes and a new 
style. The English novel swings from romance to realism, 
from realism to romance, not because novelists are imitating 
Continental writers, but because each generation and even 
each decade has its own conception of life which it must 
express. The sonnets of Petrarch, Platonism, Ehzabethan 
chivalry, were exhausted sources of lyric inspiration; Eng- 
land had outgrown or forgotten them and the age desired 
to see itself in its writings. Moreover the style of the lyric 
was plainly developing towards that of the Restoration and 
pseudo-classic schools. Jonson, in his songs, laid the chief 
emphasis upon form and finish and the minor writers from 

1 Pope had his sneer at Quarles and we have seen that he read 
Crashaw carefully. Writing to Cromwell, he describes Crashaw as 
though he were unknown. 


1625 to 1650 show an increasing fondness for the couplet 
and a readiness to abandon the older lyric measures. In 1636 
appeared Fasciculus Florum or a Nosegay of Flowers, trans- 
lated out of the Gardens of several poets and other authors. 
It is significant that nearly every one of the eight hundred 
and fifty-three selections are taken not from the Italian or 
French but from the Latin, and that with but few exceptions, 
the couplet is the medium of translation. The substance of 
the lyric was changing also. There are songs of Lovelace 
and Suckling that would pass undetected in the poems of 
Sedley and Rochester, and we find an even clearer prophecy 
of the Restoration lyric in the work of Edmund Waller 

His earliest poem describes the escape of Charles I (then 
Prince of Wales) from being swept out to sea.^ Although 
the verses were revised before their publication in 1645, they 
were written in 1623 when this event occurred. If we examine 
the poem carefully we perceive that when Waller was but 
seventeen his style was so formed that it shows no real devel- 
opment in all his later work; as Dr. Johnson observed, "his 
versification was, in his first essay, such as it appears in his 
last performance." Though he proved weak and cowardly 
in the struggle between the King and Parliament, in his 
verse he showed a certain boldness of innovation. He cared 
little for his contemporaries ; he told Aubrey that he had 
never met Ben Jonson and certainly he shows no marks of 
Donne's wit. Turning aside from the literary fashions of 
the day, he chose for himself a measured style quite different 
from Jonson's well-calculated stanzas. "When he was a 
brisk young spark," writes Aubrey, "and first studied 
poetry, 'Me thought,' said he, 'I never saw a good copy of 
English verses ; they want smoothness ; then I began to 

1 G. T. Drury, Poems of Edmund Waller, Muses' Library, London, 
1893, p. 1. 


essay.' "^ He revolted, if such a weak nature can be said to 
revolt, against all irregularity of style. Taking Fairfax as 
his model, he found in the couplets of his translation of Tasso 
the desired metre. In this verse form he wrote the greater 
part of his poetry, yet he is fond of octosyllabics and chose 
for the song in which he really lives — "Go, lovely rose" — an 
irregular stanza. 

His first poem, then, showed his one good quality — a 
smooth style. He did not bring the couplet to perfection. 
Dryden gave it energy and strength; Pope, epigramatic 
point and brilliancy ; but Waller made it as popular a verse 
form as the sonnet had been. So great was his fame that by 
his rejection of the lyric measures of the Elizabethans and 
by his outspoken preference for definite rules in place of 
freedom in verse composition, he fettered the spirit of song. 

" Above our neighbors our conceptions are ; 
But faultless writing is the effect of care. 
Our lines reformed, and not composed in haste, 
Polished like marble, would like marble last."^ 

There is no lyric note in such writing. Patient workman- 
ship was to take the place of the poetic impulse ; the lines of 
a song were no more to rise and fall with the thought, but 
were to be laid carefully one upon another. 

Not only did Waller change the music of the lyric ; he 
modified its content. In the hands of Marlowe, the couplet 
had expressed the very essence of romantic beauty and pas- 
sion. Nearer Waller's own day, Browne had used the heroic 
measure in his Britannia's Pastorals to describe nature. 
Waller rejected all deeper emotions and not content with 
"elegance of diction," sought for "propriety of thought." 
In his poem on the Earl of Roscommon's translation of 
Horace, he gives his literary creed: 

1 Introduction, p. LXX. 

2 P. 224. 


" Horace will our superfluous branches prune. 
Give us new rules, and set our harps in tune ; 
Direct us how to back the winged horse. 
Favour his flight, and moderate his force. 
Though poets may of inspiration boast. 
Their rage, ill governed, in the clouds is lost."'^ 

Here we have the critical, self-conscious attitude towards 
poetry and it is not surprising that we find few lyrics in an 
age that prized correctness above emotion and high imagin- 
ation. Waller's diction shows the limiting hand of conven- 
tionality. Shakespeare had spoken of the poet's "rage" ; 
with Waller this becomes a stereotyped word and even the 
bee, flying from flower to flower, "rages." We read of 
"nymphs," of "gilded scenes," of sounds that "invade the 
ear," and we seem to hear Pope. Waller never forgets him- 
self; he is never carried away by a burst of feeling; and his 
self-restraint and moderation debase his poetry to weak 
society verse. 

Waller wrote a number of love lyrics. The name most 
closely connected with his is that of Sacharissa, or in plain 
English, Dorothy Sidney, eldest daughter of the Earl of 
Leicester. Though Waller tells us that her "beam of 
beauty" scorches like the raging sun, it did not inspire even 
a gentle glow in the poet's verses. The most hasty reader 
must notice the absence of romance and feeling in these once 
famous lyrics. If, as Gosse assumes, To a Girdle and "Go, 
lovely rose," were addressed to Sacharissa, certainly his 
"passion" produced his two finest songs, but there is nothing 
to support this theory. To use Waller's own phrase, he 
"pursued the nymph in vain," and on her marriage wrote 
very calmly of his lost mistress. We agree with his earliest 
biographer that "he was not of such a complexion as to 
become a martyr to his passions." 

1 P. 214. 


We have said that in his lyrics he gives us society verse, 
but in this genre he can not take a high position. His trifling 
has not the charm of Herrick's ; he has not caught the care- 
less tone of Suckhng; he lacks Prior's wit. The one admir- 
able quality he possessed was a mild eloquence, seen at its 
best in his masterpiece. 

" Then die ! that she 
The common fate of all things rare 

May read in thee; 
How small a part of time they share 
That are so wondrous sweet and fair !"' 

Here is no pathos, no deep melancholy, but a charming and 
graceful rendering of an old theme. His care and polish are 
not too evident and the lyric is free from his formal 
similes and his classic deities. Nowhere is he more musical 
and in abandoning his poetic theories he has written one of 
the loveliest of English songs. 

Though Waller's lyrics hardly seem adapted for music, 
Henry Lawes composed melodies for them. One of them is 
quoted with admiration in Walton's Complete Angler: 

" While I listen to thy voice, 
Chloris ! I feel my life decay ; 
That powerful noise 
Calls my flitting soul away. 
Oh ! suppress that magic sound, 
Which destroys without a wound. "^ 

Here and there we meet with a fine phrase. Love's Farewell 
commences in a deeper tone than usual : 

" Treading the path to nobler ends, 
A long farewell to love I gave. 
Resolved my country, and my friends, 
All that remained of me should have. 

IP. 138. 
2 P. 127. 


" And this resolve no mortal dame. 
None but those eyes could have o'erthrown, 
The nymph I dare not, need not name. 
So high, so Hke herself alone." 

The last line has the true ring, but Waller immediately falls 
back on the couplet, introduces a conventional simile begin- 

" Thus the tall oak, which now aspires 
Above the fear of private fires,"^ 

and the song is ruined. 

If we are astonished at the obscurity that covered Her- 
rick's poems, we are more amazed at the fame Waller en- 
joyed for nearly a century. His name constantly recurs in 
the writings of the Restoration and of the Queen Anne age, 
and is invariably mentioned with respect.^ "Spenser's verses 
are so numerous, so various, and so harmonious that only 
Virgil has surpassed him among the Romans ; and only Mr. 
Waller among the English,"' writes Dryden, and the state- 
ment shows how completely the fine sense of rhythm and of 
melody had been lost. Speaking of rhyme, Dryden informs us 
that "the excellence and dignity of it were never fully known 
until Mr. Waller taught it ; he first made writing easily an 
art."* This praise is constantly repeated by the writers who 
succeeded Dryden. "Nor yet shall Waller yield to fame," 
wrote Pope, and without a doubt he was considered the 
greatest lyric poet that England had produced. "The 
admired Mr. Waller," the "first refiner of our English 
tongue," is quite forgotten to-day ; only three or four of 
his lyrics are remembered ; and the adulation he received 

ip. 93. 

2 The flattering eulogy on Waller in the poems of Robert Hill, 1775, 
p. 52, shows how persistently the tradition continued. 

3 Essay on Satire. 

* Dedication to The Rival Ladies. 


merely shows how far the desire to be correct could pervert 
the taste. 

Another poet, once held in the highest esteem, shares 
Waller's fate. Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) seemed 
destined for great achievements. His Poetical Blossoms, 
published when he was about fifteen, showed something more 
than mere precocity. He produced plays when a student at 
Westminster school and at Cambridge ; his Mistress, brought 
out in 1647, was considered the most important series of love 
poems of that period. His Odes, 1656, introduced into Eng- 
lish verse the "high Pindaric style" — his chief distinction — 
and the wide applause these inflated, rhetorical verses re- 
ceived is best shown in Sprat's ode on Cowley, one of the 
curiosities of poetic eulogy. 

In his earliest poem Cowley writes : 

" From too much poetry that shines 
With gold in nothing but its lines. 
Free, O you powers, my breast."'^ 

and in aU his work he endeavored to show his wit. In this 
respect, as Dr. Johnson pointed out, he is a follower of 
Donne, but he lacks absolutely his imagination and emotion. 
The Mistress is hard reading; it has little feeling and its 
ingenuity of thought is not great enough to hold the flagging 

" But do not touch my heart, and so be gone; 
Strike deep thy burning arrows in: 
Lukewarmness I account a sin. 
As great in love, as in religion."^ 

lA. R. Waller, Essays and Plays of Abraham Cowley, Cambridge, 
1906, p. 49. 

2 A. R. Waller, The Poems of Abraham Cowley, Cambridge, 1905, 
p. 66. 


he tells us. Judged by this standard, Cowley is the chief of 
sinners. One stanza will show this ; its artificiality is unfor- 
tunately typical not only of the Mistress but of many a 
Restoration lyric: 

" I came, I saw, and was undone; 

Lightning did through my bones and marrow run; 
A pointed pain pierced deep my heart; 
A swift, cold trembling seized on every part; 
My head turned round, nor could it bear 
The poison that was entered there." 

The next stanza descends to the formal simile : 

" So a destroying angel's breath 
Blows in the plague, and with it hasty death."' 

Such writing is a mere academic exercise. Many of the 
Elizabethan songs have very little feeling, but there is ample 
compensation in their charm of metre and grace of diction. 
We do not find these saving qualities in Cowley's poems; 
rarely he has something of the Elizabethan spirit in such a 
passage as : 

" Love in her sunny eyes does basking play ; 
Love walks the pleasant mazes of her hair; 
Love does on both her lips for ever stray; 
And sows and reaps a thousand kisses there. 
In all her outward parts Love's always seen; 
But, oh, he never went within."^ 

but the rest of the poem falls far below this. He writes on 
the subjects that every sonneteer employed — sleep, absence, 
parting, beauty unadorned — yet there is not a single sonnet 
in all these poems. We hardly recognize the familiar themes, 
for, disguised in Cowley's rhetoric, they seem translated into 
a new language. 

ip. 67. 
2 P. 76. 


The Mistress, though admired, did not set the fashion for 
the Restoration love lyric; Rochester, Sedley, Dorset, and 
their contemporaries preferred a more direct and a less 
ingenious manner than Cowley employed. It was his Odes 
that introduced a new poetic style. There is a long Hst of 
writers, from his day to our own, who have paid homage to 
Cowley by their use of his "Pindaric stanzas." When we 
consider the veneration in which the classics were held, it is 
surprising that no English poet had hitherto adopted 
Pindar's method ; Jonson's ode to the memory of Cary and 
Morison is his solitary experiment in this genre. A full cen- 
tury before Cowley's work appeared, Ronsard had won the 
title of "le Pindare fran9ois" by writing a series of odes 
imitating the Greek poet's language and thought much more 
closely than Cowley ever attempted to do. The Elizabe- 
thans, we remember, translated Ronsard's sonnets ; they were 
not attracted by his Pindaric flights. 

In his prefaces, Cowley has discussed his odes. He tells 
us that in two of his versions of Pindar he took, omitted, and 
added what he pleased. He aimed to show the reader not 
what Pindar said but his manner of speaking ; Pindar's style, 
"though it be the noblest and highest kind of writing in 
verse," had not yet been introduced into English literature. 
He fears these Pindaric odes wiU not be understood even by 
readers well versed in poetry because of the sudden and long 
digressions and their bold and unusuaLfigures. "The num- 
bers are various and irregular, and sometimes seem harsh 
and uncouth, if the just measures and cadences be not ob- 
served in the pronunciation." The music of these poems lies 
wholly at the mercy of the reader.^ So much for his poetic 
theory ; his practice is well shown in a single stanza from his 
Ode upon Liberty, in which he speaks once more of his Pin- 
daric style: 

iPp. 156, 11. 


" If Life should a well-ordered poem be, 
(In which he only hits the white 
Who joins true profit with the best delight) 
The more heroic strain let others take. 
Mine the Pindaric way I'll make. 
The matter shall be grave, the numbers loose and free. 
It shall not keep one settled pace of time, 
In the same tune it shall not always chime. 
Nor shall each day just to his neighbour rhyme. 
A thousand liberties it shall dispense, 
And yet shall manage all without ofFence."'^ 

In other words, to write on some abstract theme, using an 
irregular verse form, was to catch the very spirit of Pindar. 
As a matter of fact, the odes of Pindar have a regular 
structure — "a system of stanzas recurring in the same order 
till the end of the poem, and consisting of two stanzas of 
identical form, the strophe and antistrophe, followed by a 
third, the epode, entirely differing from the two others."^ 
Cowley never perceived this (though Jonson had understood 
it) and it was left to Congreve to point out that Cowley 
never followed Pindar, even afar off.' To Cowley's imme- 
diate contemporaries, his irregularity of metre implied imag- 
ination and even sublimity. The poet had only to group 
together a certain number of long and short verses and his 
thought assumed an unmistakable majesty. If Waller's 
couplets on the escape of Prince Charles had been trans- 
formed to irregular stanzas and not a syllable of their sub- 
stance altered, by some mysterious process the verse would 
have been lifted to the realms of the imagination. We under- 
stand to-day that no device of metre can atone for a lack 
of inspiration. The question is not whether odes are regular 
or irregular, but whether there is any life in them. In his 

1 Essays and Plays, p. 391. 

2 J. Schipper, A History of English Versification, Oxford, 1910, p. 
366. Cf. Introductory Essay to B. L. Gildersleeve's Pindar, N. Y., 1885. 

3 Discourse on the Pindaric Ode. 


Progress of Poesy, Gray follows exactly the regular struc- 
ture of the Greek ode, but it is doubtful whether the reader 
perceives this ; what he does notice is the imagination and 
the thought. Cowley has cleverness and ingenuity of 
thought rather than imagination and a gentle melancholy 
rather than deep emotion ; accordingly he was tempera- 
mentally unfitted for this most difficult of all lyric types. 
At the close of his Ode on the Resurrection it is curious to 
hear him beg his Muse to "allay thy vigorous heat," to 

" Hold thy Pindarique Pegasus closely in. 
Which does to rage begin,"^ 

for in most of the verses, Pegasus has certainly ambled. 

There is something to be said on the other side, for Cowley 
possessed one quality — though hardly a lyric one — which 
we must not overlook. His best odes have an intellectual 
element, a reasoning in verse, which is not without attraction 
and which goes far to explain his popularity with his con- 
temporaries and why Milton valued him with Spenser and 
Shakespeare. To see this we have merely to turn to the 
Ode to the Royal Society or to the better Hymn to Light. 
Here with a certain felicity of phrase at times approaching 
the language of imagination, he traces light from the rose 
to the jewel, from the rainbow to the firefly, 

" Nor amidst all these triumphs dost thou scorn 
The humble glow-worms to adorn. 
And with those living spangles gild 
(O greatness without pride !) the bushes of the field."^ 

Cowley is most attractive in his less formal writing. His 
Anacreontics are light and graceful and the ode at the close 
of his essay on gardens has many charming lines. He will 

1 Poems, p. 182. 

2 P. 445. 


be remembered chiefly by two elegies, on Richard Crashaw 
and on Wilham Hervey, a college friend. In the days of 
religious bigotry and persecution he is not afraid to praise 
his brother poet, a Cathohc convert. In lines full of that 
emotion which the odes lacked, he exalts the purity of his 
life and the intensely spiritual quality of his verse. The 
poem on Hervey is even better because more personal ; it does 
not speak of sorrow, a vague abstraction of the odes, but 
describes in an intimate way the poet's deep sense of what he 
has lost : 

" Ye fields of Cambridge, our dear Cambridge, say, 
Have ye not seen us walking every day.'' 
Was there a tree about which did not know 

The love betwixt us two.^ 
Henceforth, ye gentle trees, for ever fade; 

Or your sad branches thicker join. 

And into darker shades combine. 
Dark as the grave wherein my friend is laid."'^ 

When we compare such a stanza with Cowley's interesting 
and ingenious Ode on Wit, we realize how far astray a false 
conception of poetry had led him. The elegy has the vital 
spark in it. One touch of deep feeling is worth all the 
brilliant strokes of rhetoric ; judged by such a standard these 
lines on Hervey are not unworthy to be read with Lycidas 
and Thyrsis. 

What Cowley failed to do was accomplished by John 
Dryden (1631-1700), whose Pindaric odes have both vigor 
of thought and dignity of expression. It is significant, how- 
ever, that the greatest poet of this age should have written 
but three odes worthy of remembrance and but four or five 
short lyrics that deserve a place in anthologies. Though a 
few good lyrics were composed in this generation, from 
Dryden to the lowest poetaster, the writers lacked that gift 

ip. 34. 


of song which even the humblest Elizabethan seemed to pos- 
sess as a birthright. In the collected works of the drama- 
tists and poets of this period we frequently come across sets 
of verses entitled "songs," but almost invariably they are 
merely a collection of conventional phrases that rhyme. 

On the other hand, much stimulating criticism and satire 
of the highest order was written in verse. No one who reads 
it will believe that there had been a decline in the intellectual 
element of poetry. The wits of the Restoration poets were 
keen and alert, but their emotions seem deadened and their 
ears had grown dull. In his Threnodia Augiistalis, a Pin- 
daric ode on the death of Charles II, Dryden gravely pro- 
claims the reign of Charles to be the age of verse. The "gay 
harmonious quire" of "ofHcious Muses" attended him, 

" And such a plenteous crop they bore. 
Of purest and well-winnowed grain. 
As Britain never knew before." 

We can understand why Dryden flattered the King; it is 
difficult to see how he arrived at his opinion of contemporary 
poetry. Apart from this spirit of self-satisfaction, there is 
another reason why the lyric declined. The social life of 
the age forbade fineness of feeling, honest emotion, and ideal- 
ism in its songs. In a period in which lampoons and doggerel 
satire flourished, the lyric was forgotten. The hterary taste 
of the nation had been lowered; the Faerie Qiteene was the 
poem of the court of EHzabeth, but the book which Charles II 
carried about with him was Hudibras. 

Dryden, then, was a man of his age; he generally lacked 
in his writings the melodic gift that makes a song, yet his 
verse was more musical than that of his contemporaries. In 
his Annus Mirabilis, written in the metre of Gray's Elegy, 
there are many passages worthy to stand in that most musi- 
cal of poems ; in his satires we are often as much impressed 


by the sonorous ring of his couplets as by the force of their 
attack. He was, accordingly, admirably fitted for the Pin- 
daric ode as Cowley wrote it. 

His two best odes are To the memory of Mrs. Anne KUli- 
grew and Alexander's Feast. The latter is the more famous 
chiefly because it is the more brilliant but the first ode con- 
tains the better poetry and is obviously the more sincere 
piece of writing. In Alexander's Feast the workmanship is 
too evident ; the effects are too plainly calculated ; and the 
poem with its constant antithesis and even epigram — "None 
but the brave deserve the fair" — is composed in the wits. 
It is not so much dramatic as it is theatrical. In extenuation, 
it should be remembered that Dryden wrote this poem for 
music and those artificial lines imitating the sounds of various 
instruments were designed, in part at least, to give the com- 
poser his opportunity. Judged as poetry, such writing is 
neither better nor worse than the couplets in Pope's Essay 
on Criticism that make the sound an echo to the sense ; it is 
in reahty a trick to catch the applause of the groundlings. 
Crashaw employs this same device in his Music's Duel, but 
his lines are beautiful both in phrasing and in their melody. 
The best writing is found in the close of this ode. As Dryden 
proceeds, his mind kindles, his style rises, and the well-known 

" At length divine Cecilia came, 
Inventress of the vocal frame ;" 

has a rhetorical eloquence no other poet of the day could 

The ode on Mrs. KilHgrew is written throughout in a 
broader style. It depends for its effect not upon verbal 
skill, but upon its imagination and emotional force. We see 
this in the opening apostrophe composed in Dryden's highest 
manner : 


" Thou youngest virgin-daughter of the skies, 
Made in the last promotion of the blest ; 
Whose palms, new plucked from Paradise, 
In spreading branches more sublimely rise, 

Rich with immortal green above the rest: 
Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star. 
Thou roU'st above us in thy wandering race. 
Or in procession fixed and regular. 
Moved with the heaven's majestic pace; 
Or, called to more superior bliss. 
Thou tread'st with Seraphim the vast abyss:" 

Such verses lack the sweetness, the rich coloring, the sensuous 
appeal of Elizabethan poetry, but there is no fair point of 
comparison between such an ode and Spenser's Prothalamion. 
If the earlier writing appeals to us more forcibly, it is because 
we are trained in the school of Keats and Tennyson rather 
than that this ode is a weak production. 

We must pass over that deeply felt stanza in which Dryden 
laments the degradation of poetry and his own part in it, 
and come to the closing lines. They have a solemnity, a 
grave cadence which we have not heard before in the lyric : 

" When in mid-air the golden trump shall sound. 
To raise the nations under ground; 
When, in the valley of Jehosaphat, 
The j udging God shall close the book of Fate, 
And there the last assizes keep 
For those who wake and those who sleep." 

The Pindaric odes written for a century after Cowley's 
death seem innumerable. They were composed on every 
conceivable subject from the King's birthday to "The Intol- 
erable Heat," but Dryden's odes were never approached. To 
read them is to see the highest development of Cowley's genre 
until we reach our modern poets. 

Dryden followed the Elizabethan custom of introducing 
songs freely in his dramas. To one familiar with but his 


satires and his odes, it is surprising to meet him in his lighter 

" Wherever I am, and whatever I do. 

My Phyllis is stiU in my mind; 
When angry, I mean not to Phyllis to go. 

My feet, of themselves, the way find: 
Unknown to myself I am just at her door. 
And, when I would rail, I can bring out no more 

Than, Phyllis too fair and unkind !"^ 

He has many experiments in metre, from the too facile : 

" How unhappy a lover am I, 

While I sigh for my Phyllis in vain; 
All my hopes of delight 
Are another man's right, 

Who is happy, while I am in pain !"^ 

to the beautifully modulated: 

" No, no, poor suffering heart, no change endeavour. 
Choose to sustain the smart, rather than leave her; 
My ravished eyes behold such charms about her, 
I can die with her, but not live without her."' 

He never, in his most tripping measures, attains the grace 
or the melody of the Elizabethans; he has written songs for 
"Aerial Spirits," but there is no magic in them. He is at his 
best in a soberly modulated lyric. 

" Ah fading joy! how quickly art thou past! 

Yet we thy ruin haste. 
As if the cares of human life were few. 

We seek out new: 
And follow fate that does too fast pursue." 

1 From the Conquest of Oranada, Part I. See Scott-Saintsbury, John 
Dryden'a Works, vol. IV, p. 85. 

i Conquest of Oranada, Part II, vol. IV, p. 187. 

3 Cleomenes, vol. VIII, p. 292. The Maiden Queen, vol. II, p. 483, has 
another good song in this same metre. 


He tries to end this with a bit of pure melody : 

" Hark, hark, the waters fall, fall, fall. 
And with a murmuring sound. 
Dash, dash upon the ground. 
To gentle slumber call."^ 

How far this is from the slumber songs we have read. In 
his perversion of the Tempest, Dryden did not shrink from 
adding lyrics of his own and among them, this duo between 
Ferdinand and Ariel : 

" When the winds whistle, and when the streams creep. 
Under yon willow-tree fain would I sleep. 
Then let me alone. 
For 'tis time to be gone. 
For 'tis time to be gone."^ 

Indeed it is. 

The dramatic lyrics of Dryden are typical of all that the 
Restoration stage has to offer. Sir William Davenant 
(1606-1668) inherited something of the CaroUne tradition 
yet the lyrics in his masques are devoid of merit. The folio 
edition of his works (1673) contains a thousand pages, but 
in all this vast extent of verse there is but one good song, 
"The lark now leaves his watery nest." The best tragedies 
of the period were written by Thomas Otway (1651 .''-1685). 
His Venice Preserved does not contain a single lyric and the 
only one in The Orphan does not deserve citation. In Alci- 
biades there is a song on the theme of Shirley's "The glories 
of our blood and state" ; its inferiority measures the unhappy 
change that has come over Restoration verse: 

" Princes that rule and empires sway. 
How transitory is their state ! 
Sorrows the glories do allay, 

And richest crowns have greatest weight." 

1 The Indian Emperor, vol. II, p. 380. 

2 Vol. Ill, p. 168. 


In the comedies of the day we naturally expect to find 
better songs; a search through them yields but little. We 
are not surprised that the three or four lyrics in Wycherley's 
plays are coarse in tone, unpoetic in diction, and altogether 
quite worthless, but it is disconcerting to find no good song 
in the dramas of such lively writers as Vanbrugh and Far- 
quhar, who merely adapted his "Over the hills and far away," 
in the Recruiting Officer, from a popular song. William 
Congreve (1670-1729) has one succession of songs in his 
masque. The Judgment of Paris, and in his "opera" Semele, 
but they do not deserve a second reading. His only lyric to 
gain popularity is in his Way of the World. It begins : 

" Love's but the fraility of the mind. 
When 'tis not with ambition joined; 
A sickly flame, which if not fed, expires; 
And feeding, wastes in self-consuming fires." 

This is as artificial as Waller's lyrics. It is worthy of notice 
that the heroine of this play is introduced repeating a lyric 
of Suckling's ; an Elizabethan dramatist would have com- 
posed his own song. 

In Congreve's Old Bachelor, Araminta asks the music- 
master for "the last new song," which he sings to her. One 
stanza is enough : 

" Thus to a ripe, consenting maid, 
Poor, old, repenting Delia said: — 
' Would you long preserve your lover ? 

Would you still his goddess reign? 
Never let him all discover. 

Never let him much obtain.' " 

Bellamour's opinion of this production — "I don't much 
admire the words" — may be taken as a final verdict upon 
all these lyrics. Some of the playwrights have good moments 
of song, but they are literally moments. Thomas Shadwell 


(1642-1692) introduces many lyrics into his dramas and he 
has given to some of the songs in the Royal Shepherdess 
a faint touch of Elizabethan grace. More characteristic are 
his anapests in Psyche: 

" There's none without love ever happy can be. 
Without it each brute were as happy as we. 

It was from such crude verse that Prior's lightest measures 
were developed.^ 

Sir George Etheredge (1635-1691) showed in his lyrics an 
easy style and a lively spirit, as he does in his prose comedies. 
His two best songs were not written for his plays. The first 
pleases us by its formality, not carried to excess: 

" Ye happy swains, whose hearts are free 

From love's imperial chain, 
Take warning and be taught by me, 

T'avoid th' enchanting pain. 
Fatal the wolves to trembling flocks. 

Fierce winds to blossoms prove. 
To careless seamen hidden rocks. 

To human quiet love." 

The second, entitled Sylvia, must rank with the best of Prior's 

" The nymph that undoes me is fair and unkind. 
No less than a wonder by nature designed. 
She's the grief of my heart, the joy of my eye, 
And the cause of a flame that never can die. 

" Her mouth from whence wit still obligingly flows. 
Has the beautiful blush and the smell of the rose ; 
Love and destiny both attend on her will. 
She wounds with a look, with a frown she can kiU."^ 

1 The Dramatic Works of Thomas Shadwell, 1720, vol. II, p. 46. 

2 A. W. Verity, The Works of Sir George Etheredge, London, 1888, 
pp. 381, 389. 



Leaving the dramatists, we come to three well-known 
lyrists in Dorset, Sedley, and Rochester. Charles Sackville 
(1638-1706), who succeeded to the titles of Lord Buckhurst 
and Earl of Dorset, began life as a dissolute courtier and 
wit. Pepys, who might be expected to look leniently on 
shortcomings of conduct, speaks of him with great dis- 
approbation and pictures him, in company with Sedley, 
sunk in the most degrading dissipation. Dorset outgrew 
this life and in later years became known as a kindly and 
generous patron of poets, among whom were Dryden, Butler, 
and Prior. They did not neglect to sing his praises and 
he died in the odor of poetic sanctity. 

He has left but little verse — a few pages will contain it 
all — for like his feUows, he had little inspiration. To realize 
fully the variety and wealth of the Elizabethan lyric, we 
must contrast that age of music with this untuneful period, 
when a dozen stanzas would gain a reputation. Dorset 
gained his by a single lyric. He is fond of the anapestic 
measure, a metre which is as characteristic of this time as 
is the sonnet of Elizabethan days or the couplet of the 
Queen Anne period. In all his work there is an easy, good- 
natured tone: 

" Ah ! Chloris, 'tis time to disarm your bright eyes. 
And lay by those terrible glances; 
We live in an age that's more civil and wise, 
Than to follow the rules of romances." 

He sings of no hard-hearted beauty, but of Bess, "with her 
skin white as milk, and her hair black as coal" : 

" But now she adorns both the boxes and pit. 
And the proudest town gallants are forced to submit; 
All hearts fall a-leaping wherever she comes. 
And beat day and night, like my Lord Craven's drums. "^ 

1 Chalmers' English Poets, vol. "VIII, London, 1810, pp. 344, 345. 


If his best song was not composed, as the tradition runs, 
on the eve of an engagement with the Dutch fleet, it never- 
theless shows what is the most admirable trait in these later 
Cavaliers — a fearlessness in the presence of danger — and in 
its reckless tone we feel that contempt of death which the 
former generation would have expressed in a nobler manner. 
If To Lucasta contains the essence of the Cavalier spirit, 
Dorset's "To all you ladies now on land" is to an equal degree 
typical of the Restoration lyric. The English sailors think 
not of the Dutch but of the court beauties : 

" To pass our tedious hours away. 

We throw a merry main ; 
Or else at serious ombre play; 

But, why should we in vain 
Each other's ruin thus pursue? 
We were undone when we left you — 

With a fa, la, la, la, la. 

" But now our fears tempestuous grow, 

And cast our hopes away; 
Whilst you, regardless of our woe, 

Sit careless at a play: 
Perhaps, permit some happier man 
To kiss your hand, or flirt your fan. 

With a fa, la, la, la, la."^ 

Truly a lively hymn before action. Throughout the eleven 
stanzas (this is Dorset's longest composition) the gaiety 
never flags. 

Sir Charles Sedley (1639-1701) is a better song writer 
than Dorset. His touch is always graceful and light; his 
metres are invariably the most simple ones: 

" Phlllis, men say that all my vows 
Are to thy fortune paid: 
Alas ! my heart he little knows 
Who thinks my love a trade. 
1 P. 343. 


" Were I of all these woods the lord, 
One berry from thy hand 
More real pleasure would afford, 
Than all my large command. 

" My humble love has learned to live 
On what the nicest maid. 
Without a conscious blush, may give 
Beneath the myrtle-shade."^ 

Could the thought be more naturally expressed.'' We find 
gallantry, not love in these songs, and if the sonneteers 
repeated stock themes, these writers have even less to tell 
us. In the song from The Mulberry Garden, "Ah Chloris ! 
that I now could sit, As unconcerned," he anticipates but in 
no sense approaches Prior's To a child of quality. Occa- 
sionally he introduces an epigrammatic turn to his verse : 

" 'Tis cruel to prolong a pain. 
And to defer a joy, 
Believe me, gentle Celemene, 
Offends the winged boy."^ 

but he relies chiefly on the ease of his style. 

Two other songs of Sedley deserve notice: "Phillis is my 
only joy," and To Celia. The latter is not only his little 
masterpiece, it is one of the best songs of the century, written 
with a feeling and in a style that could not be improved. 

" Not, Celia, that I juster am. 
Or better than the rest. 
For I would change each hour like them, 
Were not my heart at rest. 

1 The Works of the Honourable Sir Charles Sedley, London, 1778, 
vol. I, p. 101. 

2 P. 65. 


" But I am tied to very thee, 

By every thought I have; 
Thy face I only care to see. 
Thy heart I only crave. 

" All that in woman is adored 
In thy dear self, I find; 
For the whole sex can but afford 
The handsome and the kind. 

" Why then should I seek further store. 
And still make love anew.'' 
When change itself can give no more, 
'Tis easy to be true."'^ 

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680), was the 
most gifted lyrist of the Restoration. His life began bril- 
liantly and ended tragically. He fell a victim to the vices 
of the court set, yet his nature was essentially finer than that 
of a Dorset or a Sedley. Bishop Burnet's well-known account 
of Rochester's last days reveals a man gentle and generous, 
worthy of a better age. 

There is no authoritative edition of Rochester's writings. 

The scandals of his life prompted unscrupulous publishers 

to issue, after his death, several editions of his works. They 

contained many poems for which without a doubt he was not 

responsible. The contents of these volumes are never alike ; 

his best lyrics appear or are excluded at haphazard, and 

even when an attempt is made to include his finest verses, 

there are serious omissions. "Why dost thou shade thy 

lovely face," is a notable bit of writing; it is one of the few 

Restoration songs that depict deep emotion, yet it does not 

appear in Dr. Johnson's English Poets} Careless of fame, 

Rochester never collected his poetry and undoubtedly much 

of his work has vanished. 

iP. 56. 

2 Works of the Earls of Rochester, Roscommon, Dorset, etc., 1721, 
vol. I, p. 95. 


He was known as a wit — his epigram on "the King, whose 
word no man reUes on," justifies his title — and he wrote 
more satires than lyrics. He admired Cowley and in his 
Ode to Nothing, imitates his turn of thought; he sensibly 
avoided, however, the Pindaric style and preferred the man- 
ner of Dorset andSedley. He is a better lyrist than either, 
for he has their ease and yet a more sincere feeling. His 
metres are more varied. He turns from the famihar anapests, 

" To this moment a rebel, I throw down my arms. 
Great Love, at first sight of Olinda's bright charms;" 


" All my past life is mine no more, 
The flying hours are gone: 
Like transitory dreams given o'er. 
Whose images are kept in store 
By memory alone." 

or to the more familiar 

" My dear mistress has a heart 

Soft as those kind looks she gave me. 
When, with Love's resistless art 

And her eyes, she did enslave me."'^ 

The Restoration lyrists are not sharply individualized. It 
is never a difficult matter to distinguish the sonnets of Sidney 
from those of Drayton, but the songs of this age are all very 
much alike. Rochester stands apart from the rest ; he writes 
with more sincerity and in a higher manner. No one of his 
contemporaries struck the note he reached in his "Absent 
from thee I languish still" : 

1 Chalmers' Poets, vol. VIII, pp. 240, 342. 


" When, wearied with a world of woe, 
To thy safe bosom I retire. 
Where love, and peace, and truth, does flow: 
May I contented there expire ! 

" Lest, once more wandering from that heaven, 
I fall on some base heart unblest; 
Faithless to thee, false, unforgiven. 
And lose my everlasting rest."^ 


Before coming to the song books of the Restoration, we 
must at least mention some of the minor writers. Charles 
Cotton (1630-1687), the friend of Walton, offers us a num- 
ber of songs, sonnets, and Pindaric odes in his Poems on 
Several Occasions (1689), and though he is interesting when 
he writes on country life and especially on fishing, his best 
lyrics are only passable. Philip Ayres (1638-1712) deserves 
more consideration that he has received because he is a belated 
Elizabethan, the last of the Petrarchists. His Lyric Poems 
made in Imitation of the Italians (1687) is a collection of 
translations from Petrarch, Guarini, Tassoni, and from 
Spanish writers as well. Curiously enough, he states that 
he can find in French poetry nothing worthy of imitation. 
In his sonnets he has not caught the sweetness of the EHza- 
bethans ; his style is Caroline, as in his song To the Winds. 
His best sonnet. On a Fair Beggar, is probably a translation, 
yet it deserves a place in aU anthologies. It is surprisingly 
modern in the sympathetic description of the girl, "Barefoot 
and ragged, with neglected hair."^ 

Thomas Flatman (1637-1688) is a more important be- 
cause a more original writer. In some introductory verses 

ip. 240. 

2G. Saintsbury, Minor Poets of The Caroline Period, Oxford, 1906, 
vol. II, pp. 393, 379. 


to Flatman's Poems and Songs (1674), Cotton calmly in- 
forms us that Pindar's touch never yielded such harmony as 
the odes in this book attain, but they are more notable for 
their thought than for their style. The poems show force 
and imagination, for he writes 

" Verse that emancipates the mind, 
Verse that unbends the soul." 

He dwells on death with a morbid insistence. His "Mourn- 
ful Song," as a contemporary anthology calls it, beginning 
"0 that sad day," is his most typical lyric, resembling some- 
what both in its movement and in its realism, the Odes of 
Coventry Patmore. Two of his songs, hymns for morning 
and evening, are quaintly but musically written, and deserve 
to be rescued from oblivion.'^ 

Thomas Traherne (1636 .''-1674) did not send his poems 
to the press ; they were discovered and first published in 1903 
by Bertram Dobell. They are religious lyrics ; at their best, 
they are worthy to be ranked with Herbert's and Vaughan's, 
for their thought is striking, their emotion sincere, their 
idealism moving in its simplicity. Traherne resembles 
Vaughan not in his technique but in his love of the innocence 
and glory of childhood. "How like an angel came I down!" 
is his cry. The world was but another heaven : 

" The skies in their magnificence, 
The lively, lovely air. 
Oh how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair ! 

The stars did entertain my sense. 
And all the works of God, so bright and pure, 
So rich and great did seem. 
As if they ever must endure 
In my esteem. 

1 Poems and Songs, 4th ed., 1686, pp. 57, 58. Rochester sneers at Flat- 
man in his Satire X. 


" The streets were paved with golden stones, 
The boys and girls were mine. 
Oh how did all their lovely faces shine ! 

The sons of men were holy ones. 
In joy and beauty they appeared to me, 

And every thing which here I found, 
While like an angel I did see. 

Adorned the ground."^ 

We can not dismiss the minor poets without mentioning 
the renowned "Matchless Orinda," Katharine Philips (1631- 
1664)). Praised by Cowley and Dryden, she is far from 
being the "English Sappho" ; she did not possess the lyrical 
temperament, and her work lies outside our province though 
she composed a few songs. Her favorite metre was the 
couplet, but at times, as Professor Saintsbury has pointed 
out, she catches the cadences of Donne and Jonson : 

" I did not live until this time 
Crown'd my felicity. 
When I could say without a crime, 
I am not thine, but thee. 

" Then let our flames still light and shine. 
And no false fear control. 
As innocent as our design. 
Immortal as our soul."^ 


We have not as yet considered the song books of the Res- 
toration, though many of the lyrics we have quoted found 

1 Bertram Dobell, The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne, London, 
1903, p. 4. 

2 Saintsbury, op. cit., vol. I, p. 537. 


a place in them. Readers of Pepys' diary will remember the 
great delight he took in the songs of the day; his frequent 
references to them remind us that the Elizabethan composers 
were succeeded by men of no mean ability. Lawes and Pur- 
cell were names to be honored in any generation, and a glance 
at the list of song books published by John Playford and 
his son is enough to confute the oft-repeated fallacy that the 
Puritan revolution destroyed the popular lyric. In 1653 
John Playford published Select Musical Ayres and Dia- 
logues in three boohs. Turning over its pages we find such 
lyric triumphs as Herrick's "Bid me to live," and "Gather 
ye rosebuds" ; Suckhng's "I prithee send me back my heart" ; 
and Shakespeare's "Take, O take those lips away." This 
same year Henry Lawes brought out his Ayres and Dia- 
logues, containing poems by Lovelace, Herrick, Waller, and 
Carew. The Restoration composers had no such poetry to 
inspire them. They were forced to write new settings for 
old songs, to use the few lyrics of Sedley and Rochester, or 
as more frequently happened, to fall back on utterly trivial 
words. There is still some gleaning to be done in these song 
books, but the amount of gold in them is small when com- 
pared with the dross. 

Le Prince d' Amour, or the Prince of Love. With a collec- 
tion of Several Ingenious Poems and Songs by the Wits of 
the Age (1660), contains nearly a hundred pages of songs. 
If we disregard the work of the older writers, such as Raleigh 
and Wotton, there are not six lyrics we would read a second 
time. The following year appeared An Antidote against 
Melancholy: made up in Pills. Compounded of Witty Bal- 
lads, Jovial Songs, and Merry Catches, a collection that con- 
tains among other interesting pieces a Ballad called the 
Green-Gown. The tone of the song is somewhat free ; we 
quote but the first and last stanzas. They show a splendid 
sense of rhythm and are written in a metre hitherto unknown :. 


" Pan leave piping, the Gods have done feasting, 

There's never a Goddess a hunting to-day. 
Mortals marvel at Coridon's jesting. 

That gives them assurance to entertain May. 
The lads and the lasses, with scarves on their faces, 

So lively as passes trip over the downs, (pusses?) 
Much mirth, and sport they make, running at Barley-break, 

Lord ! what haste they make for a green gown. 

" Bright Apollo was all the time peeping. 

To see if his Daphne had been in the throng. 
But missing her, hastily downwards was creeping. 

For Thetis imagined he tarried too long. 
Then all the troop mourned, and homeward returned. 

For Cinthia scorned to smile or to frown. 
Thus did they gather may all the long Summer day, 

And at night went away with a green gown."^ 

This is quite the gem of the book ; few songs of this century 
are more effective in their use of rhyme. The larger col- 
lection of songs that appeared this same year, Merry Drol- 
lery or a Collection of Jovial Poems, Merry Songs, Witty 
Drolleries, Intermixed with Pleasant Catches, Parts I and 11^ 
has nothing to equal this. As illustrating the manner and 
morals of the time, it is important. It contains some telling 
satire on the Puritans, even those of New England, but its 
songs are of slight value. 

The numerous books of drolleries, such as the Windsor, 
the Epsom,, the Norfolk Drolleries, may be said to culminate 
in Westminster Drolleries, published in two parts in 1671 
and 1672.^ The tone of the whole collection is struck by the 

IP. 20. This ballad may be found in the appendix to J. W. Ebs- 
worth's reprint of W eatminster Drolleries. D'Urfey included it in his 
Pills to Purge Melancholy. 

2 Reprinted by J. W. Ebsworth, Boston, England, 1875. 

3 Reprinted by Ebsworth, 1875. 


opening song, ascribed to Charles II : 

" I pass all my hours in a shady old grove, 
And I live not a day that I see not my love: 
I survey every walk now my Phillis is gone. 
And sigh when I think we were there all alone. 

O then, 'tis O then, I think there's no such Hell, 

Like loving, like loving too well."^ 

The diiference between the spirit of the Restoration and the 
spirit of the age of the Puritan revolution may be easily 
measured by comparing this gay trifle with the rugged lines 
written by the Royal Martyr when a prisoner at Carisbroke 
castle. In all these books there is little art ; at the best the 
metres please by their sprightly, tripping pace. We must 
never look for thought or emotion in songs whose value con- 
sists in a lively lilt, indeed some of the best writing is found 
in burlesques, such as The Hunting of the Gods, whose meas- 
ure recalls Father Front's stanzas : 

" Songs of shepherds, and rustical roundelays. 
Formed of fancies, and whistled on reeds ; 
Sung to solace young nymphs upon holidays. 
Are too unworthy for wonderful deeds. 
Phooebus ingenious. 
Or winged Cylenius 
His lofty genius 

May seem to declare. 
In verse better coined. 
And voice more refined. 
How states devined 

Once hunted the hare."^ 

It is hardly necessary to go over the whole list of song books, 
for our selections show them at their best. In New Court 
Songs and Poems by R. V. Gent, there is one lyric, entitled 

1 Vol. I, p. 11. 

2 Vol. II, p. 64. 


Snow, worthy of notice. It is a strikingly modern poem in 
the metre of Gray's Elegy: 

" See how the feathered blossoms through the air, 
Traverse a thousand various paths, to find 
On the impurer earth a place that's fair, 

Courting the conduct of each faithless wind !"^ 

but we have outgrown these songs on constancy and uncon- 
stancy, all written on the same model, smooth and graceful 
yet without a single bold idea or splendid phrase. The 
lighter the thought, the better the lyric is the rule for these 
books. There is no personality behind these poems ; they 
are written around a few conventional bouts rimes — flames, 
darts, woes, hearts ; traitor, change, vows, range — it is 
generally unnecessary to read more than the end rhymes. 
In the preface to Methmks the Poor Town has been troubled 
too long, or A Collection of all the New Songs that are gen- 
erally Sung, either at the Court or Theatre (1673), the 
compiler has a significant statement. "What I design is to 
bring that ridiculous way of printing songs out of fashion; 
for if a song is good, why should it be printed; if it be, in 
being so it is doubly spoiled [by changes and misprints] and 
even the name of being in print, makes it become ridiculous 
to that degree that you will hardly hear a printed song but 
in an Ale-house." This criticism is aimed at the songs pub- 
lished in single sheets ; many of them were the worst doggerel, 
but reading this very collection makes us hope that the good 
songs were not printed, and that the age had something 
better. Even such important books as Playford's Theatre 
of Music or a Choice collection of the newest and best songs 
swng at the Court and Public theatres. Books I-IV (1685- 
1687), and his Banquet of Music (1688) have little that is 
new to ofi^er us. 

iSee G. Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets, 4th ed., London, 
1811, vol. Ill, p. 403. 


These song collections culminated in the writings of 
Thomas D'Urfey (1653-1723). Of French descent, possess- 
ing much of the Gallic temperament, his success was in 
large measure a purely personal one, for he was not only a 
poet and composer, but he sang his compositions with great 
effect. He tells us that he had sung "before their Majesties 
King Charles the Second, King James, King William, 
Queen Mary, Queen Anne, and Prince George" — he had a 
repertoire that suited all tastes ! — and that he never went 
off "without happy and commendable approbation." He 
prided himself that he could compose appropriate melodies 
for any verses, no matter how difficult the metre, and that 
he had set to music many old songs whose rhythm would 
have puzzled the most skillful musician. "I must presume 
to say, scarce any other man could have performed the like, 
my double genius for poetry and music giving me still that 
ability which others might perhaps want."' It is said that 
he wrote one of his own songs in a most irregular metre to 
annoy Purcell, who was to furnish the music for it.^ 

As a poet, D'Urfey has two styles — he either cultivates 
the high Pindaric mood and loves a proudly swelling phrase, 
or, more frequently, writes a gay love song or a drinking 
catch in the most familiar tone, often far too familiar. His 
patriotic songs belong to his most formal attempts at verse 
making; Charles or George is invoked as "Great Caesar," 
while the Muse, always in evidence, does her best to appear 
majestic : 

" As far as the glittering God of day 
Extends his radiant light, 
Old Britain her glory will display, 
In every action bright."^ 

1 See the dedication to D'Urfey's Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge 
Melancholy, 1719-30. 

2 "One long Whitsun holiday," vol. I, p. 39. 

3 Vol. I, p. 327. 


His lighter mood is hi3 best one. The first two volumes of 
the 1719 edition of his Pills to Purge Melancholy contain 
his own poems ; but few ot them have lived, yet his " 'Twas 
within a furlong of Edinboroi'ofh town," greatly revised, is 
one of the most popular of Scottish songs, and he has given 
several hints to Burns.^ Doubtless he would have agreed 
with Moore's wish that his songs should never be read but 
always sung, and as we turn the pages of his book we realize 
that most of its attraction has gone forever. Despite his 
obvious faults, D'Urfey must have been an interesting per- 
son ; Addison, the moralist, goes out of his way to speak a 
good word for him. His song book can never be reprinted ; 
his poems rarely appear in anthologies, and he is hardly 
more than a name to readers of English verse. We take 
leave of him with one of his freshest lyrics : 

" Bright was the morning, cool was the air, 

Serene was all the sky; 
When on the waves I left my dear. 

The center of my joy: 
Heaven and nature smihng were, 

And nothing sad but I. 

" Each rosy field did odours spread, 

All fragrant was the shore ; 
Each river God rose from his bed. 

And sighed and owned her power: 
Curling their waves they decked their heads, 

As proud of what they bore."^ 

This is not an inspired production, yet it comes from some- 
thing more than a "Jockey Muse," to quote Prior's con- 
temptuous reference to D'Urfey. 

iVol. I, p. 283. 
2 Vol. I, p. 261. 


With this writer, we have come to the days of Queen Anne. 
Never was there a time in E^iigland when letters were more 
highly honored and yet tLis very period is one of the most 
barren epochs in the ijistory of the lyric. It is doubtful 
whether another age can show such a galaxy of writers in- 
capable of composing the song that "from the soul speaks 
instant to the soul." A pessimist would have declared that 
as the Elizabethan verse drama had passed away, so the 
lyric was fated to disappear, for the songs of this genera- 
tion bear much the same relation to the lyrics of Campion 
and Shakespeare that Addison's Cato does to Hamlet or 

The greatest personality between Milton and Byron is 
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). He is the bloodhound of our 
literature, delighting to track down offending humanity ; 
life offers no illusions to him and the manifest beauty in the 
world is hidden from his eyes. We can not expect lyrics from 
such a nature ; the three volumes of his poems contain chiefly 
political and social satires. He wrote a few poor songs and 
early in his career tried the Pindaric ode. He showed to 
Dryden the one he had composed on the Athenian Society, 
and was told, "Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet," a frank 
criticism which he could not forgive. According to Dr. 
Johnson, this rebuff was the cause of the satirical passages 
Swift aimed at Dryden. 

From Richard Steele (1672-1729) we expect better 
things. He had traits of character that his more famous 
contemporaries did not possess ; his nature was impulsive 
and generous, sentimental and romantic, and the emotions 
that swayed him were far removed from the sceva indignatio 
of the satirists. He was the one writer of his time who 
idealized woman : his letters to his wife have many a line 
that might well be the text of a love lyric, and he should 


have composed songs, neither profound nor finely wrought, 
but graceful and appealing. The few he has left are with- 
out importance. 

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) started his literary career 
and gained his reputation as a poet. His Letter from Italy 
and the fortune-bringing Campaign have taken their place 
in that all-embracing collection of poems that are mentioned 
with respect but never read. These two productions, of 
course, are not lyrical, but his Song for St. Cecelia's Day 
and his opera Rosamund come within our field. The first 
is a typical and hence a mediocre Pindaric ode ; the opera 
is such a work as a precocious schoolboy might write, and 
it would be unjust to his memory to quote its songs. As yet 
Addison had not expressed in verse his strongest feelings, 
but towards the close of the Spectator series, among the 
Saturday numbers in which religious topics were often dis- 
cussed, he published five hymns .^ These are among the most 
personal, the most emotional of lyrics. With Pope and 
Swift, Addison was a satirist, but unlike them, he was a 
kindly one. He had been brought up in a Deanery and was 
destined for the church; of all the Queen Anne wits, he was 
best adapted to continue the traditions of the religious lyric. 
These hymns, unconventional and free from Pindaric 
strokes, are the sincere and fervent expression of a pure 
nature deeply moved; they show a strength of feeling 
absent from his earher poems and a finer and simpler style. 
He had read to good advantage the old ballads and it may 
not be fanciful to detect in these lyrics something of their 
influence — ^not in "The spacious firmament on high," which 
has many touches of Queen Anne diction — ^but in the simpler 
measures of "When all thy mercies" or "How are thy ser- 
vants blessed." How modern seem those stanzas which tell 
of his escape while travelling in Italy : 

1 Spectators, Nos. 441, 453, 465, 489, 513. 


" In foreign realms, and lands remote, 
Supported by thy care. 
Through burning climes I passed unhurt, 
And breathed in tainted air. 

" For though in dreadful whirls we hung. 
High on the broken wave, 
I knew thou wert not slow to hear. 
Nor impotent to save. 

" The storm was laid, the wind retired 
Obedient to thy will; 
The sea that roared at thy command. 
At thy command was still."' 

It is little wonder that Robert Burns, reading these verses 
when a boy, recognized their emotional force and saw a new 
world in poetry. For more hymns such as these we would 
have spared willingly many Spectator papers. 

There is the greatest possible contrast between the hymns 
of Addison and the light verse of Matthew Prior (1664- 
1721). Employed in his uncle's wine house, he attracted 
the favorable attention of the Earl of Dorset by turning 
into English verse an ode of Horace, and it was fitting that 
this slight incident decided the career of one whose poetry 
was so Horatian in tone. Dorset sent the lad to West- 
minster school, whence he proceeded to Cambridge. Shortly- 
after leaving the university he was appointed secretary to 
the English ambassador at The Hague; he was ambassador 
at Paris when Queen Anne died, and on the accession of 
George I was confined in the Tower for nearly two years. 
He was charged with treason, but his guilt consisted in being 
a prominent Tory. On his release he published his poems 
and gained a small fortune with which he bought a country 
estate, Down-Hall. He lived to enjoy it but a few months. 

There are not many poets whose appeal is so instant as 

1 No. 489. 


Prior's, for he had the rare art of putting himself at once 
in the most friendly relations with the reader. He has 
drawn his own portrait in two poems, The Secretary and 
For my own Monument, and they are not formal engrav- 
ings of the courtier in his periwig, but of the wit in his 
dressing gown. His disposition is summed up in two verses : 

" In public employments industrious and grave. 

And alone with his friends. Lord, how merry was he !"' 

and as the reader is his friend, he finds him lively, witty, and 
charmingly humorous. Affecting in his lyrics a light- 
hearted tone, disdaining deep considerations on humanity 
at large, he is nevertheless a shrewd observer with a well- 
defined philosophy of life. He agreed essentially with Swift 
that happiness was the state of being perpetually deceived, 
yet he accepted this view of the world quite calmly, for he 
had nothing of Swift's bitterness of spirit. If, as Gay 
wrote, "life is a jest and all things show it," Prior, as a 
humorist, was prepared to enjoy it: 

" If we see right, we see our woes: 

Then what avails it to have eyes ? 
From ignorance our comfort flows: 
The only wretched are the wise."^ 

Accept Fate, be not over-curious, enjoy the passing moment, 
is his rule of life. There is no mystery or romance in such 
a nature ; but at times we tire of 

" those merry blades 
That frisk it under Pindus' shades. 
In noble songs, and lofty odes. 
They tread on stars, and talk with gods."' 

1 A. R. Waller, Prior, Dialogues of the Dead and other works in prose 
and verse, Cambridge, 1907, p. 130. 

2 A. R. Waller, Prior, Poems on Several Occasions, Cambridge, 1905, 
p. 22. 

3 P. 135. 


From the over-seriousness of modern writing, it is a relief 
to turn to Prior. 

As a lyric poet, he too essayed the Pindaric ode. We 
wonder by what process of reasoning a man of his wit could 
persuade himself that these odes had even dignity, to say 
nothing of sublimity. He parodied most effectively Boileau's 
Ode sur la Prise de Namur, but many of his own stanzas 
could have been ridiculed with equal justice. Henry and 
Emma, his grandiloquent version of The Nutbrown Maid, 
seems a mere burlesque on that lyrical debat. To read it is 
to perceive how thoroughly the Pindaric odes had perverted 
the taste of the day and how difficult was the task to restore 
to the lyric its old simplicity, to replace the empty phrases 
of false art by the language of emotion. Austin Dobson 
performed one of the truest services ever rendered a poet 
when, in his admirable Selections from Prior, he separated 
the gold from the dross. 

Prior's finest lyrics are not in the series of twenty-four 
songs set by various composers ; they are the verses he made 
for his own pleasure as he considered the comedy of love. 
Women for him were but an agreeable diversion ; he watched 
them as one regards with interest an amusing child, and in 
his most delightful lines he assumes towards them the tone 
of an over-indulgent parent: 

" Dear Chloej how blubbered is that pretty face! 

Thy cheek all on fire, and thy hair all uncurled: 
Prithee quit this caprice; and (as old Falstafi" says) 
Let us e'en talk a little like folks of this world. 

" What I speak, my fair Chloe, and what I write, shows 
The difference there is between nature and art: 
I court others in verse; but I love thee in prose: 

And they have my whimsies ; but thou hast my heart."^ 

IP. 77. 


But for Stella, Swift would have despised all womankind, 
and the scornful frankness of his letter to a young lady on 
the eve of her marriage is simply astounding. Not even 
lago surpassed Pope in his brutal phrase, "For every woman 
is at heart a rake." If Prior is free from this attitude of 
mind, he is equally far removed from the beauty worship of 
the Elizabethans, for he is ever delighted to observe the 
inconsistencies of woman. 

" Be to her virtues very kind, 
Be to her faults a little blind/' 

is his motto. Though if, as we stated, he regarded woman as 
essentially a child, he admired childhood and has left us two 
of the most tender and beautiful poems to children to be 
found in the whole range of English verse, A Letter to the 
Honourable Lady Margaret Harley and To a Child of 
Quality, which almost deserves Swinburne's rhapsodical 
praise.' Could anything be more gracious than the whimsi- 
cal, affectionate tone of the courtier of forty as he writes 
to the five-year-old beauty? 

" For while she makes her silk-worms beds, 
With all the tender things I swear. 
Whilst all the house my passion reads. 
In papers round her baby's hair. 

" She may receive and own my flame. 

For tho' the strictest prudes should know it, 
She'll pass for a most virtuous dame. 
And I for an unhappy poet. 

" Then too alas ! when she shall tear 

The lines some younger rival sends, 
She'll give me leave to write I fear. 
And we shall still continue friends. 

'^Dialogues, etc., pp. 131, 85. 


" For as our different ages move, 

'Tis so ordained, would fate but mend it, 
That I shall be past making love 

When she begins to comprehend it." 

Prior's style has the clarity and ease which we associate 
with the best writers of France. Gay tried to write fables 
in the manner of La Fontaine and failed; Prior would have 
succeeded completely. The Restoration poets could assume 
the familiar tone, but in defiance of the injunction of Polo- 
nius, they were both familiar and by all means vulgar. They 
would have ruined Prior's A Lover's Anger with its delight- 
ful beginning : 

" As Chloe came into the room t'other day, 
I peevish began: 'Where so long could you stay? 
In your lifetime you never regarded your hour; 
You promised at two ; and (pray look. Child) 'tis four.' " 

or that gay ballad of Down-Hall, in which the lively tone, 
through all its forty-three stanzas, never flags. Dobson 
observes that it was a "favorite with vocalists." 

In his own field, few poets can surpass Prior. His humor 
does not depend upon surprise and consequently we never 
tire of it. Cowper paid him the flattery of evident imitation 
and Thackeray, himself a master of this lighter style, places 
these lyrics "amongst the easiest, the richest, the most charm- 
ingly humorous of English lyrical poems. "^ 

John Gay (1685-1732), the chief song writer of this age, 
off^ers but little material for discussion. He belonged to the 
set of Tory wits and writers who enjoyed his society but had 
little respect for him. "In wit, a man, simplicity, a child," 
wrote Pope in his epitaph on Gay, and he was indeed a child 
and very much of a spoiled one. He constantly complained 
of his ill success at court ; there is a querulous note in his 

^English Hwmourists of the Eighteenth Century; Prior, Oay and 


■writings; and Pope in his Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot speaks 
bitterly of Gay's neglected merit. As a matter of fact he 
was not fitted for any high position ; he had nothing of 
Prior's ability ; and he was only too content to live on the 
bounty of others. The fortune he gained by the Beggar's 
Opera he threw away in the South Sea bubble and became 
largely dependent upon the hospitality of his friends. 

The lyrical element in his writings is a small one. His 
best known poems, the Fables, contain but one conventional 
song ; his Shepherd's Week has merely a burlesque of a lover's 
plaint. His finest song, Sweet William's Farewell to Black- 
eyed Susan, a graceful piece of writing, was not composed for 
one of his plays. It is as artificial as the song of the shep- 
herdesses in Elizabethan pastorals: 

" All in the Downs the fleet was moored, 
The streamers waving in the wind. 
When black-eyed Susan came aboard. 

Oh ! where shall I my true love find ! 
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true. 
If my sweet WiUiam sails among the crew."^ 

D'Urfey's Muse, according to Gay, rejoiced with Joan and 
Hodge over cakes and ale. Certainly there is a plebeian tone 
to his songs, yet he would have made his sailor speak more 
in character than does Gay's Sweet WilHam : 

" If to far India's coast we sail. 

Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright. 
Thy breath is Afriek's spicy gale. 
Thy skin is ivory so white." 

' It would be absurd to quarrel with this lyric, written in the 
spirit of Watteau, because it is not realistic; it is however, 
utterly remote from life, and what lyric verse needed was 

ij. Underbill, The Poetical Works of John Oay, Muses' Library, 
London, 1893, vol. II, p. 361. 


not artificial prettiness but some touch of passion and 

We have called Gay the chief lyrist of his age because of 
the great vogue of his songs in The Beggar's Opera. As a 
matter of fact, not one of them is as well written as " 'Twas 
when the seas were roaring" from his The what d'ye call it; 
but they caught the fancy, were sung everywhere, and made 
his burlesque the greatest success the English stage had 
seen. The song that saved the performance the first night 
is a fair example of all the lyrics : 

" Oh, ponder well ! be not severe ; 
So save a wretched wife; 
For on the rope that hangs my dear, 
Depends poor Polly's life." 

This is hardly a work of genius, and the best known song is 
little better: 

" How happy could I be with either, 

Were t'other dear charmer away; 
But while thus you teaze me together, 
To neither a word will I say; 
But toll de rol."i 

Of the many songs in this opera (and we may include those 
in Polly and Achilles) there is not one marked by fancy or 
by delicacy of rhythm ; of imagination or passion there is 
not the slightest trace. The only possible praise to be given 
them is that they are vivacious and well suited for music. 
They bear the same relation to the songs of the Elizabethan 
dramatists that the pickpockets and women of the town who 
sing them bear to Rosalind and Orlando. 

We must mention two poets because each of them wrote 
a popular lyric. James Thomson (1700-174<8), of The 
Seasons, composed blank verse tragedies in the Elizabethan 

1 Vol. II, pp. 296, 305. 


manner, but with no lyrics. The six songs in his Masque of 
Alfred are unimportant with the exception of the Patriotic 
Ode with its refrain: 

" Rule, Britannia, rule the waves ; 
Britons never will be slaves." 

This note of patriotism made the song famous. Thomson was 
not a lyrist, and as his best critic has expressed it, he lacked 
the power to concentrate in a single strophe the energy of 
a passion or the life of the heart.^ Henry Carey (?-174!3), 
a mediocre poet and musician, a composer of operas and 
burlesques, was a most voluminous writer, publishing over 
two hundred works. He prided himself chiefly upon his 
musical ability, declaring that poetry was not his profession 
but his amusement.^ The modem reader has no such luck, 
for he can get but little amusement from Carey's songs. In 
his best poem, his famous Sally in our Alley, he for once 
absolutely succeeded. He tells us that in this ballad he 
endeavored to set forth a "chaste and disinterested passion, 
even in the lowest class of life." Charmed with the simplicity 
of a shoemaker's prentice and his sweetheart, he followed 
them in their outing to the puppet show, Moor-fields, and 
the "farthing Pie-house," and sketched his poem "from 
nature." Its value was at once recognized; Carey declares 
with a touch of pride that though some ridiculed this study 
of low life, he was "amply recompensed by the applause of 
the divine Addison, who was pleased (more than once) to 
mention it with approbation."' 

When the greatest poet of this age composed a lyric he 
could not equal the work of the lesser lights of Elizabeth's 

1 L. Morel, James Thomson, Paris, 1895, pp. S81-587. 

2 H. Carey, Poems on several Occasions, third edition, London, 1729, 

'P. 128. There is an amusing ballad on the popularity of the 
Beggar's Opera on p. 151. 


day. Pope's Ode on Solitude, his Dying Christian to his 
Sovl, and his Deistic hymn are small contributions to our 
subject. No poet so gifted has been more destitute of lyric 
inspiration. He has reflected the life of his age in his writ- 
ings and he reminds us that the English lyric had never 
seemed nearer extinction. This poverty of song is evident 
in the Miscellanies. The fifth edition of Dryden's Miscel- 
lanies was published in 1727. The number of lyrics in'the 
six volumes is surprisingly small and the greater number are 
by writers of the former century — Ben Jonson, Donne, 
Milton, Carew, Marvell, Waller^ — or are taken from the 
early Restoration Miscellanies. There are a few lyrics by 
Dorset and Prior ; D'Urfey is represented by his 

" The night her blackest sables wore, 
And gloomy were the skies," 

but the gleaning is poor. It was not necessary for pastorals 
to quote Spenser, or for satires to reprint Donne, but when 
the age desired lyrics, the Miscellanies published Donne's 
songs by the score. 

It needed a new generation to regain the lyric, for an age 
that sneers is rarely an age that sings. The Royal Society, 
founded at the Restoration, hoped to raise up "a race of 
young men .... invariably armed against all the encroach- 
ments of enthusiasm." Whatever such a race might do, it 
certainly could never write songs. Until there was raised up 
a race of young poets wh,o could not only think deeply but 
feel deeply and express profound emotions in song, the lyric 
Muse could never re-ascend the heights from which she had 
been banished. To show by what paths she climbed the slopes 
of Parnassus (surely these classical allusions befit the Queen 
Anne age) must be the theme of our next chapter. 

The Lyric of the Tbansition 

We have now come to the beginnings of the romantic 
movement. On the borders of the new kingdom of romance 
and song we meet poets who explore these forgotten or un- 
discovered regions and yet return from time to time to their 
old haunts. They are writers of the transition ; though they 
foretell the future, in all their work there is much of the 
thought and expression of the old school. The change that 
came over lyric verse was so complete that we may call it a 
revolution, yet no one of these writers led an open revolt 
against the accepted standards of taste. There was no Hugo 
in this movement, no self-constituted or chosen leader, no 
concerted plan of action. These poets worked unostenta- 
tiously, even timidly ; alone, they seemed to accomplish little ; 
together, they prepared the way for the new Renaissance in 
English verse. 

It is not paradoxical to assert that the Queen Anne writers 
themselves hastened the change in taste. As if by some in- 
exorable law, every poetic school progresses until it reaches 
the most fitting expression of its ideals. Until this is done, 
the school remains ; once adequately accomplished, there is 
nothing to be added, no last word to be spoken, and men's 
minds turn elsewhere. The Restoration and Queen Anne 
writers had brought to perfection the lyric of polished 
common sense, of playful satire, of trifling fancy. It was 
needless to seek to improve upon Rochester and Sedley, Prior 
and Gay in their own fields, and accordingly there must be 
a new lyric. 

One of the first writers to show the approaching change 
is William Shenstone (1714-1763). The romantic revival 


meant a renewal of song ; more than half of Shenstone's poems 
are lyrical. They have much that is old and in them the 
pseudo-classic diction still lingers. When he hears the birds 
sing in the woods, he "ranges the groves" to "explore the 
science of the feathered choir." He does not listen to the 
nightingale, he "construes its millifluent strain." In nearly 
every page of his lyrics we find striking and amusing ex- 
amples of false diction. A lover of nature, he continually 
talks of the "hermit's cell," of "fountains," of "sylvan grots," 
the stereotyped phrases of the day. He can be as vague as 
Pope in his descriptions ; "and where the turf diffused its 
pomp of flowers" presents little to the eye. 

This then is the old manner in Shenstone ; but there is a 
better side to his work. Though he writes Pindarics, and 
employs the measures of Sedley, he dislikes the accepted 
metres ; in his songs and ballads, there is but one, The 
Scholar's Relapse, written in the familiar anapests of Prior. 
Pope in his Elegy to the Memory of an unfortunate Lady 
employs the heroic couplet ; Shenstone decides that this 
measure is apt "to render the expression either scanty or 
constrained," and writes his twenty-six elegies in the metre 
Gray afterwards employed. Gray read Shenstone atten- 
tively and did not disdain to improve upon him : 

" No wild ambition fired their tranquil breast, 

To swell with empty sounds a spotless name," 

" Through the dim veil of evening's dusky shade. 

Near some lone fane, or yew's funereal green,"' 

have certainly a familiar sound. Though Shenstone never 
approached Gray's melody, many of his stanzas have a 
graceful movement : 

1 The Poetical Works of William Shenstone, Esq., London, 1798, vol. 
I, pp. 53, 13, Elegies xv and iv. Cf. H. A. Beers, A History of English 
Romanticism in the XVIIl Century, N. Y., 1899, p. 138. 


" On distant heaths^ beneath autumnal skies. 

Pensive I saw the circling shade descend; 
Weary and faint I heard the storm arise, 

While the sun vanished like a faithless friend."'^ 

His best poem, A Pastoral Ballad (1743), is written in ana- 
pests more musical than anything Prior attempted : 

" When forced the fair nymph to forego. 

What anguish I felt at my heart ! 
Yet I thought — but it might not be so — 

'Twas with pain that she saw me depart. 
She gazed, as I slowly withdrew; 

My path I could hardly discern; 
So sweetly she bade me adieu, 

I thought that she bade me return." 

If there is something of Prior in the turn of the last verses, 
the following stanza shows more love for nature than we find 
in any of the poets of the town : 

" My banks they are furnished with bees, 

Whose murmur invites one to sleep; 
My grottos are shaded with trees. 

And my hills are white-over with sheep. 
I seldom have met with a loss, 

Such health do my fountains bestow; 
My fountains all bordered with moss, 

Where the hare-bells and violets grow."^ 

Here we have one of the first clear indications of the new 
melodies English song was to gain. Often in Shenstone's 
poetry we seem to hear Cowley, Sedley, or Prior, but with 
a difference ; it is as if one should take a familiar air and 
weave about it new variations. 

There is more that is new in Shenstone's mood than in his 
style. The lyric has lost its wit, its gay recklessness ; he 
turns to elegies which, he says, "should diffuse a pleasing 

1 Elegy vii, vol. I, p. 20. 

2 Vol. II, pp. 48, 49. 


melancholy." Here is the new Muse, the Muse of low spirits. 
Shenstone loved to be alone, to take his "plaintive reed" and 
seek a "sequestered shade," when 

" From a lone tower with reverend ivy crowned. 
The pealing bell awaked a tender sigh."^ 

In all this there is little real emotion; he is but an amateur 
in grief, and where we expect to hear the note of personal 
sorrow, he gives us moral platitudes, yet the change from 
the light-hearted lyric of the past is profoundly significant. 
Our quotations have indicated another characteristic of 
Shenstone's writings which was to assume the greatest 
importance in the new lyric — a love for nature. Shenstone's 
estate, the Leasowes, was renowned for its artificial garden 
which he created;^ in all the artificiality of his songs and 
elegies we find a genuine love of birds and flowers. In his 
Ode on Rural Elegance, after talking of the "sprightly scenes 
of mom," of harvests that "gild the plain," we come upon 
these verses : 

" Lo ! not an hedge-row hawthorn blows. 

Or humble hare-bell paints the plain, 
Or valley winds, or fountain flows, 

Or purple heath is tinged in vain; 
For such the rivers dash their foaming tides. 
The mountain swells, the dale subsides. 
E'en thriftless furze detains the wandering sight. 
And the rough barren rock grows pregnant with delight."' 

Shenstone is forgotten to-day, yet his Pastoral Ballad has 
lost none of its freshness. Though his elegies are unevenly 
written and weak in thought, they deserve remembrance, for 
they show the lyric in the process of transmutation. 

Thomas Gray (1716-1771) was a student and a recluse. 

1 Vol. I, p. 50, Elegy xv. 

2 Cf. Beers, op. cit., pp. 131-137. 

3 Vol. I, p. 143. 


Shy, sensitive, given to fits of depression ("Low spirits are 
my true and faithful companions," he writes), he was not 
the man to institute a propaganda against the Augustans, 
yet he is a founder of the new poetry.^ He wrote with the 
most scrupulous taste, revising, rejecting, forever polishing, 
never satisfied; his Cambridge fellowship supplied his few 
wants and he felt under no necessity to publish. Such self- 
critical natures produce little and Gray had indeed what 
William Watson aptly terms a "frugal note." His poetic 
development was impeded by his absorption in many fields 
of study, for he never gave himself wholly to his art. He was 
a linguist with a predilection for French ; a keen reader and 
critic of English literature; a botanist; a student of archi- 
tecture; and a finished Greek scholar. Shortly before his 
death, Cambridge University, where he lived and died, elected 
him professor of Modern History. 

Gray's earliest lyrics have a Queen Anne flavor. His Ode 
on the Death of a favourite Cat is quite in the style of 
Prior: the description of the unfortunate Selima is as neatly 
drawn as Pope's pictures in the Rape of the Lock. Gray 
actually began a didactic poem in the manner of Pope, The 
Alliance of Education and Government, but it Is significant 
of his change in taste that he never finished it. His three 
earliest odes. On the Spring, On a distant prospect of Eton 
College, and the Hymn to Adversity, are all in the old man- 
ner. Spring offers us but the customary vague description, 
with the conventional "zephyrs" and the "Hours, fair Venus' 
train," together with much commonplace moralizing: 

" How vain the ardour of the Crowd, 
How low, how little are the Proud, 
How indigent the Great!" 

1 See W. L. Phelps, Selections from the Poetry and Prose of Thomas 
Oray, Boston, 1894, p. 62. The Beginnings of the English Romantic 
Movement, Boston, 1893, by the same author should be consulted for 
this chapter. 


In the ode a fly terms the poet "poor moralist" ; the sting is 
deserved. In one respect the poem is unconventional; it is 
a spring song, yet saturated with melancholy. 

His Eton ode is Addison's Vision of Mirzah turned into 
verse. Looking at a band of vigorous English schoolboys 
at their sports (they "urge the flying ball") he sees in his 
mind's eye "black Misfortune's baleful train" — Anger, Fear, 
Jealousy, Care — waiting in ambush for them. 

" Alas, regardless of their doom, 
The little victims play !" 

Gray has not yet learned to prepare the reader for his 
mournful mood ; the pessimism does not lay hold on us ; and 
the poem lives chiefly in its concluding epigram, in the style 
of Pope or Congreve, "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly 
to be wise." The little known Hymn to Adversity, despite 
its personifications and its Miltonic borrowings, is the best 
of the three poems. Dimly suggesting Wordsworth's Ode to 
Duty, it has an impressiveness that the other poems lack; 
there is much more than rhetoric in it. 

Had Gray written but these poems, he would be forgotten 
or at the best remembered for a phrase or two. His Pindaric 
odes are a great advance, but they too have not worn well ; 
we regard them with respect but we do not reread them for 
sheer pleasure. They are deliberate attempts on his part 
to lead the Muse of lyric verse up the heights of Parnassus ; 
their defect is that they are too deliberate. Gray's nature 
lacked enthusiasm, indeed he scorned it, and he is never with 

" Rapt with the rage of his own ravished thoughts.'' 

The effects are too nicely calculated; the curtain rises too 
soon and we see the scenery pulled upon the stage. As a 
lover qi Greek poetry, he knew the greatness of Pindar and 


imitates afar off the stanzaic structure of his odes. His 
metrical system, planned with the greatest care, does not 
impress the reader who rarely stops to notice the agreement 
of strophe with strophe, epode with epode. The form is half 
the charm of the Elegy; the odes gain little or nothing from 
their metrical scheme. 

In the Progress of Poesy the reader is taken upon a high 
mountain and surveys the world; he sees the Muse deserting 
Greece for Italy, Italy for England, and witnesses a 
triumphal march of England's greatest singers. By the 
mere vastness of the view Gray hopes to thrill the reader, but 
a great subject does not necessarily awake emotion and the 
chances are that a writer will approach nearer the sublime 
in a poem upon a single star rather than in an ode on the 
solar system. Though there are eloquent passages, the 
whole poem seems too remote from life and it is difficult to 
understand how Lowell could assert that "The Progress of 
Poesy overflies all other English lyrics hke an eagle." 

The Bard, an ode which reflects Gray's interest in Welsh 
poetry, is not only more interesting but more significant. 
Here, in the spirit of Scott, is portrayed the aged minstrel, 
the last of his race, standing 

" On a rock, whose haughty brow 
Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood," 

chanting his imprecations on the English invaders below 
him. He sees "On yonder cliff^s, a griesly band," his brethren, 
the murdered poets, who weave with their curses the "wind- 
ing sheet of Edward's race." After a vision of the glories 
of England under the Tudors, the Bard casts himself down 
the cliff: 

" He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height 
Deep in the roaring tide he plunged to endless night." 


This ode, more spirited, more imaginative, more musical than 
the Progress of Poesy, is one of the first indications of the 
rediscovery of the Middle Ages. 

It is curious to observe the reception these odes received. 
The public complained of their obscurity. "One very great 
man," writes Gray, "had read them seven or eight times," 
and has "not above thirty questions to ask," while a "lady 
of quality who is a great reader" never suspected that 
"Nature's Darling" by "lucid Avon" referred to Shakes- 
peare or that a more detailed account of a poet who saw the 
secrets of the abyss and the glories of heaven 

" but blasted with excess of light, 
Closed his eyes in endless night," 

was a description of Milton !^ There is not in either poem a 
single subtle thought and for English readers, the historical 
allusions can hardly be considered recondite. The trouble 
lay in the fact that for half a century the English lyric, if 
we except a few odes by Cowley and Dryden, had not risen 
above a superficial expression of commonplace thought and 

The Elegy written in a Country Churchyard appeared 
anonymously in 1751 ; its first stanzas had been written nine 
years before and no poem of Gray's had been revised with 
more care. It became popular at once. Though modern his- 
torical criticism has destroyed many cherished myths, it has 
confirmed the well-known incident of Wolfe's quoting with 
admiration "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power," 
the night before he fell on the Plains of Abraham. This was 
in 1754 ; in three years the poem had become an accepted 

The music of the Elegy is more remarkable than its 
thought. As Lowell expressed it, Gray's originality lay in 
his use of the vowels: 

1 Phelps, Thomas Oray, p. 75. 


" The curfew tolls the knell of parting day." 

In ten syllables we have nine different vowel sounds and the 
modulation in stanza after stanza is exquisite. In Cynthia, 
an interminable poem in praise of Queen Elizabeth, Raleigh 
had employed the same metre : 

" These were those marvellous perfections, 

The parents of my sorrow and my envy, 
Most deathful and most violent infections ; 
These be the tyrants that in fetters tie."^ 

The crudeness of such lines throws in relief Gray's achieve- 
ment. He attempts no Pindaric flights ; it is the sober and 
solemn expression of a quiet and resigned melancholy. There 
is no real pessimism here, no revolt at the injustice of life; 
his nature would have been incapable of expressing it, his 
style could not have risen to it. The theme of the Elegy and 
its dehberate music were wonderfully suited to Gray's char- 
acter and to the taste of the age. Richardson's Clarissa 
Harlowe, over which English readers loved to weep, had 
appeared but three years before. 

Turning to the substance of the Elegy, we notice a sym- 
pathy for the peasant which the lyric had not hitherto ex- 
pressed; the Damons of Enghsh poetry had been mere lay 
figures and laments at their fate had no significance. Gray 
finds pathos in the uneventful lives of ignorant men, in 
their mouldering graves of turf, in their artless epitaphs 
spelt by the unlettered Muse. The lyric has come closer to 
life. If the musical, emotional, and we may add the pictorial 
quality of the Elegy are new and altogether admirable, we 
can not say as much of the thought. Editors have shown 
a misplaced ingenuity in detecting parallels for nearly every 
line, but it needed little research to show that his apothegms 
are often unoriginal in the extreme, at times reminding us 

1 J. Hannah, Poems of Raleigh, Wotton, etc., p. 39. 


of the maxims of Queen Anne verse. There is, however, this 
all-important difference in the Elegy: "its moral is suffused 
with emotion and expressed concretely." The Augustans 
delivered their moral sentences as a series of cold, abstract 
propositions, as Pope gives us his critical maxims in the 
Essay on Criticism. Gray prepares us for his thought pre- 
cisely as Hamlet takes us to the edge of the grave when he 
tells us to what base uses we may return. 

To the average reader the Elegy loses its effectiveness as 
it draws to its close; Gray writes his own epitaph, yet there 
is httle direct self-revelation in the poem. In this respect it 
is interesting to compare it with Lamartine's Le Lac and 
Hugo's Tristesse d'Olympio, two of the most beautiful ex- 
amples of French elegy. Lamartine's poem resembles Gray's 
in its harmony ; without adopting Gray's metre, he has much 
of his music. His thought is quite different from the English 
poet's, for the melancholy that oppresses him comes from a 
sense of personal loss. "Time's winged chariot" has passed 
swiftly by and he is left but the memory of his love. Hugo's 
elegy is a finer piece of work. The lover, revisiting alone 
his old trysting-places, finds that all is changed ; even nature 
is not the same, for the tree whose bark they carved has been 
cut down and their woodland paths have been turned into 
highways : 

" Que peu de temps suffit pour changer toutes choses ! 
Nature au front serein, comma vous oubliez ! 
Et comme vous brisez dans vos metamorphoses 
Les fils mysterieux ou nos coeurs sent lies !" 

The French poets not only are more personal but they are 
more frank in their expression of grief ; la grande passion 
never laid hold on Gray. 

It is not in the Elegy but in the one sonnet Gray wrote, 
on the death of Richard W'est, that we find his personal 


emotions most clearly expressed. In spite of its traces of 
Queen Anne diction, too severely criticised by Wordsworth, 
the poem is thoroughly modem in its outspoken expression 
of grief; the lyric is regaining its subjective quality. It is 
significant that Gi;uy should have chosen for this lament the 
long neglected sonnet form; once more he points the way to 
the new lyric. 

William Collins (1721-1759) was as fastidious a writer 
as Gray, revising and destroying his work, unable to satisfy 
his own standards. Such a method of composition generally 
means scanty production. In this case it was rendered 
inevitable by physical debility ending in madness. The last 
decade of his short life was darkened by insanity. 

Gray and Collins are alike in the fact that neither poet 
began his career with a sudden break from the Augustan 
school ; their progess towards romanticism was a leisurely 
one. Among Collins's earliest writings are a series of 
eclogues none the less artificial because their scene of action 
is a "valley near Bagdat," "the desert," or a "mountain in 
Circassia" instead of Arcadia or the banks of some English 
stream. Equally pseudo-classic in style is the verse epistle 
to Sir Thomas Hanmer written in the heroic couplet with 
reminiscences of Pope's Essay on Criticism: 

" As Arts expired, resistless Dullness rose ; 
Goth, priests, or Vandals — all were Learning's foes. 
Till Julius first recalled each exiled maid. 
And Cosmo owned them in the Etrurian shade."'^ 

Though these were but early experiments which Collins 
abandoned as he felt the new impulses and turned towards 
the new lyric, yet even in his finest work we frequently hear 
the echoes of Queen Anne verse. 

Gray tells us in his letters (among the most interesting 

1 W. C. Bronson, The Poems of William Collins, Boston, 1898, p. 27. 


in the language) what writers he admired and what were his 
ideals in writing ; it is in his poems alone that we see the mind 
of Collins. At the first reading we are struck by his out- 
spoken admiration for the Greek lyric. The Augustans were 
Latin in their sympathies, their models were Juvenal and 
Martial, Virgil and Horace, poets from whom Collins turns 
to "revive the just designs of Greece." In English literature 
his admirations were Shakespeare, Spenser, and above all 
Milton, the Milton of the minor poems. More than any other 
piece of writing, II Penseroso inspired the poetry of the mid- 
century. We feel its quiet melancholy from Gray's Elegy 
to the humblest verses forgotten in the columns of the 
Gentleman's Magazine, while its personifications, "spare 
Fast," "retired Leisure," the "cherub Contemplation," are 
undoubtedly responsible for the endless train of allegorical 
figures that stalk through the odes of the period. 

Collins prefixed to his Odes (1746) three verses from 
Pindar asking for "boldness" and "resistless force" in his 
poetry, and it is apparent that he wished to appeal to the 
imagination and to move the deepest feelings. Tempera- 
mentally unfitted for Pindar's style, his effort to follow him 
even afar off explains a certain artificiality and coldness 
which we discover in many of the odes. He deals in abstrac- 
tions ; he writes poems to Pity, Mercy, Fear, Peace, but 
these qualities never really possess him; his subjects are too 
deliberately chosen ; they do not embody his desires or his 
feelings. We see this especially in the Ode to Liberty. It 
belongs to what we may call the panoramic school of poetry ; 
in it we are shown Greece and Rome, Venice and Switzer- 
land, and finally Liberty in England. There is in all this no 
cry of revolt, no shadow of impending revolution, no desire 
to defend or arouse the oppressed. The ending is undoubt- 
edly the weakest part of the ode, but we cite it because it 
emphasizes the lack of "boldness" and "resistless force." 
Liberty is welcomed to England: 


" Her let our sires and matrons hoar 
Welcome to Britain's ravaged shore; 
Our youths, enamoured of the fair, 
Play with the tangles of her hair; 
Till, in one loud applauding sound, 
The nations shout to her around, 
■ O how supremely art thou blest ! 
Thou, lady, thou shalt rule the West !' "^ 

The Odes, neglected to-day, were coldly received when they 
appeared. The Passions, often set to music, proved the most 
popular; it is by no means the best, although it has some- 
thing of the effectiveness of Dryden's Alexander's Feast and 
should be read side by side with it. 

The Odes fail, then, not because of their diction or their 
music, but because they deal too much in abstract qualities. 
When the ballad makers wished to inspire fear or pity they 
did not invoke 

" Thou to whom the world unknown 
With all its shadowy shapes is shown;'' 

" The Friend of man assigned 
With balmy hands his wounds to bind," 

they showed us the three sons taking leave of the Wife of 
Usher's Well or Lady Margaret in her burning castle hear- 
ing the cries of her children. Spenser is deeply moved by the 
misfortunes of Una ; nothing under heaven stirs his com- 
passion as "beauty brought t'unworthy wretchedness," and 
he feels his heart 

" perst with so great agonie, 
When such I see, that all for pittie I could die," 

yet few readers find genuine pathos in the distress of this 
allegorical character. Accordingly the best odes Collins 
wrote have but few of these figures which belong to the 
ip. 50. 


masque and not to the drama of life. His Ode to Simplicity, 
the finest product of his Greek studies, is worthy of its sub- 
ject; there is no attempt for the sublime, no startling 
antitheses, but a purely drawn picture and a gentle and 
tender music. The ode written for those who fell fighting 
against the Pretender is as flawless a gem as the Greek 
anthology can ofi^er, a perfect dirge in twelve lines. The 
personifications that mar the other odes are exquisite here: 

" When Spring, with dewy fingers cold. 
Returns to deck their hallowed mold," 

" There Honour comes, a pilgrim grey. 
To bless the turf that wraps their clay." 

The lyric Muse sang for the Stuart cause ; this is the one 
English lyric that vies with the Jacobite songs for Bonnie 
Charlie. Had Collins written but this, his name would have 

The Ode to Evening is his masterpiece. It is 11 Penseroso 
once more. No personal sorrow moves us ; but that vague 
melancholy which the approach of night brings. So perfect 
is the modulation of the verse that though the ear expects 
rhyme it does not feel cheated by the unrhymed measure : 

" But when chill blustering winds, or driving rain. 
Forbid my willing feet, be mine the hut 
That from the mountain's side 
Views wilds, and swelling floods, 

" And hamlets brown, and dim-discovered spires. 
And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all 
Thy dewy fingers draw 
The gradual dusky veil."'^ 

That atmosphere which modern poets seek so earnestly to 
create is ever apparent here. Were it not for the disturbing 
1 P. 54. 


stanza that concludes the ode, it would rank with the most 
perfect accomplishments of English lyrists. 

This, then, is CoUins's field, the awakening of tender 
emotion; his song for Shakespeare's Cymbeline gains this 
effect and his lament for Thomson is in the same strain : 

" Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore 

When Thames in summer wreaths is drest, 
And oft suspend the dashing oar 
To bid his gentle spirit rest."'^ 

yet Collins was capable of writing in a larger, broader style. 
The unfinished Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the High- 
lands of Scotland, considered as the subject of poetry, shows 
a strength both of thought and of diction found in no other 
one of his poems. Here he is possessed of his subject; he 
writes, not of Superstition, hateful Goddess, but of the weird 
beliefs of the Highland peasants — of second sight, of wizards, 
of kelpies — enthusiastically urging his friend to embody them 
in verse. He has caught the tone of mystery and awe ; there 
is more terror in his single stanza depicting a herdsman 
drowned by a water sprite than in all his Ode to Fear. Not 
only is this poem of the highest importance as foreshadowing 
the romantic school (Lowell remarks that it contains the 
whole school in the germ) but it is equally notable in its 
sure indication that Collins, had he lived, would have gained 
some of that power he so admired in the Greek lyric. 


We now approach the minor lyrists of the age and those 
greater writers who occasionally tried their hand at lyric 
verse, though with no marked success. To the first group 
belong the Wartons. 

Both Joseph Warton (1722-1800) and Thomas Warton 
(1728-1790) were avowed imitators of Milton. They came 

ip. 65. 


by their admiration for him honestly; their father, Thomas 
Warton (1687-1745), a writer of verse epistles, imitations 
of Horace, and typical Queen Anne satires, had felt the 
influence of II Penseroso : 

" Nymphs of the groves, in green arrayed. 
Conduct me to your thickest shade, 
Deep in the bosom of the vale. 
Where haunts the lonesome nightingale. 
Where Contemplation, maid divine. 
Leans against some aged pine. 
Wrapt in solemn thought profound. 
Her eyes fixed stedfast on the ground."^ 

The sons were not content with occasional borrowing, for 
their whole spirit was Miltonic ; the revolt of Gray and 
Collins against the pseudo-classic standards was implied 
rather than expressed, but the Wartons were openly defiant. 
Joseph Warton, whose Essay on Pope (1756-1782) is the 
first important critical document of the new school of poetry, 
was a lesser poet than his brother. His odes To Health, To 
Liberty, To Fancy resemble the odes of Collins but are less 
interesting; it is instructive to compare Warton's Ode to 
Content with the Ode to Evening, for though Warton uses its 
unrhymed stanza, he can not catch its music : 

" Hail, meek-eyed maiden, clad in sober gray. 
Whose soft approach the weary woodman loves. 
As, homeward bent to kiss his prattling babes. 
He jocund whistles through the twilight groves,"^ 

To-day he is little read because in his own field he is surpassed 
by his brother, to say nothing of Gray and Collins. 

Thomas Warton began his career by composing when 
seventeen a poem in blank verse, entitled significantly The 

1 Thomas Warton, Poems on Several Occasions, London, 1748, p. 15. 
i Poems of Dr. Joseph Warton in Chalmers' English Poets, voL 
XVIII, p. 167. 


Pleasures of Melancholy. In addition to the Miltonic cast 
of the rhapsody, it is interesting to notice the young poet's 
enthusiasm for Spenser, whom he prefers to Pope. The Rape 
of the Lock, he tells us, does not please him, for 

" The gay description palls upon the sense, 
And coldly strikes the mind with feeble bliss." 

and Belinda, "in all the lustre of brocade," must yield to Una. 
The influence of Spenser, however, is felt in the descriptive 
poems of this period and not in the lyrics. Warton's Odes, 
published the same year Collins sent his to the press, are 
valuable not as works of art but as illustrating the progress 
of the lyric. His style is an intimate one and he speaks with 
the utmost freedom of his tastes and desires. His person- 
ality, however, was not strong enough to find its own method 
of expression ; admiring Milton, he is not content to catch 
a hint or to reflect his spirit, but he plunders whole passages. 
In two respects he shows originality: he is a lover of nature 
and as he tells us in his sonnet on Stonehenge, he delights "to 
muse on many an ancient tale renowned." Warton's position 
as a leader in the new nature poetry has not been sufficiently 
recognized; all through his poems are passages of sympa- 
thetic observation of birds and flowers that have by no means 
lost their charm : 

" Midst gloomy glades, in warbles clear, 
Wild nature's sweetest notes they hear; 
On green untrodden banks they view 
The hyacinth's neglected hue : 
In their lone haunts, and woodland roimds, 
They spy the squirrel's airy bounds: 
And startle from her ashen spray, 
Across the glen, the screaming jay."' 

1 Richard Mant, The Poetical Works of the late Thomas Warton, 
Oxford, 1802, vol. I, p. 125. Cf. Ode on the First of April, Ode on the 
Approach of Summer. 


Not only in his History of English Poetry, but in all his 
writings Warton showed the fascination which "the chronicles 
of wasted time" possessed for him, and the age of chivalry 
inspired him as it did Scott ; there is much of the author of 
Ivanhoe and Marmion foreshadowed in Warton's two odes, 
The Crusade and The Grave of King Arthur. The first ode, 
the most spirited of Warton's poems, is supposed to be com- 
posed by Cceur de Lion and Blondel. 

" Salem, in ancient majesty, 
Arise, and lift thee to the sky ! 
Soon on thy battlements divine 
Shall wave the badge of Constantine. 
Ye Barons, to the sim unfold 
Our cross with crimson wove and gold!"'^ 

The Grave of King Arthur is descriptive rather than lyrical; 
it stirs the imagination especially by its use of names that 
carry with them the glamour of romance: 

" O'er Cornwall's cliffs the tempest roared. 
High the screaming sea-mew soared; 
On Tintagel's topmost tower 
Darksome fell the sleety shower."^ 

In lyrical poetry it is unfortunate that the anthologist 
and not the critic has often decided what verses shall be 
rescued from "Time's fell hand." Neither the Golden 
Treasury of Songs and Lyrics nor the Oxford Booh of 
English Verse includes any one of Warton's nine sonnets. 
Two should be found in every comprehensive anthology of 
English lyrics. The sonnet written in Dugdale's Monasticon 
is a restrained yet an eloquent defense of the antiquary, 
"of painful pedantry the poring child," for Warton has 
found that 

1 Vol. II, p. 49. 

2 Vol. II, p. 58. 


" Nor rough, nor barren, are the winding ways 
Of hoar Antiquity, but strown with flowers." 

The first four verses of the sonnet to the river Loddon are 
enough to save it: 

" Ah ! what a weary race my feet have run, 
Since first I trod thy banks with alders crowned, 
And thought my way was all through fairy ground. 
Beneath thy azure sky, and golden sun."^ 

If life had brought disillusionments, Warton could comfort 
himself with the thought that his days had not been useless, 
"nor with the Muse's laurel unbestowed." 

The two great contemporaries of the Wartons, Goldsmith 
and Johnson, were unmoved by the new lyric poetry; or 
rather, Johnson was moved to ridicule the 

" Uncouth words in disarray, 
Tricked in antique ruff and bonnet. 
Ode, and elegy, and sonnet." 

He wrote a few odes — not Pindarics ; a single stanza suffi- 
ciently illustrates their quahty : 

" Now o'er the rural kingdom roves 

Soft Pleasure with her laughing train. 
Love warbles in the vocal groves. 
And vegetation plants the plain,"^ 

Respect for a great name prohibits further quotation. Gold- 
smith (1728-1774), always the idyllic poet even when he 
writes his novel, has left but one good lyric, "When lovely 
woman stoops to folly." Sung by Olivia in the Vicar of 
Wakefield, its efi^ectiveness is due principally to its setting. 

1 Vol. II, pp. 150, 160. 

2 T. M. Ward, The Poems of Johnson, Goldsmith, Oray, and Collins, 
Muses' Library, London, 1905, pp. 89, 72. 


There are many lyrics in Goldsmith's Oratorio but they are 
all unimportant : 

" Hope, like the taper's gleamy light. 
Adorns the wretch's way. 
And still, as darker grows the night. 
Emits a brighter ray."^ 

is a typical stanza. The revival of lyric verse, so successfully 
inaugurated by Gray, Collins, and the Wartons, met with 
no support from the accredited leaders of English thought. 
Only in the Queen Anne age have the chief writers of a period 
in which letters flourished been so destitute of the lyric 

The drama of the day contained lyrics, but few possess 
the least merit. In the Duenna Sheridan inserted a number 
of songs. 

" I ne'er could any lustre see 
In eyes that would not look on me;" 

and the more familiar, "Had I a heart for falsehood framed," 
show a certain skill of expression ; "Here's to the maiden of 
bashfull sixteen," in the School for Scandal has an attractive 
liveliness, but such lyrics have little substance, and a single 
phrase from Dekker's or Shakespeare's songs is worth them 

One writer for the theatre deserves remembrance for his 
lyrics. Charles Dibdin (1745-1814), actor, dramatist, com- 
poser, singer, was a popular figure during the last three 
decades of the century. Of an attractive personality, with 
"a voice of no great power or compass but of a sweet and 
mellow quality," his dramatic entertainments depended upon 
his songs for their success. As an admirer has pointed out, 
he was the last of the bards ; Moore used well-known Irish 
melodies, but Dibdin invariably composed the music for his 

1 P. 190. 


verses. He was a most voluminous writer; he produced 
some nine hundred songs and claimed that he had written the 
words and music of the best ones in less than an hour. 

Dibdin essayed all types of lyrics — love songs, hunting 
songs, war songs, Irish and Scottish songs — ^but his sailor 
songs, though uninspired, contain his most genuine and his 
most skillful writing. He had never shipped before the 
mast, yet he became the laureate of the British tar, giving 
to him the same popularity that Kipling's Barrack Room 
Balladg brought to the soldier in India, with this difference: 
that Dibdin lacked the modern poet's realism, narrative 
power, and dramatic force. His sailor is a sentimental, 
idealized figure, fearless, patriotic, and above all, a faithful 
lover of his Poll. Dibdin wrote in an easy, swinging style 
and from his first lyric of the sea: 

" Blow high, blow low, let tempests tear 
The mainmast by the board;" 

until his last : 

" Some sweetheart or wife that he loved as his life 

Each drank, while he wished he could hail her; 
But the standing toast that pleased the most 

Was — the wind that blows, the ship that goes. 
And the lass that loves a sailor !"^ 

he could boast that English sailors had made his songs their 
own. For the modern reader they do not strike deep enough, 
and though they are the best in the drama from 1750 to 
the close of the century, they are quite forgotten ; even Tom 
Bowling, a "sailor's epitaph" on his own brother and the 
finest example of his serious style, has disappeared from 
most anthologies.' 

The poetical miscellanies of the day can not claim our 

1 G. Hogarth, The Songs of Charles Dibdin, London, 1843, p. xxvii. 

2 Pp. 28, 81. 

3 P. 97. 


attention.^ Their only good lyrics were those poems by 
Gray, Collins, or Warton which we have already considered ; 
their numerous imitations of these writers — especially the 
interminable elegies — are not amusing enough to be con- 
sidered unconscious parodies. As for the song books of the 
day, the "Songsters" and "Jovial Companions," their only 
good lyrics were the old ones and in these compilations we 
frequently go back to Elizabethan times. There was much 
verse published in the Gentleman's Magazine, established 
1731, but it is astonishing to see there the Queen Anne 
tradition long surviving in satire and verse epistle. One 
may dismiss the minor poets of the day with a single 
phrase — they were hopelessly dull and uninspired. One 
Miscellany, however, was epoch-making — Percy's Reliques 
of Ancient Poetry, 1765. In this book were brought to light 
again not only the best of the old ballads but some of the 
finest of the old lyrics : songs from Harleian MS. 2253, 
Chaucer, and from TotteVs Miscellany; the most charac- 
teristic stanzas of Daniel and Drayton, Lyly and Shirley, 
Raleigh and Wotton, Carew, Suckling and Lovelace. Such 
poems were a more enduring source of inspiration than the 
much-followed odes of Gray and Collins and the next genera- 
tion of writers found in this collection many hints for their 
finest achievements. Age had not withered the infinite variety 
of these songs which showed a new race of poets that the 
noblest thoughts and the strongest emotions needed no 
Pindaric lyre. 


A special province of lyric verse — the hymns of the 
church — demands our attention at this point. When Stem- 
hold, about 1547, published nineteen psalms in the simple 
and popular ballad stanza, he unconsciously decided the form 

1 See for example, A Collection of Poems in four volumes, By several 
hands, J. Dodsley, London, 1783. 


for countless religious songs. No one has attempted to 
estimate the number of hymns written in the eighteenth 
century ; it is certain, however, that in this great mass of 
poetry there is very little that shows artistic excellence. Of 
the vast majority of hymn writers it may be asserted as a 
general rule that their spirit is willing but their style is weak. 

We retrace our steps to the previous age and find in the 
writings of Thomas Ken (1637-1711), bishop of Bath and 
Wells, the first indications of the hymn writing which was 
later to accompany the religious awakening and the rise 
of the Methodists. Ken was an eloquent preacher, a musi- 
cian, and a poet who essayed in vain the epic style. The 
three hymns published in the Manual of Prayers for the use 
of Winchester scholars contain his best writing ; two of them, 
"Awake, my soul, and with the sun," and "Glory to thee, 
my God, this night," have become rehgious classics. 

A much more voluminous writer was the dissenter Isaac 
Watts (1674!-174<8), who composed some six hundred hymns 
and versions of the Psalms. He published in 1706 Horce 
Lyricas, a volume which included several odes showing faint 
traces of Cowley; Watts speaks of his "bold harp profusely 
played, Pindarical," but with the exception of "profusely," 
his view of his work is quite erroneous. Dr. Johnson, who 
admired the character of Watts, found it difficult to comment 
upon his poetry. He could, however, bestow on him the 
praise "the general interest of mankind requires to be given 
to writers who please and do not corrupt, who instruct and 
do not decoy." The bare possibility of the author of "Let 
dogs delight to bark and bite," and "How doth the little 
busy bee," corrupting and decoying is delicious. Unlike 
Crashaw and Vaughan, he has no mistress, real or supposed. 

" No Phyllis shall infect the air, 

With her unhallowed name."^ 

1 "Meditation in a grove" in Horas Lyricw. 


His original hymns often attain a noble dignity and are 
not without imaginative lines : 

" Lord of the armies of the sky, 
He marshals all the stars. 
Red comets lift their banners high. 
And loud proclaim his wars."^ 

while his versions of the psalms, by no means mere para- 
phrases, have at times a simplicity and a directness of 
expression which makes them altogether worthy to be placed 
beside the canticles from which they were taken. "God is 
a refuge for his saints" and "Our God, our help in ages 
past" are his masterpieces. His Divine Songs for Children 
(1715), which have given many phrases to the language and 
which, in certain Knes dimly foretell Blake, contain his tender 
and pathetic "Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber," sung 
more than any other English cradle song. If popularity 
alone determined worth. Watts would be one of our greatest 

The tradition of Watts was continued by John Wesley 
(1703-1791) and his brother Charles (1708-1788), a better 
poet whose style is more vigorous than that of Watts but 
who has given less to our hymnals. Among other famous 
hymns of the period are Toplady's (1740-1788) "Rock of 
Ages," Skelton's (1707-1787) "Jesus, lover of my soul," 
Newton's (1725-1807) "How sweet the name of Jesus 
sounds," and Williams's (1717-1791) "Guide me, thou 
great Jehovah." It is a strange fact that the eighteenth 
century, popularly considered to be spiritually dead, has 
expressed most effectively in song those religious feelings 
which move all types of character.^ 

1 God's Dominion and Decrees. 

2Cf. Book II of F. T. Palgrave's The Treasury of Sacred Song, 
Oxford, 1890. This is the best anthology of religious verse. 


Christopher Smart (1722-1770) and WilHam Cowper 
(1731-1800) are distinguished from these religious poets 
because they wrote on secular as well as upon divine themes. 
Smart had an unhappy life, descending from a fellowship 
in Pembroke College, Cambridge, to the precarious exist- 
ence of Grub Street. His Song to David, composed while 
confined in a madhouse, was published in 1763. It is one 
of the most remarkable poems of the century, unevenly 
written yet ranging from the pathetic to the sublime and in 
turn tender, lofty, and impassioned in its expression. It 
has a peculiar quality ; there is nothing in contemporary 
writing to compare with such stanzas as : 

" Sweet is the dew that falls betimes. 
And drops upon the leafy limes ; 

Sweet Hermon's fragrant air: 
Sweet is the lily's silver bell. 
And sweet the wakeful tapers' smell 
That watch for early prayer." 

" Glorious^the northern lights a-stream ; 
Glorious the song, when God's the theme; 

Glorious the thunder's roar: 
Glorious Hosannah from the den; 
Glorious the catholic Amen; 

Glorious the martyr's gore." 

The mysticism and emotional force of the poem were beyond 
the taste of the day; the editor of The Poems of the late 
Christopher Smart, in two volumes, Reading, 1791, did not 
reprint it, for he included only "such poems as were likely 
to be acceptable to the reader."^ 

iThe poem, half lyrical and half descriptive, consists of eighty-six 
stanzas. See A Song to David by the late Christopher Smart, London, 
1819. The Oxford Book of Verse, p. 538, prints eighteen stanzas. Smart's 
pathetic Hymn to the Supreme Being has been too much overshadowed 
by the Song. 


William Cowper, like Smart, brooded over his imagined 
wickedness until he believed himself to be a spiritual outcast, 
doomed to destruction. At one time he found relief in read- 
ing Herbert's Temple, but his relatives caused him to lay 
aside the book, fearing that it increased his morbid ten- 
dencies. This religious melancholia resulted in temporary 
insanity and he was confined in a madhouse ; from such bitter 
experience sprang his hymns. Written in conjunction with 
his friend John Newton, the Olney Hymns, sixty-seven of 
them by Cowper, appeared in three books in 1779. In gen- 
eral, little individuality can be shown in these religious songs, 
for the limitations of the form and even of the vocabulary 
are very definite ones and the tendency is to cast all spiritual 
thought and emotion in purely conventional molds. Cowper's 
finest hymns, however, are readily differentiated from those 
of Watts or Ken by their intensity of feeling and by their 
more intimate tone. "Hark, my soul! it is the Lord," "God 
moves in a mysterious way," and "Oh ! for a closer walk 
with God" are the very flower of the religious lyrics of the 
eighteenth century.' 

One could scarcely expect to find in the writer of these 
hymns a worthy follower of Prior. In his early poems 
Cowper plainly imitated Waller, Sackville, and the Queen 
Anne lyrists, but above all, "dear Mat Prior's easy jingle." 

" Matthew, (says Fame) with endless pains 
Smoothed and refined the meanest strains; 
Nor suffered one ill-chosen rhyme 
To escape him, at the idlest time ; 
And thus o'er all a lustre cast. 
That, while the language lives, shall last."^ 

We do not need this eulogy to show us where Cowper found 
his model for such lines as : 

1 H. S. Milford, The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper, 
Oxford, 1907, pp. 444, 455, 433. 
2 P. 268. 


" Let her guess what I muse on, when rambling alone 
I stride o'er the stubble each day with my gun, 
Never ready to shoot till the covey is flown. 

" Let her think what odd whimsies I have in my brain, 
When I read one page over and over again. 
And discover at last that I read it in vain.""^ 

He has Prior's light and graceful manner of description : 

" The black bird has fled to another retreat 
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat. 
And the scene where his melody charmed me before. 
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more."^ 

Such a stanza might have come from Dowrv-Hall. Cowper 
has absolutely caught Prior's gayety, his kindly humor, his 
whimsical manner of alluding to himself: 

" These carpets, so soft to the foot, 

Caledonia's traffic and pride ! 
Oh spare them, ye knights of the boot ! 

Escaped from a cross-country ride ! 
This table and mirror within. 

Secure from collision and dust. 
At which I oft shave cheek and chin. 

And periwig nicely adjust."' 

If Cowper, in his lighter moods, turned back to the days 
of Anne, in his deeper moments he anticipated the simplicity 
and the pathos of Wordsworth. His easy, unadorned style 
did not desert him when he expressed the strongest emotions ; 
his words sink deeply because they are spoken so quietly. 

His poem on Selkirk, "I am monarch of all I survey" — a 
lyrical monologue — ^has achieved an unjustified popularity. 
It has little imagination or feeling and reads as though it 

1 P. 270. 

2 P. 363. 

3 P. 378. 


had been written not by a castaway but by a beau in a 
coffee house. His dirge on the loss of the "Royal George" 
possesses, as Palgrave has pointed out, a "bare and truly 
Greek simplicity of phrase"; there could be no greater 
contrast to the pride, pomp and circumstance of the Pin- 
daric odes than these verses, simple as the old ballads : 

" It was not in the battle. 
No tempest gave the shock. 

She sprang no fatal leak, 
She ran upon no rock; 

His sword was in the sheath, 
His fingers held the pen, 

When Kempenfelt went down. 
With twice four hundred men."^ 

Cowper is most inspired when he writes of his own life and 
two poems expressing his devotion for Mary Unwin are 
among the most sincere and affecting lyrics in the language.^ 
There are many sonnets better constructed than Mary! I 
want a lyre with other strings, but none more beautiful or 
heartfelt in the intimate revelation of admiration and love. 
This poem and To Mary stand alone in this century, for 
Cowper's deeply felt verses on his mother's picture. Oh that 
those lips had language, are not lyrical in form. One feels 
in reading these two lyrics a sense of constraint as when 
some intimate conversation is overheard, for here we have 
"such fair question as soul to soul affordeth." To Mary is 
more affecting than the sonnet ; its quiet metre, its homely 
pictures, its frank realism, its avoidance of the slightest 
trace of sentimentality render the emotion so poignant that 
Palgrave is justified in declaring that "Cowper is our highest 
master in simple pathos."' 

1 P. 344. One is hardly prepared to follow Palgrave in making of 
this poem a touchstone of the reader's taste. 

2 Pp. 421, 427. 

3 Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics, notes. 



Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770) and William Blake 
(1757-1827), the heralds of the romantic movement, stand 
apart from and above the poets of their day. Both were of 
imagination all compact; and though their visions beheld 
two different worlds, we may consider them together. 

Chatterton, apprenticed to an attorney, recreated Bristol 
of the fifteenth century and wrote, in what he believed to be 
middle English, poems that he attributed to Thomas Rowley, 
a purely imaginary character. He went to London to try 
his fortune; within four months he found himself alone and 
starving — and took poison. But one of his Rowley poems 
had been printed; they were published in 1777. 

The tragedy of his life profoundly impressed the poets 
of the next generation. To Wordsworth he was "the mar- 
vellous Boy";^ Coleridge, who called him 

"the wondrous boy. 
An amaranth, which earth seemed scarce to own,"^ 

wrote an impassioned Monody on the Death of Chatterton, 
dwelhng more upon the "story of his woes" than upon his 
poetry. Keats writes a sonnet to the "Dear child of sorrow — 
son of misery!" and dedicates Endymion to his memory. It 
was, however, a Frenchman who paid the most striking 
tribute to him. Alfred de Vigny's Chatterton, acted at the 
Theatre Fran^ais in 1835, is a protest against the "per- 
petual immolation of the poet," to use the language of his 
emotional preface, and an attack on society which neglects 
the artist and even forces him to his doom. De Vigny re- 
garded Chatterton as the personification of neglected genius 
and accordingly his drama is a rhapsody. We find Chat- 
terton in love with a certain Kitty Bell, humiliated by super- 

1 Resolution and Independence. 

2 On Observing a Blossom on the First of February, 1796. 


cilious noblemen, his companions at Oxford, and upbraided 
by the Lord Mayor of London because he writes verses! 
This stony-hearted dignitary offers the penniless boy the 
position of valet de chambre; rather than degrade himself 
and renounce his art, the poet dies and with him, Kitty Bell. 
Knowing Chatterton's history, it is difficult to judge his 
writings impartially. That strangest of fathers, Patrick 
Bronte, wishing his children, mere babes, to "speak with less 
timidity," gave them a mask and told them "to stand back 
and speak boldly under cover of it" in answer to his ques- 
tions.'^ This method certainly elicited remarkable replies. 
When Chatterton wrote with no mediaeval disguise, he was 
merely an imitative, precocious boy ; when he assumed the 
mask of Rowley, he was a poet. His acknowledged verses 
are noteworthy not for their quality but because of the cir- 
cumstances under which they were written. They are quite 
conventional and there is little difficulty in discovering his 
models : 

" Wet with the dew the yellow hawthorns bow ; 
The rustic whistles through the echoing cave ; 
Far o'er the lea the breathing cattle low, 
And the full Avon lifts the darkened wave."^ 

In the Rowley poems also Chatterton followed models. 
His masterpiece, The Ballad of Charity, written during his 
last weeks in London, is the story of a mediaeval good Samari- 
tan told with Spenser's color and rich detail ; the Bristowe 
Tragedy harks back to the ballads in the Reliques, yet in 
these poems is a quality all his own. From dictionaries, 
from Chaucer and Spenser, he had made for himself a glos- 
sary of ancient words and phrases often curiously inaccu- 
rate and erroneous ; as Jonson said of Spenser, "he writ 

1 Mrs. Gaskell, Life of Charlotte Bronti, chapter III. 
2W. W. Skeat, The Poetical Works of Thomas Chatterton, London, 
1871, I, p. 55. 


no language."^ Composing the Rowley poems in this strange 
dialect, his mind seemed to take on the very color of 
the mediaeval world. If Professor Beers finds the best quality 
of his verse to be its unexpectedness — "sudden epithets of a 
wild and artless sweetness" — certainly the best quality of 
his mind is its intuitive perception of the romance and 
mystery of the past. 

The lyrical element in the Rowley poems is not their chief 
one; the poems to which we have just alluded are, with most 
of his work, descriptive and narrative. His best songs are 
in his tragedy of Aella. The stanzas sung by the third min- 
strel show a lusciousness of phrase that must have attracted 
Keats : 

" When Autumn sere and sunburnt doth appear, 
With his gold hand gilding the falling leaf, 
Bringing up Winter to fulfil the year. 
Bearing upon his back the ripened sheaf. 
When all the hills with woody seed are white. 
When lightning-fires and gleams do meet from far the sight ; 

" When the fair apples, red as evening sky. 
Do bend the tree unto the fruitful ground. 
When juicy pears, and berries of black dye. 
Do dance in air, and call the eyes around ; 
Then, be the evening foul, or be it fair, 
Methinks my heart's delight is mingled with some care." 

The "song by Syr Thybbot Gorges," who by a miracle must 
have foreseen the Restoration writers, has the lilt of Prior : 

" She said, and Lord Thomas came over the lea. 
As he the fat deerkins was chasing. 
She put up her knitting, and to him went she ; 
So we leave them both kindly embracing." 

1 Cf . Skeat's Essay on the Bowley Poems, vol. II. 


His finest lyric is a dirge, reminiscent of Ophelia's song: 

" Oh, sing unto my roundelay. 
Oh, drop the briny tear with me, 
Dance no more on holiday; 
Like a running river be. 

My love is dead. 

Gone to his death-bed. 

All under the willow-tree. 

" See ! the white moon shines on high. 
Whiter is my true love's shroud. 
Whiter than the morning sky. 
Whiter than the evening cloud. 

My love is dead. 

Gone to his death-bed, 

All under the willow-tree."^ 

Chatterton saw instinctively the poetry in 

" old, unhappy, far off things 
And battles long ago." 

Richard Cceur de Lion and his knights, the pomp and 
pageantry of mediaeval tournament and battle, inspired him 
as they did Scott ; with more knowledge and with greater 
maturity, Chatterton and not the Wizard of the North 
would have been the great revealer of romance. If we com- 
pare him with the medaevalists of his day — with Thomas 
Warton, for example — we see that Warton was painstaking 
while Chatterton was imaginative. Short as was his Hfe, his 
position as poet-artist is secure. 

William Blake (1757-1827), an "enthusiastic, hope- 
fostered visionary," as he once subscribed himself, was the 

1 Vol. II, pp. 38, 40, 71. 


son of a London hosier. At the age of ten, he was placed 
in a small drawing school; at fourteen he was apprenticed 
to an engraver who sent the boy for his training to copy the 
monuments and tombs in Westminster Abbey. Blake was, 
accordingly, self-taught; his lack of formal instruction is 
manifest in all his drawings — their faults of anatomy and 
of perspective are apparent to the most untrained eye — but 
such a nature must find its own method of expression. In 
1783 he published a slender collection of verses, Poetical 
Sketches; his Songs of Innocence appeared six years later, 
and his Songs of Experience in 1794.^ The Sketches was 
the only volume to be published in the ordinary fashion; 
his other writings he printed himself from copper plates 
upon which he had engraved both his poems and the designs 
that weave themselves around them. As if this were not 
labor enough, the printed pages he colored by hand. This 
slow method of production was not a good means for bring- 
ing Blake's poetry before the reading public ; his books were 
practically unknown and whatever fame he acquired came 
to him from the engravings he made for the writings of 
others, such as his wonderful plates for Blair's Grave. Con- 
temporary references to Blake speak of him as an artist and 
not as a poet. 

Although Blake felt that he had received a divine com- 
mand to write and that he must "speak to future generations 
by a sublime allegory," he was not ambitious in the accepted 
sense of the word. He wrote, "I am more famed in Heaven 
for my works than I could well conceive," and to deliver his 
message was his one concern.^ All his life he was poor; 
but for the help of friends he would have been destitute. 
He was, nevertheless, an indefatigable worker, at one time 
so absorbed in his writing and drawing that he did not leave 

1 J. Sampson, The Poetical Works of William Blake, Oxford, 1905. 

2 A. G. B. Russell, The Letters of William Blake, London, 1906, p. 


his house for two years. He stated that in addition to all 
his printed work he had composed six or seven epics as long 
as Homer and twenty tragedies as long as Macbeth. After 
Blake's death, his injudicious friend Tatham destroyed some 
hundred volumes of unpublished manuscripts. Despite his 
undaunted energy and his creative power, he never would 
have accomplished all this single-handed. His wife, the 
daughter of a market gardener, a girl who could neither 
read nor write when he married her, learned to aid him in 
preparing his books and to color them in a manner that 
rivalled Blake's own work. She believed in her husband's 
mission; to quote Tatham's grandiloquent period, she was 
"the buttress of his hopes, the stay to his thoughts, the 
admirer of his genius, the companion of his solitude and the 
solace of his days."^ 

Blake lived in his imagination. "To me this world is 
all one continued vision of fancy or imagination," he 
wrote, and throughout his life visions appeared to him.^ 
He conversed hourly and daily with his dead brother, he 
wrote Hayley, and it was his spirit who taught Blake to 
prepare his plates and print his books. He was "under the 
direction of messengers from heaven, daily and nightly" ; 
he wrote his Milton "from immediate dictation, twelve or 
sometimes twenty or thirty hnes at a time, without premedi- 
tation, an'd even against my wiU."' His mind was filled with 
books and pictures which he had written in eternity before 
his mortal life, "and those works are the delight and study 
of the archangels." Such sentences might imply mental 
derangement, but those who knew Blake best saw no sign 
of an unbalanced mind. After his death John Linnell wrote : 
"I never in all my conversations with him could for 
a moment feel there was the least justice in calling him in- 

ip. 44. 

2 P. 63. 

3 P. 115. 


sane; he could always explain his parodoxes satisfactorily 
when he pleased, but to many he spoke so that 'hearing they 
might 710* hear.' "^ His Prophetic Books, which do not con- 
cern us, are as a whole unintelligible to Blake's most devoted 
readers, yet even here of many a page it may be said 

" what he spake, though it lacked form a little. 
Was not like madness." 

Blake's genius was essentially lyrical. Reason and logic 
were to him "spectrous fiends" to be destroyed ; the real man 
was imagination. He wished to cast aside from poetry "the 
rotten rags of Memory" and "all that is not inspiration," 
and accordingly he wrote as no other poet had written. 
Much of the unequalled quality of Milton's blank verse is 
due to the fact that he composed it for his ear, not for 
his eye ; Blake's lyrics have a fascination because they were 
written by a man who was blind to this world and who saw 
in its stead a new heaven and a new earth. 

This is not so apparent in his earliest volume. In the 
Poetical Sketches we find that he has caught many a hint 
from books, which is not surprising when we remember that 
some of these songs were written when Blake was but four- 
teen and that they were published when he was seventeen. 
Fair Elenor and Gwin, King of Norway show that Blake 
knew the ballads of the Reliques, yet he had read them in his 
own fashion. To Spring and To the Evening Star have 
something of CoUins's unrhymed Ode to Evening, yet they 
are not copies of that poem. To the Muses, one of the most 
perfect of all Blake's lyrics, has the finish, the music of 
Collins's finest work. When we consider that it appeared 
on the very eve of the romantic revival, it shows that Blake, 
though a seer, was no prophet: 

IP. 239. 


" Whether on Ida's shady brow, 

Or in the chambers of the East, 
The chambers of the sun, that now 

From ancient melody have ceased; 

" How have you left the ancient love 

That bards of old enjoyed in you! 
The languid strings do scarcely move ! 

The sound is forced, the notes are few !"^ 

His two songs, "My silks and fine array" and "Memory, 
hither come," are Elizabethan in expression and feeling, yet 
here we have some characteristic lines : 

" I'll pour upon the stream 
Where sighing lovers dream. 
And fish for fancies as they pass 
Within the watery glass."^ 

It is in the song "Love and harmony combine" that we see 
most plainly Blake's spirit : 

" Love and harmony combine. 
And around our souls entwine 
While thy branches mix with mine. 
And our roots together join. 

" Joys upon our branches sit. 
Chirping loud and swinging sweet; 
Like gentle streams beneath our feet 
Innocence and virtue meet."' 

The Songs of Innocence are pure Blake. He had, says 
Linnell, "the simplicity and gentleness of a child," and one 

ij. Sampson, The Lyrical Poems of William Blake, Oxford, 1906, 
p. 19. 

2 P. 15. 

3 P. 13. 


may add, the tenderness. Love for the unfortunate and 
weak was a cardinal article in his faith : 

" A horse misused upon the road 
Calls to Heaven for human blood. 
Each outcry of the hunted hare 
A fibre from the brain does tear. 
He who shall hurt the little wren 
Shall never be beloved by men. 
Kill not the moth nor butterfly. 
For the last judgment draweth nigh."^ 

With such a nature, he is not the poet, understanding the 
child's point of view, he is the child itself speaking with a 
directness of spiritual apprehension that shames our reason 
and touches our hearts. The poem that begins "Little 
Lamb, who made thee" is an excellent example of this. 
Stevenson writes with equal simplicity of the simple hap- 
penings in a child's life; Blake's poems are deeper and lay 
hold on eternity, for he saw beyond the visible : 

" For a double vision my eyes do see. 
And a double vision is always with me. 
With my inward eye, 'tis an old man grey, 
With my outward, a thistle across my way."^ 

All these qualities combine to give to his poems a touch of 
strangeness and wonder that seems alien to their simple 
forms and monosyllabic diction. Even in his Songs of Expe- 
rience, where his spirit is troubled, he keeps this mood of 
wonder. In "Tiger ! Tiger ! burning bright" we have the 
most perfect example of this. After asking what hammer 
and what anvil could frame its fearful symmetry, he writes : 

1 P. 138. Several lines are transposed. 

2 P. 153. 


" When the stars threw down their spears. 
And watered heaven with their tears. 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?"' 

The effect of the last line, with its naive astonishment, one 
never forgets. His slumber songs, among the most tender 
and beautiful in the language, are not without their pathos 
when we remember that Blake was childless — they were 
written for his dream children. 

We find in the Songs of Experience his deepest lyric note. 
London is an outcry against the wrongs of modern society, 
but rarely does he look at his age in this fashion. He protests 
against the cruelty and falsehood in our natures. It is a mark 
of his pecuhar genius that his shortest poems, eight lines, can 
start such far-reaching thoughts and emotions. The Sick 
Rose, Infant Sorrow, "I told my love," have a significance 
in their direct yet subtle appeal which the grotesque and 
grim creatures that stalk through the prophetic books have 
never gained. Blake took pleasure in the fact that children 
had delighted in his drawings ; the simplest reader may catch 
the meaning of his best work. Had these lyrics been widely 
read, Blake might have claimed the honor of restoring to 
English song its imaginative and spiritual heritage. 

It is instructive to compare these poems with the lyrics 
of the neo-Celtic writers who claim Blake as one of their 
band. These modern poets have no such definite vision, for 
they live in the shadows and twilight. They lack his firm 
technique ; their verses waver and falter where his lyrics, 
like arrows, fly swift to the mark. Their pale women find 
no place in his songs, for he writes not of love but as a French 
critic has phrased it, of a love for humanity.^ Their note is 
full of pathos, but he sings of action and hope. Both the 
moderns and Blake lose themselves at times in the clouds, 

1 P. 58. 

2 P. Berger, William Blake: Mysticisme et PoMe, Paris, 1906. 


but our younger poets see the clouds from which the light 
is fading; Blake, the clouds that are flushed with the dawn. 

Though we have confined our study to the English lyric, 
it would be pedantry to pass bj' Robert Burns (1759-1796) ; 
to say nothing of his genius, his efi'ect on Wordsworth alone 
would justify his inclusion in a volume which does not con- 
sider Scottish verse. He stahds at the end of a long line of 
Scottish singers ; he gathers up in his writings all the domi- 
nant characteristics of the vernacular school ; he inherits his 
vocabulary — racy and vivid — ^his metres, and his very sub- 
jects. Accordingly we can not fully appreciate Burns until 
we perceive what he took from his predecessors and how he 
transformed what he took, precisely as it is impossible to 
understand Shakespeare's art without a knowledge of his 
contemporaries and of what he learned from them. 

Scottish vernacular literature is remarkable for its 
patriotism, its humor and its realism.^ We have not found 
in the English lyric that outspoken expression of nationality, 
that pride in birth and tradition that has always marked 
the Scottish writers. When our English lyrists turned 
eagerly to foreign models, Scottish poets found their inspira- 
tion more often at home, and such an exception as Drummond 
of Hawthornden who pillaged French and Italian poetry in 
no way disproves this. The very years when Chaucer, with 
all his English spirit, was utilizing French fabliaux or 
Boccaccio's Griselda, John Barbour was writing his Bruce, 
the story of Scotland's hero, and writing it with such feeling 
that centuries after it stirred the imagination of Walter 
Scott and had its share in determining his career. Given 
Burns's familiarity with the vernacular poetry and given 
his imitative spirit, it was almost predestined that "Scots 

1 See T. F. Henderson, Scottish Vernacular Literature, London, 1900. 


wha hae wi' Wallace bled," or some lyric as ardent in its 
patriotism should come from his lips. 

We have seen but little humor in the English lyric. The 
gaiety of Suckhng, the wit of Prior, the pleasantry of 
Cowper are far removed from the rollicking spirit of the 
songs that pleased the 

" hairum-scairum, ram-stam boys. 
The rattling squad." 

The humor of Scottish poetry is that of the country wedding, 
the village fair, the rustic dance, the tavern song; a humor 
that is always vigorous, often coarse because it is close to 
the soil. It is the literature of high spirits seeking outlet; 
it is always hearty and spontaneous and if at times it is 
pushed too far, yet it is saner than much that has passed 
for humor in the writings of some poets we have considered. 

This patriotism and humor is expressed in a thoroughly 
realistic manner ; there is little idealizing — though to every 
lover a mistress is all beauty — and there is small searching 
for fine phrases or rare similes in this poetry. The men 
and women of these songs are the peasants at the plow, and 
the lasses in the fields, "yonder girl that fords the bum." 
These poets who sing "the loves, the ways of simple swains," 
strive to show life as they see it and feel it ; they employ a 
realistic method that reminds one of the pictures of Terbourg 
or Teniers, except that the Dutch painters give us the 
interiors of homes and taverns while the Scottish lyrists show 
us their men and women in the com rigs or under the stars. 
When Zola mistakenly argued that the Latin races had 
introduced realism into literature, he forgot, among other 
matters, Scottish poetry. 

It is to our poet's honor that he did not seek to depart 
from the traditions of the vernacular. From boyhood he 
had been an eager reader of verse and it was impossible that 
he should always avoid what he considered the grand manner. 


We have many traces of cold and lifeless imitation, many 
lapses into false diction ("wild poetic rage," he called it) 
He even wrote a poor sonnet and a Pindaric ode, yet this 
is a small part of his work and his own good sense and his 
Scottish audience saved him from becoming a feeble follower 
of poets with whom he had little in common. Henley has 
shown that Burns often needed a suggestion, a line or a 
phrase, to begin his song and he found these hints not in 
"Thomson's Landscape glow" or "Shenstone's art," but in 
the verses of many forgotten Scottish singers. "O my Luve's 
like a red, red rose" is a good example of this. Cinthio's 
story of a brutal murder caught Shakespeare's eye and, re- 
fashioned so that its own author would not know it, a clumsily 
told tale becomes Othello. Bums makes a flawless lyric out 
of these rude verses : 

" Her cheeks are like the roses 

That blossom fresh in June, 

O, she's like a new-strung instrument 

That's newly put in tune." 

" The seas they shall run dry. 

And rocks melt into sands; 
Then I'll love you still, my dear. 
When all those things are done." 

" Fare you well, my own true love. 
And fare you well for a while. 
And I will be sure to return back again. 
If I go ten thousand mile.""^ 

Each of these three stanzas represents a diflFerent song; 
the poet's instinct told him what to leave and what to change 
for all through his lyrics he showed a remarkable intuition 

1 W. E. Henley and T. F. Henderson, The Poetry of Robert Burns, 
Edinburgh, 1896, vol. Ill, p. 402. Cf. Henley's splendid essay, vol. IV, 
pp. 332-332. 


for the best. Thus in his work lives on the finest emotion, 
the inspired phrase of many a rustic singer, and his songs 
move us because we hear in them not only Bums but other 
poets who have hoped and sorrowed. These country songs, 
these Jacobite relics, were common property ; Ramsay knew 
them and collected many, but it was Burns who saw in them 
his opportunity, as every artist sees in the trivial and 
commonplace the material for his greatest work. 

It must not be presumed that Bums was content merely to 
refine the work of others. What he learned from Scottish 
song is incalculable — he was no Chatterton or Blake, creating 
his own world — yet a man of his force and fearlessness has 
always his own message. The most impressive quality in his 
songs is the energy, the life that infuses them. Too many of 
our lyrists have written to please a patron or a mistress ; 
Burns wrote to please himself. If there had been no printing 
press, he still would have rhymed "for fun," to use his own 
phrase; had there been no peasants, no Edinburgh society 
to applaud him, he still would have taught 

" the lanely heights an' howes 
My rustic sang." 

Burns knew precisely what he wished to accompHsh : , 

" Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire, 
That's a' the learning I desire; 
Then, tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire 

At pleugh or cart. 
My Muse, the' hamely in attire. 

May touch the heart."^ 

He threw himself into life ; even in his conversation, said one 
who knew him, he carried everything before him. His one 
aim was to express not fancies, or sentiments, or dreams, but 
the emotions of a full-blooded man. It was this faculty of 
^Epistle to J. Lapraik, Henley and Henderson, Burns, vol. I, p. 158. 


gaining from the very moment all that it has to offer, this 
concentration of feeling, that gives his poems their power. 
If we contrast his To a Daisy or To a Fieldmouse with 
Vaughan's lines to a flower or to the bird blown in his window 
we see how much closer Burns is to hfe, though Vaughan was 
a nature lover. This intensity of feeling was aided by the 
fact that Burns did not write for the eye but for the ear; 
his songs were really sung and the old melodies to which he 
composed them lent some of their feeling to his words. 

To English readers, the Scottish dialect is as poetic as 
Milton's latinized diction, but his vocabulary was the simple 
one of the Scotch peasant. He shared with Villon the gift 
of drawing his pictures firmly and sharply; we have had 
many personifications that leave no image on the memory, 
but in a phrase, Burns outdoes a whole Pindaric ode: 

" See, crazy, weary, joyless Eild, 
Wi' wrinkled face, 
Comes hostin, hirplin owre the field, 
Wi' creepin pace.""^ 

What a vivid picture of old age. In his nature descriptions, 
we have whole landscapes in a pair of verses. It is interesting 
to see him meet Shakespeare on his own ground and equal 
in his stanza on the lark, the exquisite picture in the song 
from Cymbelme. 

To express, then, the deepest feelings in the simplest 
manner was Burns's gift. There are many aspects of 
thought and emotion which he did not consider. If we accept 
Shelley's simile of Hfe — a dome of many colored glass stain- 
ing the radiance of eternity- — the richer and subtler colors 
were not for Bums. "Ae fond kiss" or "Of a' the airts" are 
as clear as the sunlight itself and beside such frank expres- 
sion much of our modern song seems fantastically over- 

1 Vol. I, p. 63, Epistle to James Smith. 


wrought and curiously subtle. Not to Wordsworth alone has 
Bums revealed that 

" Verse may build a princely throne 
On humble truth."'^ 


The death of Burns brings us within two years of the 
publication of the Lyrical Ballads; yet before we come to 
that epoch-making work, we must consider one more pre- 
cursor of the romantic movement. WilKam Lisle Bowles 
(1762-1850), a graduate of Oxford, a canon of Salisbury, 
wrote, among other poems, thirty sonnets. Many of them 
are descriptions of places which he visited in a vain attempt 
to forget the death of his betrothed. They are accordingly 
filled with a grief which, as his nature was a mild one, 
diffuses itself in a plaintive melancholy, not unlike the 
mood of the Miltonic group. At times Bowles shows their 
influence and takes many a phrase from Milton himself. 
We see the ocean stiUed at evening, gray battlements, for- 
saken towers ; we wander beside sequestered streams musing 
on happier days ; we hear the mournful sound of bells across 
the water. The descriptions are graceful, the thought is 
simply expressed, and if beside the elegiac verses of Shelley 
and Byron (who detested Bowles and dubbed him the "Maud- 
lin Prince of mournful sonneteers") the emotional force 
appears weak, it is never insincere and we know that he 
weeps "for her who in the cold grave lies." The sonnet 
beginning "0 Time! who know'st a lenient hand to lay," 
sums up all his qualities. 

The influence of Bowles on Coleridge and Wordsworth was 
a marked one.^ Coleridge, in his enthusiasm, made forty 

lAt the Grave of Burns. 

2 See T. E. Casson, Bowles, in Eighteenth Century Literature, Oxford, 


copies of twenty of the sonnets and presented them to his 
friends ; amid other eulogies he has called Bowles "the most 
tender, and with the exception of Burns, the only always 
natural poet in our language." The story of Wordsworth 
reading the sonnets through on Westminster Bridge, forget- 
ful of the noise of the passers, is a weU-known one and there 
are many descriptions in them that plainly attracted him : 

" As one who, long by wasting sickness worn, 

Weary has watched the lingering night, and heard 
Heartless the carol of the matin bird 

Salute his lonely porch, now first at morn 

Goes forth, leaving his melancholy bed; 

He the green slope and level meadow views. 
Delightful bathed with slow-ascending dews; 

Or marks the clouds, that o'er the mountain's head 

In varying forms fantastic wander white."' 

To express one's grief unaffectedly, to find in nature not 
only beauty but consolation, these were the chief tenets of 
this poet's creed. Like many a pathfinder, he is now for- 
gotten, yet with others considered in this chapter, he led the 
way for the newer and greater race of singers. 

IW. L. Bowles, Sonnets and other Poems, seventh edition, London, 
1800, p. 35. 


The Lyric of the Nineteenth Century 


The Lyrical Ballads appeared in 1798, making that year 
forever memorable in literary history. To this volume Cole- 
ridge (1772-1834i) contributed the Ancient Mariner and 
three other pieces ; of the remaining nineteen poems by 
Wordsworth (1770-1850), Tintern Abbey, the last one in 
the book, is at once the most significant and the most beauti- 
ful. As Wordsworth's share, then, in this first fruit of the 
modern Renaissance was the greater, we shall consider him 
before Coleridge. 

Although Wordsworth's productivity covered a long 
period of years, the distinctive qualities of his work are all 
to be found in the Ballads. We see at once his preference 
for a simple and unadorned diction ; his insistence upon the 
significance and the grandeur of the most elementary feel- 
ings ; his passion for the beauty of nature and his realization 
of its power over man's mind and soul. Though his spirit 
is here, the book does not show his technique at its best; it 
contains neither ode nor sonnet and this omission of the 
formal lyric is significant. The genius of Wordsworth was 
not lyrical; he has not left us a single song, for though 
lyrical feeling surges through his verse, the gift of Burns 
was denied to him. 

This seems remarkable, for not only was Wordsworth of 
a deeply emotional nature, but he gave his emotions free 
play ; his finest poems are suff^used with a feeling so poignant 


that they subdue us instantly to the poet's mood. He was 
ever given to splendid enthusiasm. As a young graduate 
from Cambridge, studying in France at the outbreak of the 
Revolution, he determined to place himself at the head of 
the Girondist party; his life was saved because his friends 
in alarm summoned him back to England. Such an episode 
seems to come from the biography of Shelley. Assured that 
he had a message for the world, he abandoned everything to 
study it and to tell it. Living frugally, far from the busy 
hum of men, like Blake he knew what it meant to scorn 
delights and live laborious days ; surely no one had ever a 
better right to extol plain living and high thinking. He 
was a deeper mystic than Blake, for the poet-artist often 
felt himself but the instrument of the spirit world and his 
vision passed beyond poetic representation; Wordsworth 
never lost the power of telUng what he saw and felt so that 
all might understand the purport if not the depth of his 
meaning. From such a nature, emotional, idealistic, we 
expect a veritable flood of song. We have said that this 
Renaissance of poetry was distinguished by a renewal of the 
lyric and in considering Wordsworth's verse, we must seek 
to ascertain why it lacked the song quality. 

One reason for this is that he had a well-considered, and 
for his day, a revolutionary theory of poetry to expound; 
if he was not a teacher, he said, then he was nothing. Now 
the didactic spirit is inimical to song. The Psalms, the 
grandest collection of lyrics in ancient literature, certainly 
are at times didactic ; a modern writer has declared that 
poets learn in suffering what they teach in song. However, 
the first concern of Psalmist and modern lyrist alike is the 
expression of emotion and we read into their songs the lesson. 
With Wordsworth the message too often was first in his 
mind, and while this may or may not lower the emotional 
tone, it disturbs and even destroys song. We see a good 
illustration of this in one of his best-known poems : 


" My heart leaps up when I behold 

A rainbow in the sky: 
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man ; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 

Or let me die !" 

Here is a pure lyric ; the lines sing themselves, but when we 
come to the three concluding verses that give the significance 
to the emotion, the thought is expressed in such a manner 
that the song quality instantly vanishes: 

" The child is father of the man; 
And I could wish my days to be 
Bound each to each by natural piety." 

Another poem, equally familiar, has a lyric opening: 

" I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills," 

but it has too much description, the style is too compact for 
a song. It forms a deUghtful contrast with Herrick's 
To Daffodils, which is more delicate and more artful in its ■ 
lament for fading beauty. Reading these poems side by 
side we see how much more significant even a flower has 
become to the modern poet. 

If Wordsworth's desire to comment upon his emotions and 
to explain his thoughts restrains him from song, equally so 
does his fundamental conception of poetry, which is, he 
informs us, "emotion recollected in tranquillity." The song 
springs at once from the occasion ; but this burst of feeling 
Wordsworth would restrain to ponder and reflect upon. If it 
be not sacrilege to enlarge upon his definition, his poetry at 
least is not only emotion recollected in tranquillity but it 
produces tranquil feelings and calm thoughts — and this is 
not the lyric mood, though all lyrics do not spring from 
storm and stress. Unlike his Highland reaper, Wordsworth 


does not sing of old, unhappy, far-oflF things, but of the 
peace of nature and her restoring power. Song finds such 
a theme too vast for it. 

Love is the most common of lyric themes ; there is remark- 
ably little love poetry in his many poems. Of all his sonnets, 
"AVhy art thou silent" is the only one that approaches the 
mood of the Elizabethans, and this was written, he said, 
without the least reference to any individual and merely to 
show that he could write "in a strain poets have been fond 
of." The Lucy poems, however, contain one memorable 
lyric, a dirge that expresses in eight lines the utter desolation 
wrought by death. "A slumber did my spirit steal" goes as 
deep as the plummet of grief ever sounded, for the poet 
realizes that what he once loved is now a dull clod, no better 
than the stone or tree. The anguish of despair does not 
burst forth as it does in the elegies of Byron or Shelley, for 
in the very whirlwind of Wordsworth's passion there is 
always a temperance that gives it smoothness. We must 
never be deceived by his calmer manner. 

The love that Wordsworth sang was not for woman but 
for one who never betrayed the heart that loved her. 
Nature was more beautiful to him than she had been to any 
of his predecessors because he knew her better. He found 
her "so lovely that the heart can not sustain her beauty" ; 
he felt love stealing "from earth to man, from man to earth," 
and more than any other writer, he changed the whole atti- 
tude of his race towards the outer world. He has here a 
subject for verse that never grows old. Many of the emo- 
tions that have moved our lyric poets seem remote to us, or 
at least the manner in which they were expressed has ren- 
dered them so. Not only has Wordsworth found in the 
beauty and in the sustaining power of nature an enduring 
theme, but he has expressed it in a language and style of 
almost Biblical simplicity. Nature seems to take the pen 
from his hand, Arnold said, but the verse he selects to show 


this loses its force apart from its context. Far better 
examples are such lines as : 


" Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart:" 

" The sea that bares her bosom to the moon;" 

" The winds come to me from the fields of sleep," 

where every word but one is monosyllabic and where nature 
gives the inspiration. Taine has said that to understand 
Wordsworth one must empty his head of all earthly matters ; 
on the contrary, one must come very close to the earth to 
see the power and truthfulness of his writing compared with 
which much of our modern verse seems affected, if not posi- 
tively insincere. 

It is by virtue of his sonnets and odes that Wordsworth 
is numbered among our lyric poets. It must frankly be 
confessed that the great majority of his sonnets are unread- 
able, for they are dull. Self-centered, destitute of humor 
(which implies a lack of self-criticism) Wordsworth could 
not separate the wheat from the chaff in his poetic garner; 
still, if we select the very best of the sonnets, they form the 
finest series in the language. They have nothing of Shakes- 
peare's grace or of his idealization of human loveHness; 
they never approach the tone of Milton's scorching anger 
or the dignity of his pathos ; their music has never the 
"weight and volume of sound" that distinguishes Rossetti's 
sonnets ; yet this is merely saying that Wordsworth is not 
many sonneteers, but one. The range of the sonnets is 
remarkable. Our modem poets believe that they have dis- 
covered the city, but they have never equalled the sonnet 
composed upon Westminster Bridge; they sing of crowded 
streets, of poverty and shame, while Wordsworth finds in the 
sleeping London the peace that broods on his mountains. 
For political sonnets, we have the ones on Venice, on Switzer- 


land, and the six written in London in 1802, filled with a 
patriotism that is not blind, and a stern criticism that is 
inspiring. For description of nature there are many 
masterpieces, such as "It is a beauteous evening," or the 
lines on the Trossachs ; for pure music, "A flock of sheep 
that leisurely pass by," which rivals in its imagery and in 
its soft melody the famous picture of the cave of Sleep in 
the Faerie Queene; for feeling, expressing his dominant idea, 
"The world is too much with us." All these sonnets are 
broad in their spirit; they have the health and strength 
of the ocean breezes. Despite the beauty of individual lines, 
they owe their distinction to their content rather than to 
their form ; many sonnets have been more cunningly wrought, 
but none have surpassed them in nobility of feeling. 

Two of Wordsworth's odes rank among his highest 
achievements. The Ode to Duty is modelled on Gray's Hymn 
to Adversity, but the similarity of form is the only resem- 
blance. Wordsworth's poem contains no allegorical figures, 
no descriptive touches, but relies entirely upon the elevation 
of its thought expressed with a restraint that befits the 

" Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong ; 
And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and 

It is fortunate that the Ode on the Intimations of Immor- 
tality, the justification of the whole pseudo-Pindaric school, 
is so familiar that it needs little comment. Wordsworth has 
written odes as uninspired as Cowley's; a mere glance at 
"Hail, orient Conqueror of gloomy night," or at the Ode on 
the Power of Sound will show it. Here, with a subject that 
thrilled him, he became what he wished to be, the prophet, 
the bard. The ode has not the richness of Spenser's verse, 
nor has its music the cumulative effect of Lycidas, in which 
there are ever-advancing waves of melody ; in at least one 


stanza, as Professor Saintsbury points out, the metre is 
thoroughly inadequate, but we forget this in the eifect of 
the poem as a whole. Again and again the feeling and 
thought concentrate in verse so simple and yet so poignant, 
that we may call this the greatest ode in the language. If 
such praise seems uncritical, what is to be placed above this 

Coleridge (1772-1834), poet, philosopher, and critic, 
turned to prose from verse in which he had shown a genius 
unmatched and even unapproached. No poet before or after 
him has written with such imagination and thought so 
vitally united. At times his criticism appears positively in- 
spired, yet other writers might have brought as keen an 
insight to the study of Shakespeare or have analyzed with 
equal clearness the qualities of Wordsworth's style ; we feel 
in reading Christabel or Dejection that we are listening to 
a voice whose melodies none can repeat. When a great poet 
abandons his art, nothing can compensate for the loss. 
An act of Faust outweighs all the pages of Wilhelm Meister. 

Coleridge has three distinct lyric moods ; we see them in 
The Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, and the Odes. The 
Ancient Mariner, the first poem in the Lyrical Ballads, is as 
much a lyric as a tale. We did not discuss the early ballads 
because they were little epics ; the ballad makers described 
the deeds of men and women in an impersonal manner, with 
little censure or praise. An old woman, sheltered for seven 
years by the outlaw, William of Cloudesly, rises up from 
his hearth to sell his life for a scarlet gown ; the ballad maker 
neither comments upon her villainy nor laments the ingrati- 
tude of mankind. Often the ballad singers stand far off 
from the world they depict : 

" O lang, lang may their ladies sit, 

Wi' their fans into their hand, 
Or eir they see Sir Patrick Spans 
Cum sailing to the land !" 


In the Ancient Mariner, the mystery and wonder of the story 
has one purpose ; to thrill us with the sufferings of a man 

" Alone, alone, all, all alone. 
Alone on a wide, wide sea !" 

Amid aU the horrors of that strange voyage, we never forget 
him, for he it is and not the poet who speaks to us, and again 
and again the narrative pauses and we hear his song of 
agony. We must compare with this poem the ballad of 
Thomas the Rhymer if we would understand the intensity 
of the modern imagination and feeling ; how far removed are 
the ferlies he sees from the fearful sights which but recounted 
stun the wedding guest ! The art of the verse, apparently 
so simply written, the effect of the repetitions, the sudden 
climaxes, show a complete mastery of technique ; no one had 
ever suspected that such possibilities lay concealed in this 
measure. What is perhaps the most difficult feat of all, 
Coleridge has perfectly accomplished. He has brought the 
terror and shudder of romance to a story told as though it 
were an adventure in the Spanish main; that is, the tale 
never fades away into the shadows though the mystery is 
always before us. It is as though a spirit passed before us 
taking the form of man, and yet we knew it to be a ghostly 
visitant. GUpin Horner, the goblin page of the Lay of the 
Last Minstrel, has nothing of the other world about him ; this 
is a dream that has all the sharp outline of reality, and yet 
we know it is a dream. 

Kubla Khan is the finest example in our literature of what 
Herrick has called the magic incantation of verse. The 
scenery in the Lotos-Eaters is carefully designed; in this 
poem the "sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice" rises like an 
exhalation at the sound of the music that is in every word. 
It is not enough to say that the poem is pure melody, for 
from its modulations comes a more definite mood than our 
modem poets of the Celtic twilight can evoke with all their 


tone pictures. The quiet opening; the more rapid move- 
ment of the lines in which is depicted the mighty fountain 
bursting from the earth; the mystery of the far-ofF voices 
prophesying war ; the vision of the Abyssinian maid ; the 
burst of ecstasy with which the poem closes, show Coleridge 
more the magician here than in the Ancient Mariner. How 
few poems there are that leave us in this mood of wonder, 
thrilled with the rapture of a vision which leaves the imagi- 
nation untouched with sadness. In Shelley's poems we have 
an ecstasy of feeling but inevitably accompanied with 
despondency and even despair. 

Before we come to the Odes, two short lyrics deserve con- 
sideration. The song from Zapolya, 

" A sunny shaft did I behold. 

From sky to earth it slanted: 
And poised therein a bird so bold — • 

Sweet bird, thou wert enchanted !" 

is musical and full of color ; his lament, Work without Hope, 
whose fourteen lines another poet would have cast in the 
sonnet form, is more impressive than the passionately 
expressed laments of our later romanticists. They express 
some mood or sorrow of the moment ; here we have the realiza- 
tion of the futility of a man's whole life : 

" With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll: 
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul .'' 
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve. 
And Hope without an object cannot live." 

Of the three Odes, the two pohtical ones, On the Depart- 
ing Year and To France, must yield to Dejection. The first 
two, romantic in feeling, have something of the eighteenth 
century classic style about them ; their personifications — 
Avarice, Destruction, Ambition — are masks rather than the 
figurative embodiment of the poet's thought. The Ode to 


France is the finer one, for its opening strophe is one of 
Coleridge's best achievements. The spirit of these lines is 
as emotional as Shelley's, yet where his music comes with a 
burst, here the "dark inwoven harmonies" strike the ear 
more gradually. We have spoken of the rhetoric which dis- 
figures Pindaric odes as a class; here is an apostrophe to 
nature in which every line rings with sincerity. There is no 
better way of distinguishing in any ode feigned emotion 
from the genuine expression of deeply wrought feeling than 
reading aloud this stanza and then turning to Cowley's 

The Ode to Dejection deals not with the tragedy of the 
French Revolution, but with the tragedy in the poet's mind, 
and though he writes but of himself, this poem seems broader 
in spirit than his others. The thought, we may even say 
the philosophy, of the ode has neither repressed the feeling 
nor the poet's delight in picturing the clouds and the moon 
in lines which rival the observation and the beauty of phrase 
of Wordsworth at his best: 

" All this long eve, so balmy and serene, 
Have I been gazing on the western sky. 

And its peculiar tint of yellow green : 
And still I gaze — and with how blank an eye ! 
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars. 
That give away their motion to the stars; 
Those stars, that glide behind them or between. 
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen: 
Yon crescent moon, as fixed as if it grew 
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue ; 
I see them all so excellently fair, 
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are !" 

This is the rare quality of Coleridge's poetry : the purely 
intellectual element in his verse is fused naturally with his 
most emotional and sensuous writing. If we compare this 


ode with Shelley's expression of dejection, we shall see that 
Coleridge analyzes his mood, he "looks before and after," 
while Shelley, with all his richness of imagery, but tries to 
explain his feeling at one given moment of time. In Words- 
worth's thought the conclusion of the whole matter seems 
not sought out but intuitively perceived, directly appre- 
hended ; in Coleridge's poems, we see the mind at work, and 
it is the mind of a mystic and thinker, a dreamer and an 


Lord Byron (1788-1824), the greatest personal force in 
English letters since Dean Swift, has left many lyrics of 
self-revelation, the most frank and intimate poems that had 
hitherto seen the light, for they disclosed moods that are 
not often shown the world. In them we find him from very 
boyhood shy, sensitive, deeply emotional, longing for appre- 
ciation and sympathy. Without glossing over in his career 
much that was unworthy, much that was wrong, it may at 
least be said that many of his misfortunes came from Fate 
rather than from his own acts. His unhappy love for Mary 
Chaworth (she married when Byron was but seventeen!) em- 
bittered his whole hfe, as The Dream and many other poems, 
unmistakable in their sincerity, attest. He was unhappy in 
a proud and violent mother who treated him with alternate 
affection and cruelty ; in a wife who so little understood him 
that she actually inquired when he would give up his bad 
habit of writing verses. He proclaimed with bravado his 
contempt for society, yet he desired homage ; he wrote that 
he would willingly forget man, yet he longed for fame. His 
last weeks in Greece were filled with discouragements and 
disillusionment as he saw the petty jealousies and the mer- 
cenary aims of the race for which he had such hopes. Even 


a soldier's death, which he sought, was denied to him. As 
Byron is the least impersonal of poets, his life is pictured with 
such fidelity in his verse (for we can brush aside the rhetoric) 
that in reading the lyrics there is a temptation to regard 
them not as works of art but as psychological documents, 
as though they were so many letters in a novel written by a 
greater Richardson, laying bare the mind and heart of a 

There is another aspect of these lyrics that holds our 
attention; there is a certain evolution of thought and emo- 
tion that culminates in Byron. The pensive elegies of the 
Miltonic school; the sentimentalism of Sterne's Tristram 
Shandy; the carefully calculated sorrows and even agonies 
of Richardson's Clarissa Harlowe, are signs of what we may 
call the revival of pity. Rousseau, sinister influence, in his 
Nouvelle Heloise shows the deepening of this emotion and its 
transformation into uncontrolled passion; Goethe, in his 
WertJier, shows pity transformed to bitterness and despair. 
Then came the French Revolution and its failure. France 
with its Bourbon king, England with Castlereagh, settled 
back in the old established ways ; in the reaction, high hopes 
were lost, ideals of a regenerated society were shattered, and 
free thought was crushed by the orthodoxy of church and 
state. Pity changed to anger; the love of humanity to a 
contempt for society; enthusiasm to scorn. Carlyle has 
defined Weltschmerz as passion incapable of action, and this 
feeling of disappointment, of frustrated hopes, this Welt- 
schmerz, Byron expressed as did no other poet. If there is 
danger of treating his lyrics as personal biography, there is 
equal danger of regarding them as social documents, of see- 
ing in them the spirit of the age. Burns was in revolt 
against the authority of the church in a country parish; 
Byron was a revolutionist to whom Europe listened, and 
stiU on the Continent he is regarded as the greatest of modem 
English poets. 


Remembering then Byron's life and the temper of the 
times, we read his lyrics and find in them two moods. The 
first is his expression of the tcedium vita; we see writ large 
his unhappiness, his discontent with life : 

" Count o'er the joys thine hours have seen. 

Count o'er thy days from anguish free, 
And know, whatever thou hast been, 
'Tis something better not to be."'^ 

We hear the voice of Hamlet : 

" It is that weariness which springs 

From all I meet, or hear, or see: 
To me no pleasure Beauty brings. 

Thine eyes have scarce a charm for me."^ 

Insisting upon his own wretchedness, there is a tendency to 
drop from the tragic to the purely melodramatic, as in the 
close of his Epistle to a Friend, where he foretells that he may 
become one 

" whom love nor pity sways. 
Nor hope of fame, nor good men's praise; 
One, who in stern ambition's pride. 
Perchance not blood shall turn aside; 
One ranked in some recording page 
With the worst anarchs of the age."' 

It is easy to see that this is mere rhetoric, written to convince 
the reader and not to express an emotion the poet is unable 
to restrain. But this mood of sadness is again and again 
expressed with sincerity as in his Stanzas to Augusta, or in 
his song, "There's not a joy the world can give." No lyric 

1 The Poetical Works of Lord Byron, Oxford, 1909, p. 63, Euthanasia. 

2 P. 188. 

3 P. 61. 


rings truer than his very last one, written on his thirty-sixth 
birthday, in which he tells us 

" My days are in the yellow leaf ; 

The flowers and fruits of love are gone; 
The worm, the canker, and the grief 
Are mine alone !"^ 

It is hardly necessary to point out that Byron's mood is 
not ours, even in moments of discouragement ; our depression 
comes not because the world is barren but because it offers 
so much that we can not grasp it. We do not wish for "the 
dreamless sleep that lulls the dead," for we would prolong 
our lives forever; we mourn not the length of the weary day 
but that the very years are all too short and fly too quickly. 
In our darkest moments we cry, with Milton's Belial: 

" For who would lose. 
Though full of pain, this intellectual being. 
Those thoughts that wander through eternity." 

We are most in sympathy with Byron's despairing mood 
when he writes of death. His elegies on Thyrza, "One 
struggle more, and I am free," or the finer "And thou art 
dead, as young and fair," have the inward touch that makes 
the eighteenth century poems of the grave, with their grief 
for the world at large, with their moralizing, seem but faint 
echoes of sorrow. 

The other mood of Byron is the quieter one in which he 
sings of beauty. Knowing the magnificent descriptive pas- 
sages of Childe Harold and Don Juan, we are surprised that 
this mood does not enter more into his lyrics. They are 
indeed singularly unadorned with picturesque phrases, with 
those touches that call before us the beauty of art or nature. 
Two songs, however, beautiful both in their descriptions and 
in their music, represent this side of his work. "She walks in 

1 On this Day I complete my Thirty-sixth Year, p. 110. 


beauty like the night" anticipates the art and melody of 
Tennyson; "There be none of Beauty's daughters" has a 
rarer music and, from the aesthetic standpoint, is his best 

The interest, then, in Byron's lyrics lies in their direct 
expression of feeling, not in their thought or in their 
technique. The great object in life, said Byron, is sensa- 
tion, and this at once expresses the attraction and the defect 
of his work. There is no emotion recollected in tranquillity 
here ; he writes on the spot and a great deal of his work is 
pure and simple improvisation. The sister art which Byron 
most admired was music ; even when in Italy he showed him- 
self singularly insensible to sculpture and painting, and yet 
he wrote so rapidly that he was often careless of the melody 
of his verse. He had, says Swinburne, "a feeble and faulty 
sense of metre ; no poet of equal or inferior rank ever had so 
bad an ear. His smoother cadences are often vulgar and 
facile ; his fresher notes are often incomplete and inharmo- 
nious." William Morris observes that he had no original 
measures. At least we may urge that Byron shows an 
advance over Wordsworth in rhymed measure; he has a 
fairly wide range from the anapests of "The Assyrian came 
down like the wolf on the fold," to the restraint, unusual for 
him, of "When we two parted." Many of his Spenserian 
stanzas do indeed falter ; his odes on Waterloo and on 
Napoleon have neither the breadth of expression nor the 
orchestral music the genre demands, yet to deny to Byron 
the gift of melody is to read him with deaf ears. 

In our opening chapter we stated that in purely descrip- 
tive poems we come upon lyrical passages, and this is espe- 
cially true of Byron's work. How much of Childe Harold 
and even Don Juan is lyrical. In reading the famous 
apostrophe to the ocean ; the lines on solitude ; the verses on 
Time, the beautifier of the dead; we can understand why 
Byron captivated his age. He needed a large canvas for 


his word pictures ; it took him some time to work up to his 
cUmaxes and accordingly song pure and simple was not his 
best gift. One who has read only the lyrics has not felt the 
real Byron ; indeed his greatest mood of all — his mockery 
and scorn — is seen at its best in Don Juan. 

It seems strange that such a mighty personality could ever 
become obscured, yet the vogue of Byron waned with the 
coming of Tennyson and Browning. We have passed from 
his spell and may, therefore, estimate him more fairly than 
did his contemporaries. If we demand higher art and a more 
just and hopeful attitude towards hfe, we still should feel 
the power of his inspiration. An age that depreciates Byron 
has become conventional and artificial. 

Of all English poets, Shelley (1792-1822) is the most 
lyrical. As Charlotte Bronte disclosed her emotional per- 
sonaHty in her novels, so he found in song his most perfect 
method of self-expression. In by far the greater number 
of his poems (always excepting the Cenci, written with a 
remarkable restraint and a close adherence to the story) we 
feel only the subjective moods and the compelling emotions 
that determined the poet's life. 

The character of Shelley is not a difficult one to under- 
stand, especially with the aid given us by the biographies 
and letters of those who knew and appreciated him. There 
were no great changes in his nature ; he was consistent to his 
own ideals ; and in reading his verse we find in it, as in 
Byron's poetry, two predominating moods. The first, in 
which he expresses his ideals for humanity and his hopes for 
the regeneration of the world, we may call his social mood; 
the second is a purely personal mood of joy or sorrow, and 
generally sadness prevails. The first mood enters but rarely 
into his shorter lyrics — as in Ozymandias, or the concluding 
song in Hellas, or the sonnet to Wordsworth — yet we must 
consider it ; certainly it deepened the tone of even his briefest 
songs such as "Rough wind that moanest loud." 


Wordsworth, Byron and Shelley have expressed in their 
lyrics their views on society. The Elizabethan and Caroline 
singers were generally self-centered and wrote in the spirit 
of "My mind to me a kingdom is"; the modern lyrist has a 
wider vision. Byron's views are the least valuable, for they 
are purely negative: the world is vanity; it is better not to 
be; if you must live, seek the pathless wood and the solitary 
shore to escape from your fellows; love the ocean because it 
bears no trace of man. Wordsworth, on the other hand, is 
constructive. He accepts the social order but he would 
improve upon it ; we are too worldly ; we must live more 
simply ; we are worse than pagans in our blindness to nature ; 
we must let her refine and elevate us. Shelley did not accept 
the position of either poet. He wished to sweep away 
entirely the present social scheme — all rulers and priests, all 
laws and customs — and then to build upon the wrecks of 
faiths and empires a new world. He had, to use his own 
words, a "passion for reforming the world" ; he would have 
rejoiced in the prospect of a second deluge. 

His watchword was accordingly Liberty, and he was in 
perpetual revolt against every restraint. At nineteen he 
is expelled from Oxford for publishing a tract, "The Neces- 
sity of Atheism," his first public attack on the church. This 
very year he elopes with Harriet Westbrook, a girl of six- 
teen, chiefly because her father, he writes, "persecuted her 
in a most horrible manner by compelling her to go to school," 
and he had urged her "to resist such stupendous and galling 
tyranny." In Ireland with Harriet he distributes pamphlets 
and books urging a revolt against English rule. The up- 
risings in Naples and Spain call from him his two fiery odes. 
In his last months at Pisa, deeply moved by the story of 
Emilia Viviani, an Italian girl confined against her will in 
a convent, he writes his Epipsychidion. He hears of the 
Greek struggle for independence and writes Hellas. The 
subject of the Cenci attracts him, partly because it is the 


revolt against a father's tyranny and crime. Prometheus 
Unbound, the most wonderful piece of sustained lyric writing 
in the language, is the tale of the final emancipation of 
humanity by the resistance of the human will to divine oppres- 
sion. Surely he is the very apostle of Freedom. 

When we search closely for Shelley's meaning of liberty 
we find it to be a vague ideal. He had no well-considered 
plan for either a new repubUc or a new faith; he simply 
wished freedom from every restraint of government and 
religion, having an imphcit faith in the power of the un- 
trammeled mind and soul to create a new Paradise. Granted 
that our civilization has much that is base and wrong, that 
every society has its plague spots which it complacently 
forgets, yet from the hard lessons of the centuries we have 
won some truths that are not to be cast lightly aside. We 
can not dismiss in a mood of unseeing exaltation all that it 
has cost humanity to win. The very nature Shelley loved so, 
the very sea of which he has written more instinctively than 
any other poet, is not free. Meredith is nearer our thought 
when he made Satan, viewing the stars, perceive that 

" Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank, 
The army of unalterable law." 

Accordingly, in his longer poems his social mood, as an 
American critic has well put it, is a "kind of elusive yet 
rapturous emanation of hope devoid of specific content." 
The Ode to Liberty, its finest expression, is to Swinburne 
the greatest English ode. It has the fire and glow of imagi- 
nation, the brilliant phrase, the impetuous movement that 
befits it, yet does not give us, as does Wordsworth's Intima- 
tions of Immortality, what Milton has finely called the "sober 
certainty of waking bliss." Shelley is an enchanter rather 
than a seer. 

It need hardly be said that his ideal of freedom was sure 
to bring despondency for it was an impossible one. The 


world did not listen to his call and if he had been untroubled 
by more intimate griefs, the failure of his social theories 
would have bruised if not crushed his spirit. But in his own 
life he was constantly waking from his dream to the bitter- 
ness of disillusionment ; no verse comes closer to his experience 
than his own "I fall upon the thorns of Ufe, I bleed." Ideal- 
izing women, his "Portias" become "Black Demons" ; he finds 
the heroine of his Epipsychidion to be not Juno but a cloud ; 
even Mary Godwin did not wholly understand him, and so 
through his shorter lyrics runs the strain of dejection. His 
nature was singularly pure ; he was all fire and air, and one 
must distinguish between the dejection of Byron who felt 
the "fullness of satiety" and the disappointment of this 
idealist, for the men were at the opposite poles of experience 
and emotion. And if we turn from Shelley's life to his art, 
he felt the lack of appreciation and even the hostility shown 
towards his poetry. "Nothing," he wrote Peacock, a year 
before his death, "is more difficult and unwelcome than to 
write without a confidence of finding readers," and at his 
death, Stopford Brooke doubts whether fifty people in 
England knew and appreciated his work. Medwin tells us 
in his Life of Shelley that he read in manuscript the Ode to 
Liberty, The Sensitive Plant, and many other lyrics, express- 
ing admiration for them. "He was surprised at my enthu- 
siasm, and said to me — 'I am disgusted with writing, and 
were it not for an irresistible impulse that predominates my 
better reason, should discontinue so doing.' On such occa- 
sions he fell into a despondent mood, most distressing to 
witness, was affected with a prostration of spirits that bent 
him to the earth, a melancholy too sacred to notice, and 
which it would have been a vain attempt to dissipate." 

By far the greater number of his lyrics express this sad- 

" Rarely^ rarely comest thou, 
Spirit of delight.'' 


"How am I changed! my hopes were once like fire"; "The 
flower that smiles to-day, To-morrow dies" ; "Far, far away, 
ye, Halcyons of Memory," are typical poems. The poet 
sings his melancholy, making no attempt to discover why 

" Out of the day and night 
A joy has taken flight." 

Where so much is perfect expression, it is hard to choose, but 
perhaps the Stanzas written in Dejection near Naples are the 
most beautiful rendering of this mood. Nature brings no 
peace to him, as she did to Wordsworth. The bright skies, 
blue isles, and snowy mountains but remind him that he has 
neither hope nor health, "nor peace within, nor calm around." 
It is the same situation in his other lyrics ; the wind "moans 
for the world's wrong" ; the moon is a lady "sick and pale" ; 
even the happy notes of the lark remind the poet that his 
own song can not make the world listen. 

Love brings to him the bitterest disappointments ; "Send 
the stars light, but send not love to me," is his prayer. 

" I would not be a king — enough 
Of woe it is to love;" 

he sings, and the thought of many poems is compressed in 
the lyric "When the lamp is shattered."^ It would seem that 
he suffers from the very intensity of his emotion; he is in a 
state of ecstasy or in the inevitable reaction which brings 
despair. He laments that "the gentle visitations of calm 
thought" do not stay; it is certainly significant that he 
employs frequently the word "intense," and it is this intensity 
of feeling that gives the exotic air to the Indian Serenade 
(which Poe was one of the first to praise) or to the less 
familiar fragment: 

IT. Hutchinson, The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe 
Shelley, Oxford, 1909, pp. 642, 661. 


" I faint, I perish with my love ! I grow 

Frail as a cloud whose [splendours] pale 
Under the evening's ever-changing glow; 

I die like mist upon the gale, 
And like a wave under the calm I fail."^ 

or to his entreaty for music : 

" I pant for the music which is divine. 

My heart in its thirst is a dying flower ; 
Pour forth the sound like enchanted wine. 
Loosen the notes in a silver shower; 
Like a herbless plain, for the gentle rain, 
I gasp, I faint, till they wake again."^ 

This extreme emotion has kept Shelley from such popularity 
as Burns enjoys; "Ae fond kiss and then we sever" is closer 
to the earth. Shelley is indeed the passive instrument of his 
emotions ; he is carried away by his feelings ; he is filled with 
a divine madness. While much of Byron's verse was impro- 
visation, Shelley's seems the inspiration of the very Muse 
herself, so strongly does his poetry move us. The one artistic 
fault in his writing is that at times he can not control either 
his imagination or his feeling ; Shakespeare in the tempest 
of his greatest tragedies could ride the whirlwind and direct 
the storm. 

It is in his nature lyrics — The Cloud, The Skylark, The 
Ode to the West Wind — that Shelley has won his greatest 
popularity. The most ethereal of our poets, he loves to 
write of the heavens, of light in all its forms, of the flowers. 
A critic has remarked that poets usually illustrate the 
spiritual by the material (as Verlaine in his "Ton ame est 
un paysage choisi") but Shelley makes nature ghostly; it 
is a spirit that he seeks behind the cloud and the rain. The 
Skylark illustrates aptly the points we have discussed; the 

1 P. 653. 

2 P. 651. 


poet's spirit pours itself out in stanza after stanza all illus- 
trating one idea: the bird is likened to a poet, a maiden in 
her bower, a glow worm, a rose. We prefer the Ode to the 
West Wind to all his lyrics. No other poem better discloses 
his passive imagination, his desire to be played upon and 
stimulated, and though his melancholy appears here also, 
the song ends in an unusually hopeful strain. Exquisite in 
its imagery- — it is here that we find that immortal line, 
"Driving sweet buds hke flocks to feed in air" — emotional 
and yet restrained to an unusual degree, this is one of the 
treasures of English literature. 

We have said little of Shelley's style, the most glowing, 
the most sensuous we have yet found. He is an artist, a 
beauty worshipper, fascinated by color and form. Many 
of his lyrics deal neither with nature nor with love: "On a 
poet's lips I slept," the Echo songs, and Asia's "My soul 
is an enchanted boat," all from Prometheus, show the art 
lyric at its highest development. If we wish to measure the 
change that has come over the lyric, we should read side by 
side the Ode to Evening by Collins and Shelley's To Night. 
Much as we find to admire in the earlier poem, we perceive 
that Shelley's lyric is more suggestive, more lovely in its 
descriptions, and more musical. 

This brings us to our final consideration — Shelley's metre. 
He has expressed in many a line his love for music and his 
verse forms offer a wealth of melody. Had the content of 
his poetry been negligible, we should still read it for the 
music ; he said with truth : 

" I have unlocked the golden melodies 
Of the deep soul." 

Rarely does he echo strains we have heard before; he leaves 
the well-worn measures for a music of his own; even from 
the Spenserian stanza he gains a new effect. He has not 
achieved excellence in the sonnet form — critics say that it 


offered too narrow a scope for him — yet how much of melody 
and emotion is expressed in the eight lines of "Music, when 
soft voices die." From a song, he turns with ease to the 
cumulative effect of Adonais. His melodies have never been 
recaptured ; Tennyson, Rossetti, and Swinburne have each 
a different voice. Surely we may consider Shelley supreme 
in the lyric. 


"I claim no place in the world of letters ; I am alone, and 
will be alone, as long as I Hve, and after," wrote Landor 
(1775-1864). Time has tested the truth of this proud, half- 
defiant statement ; his place in English poetry is secure, but 
he stands indeed alone, with no followers. His personality 
is a unique one. Ordinarily we study a writer's life because 
it is reflected in his verse and explains much that would other- 
wise be unintelligible ; we read Landor's career chiefly to see 
how utterly different from the poet was the man. Every- 
thing about him seems paradoxical. Proud of his aristo- 
cratic family, he despised the nobility ; loving freedom, he 
hated democracy and said some severe things about 
America ; a thorough Grecian in his tastes, he disUked Plato ; 
revolting against society, he wrote contemptuously of Byron, 
the poet of revolt; often a keen and penetrating critic (wit- 
ness his exquisite commentary on Dante's Paolo and Fran- 
cesca) he considered Southey a great poet. From his 
Oxford days, his Hfe was disturbed by a long series of dis- 
putes and quarrels ; he writes in his finest epigram — English 
poetry can not show one more exquisite in its dignity and 
restraint- — "I strove with none, for none was worth my 

Amid all these contradictions, there was one unifying 
principle in his nature — ^his classicism ; with the single excep- 
tion of Milton, he is the most classical of all EngHsh poets. 


From boyhood he had been attracted by Greek and Italian 
literature. He was often in doubt whether to write in 
English or Latin. Gebir (1798), his first important poem, 
was written in both languages, and he has said that when- 
ever the English word he sought failed him, the Latin phrase 
would be at his tongue's end. It is not surprising that as 
Donne turned from the beauty worship of the Elizabethans, 
Landor, wearied of "too much froth and too much fire," 
abandoned the manner of the romantic school and wrote in 
the style of Meleager or of Martial at his best. 

In his essay on Landor, Professor Dowden remarks that 
discussions on the differences that exist between classic and 
romantic art invariably put the reader to sleep ; yet in spite 
of this warning, we must consider the question briefly. The 
difference between the romantic and classic is one of treat- 
ment rather than of subject-matter. A writer may be classic 
in a poem describing New York harbor and conversely, Mar- 
lowe's Hero and Leander enriches a classic theme with the 
wealth of romantic art. It is obvious that we can not 
describe in a few phrases any of the great modes of human 
thought, but in general we may point out that the romantic 
spirit yearning for the unattainable, aims to suggest, to 
touch the reader's imagination; half the beauty of Shelley's 
To Night lies in the mood it invokes. The classic poem is 
clearly and sharply drawn ; the art is complete ; the last 
word has been spoken. What a difference between Antigone, 
with her task plain before her, and Hamlet, uncertain, waver- 
ing, lost in a maze of thought. We understand the character 
of the Greek heroine but will any one ever pluck out the 
heart of Hamlet's mystery? Our modern poetry, with its 
subtle shadings, touches more closely on the spiritual world; 
the enchantments of Circe are less mysterious than the phan- 
toms that appal the Ancient Mariner. The discontent, the 
struggle, the aspiration of our modern life are remote from 
the dignity and calm with which the ancient poets, even when 


they despaired, faced the problems of life and death. They 
felt deeply, but the feehng was controlled. We see this in 
a moment if we consider Landor's epigram once more : 

" I strove with none ; for none was worth my strife, 
Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art; 
I warmed both hands before the fire of life, 
It sinks, and I am ready to depart."^ 

How definite is the picture of the old man bending with out- 
stretched hands over the dying embers ; with what dignity 
is the emotion repressed. We feel the modern spirit if we 
contrast this with Browning's Prospice, with its cry of 
exulting struggle, or with Tennyson's Crossing the Bar, with 
its music, its twiUght tones, its mystery of the sea. 

Landor, with his deliberate art, rarely felt the lyric 
impulse; there is no spontaneity in his style; every effect is 
carefully prepared. His verse moves soberly ; for the slow, 
impressive line that fills the ear, he rejected the lighter 
measures, and said that Scott's verse was to be jumped, not 
danced or sung. In spite of this lack of the song element, 
we have included him among our lyrists because he has many 
short poems both musical and subjective. Poetry, he 
declared, was his amusement; prose, his study and business, 
and accordingly his verse occupies but little room in his 
works, yet it offers many if not infinite riches. 

The moment we read these brief poems, we think of the 
Greek Anthology. Between five and six thousand Greek 
epigrams have come down to us. They resemble in no wise 
the modern epigram ; as the name indicates, they were short 
inscriptions written to be placed on tombs and altars, on 
monuments or public buildings. Written almost invariably 
in the elegiac metre, they rarely exceeded twelve lines ; four, 
six, and eight verses was the favorite length. Gradually the 

1 C. G. Crump, Poems, Dialogues in Verse and Epigrams by Walter 
Savage Landor, London, 1892, vol. II, p. 223. 


epigram included any short poem written in elegiacs and 
the Anthology accordingly offers a wide range of subjects — 
life and death, love and art. Many of the epigrams are 
lyrical in all but their form, and indeed Meleager speaks of 
them as hymns or songs. Two examples of his own work 
show this lyric quality: 

" Evermore in mine ears eddies the sound of Love, and mine 
eye carries the silent sweetness of a tear to the Desires; neither 
does night nor light let me rest, but already my enchanted heart 
bears the well-known imprint. Ah, winged Loves, why do 
you ever know how to fly towards me, but have no whit of 
strength to fly away.''" 

" Now the white violet blooms, and blooms the moist narcissus, 
and bloom the mountain-ranging lilies ; and now, dear to her 
lovers, spring flower among the flowers, Zenophile, the sweet rose 
of Persuasion, has burst into bloom. Meadows, why idly laugh 
in the brightness of your tresses ? for my girl is better than gar- 
lands sweet to smell. "^ 

Short as these snatches of song are many of Landor's love 
poems. They are generally graceful, courtly compliments : 

" I love to hear that men are bound 
By your enchanting links of sound: 
I love to hear that none rebel 
Against your beauty's silent spell. 
I know not whether I may bear 
To see it all, as well as hear ; 
And never shall I clearly know 
Unless you nod and tell me so."^ 

This is almost Herrick again save that it lacks some picture 
of a flower or jewel. These poems have little or no unity; 
there is no dominant feeling running through them as there 

IJ. W. Mackail, Select Epigrams from the Oreek Anthology, new 
edition, London, 1906, pp. 100, 103. 
i Poems, II, p. 97. 


is in Wordsworth's sonnets or Byron's lyrics. They are 
detached thoughts interesting for the manner in which they 
are expressed. How far removed from the passion of the 
romanticists is the narrative lyric "It is no dream that I 
am he." How thoroughly in the spirit of the Anthology is 
the lament: 

"She I love (alas in vain!) 

Floats before my slumbering eyes : 
When she comes she lulls my pain. 

When she goes what pangs arise ! 
Thou whom love, whom memory flies. 

Gentle Sleep ! prolong thy reign ! 
If even thus she soothe my sighs. 

Never let me wake again \"^ 

One of his love poems is immortal — the lament for Rose 
Aylmer. Here in but eight verses, written by a man stirred 
to the depths yet outwardly calm, we find expressed the grief 
of a life time. Poe asserted that the most pathetic subject 
a writer could devise was the death of a young and beautiful 
maiden mourned by her lover. The Raven and Rose Aylmer 
are alike in theme but one is the most romantic, the other 
the most classic of elegies. 

In a number of his best poems he has chiselled his own form. 
It is a strong and placid face that we see. In his views on 
life and death and nature he is always calm and composed. 
Shelley, in his lament for the change that comes over all 
lovely things, can not restrain himself; Landor writes with 
composure : 

" I see the rainbow in the sky. 
The dew upon the grass, 
I see them, and I ask not why 

They glimmer or they pass."" 

1 Poems, II, p. 89. 
2 II, p. 130. 


His friends depart, Death stands before him whispering 
low, but the poet has no fear at his strange language. There 
is no outcry, no revolt, though 

" spring and summer both are past. 
And all things sweet." 

Such a writer can never win popular applause and Landor 
proudly disdained it. "I shall dine late," he wrote, "but the 
dining room will be well lighted, the guests few and select."^ 
Art does indeed endure and Landor will always find "fit 
audience, but few." 

The beauty of Grecian myths, the grace and splendor of 
the ancient world entered into the very hfe of John Keats 
(1795-1821). With Landor he found in Hellas an inspira- 
tion that shaped his whole career, for in writing Endymion 
he discovered his own powers. Unlike Landor, he gave to 
his classic themes the most romantic treatment. If we may 
call Landor a sculptor, Keats is a painter using all the 
warmth and glow of modern coloring. The spirit of Greece 
touched both these writers but it led them through paths 
that never met. 

In the early death of Keats, English poetry sustained its 
greatest loss. Had Marlowe hved, the spirit of his day 
would have bound him to the drama for which he was temper- 
amentally unfitted. Chatterton was attracted by the age 
of feudalism ; his inspiration was tenuous ; and as we have 
seen, his acknowledged writing is disconcertingly poor. 
Byron and Shelley lived long enough to tell their message 
and to gain a mastery of the style they most desired. Keats, 
despite the perfection of certain poems, never reached his 
maturity ; the fate he most feared — that he should die before 
he reaped the gamers of his mind — overtook him. Yet the 
rapidity of his development is as remarkable as his actual 

1 Sidney Colvln, Selections from the writings of Landor, London, 
1890, p. 345. This admirable book should do for Landor what Arnold 
accomplished for Wordsworth. 


accomplishment. Spenser, Dryden, and Milton, in rapid 
succession, taught him their secrets. Shakespeare, both in 
his sonnets and his plays, was a constant inspiration ; Homer 
and Dante opened new worlds to him, yet in aU his imitation 
and assimilation, there was a conscious and definite process 
of finding himself. No man has recorded more beautifully 
a love for the great masters of song. When he writes, he 
hears their music but like the sound of the wind in the leaves 
or the song of birds, it never disturbs but rather inspires his 
own poetry.^ "I was never afraid of failure ; for I would 
sooner fail than not be among the greatest," he wrote, and 
such high ambition would not permit him to be any man's 
disciple though he could learn from many bards of Passion 
and of Mirth. "I will write independently," he tells Hessey. 
"The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in 
a man." With Milton, he was ready to dedicate his whole 
life to his art. He reahzed his own defects and was deter- 
mined to overcome them ; if he lacked a broad outlook on Ufe, 
he would gain one by a study of philosophy. "There is but 
one way for me. The road hes through application, study, 
and thought. I will pursue it; and, for that end, purpose 
retiring for some years. "^ Those years were denied him. 

Such words are the more remarkable coming from one 
filled with the creative impulse. He believed that poetry 
must come naturally or not at all and according to the testi- 
mony of his friends, he wrote with that same ease that aroused 
the admiration of Shakespeare's contemporaries. Indeed, he 
could not restrain his pen. He is all in a tremble because 
he has written no verses ; he composes a sonnet and sleeps 
the better for it, but wakes in the morning "nearly as bad 
again." From Winchester he writes Reynolds that he had 

1 See the sonnet "How many bards," H. B. Forman, The Poetical 
Works of John Keats, Oxford, 1910, p. 35. 

2 H. B. Forman, The Poetical Works and other Writings of John 
Keats, London, 1883, vol. Ill, pp. 230-1, 14.8. 


been walking in the stubble fields and had found the autumn 
coloring more beautiful than the chilly green of spring. 
Then follows, as one might enclose a leaf turned crimson, 
the Ode to Autumn. With a supreme carelessness, Keats 
scattered through his letters some of the most perfect of 
English poems. The sheer power that resided in that sickly 
frame never was fully disclosed ; the sure and steady develop- 
ment of Keats is as marvellous as his finest writing; above 
all others, he is the one we would recall to earth. 

He understood perfectly wherein lay his power and in 
one verse he proclaimed his creed: "I follow Beauty, of her 
train am I." The questions of church and state that stirred 
Shelley to the depths had small interest for him ; his sonnet 
"written in disgust of vulgar superstition," inspired by the 
sound of church bells, seems a discord in his music. It was 
not his task to attack the existing social order or plan a 
new creation; he had no desire to expound a new system of 
philosophy or to discover a moral interpretation of nature. 
He often recited with the greatest admiration Wordsworth's 
Ode on Immortality, but in the end, Wordsworth's meta- 
physics utterly repelled him. He refused to visit Shelley 
because he wished to maintain his own unfettered scope. His 
nature was not speculative; he loved the earth as he found 
it and searched in it for but one thing — a beauty that 
could be grasped. A typical anecdote of Shelley pictures 
him floating out to sea with the terrified Jane Williams, 
asking her if she did not wish then and there to solve the 
great mystery of death. Equally characteristic is the 
description Keats gives of himself at Oxford, exploring in 
his boat the windings of the Char: "We sometimes skim into 
a bed of rushes, and there become naturalised river-folks." 
He finds, as does every genius, that the beauty of the world 
is new and unknown. As though Shakespeare and Herrick 
had never written, he describes the flowers in gardens and 
fields ; he revels in the odors of the earth ; he listens with 


the joy of a discoverer to the song of the birds. We have 
to-day patient and careful observers of nature, but too 
often they merely tabulate what they see; with Keats, 
observation is always fused with emotion. Nature's loveli- 
ness is inexhaustible ; here was enough for one who wrote 
"with a great poet the sense of beauty overcomes every other 
consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration."^ 

Keats sought for beauty not only in the earth but in that 
other world of books. He read with a keen eye and ear ; "I 
look upon fine phrases as a lover," he said, and he adorned 
his verse with many a phrase culled with exquisite taste 
from the masters of poetry. He is continually reading; 
he can not exist without poetry ; half the day will not do for 
it, he needs all the hours. We have seen how the Wartons 
tricked out their odes with whole passages of Milton; Keats 
intuitively culls the right word. The title of an early Eng- 
lish poem gives him his Belle Dame sans Merci; he knew 

" As the wakeful bird 
Sings darkling," 

and remembers it in the "Darkling I listen" of his own Ode 
to a Nightingale. ]\Iany a line, such as "How tiptoe 
Night holds back her dark grey hood," has the impress of 
Shakespeare's style, and again and again he has caught the 
melody of the Faerie Queene — "Spenserian vowels that elope 
with ease." Mr. Bridges has pointed out many lapses of 
taste in the diction of Keats, and yet at his best his sense 
of the beauty and music of words is as high as his perception 
of color and form. 

His imagination fairly revelled in beauty. He was gov- 
erned by what he called "the mighty abstract idea of beauty 
in all things," and he felt that he did not live in this world 
alone but in a thousand worlds. He was certain of nothins 

IP. 100. 


but of the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth 
of imagination, for "what the imagination seizes as beauty 
must be truth."' Everything, with him, tended but to one 
end and his poetic vision found Madeline's bower or Latmos 
even more lovely than a little hill decked with the flowers of 
an Enghsh May. There are indeed many conceptions of 
beauty. The Hedonist and the Platonist would each find a 
different charm in the same object; the modern poet dis- 
covers a fascination in bleak coasts and in the waste places 
of the earth; he hears a lyric in the songless reeds. To 
many beauty has a disquieting allurement; it even leads, as 
it did the "knight-at-arms," to death. Keats is an EHza- 
bethan reborn. An idealist, he yet finds beauty before him 
and can grasp it. When asked why he makes a long poem 
of Endymion he replies that it must be full of pleasant pas- 
sages to which the lover of verse may retire, and everywhere 
he shows that fine excess which he declares constitutes the 
chief delight of verse. 

We may now see why song, the simplest form of the lyric, 
so rarely attracted Keats. If offered too little opportunity 
for those splendid passages that dazzle the eye and fill the 
ear with melodies. He wrote, however, two — sharply con- 
trasted but equally beautiful. His Faery Song 

" Shed no tear- — O shed no tear ! 
The flower will bloom another year," 

might indeed have been sung by Ariel; no higher praise 
could be given it. "In a drear-nighted December" comes 
as near Shelley's mood as Keats ever approached save that 
the lament of the last stanza is not bitter enough: 

" To know the change and feel it, 
When there is none to heal it, 
Nor numbed sense to steel it^ 
Was never said in rhyme." 
IP. 90. 


La Belle Dame sans Merci is so intensely subjective that we 
may claim it as a lyric. This poem, rather than CoUins's 
Ode on the Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands, may be 
said to contain the germ of the romantic school. Here is 
the very essence of romance — fear added to beauty — and 
so perfect is the poet's art that one is at a loss what to 
admire the most : the imagery, the delicacy of treatment, or 
the form. Here is a rhythm that expresses absolutely the 
mood of the writer. The melancholy effect of the shortened 
fourth line is indescribable: 

" And this is why I sojourn here 
Alone and palely loitering. 
Though the sedge is withered from the lake. 
And no birds sing."'^ 

It was natural that Keats, a fervent admirer of Shakes- 
peare's sonnets, should have left some sixty sonnets of his 
own. Many of them are surprisingly poor, written in no 
serious mood, but added to his letters as one might scrawl 
a pen sketch on the margin. Ten of his sonnets, so 
Bridges believes, comprise his best work ; Matthew Arnold 
has chosen eight, and these are enough to place Keats with 
our finest sonneteers.^ Of the ones written in the Italian 
form, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer is his 
masterpiece and indeed its sestet for its perfect picture of 
the poet's mood (is it not one of the finest similes in the lan- 
guage.'') and for its breadth and amplitude of suggestion, 
is unsurpassed in our sonnet literature. In this same form, 
"To one who has been long in city pent," and "The poetry 
of earth is never dead," are beautiful expressions of a lighter 
mood. The first has caught the languor and the tenderness 
of a summer's day ; the second shows Keats resembling Burns 

1 Formal), Keats, 1910, pp. 311, 338, 356. 

2 See Bridges' Introduction to The Poems of John Keats, Muses' 
Library, London, 1896. 


by his interest in the life of the small creatures of the earth. 
For his deepest utterances, Keats turned to the Shakes- 
pearean sonnet. "When I have fears that I may cease to 
be," is so rich in its expression that its intense though 
restrained pathos is at times obscured. What could be more 
typical of Keats's conception of beauty heightened by a sense 
of mystery than such an imaginative phrase as 

" When I behold, upon the night's starred face. 
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance." 

Of his last sonnet, Bright star, it can be said without fear 
of contradiction that no one of Shakespeare's surpasses its 
rare union of emotional force, melody, and imaginative 

The odes of Keats are not only the greatest lyric achieve- 
ment, but they are the finest expression of his genius. They 
possess the beauty of the finest passages in Endymion or the 
Eve of St. Agnes — indeed their music is of a higher and 
subtler quality — and two at least have in marked degree 
that subjective element which brings verse closer to us, or 
rather catches us up into the poet's heaven. In these poems 
we find all the traits of mind which we have discussed — the 
intense perception of beauty in nature, in art, in literature ; 
and in the world which the imagination can create. The 
odes differ absolutely in their tone and consequently in their 
effect, agreeing only in their exquisite workmanship. In 
his essay on the letters of Keats, Bradley has written 
that the poet's genius "showed itself soonest and perhaps 
most completely in the rendering of Nature,"^ and this 
agrees with Mr. Bridge's judgment that To Autumn is the 
most perfect of all the odes. It has unusual restraint and 
yet every line brings some new picture to the eye. The per- 
sonification of Autumn is exquisitely imagined; it is no 

lA. C. Bradley, Oxford Lectures on Poetry, London, 1909, p. 332. 


statue that we see before us but a sleeping woman. Such 
an ode pleases equally the classic and the romantic taste. 
The Ode to a Nightingale has the greatest emotional quality 
and like some splendid tapestry, blends many colors. We 
have almost a Byronic mood in the picture of the weariness 
and fever of modem hfe 

" Here, where men sit and hear each other groan ;" 

we have a richness of description that vies with the Protha- 
lamion and surpasses it, because of the modern sense of 
mystery : 

" I can not see what flowers are at my feet, 

Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,'' 

and above all we have that perfect union of the real and the 
unreal, for as surely as we hear the song of the bird we hear 
other notes that charm the magic casements of fairy lands. 
The Ode on a Grecian Urn, despite its popularity, does 
not rank with his best two odes ; indeed, above it should be 
placed the little-known Ode to Sorrow from the fourth book 
of Endymion. The opening stanzas are EUzabethan in their 
music : 

" To Sorrow, 

I bade good-morrow. 
And thought to leave her far away behind; 

But cheerly, cheerly. 

She loves me dearly; 
She is so constant to me, and so kind. 

Would any one suspect this to be by Keats.? Then follows 
a lyrical description of Bacchus and his crew which, for color 
and magnificence of sound, seems a page of the Arabian- 


Nights set to music. All that Spenser gave to lyric verse, 
Keats equalled and surpassed. 


In Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) and Thomas CampbeU 
(1777-1844!) we reach the lyrics of patriotism and war, the 
best songs of action that this age produced. 

It has become too much the fashion of late to speak apolo- 
getically, even sHghtingly, of Scott's verse, and to value him 
almost exclusively as a novehst.^ Scott himself, with his fine 
and modest spirit, disclaimed too readily his poetic gift and 
it must be admitted at once that not only is his field a limited 
one, but even his most characteristic work is uneven in 
quality. At his best, he is unrivalled; his battle scenes are 
described with such force and vigor that they have no equals 
in the language ; his pictures of the splendor and color of 
the last days of chivalry are still unmatched. Any doubts 
as to the validity of Scott's inspiration will vanish at a read- 
ing of the stag hunt in the Lady of the Lake, the death of 
Constance, and the battle of Flodden, in Marmion, to name 
three widely differing passages. 

Scott's best work, if we look for sustained writing, and 
disregard the brilliant but detached passages from the poetic 
tales, is to be found in his lyrics. Bacon tells us that Demos- 
thenes was once asked what was the chief part of an orator. 
He answered, action: What next.'' action: What next again.'' 
action. Judged by such a standard, Scott's lyrics are dis- 
tinguished above those of most writers, for action is his great 
quality. Bacon then proceeds to decry action in a speaker 
as a paltry thing which the ignorant admire ; to give life 
and movement to verse is no easy matter. Scott had been 
brought up on the ballads ; if he never, except in Proud 

1 See for example Arthur Symons, The Romantic Movement in Eng- 
lish Poetry, London, 1909, pp. 108-119. 


Maisie, attained their pathos or tragic force, he caught their 
simphcity of diction, their rapidity of action. At times his 
verse fairly leaps : 

" Like adder darting from his coil. 
Like wolf that dashes through the toil, 
Like mountain-cat who guards her young, 
Full at Fitz- James's throat he sprung."^ 

No one has written anapests that speed more lightly or more 
rapidly than his : 

" One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear. 
When they reach'd the hall-door, and the charger stood near ; 
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung. 
So light to the saddle before her he sprung ! 
' She is won ! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur ; 
They'll have fleet steeds that follow,' quoth young Lochin- 

Professor Saintsbury has spoken enthusiastically yet ad- 
visedly of the success of such a stanza. We have seen this 
metre used for whimsical, trifling, half-serious and half-jest- 
ing love poetry ; Scott makes a new thing of it. Not only 
is there "racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee," but in every 
verse of The Cavalier's Song in Rokehy or the better-known 
Bonnie Dundee. To write anapests with this ballad move- 
ment is no slight achievement, for no other metre, not even 
the octosyllabic couplet, degenerates so rapidly into dog- 

Many other of his lyrics have this same spirited rhythm. 
What better marching song could there be than 

1 J. L. Robertson, The Poetical Works of Walter Scott, Oxford, 1909, 
p. 355. 

2 P. 143. 


" March, march, Ettrick and Teviotdale, 

Why the deil dinna ye march forward in order? 
March, march, Eskdale and Liddesdale, 

All the blue bonnets are bound for the Border. 

Many a banner spread, 

Flutters above your head. 
Many a crest that is famous in story. 

Mount and make ready then. 

Sons of the mountain glen. 
Fight for the Queen and our old Scottish glory."^ 

Scott is at his best when the clans go out to battle, yet the 
war song echoes in all types of his lyrics. We have read 
many lullabies from Greene to Blake in which the mother 
or an angel guards the child; with Scott, a warrior stands 
near the cradle: 

" O, fear not the bugle, though loudly it blows. 
It calls but the warders that guard thy repose ; 
Their bows would be bended, their blades would be red, 
Ere the step of a foeman draws near to thy bed."^ 

The lyric of the deserted maiden has said nothing hitherto 
of war, but Scott can not forget the battle : 

" Where shall the traitor rest. 

He, the deceiver. 
Who could win maiden's breast, 

Buin, and leave her.'' 
In the lost battle. 

Borne down by the flying. 
Where mingles war's rattle 

With groans of the dying. "^ 

In his few love lyrics, Scott writes poorly ; when he 
attempts a more thoughtful or heightened style, as in his 

ip. 790. 

2 P. 729. 

3 P. 118. 


song to the moon in Rokehy, his skill vanishes. He could 
write the dirge for lovely Rosabelle, but he could have written 
no deep and passionate protestation of devotion to her. If 
Scott's lyrics move to the simplest music, yet there is always 
a melody : 

" And each St. Clair was buried there, 

With candle, with book, and with knell; 
But the sea-caves rung, and the wild winds sung, 
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle."^ 

There is something of Campion's direct style in that Hvely 
little hunting song, "Waken, lords and ladies gay"; cer- 
tainly it has the metre and the simple diction of his 

" Never love unless you can 
Bear with all the faults of man." 

Three lyrics of Scott are decidedly better than the rest 
of his songs. Two of them were inspired by a few Hues from 
old songs, but "Why weep ye by the tide, ladie," is no in- 
genious imitation, it is the very essence of the ballad lyric, 
and the song from Rokehy far surpasses its original, "It 
was a' for our rightful king." Scott's lyric has the true 
haunting quality, as Clive Newcome found : 

This morn is merry June, I trow, 

The rose is budding fain; 
But she shall bloom in winter snow. 

Ere we two meet again.' 
He turned his charger as he spake. 

Upon the river shore, 
He gave his bridle-reins a shake. 

Said, 'Adieu for evermore. 
My love! 
And adieu for evermore.' "^ 

1 P. 45. 

2 P. 341. 


His masterpiece is Proud Maisie. Here is a situation that 
would have appealed to Poe, but how differently would he 
have treated it. Scott gains his effect by his brevity ; Nature 
does not suggest death but pronounces the girl's doom : 

" The glow-worm o'er grave and stone 
Shall light thee steady. 
The owl from the steeple sing, 
' Welcome, proud lady.' "^ 

Thomas Campbell tried his hand at various styles of verse 
composition. The Pleasures of Hope resembles the Queen 
Anne verse essay ; Gertrude of Wyoming and The Pilgrim 
of Glencoe are pure narrative; Lines on Poland, or The 
Power of Russia are political manifestos. From all these 
poems the interest has faded ; Campbell's war lyrics still 
remain among the finest in the language. 

This is to say that Campbell had but one gift. He could 
express most admirably the shock of battle and the thrill of 
patriotism. He has a measured eloquence that few writers 
of war songs have attained, for surely Ye Mariners of Eng- 
land and the Battle of the Baltic stand alone. There is no 
more dreary reading than collections of patriotic songs, but 
the expression of a nation's spirit was Campbell's oppor- 
tunity. At times his writing is so poor that his climaxes are 
not only weak but positively ludicrous, as in the closing 
stanza of his ballad of the Ritter Banm,: 

" One moment may with bliss repay 
Unnumbered hours of pain; 
Such was the throb and mutual sob 
Of the knight embracing Jane," 

1 P. 776. 


yet the man who wrote that cheap jingle also wrote : 

" Britannia needs no bulwarks, 
No towers along the steep; 
Her march is o'er the mountain waves^ 
Her home is on the deep. 
With thunders from her native oak 
She quells the floods below, 
As they roar on the shore 
When the stormy winds do blow, — 
When the battle rages loud and long 
And the stormy winds do blow."^ 

Surely this is something more than brilliant rhetoric. 

With Lovelace, Campbell needed a war to arouse his mind 
and feeling, and we may add, his artistic sense. He found 
some good lines in the old song, Ye Gentlemen of England, 
and with this suggestion he made his Mariners of England 
from which we have just quoted a typical stanza. He wrote 
his Battle of the Baltic first in twenty-six stanzas of six lines, 
some of them singularly feeble and ineffective. He condensed 
this first version to eight stanzas, altering the metre and 
saving, with the best of judgment, every good line. As this 
is one of the happiest instances of successful revision it is 
worth while to give two stanzas in their first form and then 
show what he made from them : 

" The bells shall ring ! the day 

Shall not close 
But a blaze of cities bright 
Shall illuminate the night. 
And the wine-cup shine in light 

As it flows ! 

IJ. L. Robertson, The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Camp- 
bell, Oxford, 1907, pp. 184, 188. 


" Yet, yet amid the joy 

And uproar. 
Let us think of them that sleep 
Full many a fathom deep 
All beside thy rocky steep, 

Elsinore !" 

This becomes: 

" Now joy, Old England, raise 
For the tidings of thy might 
By the festal cities' blaze. 
While the wine-cup shines in light; 
And yet, amidst that joy and uproar. 
Let us think of them that sleep. 
Full many a fathom deep. 
By thy wild and stormy steep, 
Elsinore l"^ 

Hoherdinden, half narrative, half lyrical, has the same 
effectiveness of rhythm and energy of expression that lends 
these patriotic odes their value. As in the case of Scott, 
Campbell's love poetry is poor. The Wownded Hussar, we 
are told by Beattie, was sung in the streets of Glasgow and 
became popular everywhere. It is certainly quite different 
from the modern street song: 

" Alone to the banks of the dark-rolling Danube 

Fair Adelaide hied when the battle was o'er: 
' Oh, whither,' she cried, 'hast thou wandered, my lover ? 
Or here dost thou welter and bleed on the shore }' " 

Not merely the rhythm but the sentiment of this poem reminds 
us that we are approaching the vogue of Tom Moore; we 
feel this in the Soldier's Dream, with its line adapted from 
Lovelace : 

iPp. 195, 191. 


" Our bugles sang truce^for the night-cloud had lowered. 
And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky/'^ 

though Campbell rarely caught the easy, famiUar style of 
the Irish Melodies. 

We come to the lighter side of the lyric in the poems of 
Moore and Praed. Tom Moore (1779-1852) forsook his 
birthplace, as most Irish writers have done, and made him- 
self the favorite of London drawing-rooms. He was clever 
and witty in conversation ; he had a rare faculty for making 
friends (witness Byron's over-enthusiastic praise of Moore's 
poetry) ; and his writings hit the popular fancy. At the 
height of his fame he was easily considered a much greater 
poet than Wordsworth or Shelley. Time has dealt hardly 
with him; indeed, he himself saw his reputation wane, but 
though his satirical and humorous verse has lost its sparkle, 
and though the rococo work of Lalla Roohh has become sadly 
tarnished, his Irish Melodies will never lack readers. Once 
more, a poet's best work is contained in his lyrics. 

We have many pictures of Moore, but none more vivid 
than the sketch Willis gives of him. He heard Moore talk 
of Ireland — "the whole country in convulsions — people's 
lives, fortunes and religion at stake" — yet on such a subject 
what Willis finds most characteristic is "the delicacy and 
elegance of Moore's language," the "kind of frost-work of 
imagery which was formed and melted on his lips !" He 
heard Moore sing. "He makes no attempt at music. It is 
a kind of admirable recitative, in which every shade of 
thought is syllabled and dwelt upon, and the sentiment of 
the song goes through your blood, warming you to the very 
eyelids, and starting your tears, if you have a soul or sense 
in you. I have heard of women's fainting at a song of 

1 Pp. 197, 198. 


Moore's; and if the burden of it answered by chance to a 
secret in the bosom of the listener, I should think, from its 
comparative effect upon so old a stager as myself, that the 
heart would break with it."^ The tears that were shed, over 
Clarissa Harlowe now flow at Moore's songs. It is the revival 
of the sentimental school, and Moore's lyrics represent the 
best form of the tender stanzas that adorned the Annuals 
and Garlands of the second quarter of the century. 

It was a happy thought that prompted the publication of 
a series of Irish melodies with words written for them by 
Moore. From 1807 to 1834 the melodies appeared in sepa- 
rate parts with twelve songs in each. The music, arranged 
so simply that a child could play it, was in a large measure 
responsible for the success of this venture, for many of the 
melodies were extremely beautiful. Endless repetition has 
not yet destroyed the appeal of Believe me, if all those endear- 
ing young charms, or of The Last Rose of Summer. Moore 
insisted that his only talent lay in discovering the emotion 
or sentiment in the melody and then translating it into 
words; he even went so far as to desire that his songs be 
always sung and never read. It is true that in nearly every 
case, his words fit the music perfectly. He had no help 
whatever from Irish poetry or from the verses long asso- 
ciated with these folk tunes, as many of them were. The 
Groves of Blarney becomes The Last Rose of Summer; 0, 
Patrick fly from me and Paddy Whack are transformed to 
When first I met thee and While History's Muse; The Pretty 
girl milking her cow and The girl I left behind me are 
changed to The valley lay smiling before me and As slow our 

It is amusing to observe that Moore gravely informed his 
English readers that there was nothing "revolutionary" in 
these poems, and he speaks of his work as his "patriotic 
task." A most casual reading of the Irish Melodies reveals 

1 N. P. Willis, Pencilings by the Way, London, 1839, p. 368. 


their lack of national spirit. Certainly we find allusions to 
the minstrel's harp, to Erin, to Tara's halls, to Irish saints 
and heroes, patriots and exiles, but the heart of the matter 
is not in these sentimental ditties composed for London 
drawing-rooms. Collins in his unfinished ode realized more 
clearly than did Moore in all his melodies what the Celtic 
spirit is. Moore wrote a song on the gloomy lake in Done- 
gal beheved by the peasants to be the mouth of Purgatory 
and the abode of spirits.^ There is not the slightest shudder 
or mystery in his stanzas as there is, for example, in "Moira 
O'Neill's" Fairy Lough: 

" Loughareema, Loughareema ; 

When the sun goes down at seven, 
When the hills are dark an' airy, 

'Tis a curlew whistles sweet ! 
Then somethin' rustles all the reeds 

That stand so thick an' even; 
A little wave runs up the shore 

An' flees, as if on feet." 

If it seems unfair to contrast Moore with the writers of the 
neo-Celtic school (for he lacked their knowledge of Irish 
legend and poetry), we can justly compare liim with 
Burns. In the songs of Burns we have the Scotch peasant 
as he lived and loved and caroused ; we hear the very words 
he used. In Moore there is no Irish dialect, no smell of the 
soil, nothing that comes from the heart of the folk. There 
is indeed a devotion to Erin expressed many times, but it 
has none of the ring of "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled." 
There is little of Irish thought or life in 

" When Love, rocked by his mother. 

Lay sleeping as calm as slumber could make him " 

1 1 wish I was by that dim lake. 



" The young May moon is beaming, love. 
The glow-worm's lamp is gleaming, love. 

How sweet to rove 

Through Morna's grove, 
When the drowsy world is dreaming, love !"^ 

Compare this with Of a' the airts and we realize instantly 
the difference between sentimental fancy and that emotion 
whose natural language is verse. If we do not wish to leave 
Ireland, let the reader compare the lyrics of Mangan, who 
died three years before Moore, with the lyrics from the Irish 
Melodies that are published in the Dublin Book of Irish 
Verse and he will see how deep is the gulf that separates the 
patriotic lyric from the song for poKte society. 

The artificiality of many of these songs — their conven- 
tional allusions to the harp, the bowl, the rose, the moon 
(how rarely the moon appears in the songs of Burns) — 
must not blind us to their one splendid quality : they are per- 
fectly adapted to music and constantly suggest it. How 
few of the lyrics of Byron or Shelley are suitable for musical 
accompaniment. At his best, Moore has a genuine pathos. 
"She is far from the land," or to leave the Irish Melodies, 
"Come, ye disconsolate," and above all, "Oft in the stilly 
night," have a tender melancholy that atones for many an 
insincere and insipid song. His finest lyric shows this same 
mood, expressed with a music that is unsurpassed elsewhere 
in his verse : 

" I saw from the beach, when the morning was shining, 
A bark o'er the waters move gloriously on; 
I came when the sun o'er that beach was declining. 

The bark was still there, but the waters were gone. 

1 A. D. Godley, The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore, Oxford, 1910, 

pp. 227, 203. 


" And such is the fate of our life's early promise. 

So passing the spring-tide of joy we have known; 
Each wave, that we danced on at morning, ebbs from us. 
And leaves us, at eve, on the bleak shore alone. 

" Ne'er tell me of glories, serenely adorning 

The close of our day, the calm eve of our night; — - 
Give me back, give me back the wild freshness of Morning, 

Her clouds and her tears are worth Evening's best light."^ 

Winthrop Mackworth Praed (1802-1839) hardly justified 
the brilliant promise of his student days, and as in the case 
of Moore, a much better poet, the greater part of his work 
has now little significance. His best quality was his wit, his 
ability to express a clever phrase in an apt metre, but 
he desired to write in a serious vein. Thus we find in the 
Troubadour a number of sentimental songs, of which My 
Mother's Grave is the best. In general, when Praed would 
be emotional, his feeling is too obvious ; there is no person- 
ality behind it, and his too facile metres deepen the impres- 
sion of artificiality : 

" So glad a life was never, love. 

As that which childhood leads. 
Before it learns to sever, love. 

The roses from the weeds; 
When to be very duteous, love. 

Is all it has to do; 
And every flower is beauteous, love. 

And every folly true."^ 

This reads like Moore in his weakest moments. 

It is when Praed turns to the light satire of fashionable 
folly, when he writes of the artificial life of the day, that he 
is at his very best. No one has quite caught his tone, though 

1 P. 209. 

2 A. D. Godley, Select Poems of Winthrop Mackworth Praed, Oxford, 
1909, p. 19. 


he foretells London Lyrics and the modern school of society 
verse in his Good-Night to the Season: 

" Good night to the Season! — the dances. 

The fillings of hot little rooms, 
The glancings of rapturous glances, 

The fancyings of fancy costumes; 
The pleasures which fashion makes duties. 

The praisings of fiddles and flutes. 
The luxury of looking at Beauties, 

The tedium of talking to mutes; 
The female diplomatists, planners 

Of matches for Laura and Jane; 
The ice of her Ladyship's manners. 

The ice of his Lordship's champagne."^ 

Praed has one or two tricks he repeats too often; his use of 
zeugma : 

" He cleared the drawbridge and his throat. 
He crossed his forehead and the moat," 

loses its effect, but his gaiety never flags and he is an artist 
in lighter metres. His two most successful pieces, Our Ball 
and A Letter of Advice, can not by any chance be considered 
lyrical, and he comes before us as the first in point of time 
of our modern vers de societe writers rather than as one who 
has contributed much to this delightful genre. 

Praed has brought us to the minor poets of the period. 
Campbell certainly belongs among them but we found it 
convenient to consider him with Scott. We shall consider 
but three others — omitting several well-known names. Of 
these the most popular is Thomas Hood (1799-184!5). 
We shall not concern ourselves with his humorous lyrics 
except to remark that it is a misfortune that by far the 
greater part of his verse aims to be nothing more than 
clever trifling. In his serious work there are two distinct 

iP. 121. 


moods : he is the social reformer and he is the artist. A small 
group of poems — The Lady's Dream, The Workhouse Clock, 
The Lay of the Labourer, The Song of the Shirt, The Bridge 
of Sighs— show the humanitarian side of his nature; he has 
no philosophical theories of a possible regeneration of society, 
but he sees certain definite wrongs and he strikes at them. 
The Song of the Shirt is not merely a tract for Hood's times, 
but for all times ; he was not a great enough writer to stamp 
out the sweatshop, yet it is true that this poem had more 
effect on the people of his day than some of the greater odes 
we have considered. True and sincere as is its pathos, its 
workmanship is not at all remarkable and it must yield to 
The Bridge of Sighs. 

If the reader will turn to our remarks upon Raleigh's Lie 
or to those sonnets of Shakespeare which express dissatis- 
faction with the social order, he will find that we appreciated 
the vigor and force of these poems. Here we have a more 
effective complaint of man's inhumanity, because instead of 
generalizations, of indignation at the thought of "Captive 
Good attending Captain 111," we have the picture of the 
friendless girl standing 

" with amazement. 
Houseless by night. 

" The bleak wind of March 
Made her tremble and shiver; 
But not the dark arch. 
Or the black flowing river: 
Mad from life's history, 
Glad to death's mystery. 
Swift to be hurled — 
Anywhere, anywhere 
Out of the world !" 

We are too prone to neglect the work of the present. Here 
is a dirge for the outcast which stands absolutely alone in 


its pathos, its intensity, its artistic restraint. How quietly 
this fearful arraignment of modern society closes : 

" Cross her hands humbly, 
As if praying dumbly. 
Over her breast ! 

" Owning her weakness. 
Her evil behaviour. 
And leaving, with meekness, 
Her sins to her Saviour !" 

The short line, which in other hands might become jerky, fits 
the mood, for it brings the picture and the emotion to us at 
once; skillful is the use of assonance and the chant of the 
chorus : 

" Take her up tenderly 

Lift her with care ; 

Fashioned so slenderly. 

Young, and so fair !"^ 

In what we have called, for the sake of contrast. Hood's 
art lyrics, his pathos is still evident. At times it is merely 
a gentle melancholy, as in his Fair Ines, whose melody won 
the praise of Poe. It is fancy rather than imagination that 
we see in this picture of the beauty sailing to her lover in 
the West : 

"I saw thee, lovely Ines, 
Descend along the shore. 
With bands of noble gentlemen. 
And banners waved before; 
And gentle youth and maidens gay. 
And snowy plumes they wore; — 
It would have been a beauteous dream, 
— If it had been no more !"^ 

1 W. Jerrold, The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, Oxford, 
1906, p. 643. 
ZP. 177. 


The same may be said of his lament for his lost boyhood, 
"I remember, I remember," in which we see regret rather than 
that deep longing which Vaughan shows when he writes on 
the same subject. 

In his rather meagre appreciation of Hood, Professor 
Saintsbury calls attention to the fact that the couplets in 
the fragment of the Sea of Death have something of Keats ;' 
it is more interesting to notice poems in which Hood's mate- 
rial is plainly modelled on the older poet's work, for it is 
instructive to observe the difference between the poetry of 
a genius and of a talented, sensitive writer. Hood's Water 
Lady is a weaker Belle Dame sans Merci; his Ode to Autumn, 
though not without many original strokes, is plainly reminis- 
cent of Keats's greater ode. And if Hood followed a modern 
poet, he also knew the work of the Jacobean and Caroline 
writers, for he has something of their quaintness of imagery 
and of their conceits. We hear Marvell in such a stanza as : 

" 'Tis not trees' shade, but cloudy glooms 
That on the cheerless valleys fall. 
The flowers are in their grassy tombs. 
And tears of dew are on them all,"^ 

while The Death Bed reminds one of the Dean of St. Paul's, 
though more harmonious and more tender than he would 
have made it : 

" Our very hopes belied our fears. 

Our fears our hopes belied — 
We thought her dying when she slept. 
And sleeping when she died ! 

" For when the morn came dim and sad. 
And chill with early showers. 
Her quiet eyelids closed — she had 
Another morn than ours !"' 

"^History of English Prosody, vol. Ill, p. 145. 

2 P. 183. 

3 P. 444. 


In his own day, Bryan Waller Procter (1787-1874), better 
known as Barry Cornwall, was ranked with Moore as a song 
writer. We hear an echo of this mistaken opinion in the 
pages of Stedman's Victorian Poets (1876) in which more 
space is devoted to Procter than to Matthew Arnold. We are 
told that his songs "beyond those of any other modern, have 
an excellence of 'mode' which renders them akin to the melo- 
dies of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, Heywood, Fletcher," 
and Stoddard is quoted with approval when he doubts 
"whether all the early English poets ever produced so many 
and such beautiful songs as Barry Cornwall." To-day his 
work is so little regarded that neither Palgrave nor Quiller- 
Couch print in their anthologies a single Hne of his verse. 

The third edition of Procter's songs appeared in 1851. 
This volume contained a preface, written in 1832, in which 
the poet lamented the fact that England is singularly barren 
of song writers, and it was plainly his ambition to fill what 
he considered to be the chief lactma in English poetry. He 
admired Burns above all other lyrists, finding in his verse 
"an earnestness and directness of purpose which, if attended 
to, would strengthen the poetry of the present day." Un- 
fortunately, Procter's aim was beyond him. Turning over 
his pages, the charm seems to have vanished from these once 
popular lyrics. Their diction is simple, their style is un- 
affected, they appear admirably adapted for music, but they 
lack all distinction and their artistic spirit and their imagi- 
native quality is slight. Even his most quoted song is no 
longer read beyond the first two lines : 

" The sea ! the sea ! the open sea ! 
The blue, the fresh, the ever free !" 

We are hardly thrilled by 

" I love (Oh! how I love) to ride 
On the fierce foaming bursting tide." 


Of all his lyrics (and he wrote too many), the Htmter's Song, 
"How many Summers, love," and "Touch us gently. Time!" 
represent his best work, yet these poems are far from being 

We must pass by Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866), 
whose Paper Money Lyrics, parodying the manner of Words- 
worth and Coleridge, of Scott, Campbell and Moore, furnish 
a comic relief to the high seriousness of their work. He was, 
however, much more than a satirist, and showed, in his serious 
moods, skill and talent. His ballad of Robin Hood has a 
free and attractive movement: 

" Oh, bold Robin Hood is a forester good. 
As ever drew bow in the merry greenwood !" 

his Love and Age has the lightness of Praed; and his poem 
on the death of his child has much of the pathos of Hood.^ 
We must also omit George Darley (1795-1846), an even 
better lyrist, whose songs in Sylvia have the grace and airi- 
ness of the Elizabethans in their gayest moods,' and we close 
the chapter with Beddoes, a neglected poet, we may almost 
say a neglected genius. 

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849) was temperamentally 
an own brother to Webster and Toumeur, the last of the 
Elizabethan dramatists. He resembles them both in style 
and in morbid thought ; his favorite lyric form is the dirge. 
Life for him was indeed a tragedy, for he died by his own 

The most characteristic work of Beddoes, Death's Jest- 
Book, is as sombre and terrible a drama as the Duchess of 

1 Barry Cornwall, English Songs, and other small poems, London, 
1851, pp. 73, 81, 91, 208. 

2 B. Jonson, The Poems of Thomas Love Peacock, Muses' Library, 
London, 1906, pp. 284, 373, 328. 

3 R. Colles, The Complete Poetical Works of George Darley, Muses' 
Library, London, N. D., pp. 83-206. 


Malft. Throughout its soUloquies and dialogues, the thought, 
the imagination, the fierce energy of many a line recall the 
most moving passages in the old drama. The songs are even 
more startling in their kinship to the lyrics of the Eliza- 
bethan playwrights, for Beddoes is no imitator but seems 
actually one of their number. He does not reproduce the 
light and airy melodies of Shakespeare ; his songs are laments, 
the bridal hymn turning to the funeral song: 

"If thou wilt cure thine heart 
Of love and all its smart, 
Then die, dear, die." 

Even when we feel the influence of a modern writer, as in 
these lines that recall Shelley: 

" The swallow leaves her nest, 
The soul my weary breast;" 

he ends the lyric with the gloom of Webster : 

" The wind dead leaves and snow 
Doth hurry to and fro; 
And, once, a day shall break 

O'er the wave. 
When a storm of ghosts shall shake 
The dead, until they wake 

In the grave." 

It is this morbid strain in his writings more than their uneven 
quality that has robbed Beddoes of the fame he deserves. In 
his sadness he rarely approaches the obvious moods of sor- 
row ; he has nothing to compare with Tennyson's "As through 
the land at eve we went," or "Home they brought her war- 
rior dead." He appeals accordingly with most force to the 
lovers of the old poets, yet all must feel the haunting sug- 
gestion of his Dream Pedlary: 


" If there were dreams to sell. 

What would you buy? 
Some cost a passing bell; 

Some a light sigh. 
That shakes from Life's fresh crown 
Only a rose-leaf down. 
If there were dreams to sell, 
Merry and sad to tell. 
And the crier rung the bell. 

What would you buy?"*^ 

The lyrists of the Elizabethan age ran the gamut of emo- 
tion from the simplicity of Greene's songs to the subtlety of 
Donne's thought. With the exception of Milton and Her- 
rick, they were succeeded by distinctly minor writers. The 
poets of our modem Renaissance have a wider range than 
the singers of Shakespeare's day, and furthermore they in- 
spired another generation whose achievement far surpasses 
that of the Jacobean and Caroline poets. We are too near 
the nineteenth century to pass final judgment upon its work. 
Much that moves us may fail even to interest future genera- 
tions ; yet surely an age that produced the poets we have 
just considered, an age that led to the lyrists who await us 
in our next chapter, is more significant and more inspiring, 
in our chosen field, than the spacious times of great Elizabeth. 

1 R. CoUes, The Poems of Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Muses' Library, 
London, N. D., pp. 31, 30, 356. 


The Lyeic of the Nineteenth Century 


Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) above all other nineteenth 
century poets truly and adequately portrayed his land and 
his age. He was English to the heart's core. His verse 
shows more of his country's thought and feehng and char- 
acter than does the poetry of any one of his predecessors, be 
it Byron, or Shelley, or Keats ; or of any one of his contem- 
poraries, be it Browning or Arnold, Swinburne or Rossetti. 
This does not imply any narrowness of mind ; indeed, Thack- 
eray, not given to hero-worship, called Tennyson the wisest 
man he had ever known. In many a passage the poet showed 
how deeply he had studied the classics. He loved Italy as 
English writers have always loved the 

" lands of palm, or orange-blossom. 
Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine !" 

but above the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was 
Rome, above "olive silvery Sirmio," or all else that Italy 
could oiFer, he prized England. He is the poet of English 
coasts and fields, of English traditions and beliefs, of Eng- 
lish hfe, and character, and exploits. Arnold labors to recon- 
struct in his own tongue a Greek tragedy ; Browning finds 
in Italy the theme for his greatest poem ; it is characteristic 
that for his most extended work, Tennyson should turn to an 
English classic, Malory, and draw inspiration from legends 
that went deep into England's past. 


Because Tennyson lived so completely in his own land, in 
his own day and generation, and not in spite of this, he has 
won his place beside our greatest poets, for are not a nation's 
great men those who represent most completely the spirit of 
their race? Cromwell was typically English in his virtues 
and his defects ; Lincoln was thoroughly American, bearing 
the strong impress of a definite section of our country ; every 
drop of blood in Bismarck's veins was German ; while Hugo 
incarnates the weakness and the brilliancy of the Gallic spirit. 
That Tennyson's poetry was an epitome of his times, that it 
exhibited the society, the art, the philosophy, the religion of 
his day was proved by the welcome which all classes gave to it. 
The Prince Consort admired the chivalric spirit of the Idylls, 
while the plebeian judgments were taken by the sentimen- 
talism of The May Queen or In the Children's Hospital. 
Scientists applauded his acceptance of their theories and dis- 
coveries ; scholars praised his Virgilian sweetness ; the behever 
found his faith strengthened by In Memoriam; while such a 
questioner and doubter as Henry Sidgwick discovered in three 
stanzas of that same poem "the indestructible and inalienable 
minimum of faith which humanity cannot give up." Swin- 
burne is moved to rhapsody (not unusual, to be sure) by the 
strength and pathos of Rizpah; FitzGerald is touched to 
tears by the truth and tragedy of The Northern Farmer. 

The inevitable reaction has set in. Critics tell us that 
Tennyson's poetry is too smooth, too placid, too effeminately 
graceful, too "Victorian." 

" Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null, 
Dead perfection, no more." 

The Idylls are Malory reduced to limpid sentimentality; In 
Memoriam is shallow in its philosophy; it does not grapple 
with the problems it presents but helplessly avoids them. In 
all such derogatory criticism — and there is too much of it — 


the lyrics are never assailed; already their place is secured 
and they are acknowledged to stand with the highest crea- 
tions of English genius. 

These lyrics are divided readily into distinct groups. The 
first contains the art lyrics, songs that attract us more by 
their beauty of melody and description than by their emotion 
or their thought. They are all so familiar that they are 
upon our lips as we name them. Claribel, pure music, curi- 
ously anticipates much of modern poetry that makes its 
appeal by suggestion, by its half concealed imagery, yet no 
one has quite imitated its tone; The Brook and Far-Far- 
Away are the allegro and adagio of song; The Owl is a bit 
of melody for an Elizabethan Puck. AU these lyrics, even 
the most trifling, are perfect in their form. Writers of lesser 
rank, when carried away by their imagination or their emo- 
tion, frequently attain a perfection of speech that delights 
and then disappoints us because it so soon is gone. Tennyson 
shows the marks of his genius in these lyrics of slight import 
as he does in the deeper poems throbbing with feeling. The 
Bugle Song from The Princess is wonderful in its rhythm, in 
the melody of its vowels and of its rhymes, but more remark- 
able is the exquisite blending of thought and music. For 
these horns of elfland, too deep an emotion, too marked a 
motif would be unsuited, and accordingly Tennyson has ex- 
pressed that quiet surprise, that tender regret which the echo 
of distant music brings to us. We have heard this poem so 
many times that we have ceased to wonder at it, taking it as 
a matter of course. There is nothing like it in our poetry. 
Apparently its thought and sentiment could be as well ex- 
pressed by lyrists of lesser gifts, but if we read Moore's echo 
song, "How sweet the music echo makes," we find that it has 
none of Tennyson's magic. 

We turn for an example of the art lyric in a more highly 
developed form to the choric song in The Lotos-Eaters. It 
has the sensuous, luxuriant description of Spenser's ideal 


landscapes; it has that vivid beauty of phrase which Keats 
desired, and yet it is distinctly Tennysonian. 

" Music that gentlier on the spirit lies. 
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes ;" 

" Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind. 
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined 
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind." 

There is the distinctive note, the range in the modulation that 
keeps this song with all its appeal to the senses from being 
over sweet and cloying. With a skill that never deserted 
him, Tennyson varies his metre, making it rise and fall with 
the thought, as a tree sways in the wind. Here as elsewhere 
he uses effectively that device we found in the earliest lyrics, 
a succession of verses on one rhyme : 

" Here are cool mosses deep. 
And thro' the moss the ivies creep. 
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep. 
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep." 

The gradual lengthening of the lines until the slow move- 
ment culminates in the Alexandrine is a stroke of art. In 
our poetry of the last century, no writer, not even Swin- 
burne, surpassed Tennyson in giving to the poet's message 
"The music that wraps it in language beneath and beyond 
the word." 

Surely we are Platonists enough to agree with Browning 

" If you get simple beauty and naught else. 
You get about the best thing God invents:" 

yet we turn more frequently to those lyrics in which the senti- 
ment or the emotion is stronger and the musical element not 
a whit weaker, to "All along the valley"; "Break, break, 
break"; The Miller's Daughter; "Move eastward, happy 


earth" ; "Birds in the high wood calling." What a variety of 
thought and expression is here ! With these poems we include 
the songs from The Princess: "As through the land" and 
"Home they brought her warrior dead," pathos purified from 
sentimentality; "Sweet and low," as widely known as were 
once the old folk ballads, sung more often to-day than any 
English slumber song ; "Ask me no more," in which, as Pro- 
fessor Saintsbury remarks, he challenges the Caroline writers 
on their own ground ;^ and above aU, "Tears, idle tears," the 
most beautiful unrhymed lyric in the language. There is a 
most interesting contrast between its sure and firm style and 
the more elusive qualities of Verlaine's little masterpiece, 

" II pleura dans mon coeur 
Comme il pleure dans la ville." 

In all these lyrics — and we have not mentioned those ex- 
quisite songs from the Idylls, "Turn, Fortune, turn thy 
wheel"; "In love, if love be love"; "Free love — free field"; 
"Ay, ay, O, ay — the winds that bend the brier !" — Tennyson 
is much more than a consummate artist in language and 
metre. In a sonnet to Cambridge he once upbraided his Alma 
Mater : 

" You that do profess to teach 
And teach us nothing, feeding not the heart.'' 

He himself was free from this charge and back of all these 
songs is an emotion, communicated directly to us. In any 
of the fine arts we weary of technique alone, no matter how 
brilliant. Les Trophees by De Heredia is a collection of 
remarkable sonnets that are purely objective writing. We 
admire the vividness of the description, the elegance of the 
style, and then we forget the poems. It is a safe assertion 

1 Cf . Carew's "Ask me no more." There is a reminiscence of Marvell's 
Nymph la/menting the death of her fawn in the line from Maud, "You 
have but fed on the roses and lain in the lilies of life." 


that no modern lyrics are so firmly fixed in our memories as 
are Tennyson's. 

We come to the final group of his lyrics in which the emo- 
tion and the thought are deeper, songs in which we hear the 
cry of passion. Here we would consider many of the sections 
of In Memoriam. If we regard this elegy as verse argument, 
as an attempt to reconcile faith with experience, to justify 
the ways of God to man, we shall be disappointed in it. If 
we read it as a series of lyrics, showing not the experiences 
of love, as do the sonnet sequences, but the moods of grief, 
we shall find that this work deserves its place among the 
English classics. Even here the poet shows his wide range 
in this highest form of the lyric. But this variety is typical 
of all his work. We turn from the cloistered purity of Saint 
Agnes' Eve to the impassioned love song from Maud; from 
the tranquillity of Crossing the Bar to what is the most 
poignant lyric note in all his writings : 

" O that 'twere possible 
After long grief and pain 
To find the arms of my true love 
Round me once again ! 

" A shadow flits before me. 
Not thou, but like to thee. 
Ah, Christ, that it were possible 
For one short hour to see 
The souls we loved, that they might tell us 
What and where they be !"^ 

Here is the simplicity of greatness. These six verses are 
worthy of Hamlet in his most inspired moments. Comment- 
ing upon The Silent Voices, Tennyson's last lyric, dictated on 
his deathbed, Palgrave writes, "Those solemn words, As sor- 
rowful yet always rejoicing, give the true key to Alfred 
1 Maud. 


Tennyson's inmost nature, his life and his poetry."^ More 
than any other modern poet he united in his lyrics the joy 
in life and the sense of its discouragements, its disasters, its 

For the greater lyric forms, Tennyson's fame might rest 
on two widely contrasted odes, the youthful Ode to Memory 
and the great dirge for the Iron Duke. The former is rich 
in its music and in its descriptions, tender in its feeling and 
its suggestions; the funeral ode has a fitting restraint both 
in its diction and rhythm, yet this severity of style has caused 
it to be undervalued. It is direct and straightforward in its 
appeal ; over the grave of this warrior, Tennyson has erected 
a granite shaft, not a Gothic chapel. A smaller poet would 
have yielded to the temptation to indulge in the lurid color- 
ings of battle scenes; it is easy to imagine how this subject 
would have been treated by the eighteenth century writers 
of Pindaric odes. There is no finer expression of English 
patriotism than this ode, and its enduring qualities will be 
more fully recognized as time goes on. Nothing is more 
characteristic of it than the nobility of its concluding verses. 
How simply Paradise Lost draws to its end. There is no 
Miltonic organ music, no great picture of the world to which 
the exiles go, in those last lines : 

" They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, 
Through Eden took their solitary way." 

So this ode shows its kinship with the great works of Eng- 
lish genius nowhere more closely than in its ending : 

" Speak no more of his renown. 
Lay your earthly fancies down. 
And in the vast cathedral leave him, 
God accept him, Christ receive him!" 

1 Golden Treasury of Songt and Lyrics, Second Series, p. 261. 


Robert Browning (1812-1889) is one of the most fasci- 
nating and one of the most perplexing figures in all English 
literature, an inviting personality for the lover of paradox. 
Over no modem poet are critics so hopelessly at variance. 
He sings and he stammers; he writes with the simplicity of 
inspiration and with the awkwardness of one to whom Eng- 
lish is a foreign language; he arrives after many twistings 
and turnings at the goal of his thought and he rushes at it 
with the speed of the wind ; he takes pages to explain a situa- 
tion, he reveals it in a line ; he delights in pure beauty, he 
revels in the grotesque. These are but a few of the incon- 
sistencies that meet us the moment we approach his work. 

From boyhood he seemed destined for verse ; as a child he 
was keenly sensitive to the appeal of music, painting, and 
poetry. When twelve, he had written a book of poems (it 
was destroyed) in the style of Byron, and in the following 
year he fell under the charm of Keats and Shelley. When, 
however, his first work was published, he spoke in his own 
language and throughout his whole career his manner was 
"very strange and new." If the years have made him a less 
commanding figure, if they have somewhat tarnished parts 
of the eternal monument he reared, they have destroyed noth- 
ing of the beauty and the power of his finest lyrics. 

The lyrics contain the very essence of Browning's poetry, 
for they show his form and expression at their highest level. 
As there is much poetry in the prose of everyday life, so 
there is much prose in the verse of every writer — even in 
Shakespeare, assuredly in Milton. In Browning's longer 
poems, the prose element is frequently so conspicuous that we 
wonder why he chose a metrical form for his discussions and 
analyses. In his lyrics, this prosaic element has vanished yet 
his distinctive tone, free from admixture of classic or con- 
tinental influence, remains. It is Browning's misfortune that 
he did not recognize this, that his lyrics form such a small 


part of his work, and it is worth while to discover why such 
is the case. 

No modern poet surpassed Browning in intellectual curi- 
osity or in subtlety of thought. His life was filled with mani- 
fold interests. He certainly lived in his own day and genera- 
tion, yet his imagination revivified the past, and characteris- 
tically, not the past that attracted Scott and Coleridge, 
Keats or Shelley, or the Pre-Raphaelite group. All human 
existence seemed to be his field, and with the greatest novel- 
ists, he is attracted by the most widely separated characters, 
the hero and the knave ; the saint and the libertine ; the Pope 
and the peasant girl; Caliban and Mr. Sludge. Moveover 
his temperament is argumentative; he loves nothing better 
than to discuss his creations, looking behind their actions 
to their motives. As Spedding would prove that Lord Bacon 
had been unfairly condemned, so Browning delighted to take 
the other side of the case and turn our accepted opinions 
inside out. This curiosity, this alertness is much more sur- 
prising than the calmer introspection of Tennyson, but it 
by no means implies a greater depth of thought than Tenny- 
son showed. 

Now the lyric poet, as we have seen, depends more upon 
sheer intuition than upon analysis. He may comment upon 
his emotions and seek to explain them, but in a moment he 
is caught up again by the surge of his feelings. He con- 
vinces, not by argument or discussion, but by the sheer inevi- 
tableness of his thought and sensation. His nature will not 
permit him to question overmuch, and he is more intent upon 
showing his state of mind than upon explaining it critically. 
The purely emotional element in In Memoriam repeatedly 
overpowers the poet's attempt to consider the philosophic 
significance of the mystery of death. Browning's tendency 
is to peer too deeply in the face of things. He is not content 
to enjoy the color and perfume of a flower; he would dig to 
see its roots and what manner of soil produced it. It would 


be a difficult matter to discover lyric stanzas finer than cer- 
tain ones in Two in the Campagna, yet this description of 
imperfect sympathies is not a lyric chiefly because the poet 
becomes so interested in explaining the lover's attitude. 

Again, judged by his work as a whole, Browning did not 
regard sufficiently the technique of verse. His Old Pictures 
in Florence teUs the story ; he prefers to highly finished art, 
pictures crude in coloring and imperfect in drawing because 
he sees in the lower art a chance for development, something 
beyond to strive for. In a celebrated statement, he declared 
that a poet should lay stress on the incidents in the develop- 
ment of a soul and that little else is worth study. Surely 
the manner of telling these incidents is worthy of the highest 
study. In reading much of Browning, it is difficult to believe 
that he was a musician and that at one time he determined 
to become a composer of songs, for the music of his verse 
so often disappoints us. Who but Browning would have 
allowed in the pure melody of Love among the Ruins, one of 
the most splendid achievements in the field of the lyric, such 
an inexcusable discord as 

" Where the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks 
Through the chinks".^ 

Professor Saintsbury has declared that Browning is an 
audacious but almost invariably a correct prosodist; "he 
goes often to the very edge, but hardly ever over it." Such 
negative praise is not enough ; the lyric poet must have music 
ever ringing in his ears. Browning felt the force in words ; 
to an extraordinary degree, he discovered their emotional 
content, but not always their melody. It is easy to find 
exceptions to this, as the verses from Paracelsus, 

" Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes 
Of labdanum, and aloe-balls," 


yet this is not his usual style, and the close of the song reads 
like the work of the neo-Celtic school, in its dreamy sadness : 

" like a cloud 
From closet long to silence vowed, 
With mothed and drooping arras hung, 
Mouldering her lute and hooks among. 
As when a queen, long dead, was young." 

His poems please us more often because of the nobility of 
their thought and feeling than by their workmanship. 

Browning's lyrics, then, are comparatively few in number, 
but these few are most precious. If we look for their dis- 
tinctive traits, we remark first of all their superb sense of 
movement. As Swinburne observed, much of Browning's 
obscurity comes from the rapidity of his thought ; we can 
not follow him in his haste. The tide of his emotion is never 
a tide that moving seems asleep and, in lyrical writing, this 
is an excellence rather than a defect. What a splendid rush 
there is in his cavalier tunes. No knight-at-arms eager for 
battle ever sang a more ringing refrain than : 

" King Charles, and who'll do him right now ? 
King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now.? 
Give a rouse: here's, in Hell's despite now. 
King Charles!" 

Such a song would have been worth many regiments. In the 
Last Ride Together, we hear the very beat of the horses' 
feet in the marvellous rhythm, while the thoughts hurry 
through the lover's mind as quickly as the landscape rushes 
by. In "The year's at the spring," how the song leaps to 
its triumphant conclusion, 

" God's in his heaven — 
All's right with the world !" 

In Prospice, in the Epilogue to Asolando, where we expect 
a quieter movement because of the opening phrases. 


" At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time. 
When you set your fancies free," 

what an onward march there is. Love among the Rums is 
the most beautiful of all his lyrics. Using a metre as musical 
as that of the Elegy in a Coimtry Cfmrchyard (though 
utterly diiferent in its effect), Browning draws in the open- 
ing verses as quiet a picture as did Gray : 

" Where the quiet-colored end of evening smiles 
Miles and miles 
On the solitary pastures where our sheep 

Half -asleep 
Tinkle homeward through the twilight, stray or stop 
As they crop — " 

Yet after such a prelude we hear the tread of armies, we see 
the chariot race, and the poem ends in a splendid burst of 
feeling as fine in its effect as Blake's plate of the soul re- 
united to the body. Whatever may be said of Browning's 
verse, it certainly throbs with life. It is the spirit, and no 
technical excellence, that gives the value to his patriotic 
"Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-west died 

We have said nothing of nature descriptions in his lyrics. 
As we might infer, they are sharply and precisely drawn, 
no imagined scenes but bits of real life — the campagna, the 
sea coast "to the farther South," or England in May. De 
Gustibus and Home-Thoughts, from Abroad show the clear- 
ness of his vision; where other poets but draw details, he 
gives us a whole country in a few lines. It is not, however, 
in his treatment of nature but of love that Browning's lyrics 
reach their highest point. 

The poet's philosophy of life is summed up in his line 
"Love is best," and to represent the emotions, the idealism, 
the happiness, the despair of a lover was his chief lyric gift. 
Could there be a better way of measuring the artificiality 


of the followers of Petrarch or the courtier poets of "either 
Charles's days" than by comparing their gallant compli- 
ments with Browning's Summwm Bonum, My Star, or the 
songs from In a Gondola? The delight in the "wild joy of 
living" felt in all these lyrics has led many a poet into the 
quagmires, but it brought Browning to the heights. His 
women are flesh and blood, no pale abstractions, but he is 
as much of an ideaUst as any poet we have discussed. The 
love he sings is a union of heart and mind; it is a moulding 
force ; it is the final touch that crowns man's life, if not in this 
world, surely in the next. "Let us be unashamed of soul," 
he cries, and he follows his own injunctions. There is a 
nobihty in these poems that affects us as strongly as their 
emotional power; it is conspicuously seen in the calmness 
and courage with which his men and women who sing these 
songs meet disappointment and death. 

If a study of Hterature teaches anything, it cautions us to 
beware of trusting the praise or blame a poet receives from 
his contemporaries. Browning has suffered equally from 
neglect and from over-enthusiastic admiration. Whatever 
may be his ultimate fate, it is impossible to beheve that these 
lyrics will ever lose their freshness, their vigor, their appeal 
to what is highest in man and woman. 


Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was the son of 
Frances Polidori and Gabriele Rossetti. His father, a man 
of letters and the custodian of ancient bronzes in the Museo 
Borbonico at Naples, was an ardent patriot. His songs, 
directed against the tyranny of Ferdinand I, brought him 
in such danger that he left his home and took refuge in 
London in 1824. Frances Polidori had an English mother, 
but her father was an Italian litterateur who had published 
a translation of Milton and who had been secretary to the 
poet Alfieri. 


Though the traditions of his family pointed him towards 
a literary career, Rossetti had determined from boyhood to 
become a painter. Beginning his art studies in 18412, he 
became the pupil of Ford Maddox Brown in 184!8. This 
same year, with Millais and Holman Hunt, he founded the 
Pre-RaphaeUte brotherhood — a protest against the conven- 
tional technique, the trifling sentimentality, and the lack of 
imagination in English art. It was the behef of the men who 
formed this group that the very perfection of Raphael's 
style had tended to destroy originality in modern painting. 
They affirmed that the modern artist should assert his own 
individuahty and paint objects as he saw them not as he 
thought Raphael would have seen them. "They did not take 
the earlier painters as a model, but they wished to revert to 
the principles of an artistic age when a strong and domi- 
nating tradition was not at work, but when painters devel- 
oped art on their own lines with sturdy fidelity, masculine 
individuahty, and serious intention."^ 

A description or criticism of the paintings of this school, 
to say nothing of Rossetti's work, would lead us too far 
afield, but we certainly must mention one undertaking of the 
brotherhood. The Germ. This was a monthly magazine, 
founded to defend and illustrate the Pre-RaphaeHte theories 
of art. It was short Kved ; only four numbers were pubHshed. 
They were enough to make it forever famous ; the second 
contained The Blessed Damozel, the last, six of Rossetti's 
sonnets on pictures. 

In 1851 Rossetti became engaged to EUzabeth Siddal, a 
girl of extraordinary beauty, whose face appears in many 
of his paintings and who inspired a work greater than all 
his canvasses- — his sonnet sequence, The House of Life. Not 
until 1860 did his means permit him to marry her and within 
two years she died suddenly from an overdose of laudanum. 
In an agony of grief Rossetti buried with her the sole manu- 

1 A. C. Benson, Rossetti, London, 1904, p. 20. 


script of his poems. In 1869 her grave was opened, the 
manuscript recovered, and in the following year the poems 
were published. 

The sonnets contained in this volume establish Rossetti's 
position among our greatest lyrists. Palgrave includes The 
blessed Damozel in his Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics, 
yet it hardly lies within our province. We feel this when 
we compare it with the poem that inspired it, Poe's Raven. 
The refrain, the inner rhymes of the Raven instantly suggest 
music ; Rossetti's masterpiece with its characteristic mingling 
of the spiritual and the sensuous, with its definite imagery, 
with its vivid coloring, suggests a painting: 

" She had three lilies in her hand, 

And the stars in her hair were seven." 

When we remember how thoroughly familiar he was with 
Itahan poetry, we are surprised to find in his work so little 
that has song quality, for he wrote no madrigals or baUate. 
Certainly there are a number of exquisite lyrics scattered 
through his poems, Sudden Light, Insomnia, The Wood- 
spurge, An old Song ended. Although they have not the 
artistic significance of the sonnets, yet they bear the stamp 
of his genius. 

We perceive that Rossetti is a supreme master of technique 
the instant we read the opening sonnet in The House of Life. 
We quote but its octave: 

" A sonnet is a moment's monument, — 
Memorial from the soul's eternity 
To one dead deathless hour. Look that it be. 

Whether for lustral rite or dire portent. 

Of its own arduous fulness reverent: 
Carve it in ivory or in ebony, 
As Day or Night may rule ; and let Time see 

Its flowering crest impearled and orient." 


No English sonneteer had attained such a style ; its effect 
is as unique and original as the impression The Blessed 
Damozel makes upon us. Rossetti said that Drayton's 

" Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part, — 
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;" 

was the finest sonnet in the language, yet his own style is 
as far removed as possible from such a simple, monosyllabic 
diction. Many of the most beautiful of the Elizabethan 
sonnets are so fluent in their expression that they read like 
inspired improvisation ; the flowers of speech that adorn them 
are gathered in any garden. In the majority of Rossetti's 
sonnets, every line seems curiously and exquisitely wrought. 
However, they are much more than carvings in ivory or 
ebony, to use his own figure, for we feel in them all the most 
poignant emotion. His hues have a new note; the ear is 
filled with the languorous tones of long drawn out chords : 

" What dawn-pulse at the heart of heaven, or last 
Incarnate flower of culminating day, — 
What marshalled marvels on the skirts of May, 
Or song full-quired, sweet June's encomiast;" 

" Sweet dimness of her loosened hair's downfall 

About thy face ; her sweet hands round thy head 
In gracious fostering union garlanded; 
Her tremulous smiles; her glances' sweet recall 
Of love; her murmuring sighs memorial;"^ 

William Sharp considers Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and 
Rossetti our three greatest sonneteers, and that Rossetti is 
supreme in "weight and volume of sound. As a wind-swayed 
pine seems literally to shake off music from its quivering 
branches, so do his sonnets throb with and disperse deep- 
sounding harmonies."^ 

1 Beauty's Pageant; Love-Sweetness. 

i Sonnets of this Century, London, 1886, p. Ixxiii. 


The sonnets in The House of Life tell of the overpowering 
appeal of beauty; of the ardor of love; of the desolation 
wrought by death; — old themes yet new ones in Rossetti's 
hands. As we have seen, the predominating strain in his 
blood was Italian, and these sonnets have little of English 
tradition in them. We have quoted Browning's "Let us be 
unashamed of soul," yet Browning is more restrained than 
Rossetti. Donne is at times frankly sensual yet in a few 
lines he shows more of the intellectual side of love, more of 
the union of two minds, than we discover in all Rossetti's 
sequence. Although he declared that it was never his wish 
to assert that the body is greater than the soul one does not 
get that impression from his verse. He appeals insistently 
even morbidly to the senses; the very love letter he receives 
from his mistress seems warmed by her hand, shadowed by her 
hair, shaken by her breath. We remember that the Eliza- 
bethan Platonists worshipped beauty and celebrated human 
loveliness, but they made a clear distinction between the body 
and the spirit. They never forgot the greater beauty of 
which the earthly is but a type or symbol ; Rossetti lives for 
the present moment. How far removed from Spenser's Hymn 
to Beauty are Rossetti's lines : 

" Lady, I fain would tell how evermore 
Thy soul I know not from thy body, nor 
Thee from myself, neither our love from God."^ 

When the Elizabethan lyrists praise physical beauty — 
Lodge's Rosalynde is a good instance — they are like men 
admiring some wonderful statue bathed in sunlight. Brown- 
ing's lovers meet under the open sky in 

" The champaign with its endless fleece 
Of feathery grasses everywhere ! 
Silence and passion, joy and peace. 
An everlasting wash of air;" 

^Searfa Hope. 


but Rossetti takes us to a dim room, where we are over- 
powered by the incense burning at a shrine to Venus Victrix, 
or by the heavy fragrance of flowers scattered on the floor. 
Robert Buchanan's bitter attack on Rossetti in his diatribe 
entitled The Fleshly School of Poetry was unjust; on the 
other hand there is truth in Patmore's strictures. He con- 
sidered, writes Gosse, that Rossetti above all other modem 
writers had been granted an insight into spiritual mysteries, 
but though the ark of passion had been placed in his hands, 
he had used it chiefly to serve his curiosity, and we might add, 
to dehght his artistic sense.^ 

Although the House of Life, taken as a whole, cloys the 
taste ; although its intense worship of beauty may antagonise 
the reader as do parts of Crashaw's poetry, it contains son- 
nets that are unsurpassed in any literature. We turn from 
the despair of Lost Days to The One Hope; from The Birth- 
Bond, whose sestet contains that faultless description of a 
predestined love, to Silent Noon, so vividly written that one 
almost feels the calm of mid-day ; from the pure idealism of 
Soul's Beauty to the fearful reahty of death in Without Her. 
If we compare the imagery and the passionate abandon- 
ment to grief of this sonnet with the restrained sorrow of 
Milton's "Methought I saw my late espoused saint," we see 
at a glance the essential diff'erence between the classic and 
the romantic styles. 

But Rossetti was much more than a notable painter and 
a great sonneteer; he was a dominating personality. His 
spirit impressed itself on contemporary poetry — plainly in 
the early poems of Morris and Swinburne, less apparently 
but quite unmistakably in the writings of many smaller 
poets. Keats had shown the world the beauty of classic 
myth and the loveliness of nature; Rossetti found in beauty 
the white heat of emotion, an enchantment that enthralled 
the senses. It is little wonder that a genius so original, so 

1 Edmund Gosse, Coventry Patmore, N. Y., 1905, p. 175. 


forceful in expression should have set aflame the imaginations 
of the two poets whom we now reach in our study. 

William Morris (1834-1896), "poet, artist, manufacturer, 
and socialist," felt from childhood the fascination of the 
Middle Ages. He delighted to visit the old churches about 
his Essex home, making rubbings from the inscriptions on 
their tombs or studying their carvings. There is a certain 
period in the life of every boy when he must have his soldier 
suit ; Morris, true to his tastes, had a suit of armor. 

When Morris entered Exeter College, Oxford, he looked 
forward to taking orders, as did Burne-Jones, a fellow colle- 
gian and firm friend, but the call of art proved too strong 
for them. In 1855, on a vacation trip to France, they both 
decided that they were not destined for the priesthood; 
Bume-Jones was to become a painter and Morris an archi- 
tect. This devotion to art led them directly to Rossetti and 
for two years Morris was his ardent disciple, vainly endeavor- 
ing to make of himself a painter. His first important work 
was not a picture but a book. The Defence of Guenevere and 
other Poems (1858). 

This volume was dedicated to Rossetti and throughout it 
his influence is plainly felt. Here are the Middle Ages with 
their fair women, their combats, their tragedies, but above 
all, with their pomp and pageantry. These are the poems 
of a painter ; on every page we see the love of color : 

" Gold on her head, and gold on her feetj 
And gold where the hems of her kirtle meet, 
And a golden girdle around my sweet; — 
Ah! qu'elle est belle. La Marguerite."^ 

On the purely artistic side, in the choice of subjects and in 
the manner of treatment, we see Rossetti, yet the two men 
were diff"erent in temperamnt. Morris writes objectively; 
in this book he sees more than he feels and he nowhere dis- 

1 The Eve of Crecy. 


closes that intense personal emotion which was to mark the 
sonnets of The House of Life. Accordingly the lyrical ele- 
ment is sHght in this first volume. Its best poems are 
dramatic narration, The Haystack in the Floods, King 
Arthur's Tomb, Sir Peter Harpdon's End; the few lyrics, 
The GilUflower of Gold, The Eve of Crecy, Two Red Roses 
across the Moon, Sir Giles' War-Song, Praise of my Lady, 
and In Prison, are sHght in texture, frankly artificial, and 
show Httle of his genius. 

In his next volume, Morris appears as the follower of 
Chaucer and indeed he is his greatest disciple. The opening 
of the seventeenth book of The Life and Death of Jason, 
(1867) proclaims his allegiance: 

" Would that I 
Had but some portion of that mastery 
That from the rose-himg lanes of woody Kent 
Through these five hundred years such songs have sent 
To us, who, meshed within this smoky net 
Of unrejoicing labor, love them yet. 
And thou, O Master ! — Yea, my Master stiU, 
Whatever feet have scaled Parnassus' hill. 
Since hke thy measures, clear, and sweet, and strong, 
Thames' stream scarce fettered bore the bream along 
Unto the bastioned bridge, his only chain, — 
O Master, pardon me, if yet in vain 
Thou art my Master, and I fail to bring 
Before men's eyes the image of the thing 
My heart is filled with." 

The poet's style has been transformed ; it is no longer ornate 
and over-wrought but "clear and sweet," if not always 
strong. It has not, however, become more lyrical and this 
admiration for Chaucer, expressed with even more feeling 
in the Envoi to The Earthly Paradise, would not turn him 
towards song. He is to be a teller of tales. 


Throughout his narrative poems Morris does introduce 
a few lyrics. In Jason, there are several, written in octo- 
syllabics, of which the best is : 

" I know a little garden close 
Set thick with lily and red rose, 
Where I would wander if I might 
From dewy dawn to dewy night, 
And have one with me wandering." 

yet none of them have distinction. In his prose romances 
we find songs ; The Roots of the Movntains has at least one 
that deserves remembrance : 

" Green and green is thy garment growing 
Over thy blossoming limbs beneath; 
Up o'er our feet rise the blades of thy sowing. 

Pierced are our hearts with thine odorous breath. 

" But where art thou wending, thou new-comer } 
Hurrying on to the Courts of the Sun? 
Where art thou now in the House of the Summer? 
Told are thy days and thy deed is done. 

" Spring has been here for us that are living 
After the days of Winter's fear; 
Here in our hands is the wealth of her giving, 

The Love of the Earth, and the Light of the Year.""^ 

The gleaning, however, is scanty, though we search in his 
morality. Love is Enough, or in his renderings of the North- 
ern Sagas. 

The case is altered when we turn to The Earthly Paradise, 
(1868-1870). Even here, in all the forty-two thousand lines, 
the lyrics are but few yet they are extremely beautiful. The 
duo in the tale of Ogier the Dane has the simplicity and the 
freshness of the Elizabethans : 

1 Chapter XXIX. 


" In the white-flowered hawthorn brake. 
Love, be merry for my sake; 
Twine the blossoms in my hair, 
Kiss me where I am most fair — 
Kiss me, love ! for who knoweth 
What thing cometh after death?" 

The Noel in The Land East of the Sun has caught the spirit 
of our earliest lyrics, except that the refrain seems affected: 

" In an ox-stall this night we saw 

The snow in the street and the wind on the door. 
A babe and a maid without a flaw, 

Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor. 

The love song in Accontius and Cydippe has charm and 
music ; the one in He Who Never Laughed Again has more 
emotion than Morris usually cares to show ; the stanzas that 
the "sweet-voiced choir of unknown, unseen folk" sing in 
Cupid and Psyche are tender in feeUng and beautiful in 
expression, yet none of these would be ranked among the 
great English lyrics. 

To give variety and to separate into groups the tales of 
the Earthly Paradise, Morris composed twelve lyric inter- 
ludes, one for each month. They are placed far apart, with 
long stretches of verse between, but they should be detached 
from their context and printed side by side since they form 
a lyric cycle that for variety, beauty and pathos, ranks 
with the best work of the nineteenth century. Each lyric con- 
sists of three stanzas in Chaucer's favorite rhyme royal. Like 
the Chaucerian imitators of the fifteenth century, Morris 
was too prolix, but in these short songs he has restrained 
himself, with the result that these lyrics are finer in their 
workmanship and more intense in their feeling than any 
other poems in this volume. These songs of the months 
portray with a skill that recalls Rossetti the aspects of the 
changing seasons, yet they are not mere descriptive poems. 


for through them all runs the poet's lament for change and 
death. He sees the inevitable end even in the promise of 

" When summer brings the lily and the rose, 
She brings us fear; her very death she brings 
Hid in her anxious hearty the forge of woes; 
And, dull with fear, no more the mavis sings." 

In the songs of fall and winter we seem to hear the old strains 
of "Wynter wakeneth all my care," but sung with the shad- 
ings and the intensity of modern art. In his writings Morris 
did not follow the injunction of Sidney's verse to look in his 
heart and write ; he looked back on the myths and legends 
of the past. In these few lyrics, there is more than mere 
objective art, and as Alfred Noyes points out, "many of 
them are personal utterances — glimpses of Morris's own life, 
recollections of golden afternoons on the river above Oxford, 
when he was composing his great poem or reading it aloud 
to his wife and friends" ■} 

" O June, O June, that we desired so. 
Wilt thou not make us happy on this day.'' 
Across the river thy soft breezes blow 
Sweet with the scent of beanfields far away. 
Above our heads rustle the aspens gray. 
Calm is the sky with harmless clouds beset, 
No thought of storm the morning vexes yet." 

If we turn from this placid mood to the dejection of 
November, expressed with an intensity that recalls SheUey, 
we find a range of expression that makes us regret the poet's 
devotion to the epic. 

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) had no long 
and painful struggle to win popular recognition. His 
Atalanta in Calydon (1865) and Poems and Ballads (1866), 

1 Alfred Noyes, William Morris, London, 1908, p. 79. 


a volume that owes much to Rossetti, astonished the age by 
the remarkable originality and brilliancy of the verse as well 
as by the audacity of theme and treatment. He won in- 
stantly partisans and opponents and was alternately extolled 
and traduced. For nearly half a century he was a command- 
ing figure ; he steadily produced lyrics, verse tragedy and 
romance, prose criticism, yet he was never a writer whose 
language and thoughts entered into the life of the times. 
We can not attribute this to the over-sweetness, to the sensual 
tone of part of his early work, nor to his avowed hostihty 
towards church and creed, which offended many, for in some 
of his very greatest achievements these traits of style and 
thought never appear. We can not say that his style is 
too difficult or his thought too obscure for the plebeian judg- 
ment when Browning has become popular. Without accept- 
ing Tolstoi's theory of art, we may at least believe that there 
is a defect in the work of a gifted poet who has failed to 
sing his way into our common speech and thought. We do 
not complain that there are no trite quotations, brilliant 
half truths, or soft sentiments in his writings, but that even 
avowed lovers of English poetry have at the best a most 
superficial acquaintance with his verse. Socrates was proud 
that he had drawn philosophy down from the heights to the 
home and to the market place ; the greatest musicians, 
Beethoven and Wagner, appeal to no small circle of the elect 
but to the most unskilled listeners; why does not Swinburne 
stand with Tennyson and Browning, and even with Arnold, 
in attracting all sorts and conditions of readers.? 

The first impression that Swinburne makes on the reader 
is one of unqualified admiration for his marvelous technique. 
He surpasses every Victorian poet excepting Tennyson in 
his instinctive perception of the music latent in our language, 
and he gains many effects which Tennyson never approached. 
The consummate ease with which he used the most difficult 
rhythms and rhyme schemes ; the impetuous melody, or we 


may call it, the full chorus of his verse, never faltering, never 
lapsing into discords, is one of the miracles of English 
literature. Thoroughly familiar with the poetry of Greece, 
Italy, and France, he seems to have brought something 
foreign into his own lines. We can not point out what it is ; 
the heart of it aU is English; and yet we hear his poetry 
with something of the sensation we feel in listening to a 
foreign tongue. Generally when a poet strikes a new path 
for himself, he astonishes by mere innovation ; it is the beauty 
of Swinburne's innovations in English rhythms that makes 
him conspicuous among modem writers. 

He seemed to be master of all styles. A revolutionist, with 
Hugo as his ideal, he wrote the most uncontrolled invectives 
against the tyranny of Austria and Russia. He was 
attracted by the roundel, one of the most exquisite of French 
verse forms, and his poems of childhood written in that 
measure have a surpassing grace and delicacy. More than 
any Victorian poet he admired the grandeur and elevation 
of the Greek ode, yet he feels equally the pathos of the simple 
Jacobite ballads and imitates them, or rather, becomes him- 
self a Jacobite and writes them. No description can do his 
style justice, and we need illustrations. What a haunting 
music there is in his Adieux a Marie Stuart: 

" Queen^ for whose house my fathers fought. 
With hopes that rose and fell, 
Red star of boyhood's fiery thought. 

" Queen once of Scots and ever of ours 
Whose sires brought forth for you 
Their lives to strew your way like flowers. 

Could Tennyson better the melody of A Match: 

" If love were what the rose is. 

And I were like the leaf"? 


From these simpler forms, Swinburne's music rises higher 
and higher as an organist builds up his tone, drawing stop 
after stop. We go from the Laus Veneris stanza struck off 
at white heat, Meredith tells us, after reading FitzGerald's 
Omar Khayyam, 

" Ah yet would God this flesh of mine might be 
Where air might wash and long leaves cover me, 

Where tides of grass break into foam of flowers, 
Or where the wind's feet shine along the sea." 

to the more rapid measure of Dolores: 

" On sands by the storm never shaken. 

Nor wet from the washing of tides ; 
Nor by foam of the waves overtaken. 

Nor winds that the thunder bestrides; 
But red from the print of thy paces. 

Made smooth for the world and its lords, 
Ringed round with a flame of fair faces. 

And splendid with swords." 

What variety in the metres of The Garden of Proserpine, the 
Hymn to Proserpine, and the choruses of Atalanta, his 
greatest lyrical achievement ! He never surpassed his own 

" When the hounds of Spring are on winter's traces. 
The mother of months in meadow or plain 
Fills the shadows and windy places 

With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain." 

We go from his finest elegy, Ave atque Vale, to his great 
odes To Athens and The Armada, which he rightly said would 
decide his rank as a lyric poet in the higher sense of the 
term. What a range from such a lyric as A Child's Laughter 
to the ocean swells of the Armada ode : 


" 'They that ride over ocean wide with hempen bridle and horse 

of tree/ 
How shall they in the darkening day of wrath and anguish 

and fear go free? 
How shall these who have curbed the seas not feel his bridle 

who made the sea? 

" Mast on mast as a tower goes past, and sail by sail as a cloud's 

wing spread; 
Fleet by fleet, as the throngs whose feet keep time with death 

in his dance of dread; 
Galleons dark as the helmsman's bark of old that ferried to 

hell the dead." 

Surely there must be whole pages of such writing that stamp 
themselves indelibly on the memory, and yet — one may easily 
try the experiment — these poems do not stay with us as the 
lyrics of Shelley and Tennyson that almost memorize them- 

In the case of Swinburne, facility of expression actually 
harmed his work. His poetry is often linked sweetness too 
long drawn out. Even while the reader is admiring the 
vigorous sweep of the rhythm, the beauty of a phrase, he 
finds himself unconsciously fingering the pages to see how 
far he is from the end. By the North Sea is a typical piece 
of writing; it contains many beautiful, even superb stanzas, 
yet it would be much more effective if shorter. Again and 
again in Swinburne's work we find not a progression of 
thought or emotion, but merely a progression in the har- 
monies of verse. His melodic gift misleads him. Carried 
along by the music of words, he can not come quickly to his 
climax; it is for this reason, chiefly, that he never succeeded 
as a dramatist. Atalanta in Calydon followed the Greek 
ideas of tragedy ; restraint was virtually forced upon him 
with the result that the poem is his masterpiece. 

In the dedicatory epistle to the first collected edition of 
his poems, he speaks of his art as having its material more 


in common with a musician's than a sculptor's medium. He 
tells us that "there is no music in verse which has not in 
it sufficient fullness and ripeness of meaning, sufficient ade- 
quacy of emotion or of thought," to abide the test of honest 
criticism. While this is true in part, it is also a fact that 
much of the finest verse appeals to the mind's eye as much as 
to the ear. The sea is one of Swinburne's chief sources of 
inspiration ; his rhythms have caught something of the sweep 
and surge of its waves, yet the lines that bring the ocean 
before our eyes do not come from his poems. If we compare 
a stanza from In Guernsey with three lines from Tennyson's 
Eagle, we illustrate the point : 

" Across and along, as the bay's breadth opens, and o'er us 
Wild autumn exults in the wind, swift rapture and strong 
Impels us, and broader the wide waves brighten before us 
Across and along." 

This is felt rather than perceived. We turn to Tennyson: 

" The wrinkled sea beneath Mm crawls; 
He watches from his mountain walls. 
And like a thunderbolt he falls." 

Italy inspired him, but he has left us no such word painting 
of the South as we get in a few lines of De Gustibus or the 
opening stanzas of By the Fire Side. He writes much of the 
earth, but not as one who treads on it ; he sees it as from a 
cloud or as one 

" blown with restless violence round about 
The pendent world." 

There is generally a vagueness in his pictures ; he was inca- 
pable of such a definite and satisfying piece of word painting 
as Rossetti's Silent Noon. This is a serious defect. There 
is a profound significance in the myth of the giant Antaeus 


whose strength was replenished each time he set foot upon 
the ground. 

There is a lack of human interest in much of his work. 
The Armada ode is a magnificent composition, entirely 
worthy of its great subject, yet we turn more frequently to 
Tennyson's song of the bravery of Elizabethan seamen 
because the ballad of the last fight of the Revenge shows us 
what the great ode does not — a man fighting against over- 
whelming odds. No one can be insensible to the tenderness 
and pathos of Swinburne's poems on a baby's death, yet 
how much more poignant is that little poem Dora, by Brown, 
the Manx poet. Swinburne's verses do not bring death home 
to us ; Brown's poem awakens almost a sense of personal loss. 
There are many stanzas of impressive description in By the 
North Sea, but we do not find the peasant or the sailor on 
the shores of Swinburne's ocean. The interest in Robinson 
Crusoe begins not with the pictures of a desolate coast, but 
when a human footprint is seen on the beach. 

Critics have emphasized the fact that Swinburne is the 
direct inheritor of Shelley's revolutionary ideas and of his 
love of liberty. Much like the work of the older poet are 
such Hnes as : 

" Yea, one thing stronger and more high than God, 
Which if man had not, then should God not be: 
And that was Liberty."^ 

yet Shelley in his lyrics comes closer to our experiences than 
does his successor. There is too much of the lofty style and 
too Httle of human nature's daily food. Though he writes 
much of sky and sea, Swinburne appears at times as a recluse, 
as one who lived in the world of books, in a world created 
by his own imagination. It is because he did not lay hold 
on life that Swinburne will never be ranked with the greatest 
Victorian poets. 
1 Thallasius, 



We complained that the intellectual element is too much 
lacking in Swinburne's work; this is the last charge that 
could be brought against the two Oxford poets whose writ- 
ings are the most evident and most attractive manifestation 
of the reaction against the Tractarian movement. Arthur 
Hugh Clough (1819-1861), a favorite pupil of Dr. Arnold 
of Rugby ; a scholar of Balliol and fellow of Oriel, volun- 
tarily left Oxford because he could not believe in the religious 
tenets which officially he was supposed to hold. He trav- 
elled in Italy, spent a few weeks in America, and was for a 
brief period employed in the education department of the 
Privy Council. He did not in his writings fulfill his brilliant 
intellectual promise ; indeed Palgrave, in his sympathetic 
account of the poet, suggests that he lived rather than wrote 
his poem."^ His winning personality, so adequately praised 
in Matthew Arnold's Thyrsis, never fully recorded itself. 

Clough was a thinker rather than a singer, a moralist 
rather than an artist. In the greater part of his writing 
he did not pay sufficient heed to technique. His two sonnets 
are feebly expressed ; the hexameter is used with only toler- 
able success in his Bothie of Tober-na-VnoUch; while his 
lyrics frequently offend the ear with trivial and even dis- 
cordant sounds. To tag his rhymes he indulges in construc- 
tions so awkward that the expression becomes inharmonious 
and the thought obscure. 

" Heaven guide, the cup be not, as chance may be. 
To some vain mate given up as soon as tasted ! 
No, nor on thee be wasted. 
Thou trifler. Poesy I"^ 

he exclaims, and he clearly neglected his art. 

1 F. T. Palgrave, The Poetical Works of Clough, The Muses' Library, 
I^ondon, Prefatory Memoir. 

2 P. 11. 


In the content of his verse, likewise, art counts for but 
little. Both Arnold and Palgrave testify to Clough's great 
love of nature ; to the latter critic, he seemed to have inherited 
a double portion of Wordsworth's spirit. In a Lecture 
Room, a poem that certainly recalls Wordsworth's "One 
impulse from a vernal wood," decries "vain Philosophy" that 
leaves the spirit dead: 

" Unto thy broken cisterns wherefore go. 
While from the secret treasure-depths below. 
Fed by the skiey shower, 

And clouds that sink and rest on hill-tops high. 
Wisdom at once, and Power, 
Are welling, bubbling forth, unseen, incessantly?"^ 

yet Clough does not delight enough in picturing nature for 
its own sake. In the Bothie, that refreshing vacation 
romance filled with the humor, the vigor, the idealism of 
youth, there are many graceful passages picturing mountain 
and glen, shaded pool and foaming water-fall, yet less gifted 
poets have surpassed his descriptions of the beauty of earth. 
What Clough saw chiefly was the world of the spirit. 

Few English poets have been so deeply religious as Clough ; 
in his most characteristic work the moral consciousness 
reigned supreme. Living at a time when scientific thought 
came in conflict with traditional religious belief, he felt it 
his solemn obligation to discover what truth is. This was 
the eager quest of his life. Intellectual honesty forbade him 
to accept the tenets of orthodoxy ; the solutions off'ered by 
the church for the never settled problems of human life and 
destiny seemed to him insincere or inadequate. On the other 
hand, he was never confident of his own conclusions : 

" We! what do we see? each a space 

Of some few yards before his face; 

Does that the whole wide plan explain?"^ 
iP. 4. 
2 P. 55. 


With Arnold, he was a strange mixture of the sceptic and 
one who would fain believe. As Professor Walker pointed 
out, both poets felt strongly the attraction of the old faith 
and the deepest tones in their poetry "are struck by just this 
emotional sympathy with a creed which their intellect com- 
pels them to reject."^ 

" Ah yet, when all is thought and said. 
The heart stiU overrules the head;"^ 

writes Clough, yet he dares not trust his emotions. He was 
determined to walk by sight, yet felt the necessity of faith, 
and the result was uncertainty and doubt. 

" O Good and Great, 
In whom in this bedarkened state 
I fain am struggling to believe,"' 

shows him in a typical mood. 

In discussing Byron, we noticed that his mood is remote 
from our modern attitude of mind. So must we reluctantly 
say of this poet whose world was infinitely removed from 
Byron's. Whatever we may boast of the present age, we 
can not say that the philosophy of religion greatly occupies 
it. Our artistic sense has been highly developed; we love 
nature and hve out of doors ; we are curious for new sensa- 
tions, bold to the point of rashness, restless to the point of 
vagrancy, but thinking too precisely on the spiritual event 
is not one of our traits. On such matters, we prefer not to 
think at all or to let some one else think for us. The average 
reader is not torn by what Clough calls his "mortal moral 
strife," for he is satisfied with an attempt to observe the 
more obvious commands of the decalogue. Clough frequently 
compares a man to a ship at sea, ignorant of its course ; we 

1 Hugh Walker, The Literature of the Victorian Era, Cambridge, 
1910, p. 453. 

2 P. 50. 

3 P. 9. 


know precisely for what port we are embarked. He speaks 
of the mystery of the world ; for us the problem has resolved 
itself into a purely physical one which science is speedly set- 
tling. Even when we abandon our materialistic vantage 
ground and meet Clough, we wish him to fight his way out. 
He has said 

" 'Tis better to have fought and lost. 
Than never to have fought at all," 

and while we assent to this in a general way, we enjoy a 
victory. Surely the call of the world should be to something 
more than 

" To finger idly some old Gordian knot. 
Unskilled to sunder, and too weak to cleave, 
And with much toil attain to half beheve."'^ 

Such a poet sings to a small audience. 

We have said that Clough was not confident of his own 
conclusions, yet he did obtain to what we may call a residuum 
of faith. There are two distinct phases of thought in his 
poetry. In the first, as our quotations have shown, he is 
struggling to believe. His questionings lead only to despon- 
dency : 

" But whoso ponders, weighs, and measures. 
She calls her torturers up to goad 
With spur and scourges on the road."^ 

He can find no abiding place and asks what home has one 
"whose ship is driving o'er the driving sea." From this state 
of mind, he emerges into the dawn if not the sunlight of 
belief : 

1 P. 60. 

2 P. 46. 


" Hope evermore and believe, O man, for e'en as thy thought 

So are the things that thou see'st; e'en as thy hope and 

" Go from the east to the west, as the sun and the stars direct 
Go with the girdle of man, go and encompass the earth. 
Not for the gain of the gold ; for the getting, the hoarding, the 
But for the joy of the deed: but for the Duty to do. 


" Go with the sun and the stars, and yet evermore in thy spirit 
Say to thyself: It is good: yet is there better than it. 
This that I see is not all, and this that I do is but little ; 

Nevertheless it is good, though there is better than it."' 

Our soul becomes entranced by what he calls the "bare con- 
science of the better thing." The seekers for truth will at 
last be united ; though we find at morning that our ship has 
parted from the others during the night, we shall all meet 
in the harbor. This optimism, quiet when compared with 
Browning's, reaches its most convincing expression in 
Clough's masterpiece, "Say not, the struggle naught avail- 
eth." There is a more reticent faith in his finest religious 
lyrics, "What we, when face to face we see," "0 thou whose 
image in the shrine," and "O only Source of all our light," 
in which every syllable is deeply felt and pondered. These 
are poems composed on the battlefield, and they strike home. 
George Herbert, too, went through the valley of despair, 
yet it was his faith in himself that was shaken, not his faith 
in God. Clough pushed his doubts much further, and accord- 
ingly the subjective element in his poems seems deeper. It 
is this spirit, rather than their melody, that brings the poems 
we have just cited within our field of study. Even in "0 

1 P. 48. 


stream descending to the sea," or "Put forth thy leaf, thou 
lofty plane," it is not song that we hear, but the lyric cry. 

The poems of Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) were slow 
in winning their way ; indeed, his first two volumes, appearing 
anonymously in 1849 and 1852, were so little appreciated 
that they were withdrawn from publication. To-day the 
opinion is frequently expressed — and it is probably a correct 
one — that though the greater part of his career was devoted 
to his critical essays, his verse is destined to outlive his prose. 
Certainly he offers in his poetry something that no other 
Victorian singer has given us. 

In the 1853 edition of his poems, Arnold published a criti- 
cal preface that plainly foreshadowed his later writing. He 
discloses in it his ideal of poetry. His admiration is all for 
the "severe and scrupulous self-restraint of the ancients"; 
for their noble simplicity and calm pathos. He believes their 
grandeur which so impresses him consists in their "unity and 
profoundness of moral impression." Modern poetry is prone 
to be incomplete, beautiful in detached passages, and hence 
it lacks art ; its interests are too often temporary ones, it 
does not strike deep enough into human experience.^ If to 
this conception of the superlative importance of art and of 
the intellectual content of verse, we link his famous precept 
that poetry should be a criticism, that is, an interpretation 
of Hfe, and primarily of the life of the spirit, we are prepared 
to find in Arnold's own lyrics a chastened style, thought 
rather than passion, analysis rather than imaginative intui- 
tion. Such indeed is the case. 

The poet was brought up in the tenets of the Church of 
England. His father, Arnold of Rugby, was a man of deep 
faith who exerted on his pupils a profound religious influence, 
for he never doubted that he could point out to his scholars 
the way of salvation. His son had no such confidence, for, 
despite the beauty of the old creed and its appeal to the finest 

1 The Poems of Matthew Arnold, Oxford, 1909, pp. 12-16. 


emotions, he felt it outworn and yet knew nothing that could 
take its place. It was inevitable that this temper of mind 
should breed unhappiness and that his most impressive poems, 
such as Dover Beach or the Stanzas from the Grande Char- 
treuse, should be elegies on our loss of faith. 

It would appear that the safety for a man of Arnold's tem- 
perament would lie in raising the banner of a more liberal 
and rational belief, and to have become the militant apostle 
of a new faith : 

" Hail to the courage which gave 
Voice to its creed, ere the creed 
Won consecration from Time."^ 

In his verse at least he can not do this. He is not sure 
enough of his position ; he is sick of asking, "what I am and 
what I ought to be." For this poet, 

" Wandering between two worlds, one dead, 
The other powerless to be born, 
With nowhere yet to rest my head,"^ 

there would seem to be no creed but pessimism. He tells 
Fausta that our vaunted life is one long funeral ; we are on 
a dark plain where ignorant armies clash by night ; we hear 
no voice to inspire us, for the kings of modern thought are 
dumb. Our bane is a faltering course : 

" Oh that past times would give our day. 
Joined to its clearness, of their force !" 

We may try to lose ourselves in "action's dizzying eddy 
whirled," but we merely rush in vain over the whole earth, 

" And never once possess our soul 
Before we die. 

All this is urged with intense feehng, yet with dignity. The 
voice of the poet's muse is never shrill ; there is no hectic 
ip. 277. 

2 P. 272. 


flush on her cheek as she gazes on modern Ufe with "unwaver- 
ing, deep disdain." 

Utterly removed from the querulous complaint of disap- 
pointed pride or ambition, such writing should bring us to 
a profound melancholy, yet such is not the case. Though 
we may assent to many of his strictures, why do not these 
poems leave us disheartened at the tragedy of life.'' The 
answer seems to be that here, as in so much of his writing, 
the emotional appeal is lacking in force ; in his own words, 
he is 

" Never by passion quite possessed 
And never quite benumbed by the world's sway." 

What Arnold said of Wordsworth is not true of himself, 
"He spake, and loos'd our hearts in tears," and accordingly 
while the effect of reading Arnold's despondent moods may 
be disquieting, it is never discouraging. He does indeed 
prick the iridescent bubble of our self-complacency, of our 
irrational optimism, yet he rarely wounds us. The scholar's 
mind, and Arnold was a scholar-poet, has a certain aloofness 
from the drama of life. Despite his sincerity, we feel that 
he stands on the hill of truth and watches the fighting 
below ; that from the shore, he marks the sea of faith recede, 
and that he is not the swimmer, borne out by the undertow, 
struggling to make the land. In the Hayswater Boat, 
Arnold pictures a battered skiff, with its moldering oars, 
caught by the tide and sent drifting aimlessly down the bay : 

" The rudder swings — ^yet none doth steer. 

What living hand hath brought it here?" 

It is perfectly easy to make of this a symbol of a wrecked 
life, or even of mankind, yet we must read it into the poem. 
Henley, as much of a romanticist as Arnold is a classicist, 
has also written of an "old black rotter of a boat," stranded 
in midstream, "with a horrid list, a frightening lapse from 
line." As he looks at it. 


" the good green earth seemed dying — 
Dying or dead; 

And, as I looked on the old boat, I said: — 
' Dear God. it's I!' '"■ 

This strikes home with a sense of pathos that either was 
beyond Arnold or from which he shrank. In general we feel 
this lack of a strong emotional power throughout his poetry, 
both in his imaginative and in his personal writing. Tris- 
tram and Iseult may challenge a comparison with the best 
of Tennyson's Idylls, yet the last interview of the lovers is 
poorly written ; the emotion never rises to the tragic situation 
and the very metre flags. Hamlet's self-analysis is accom- 
panied with bursts of passion; Arnold's by melancholy. 

So clear a thinker must discover some way of escape, and 
as befits a devoted admirer of Wordsworth, Arnold finds his 
message of hope in nature. After he has drawn in A Slimmer 
Night a depressing picture of man's unmeaning taskwork 
and his vain attempts to gain release from it — -"Madman or 
slave, must man be one?" — the moonht heavens tell him that 
man, if he wishes, may make his soul's horizon boundless. In 
Self-Dependence, a voice assures him that man may attain 
the tranquillity of the unafFrighted, undistracted stars that 
pour all their powers in their own tasks : 

" 'Resolve to be thyself: and know, that he 
Who finds himself, loses his misery.' " 

This doctrine is most beautifully expressed in one of the 
noblest English sonnets. Quiet Work, which reveals Nature's 
message to be "toil unsevered from tranquillity." It is man's 
moral duty to see life steadily and see it whole, for whoever 
does this will "think clear, feel deep, bear fruit well." 

In this brief analysis of Arnold's chief lyric moods, we 
have said nothing of his love poetry. He composed a small 
number of love lyrics, songs of parting and meeting which 

1 W. E. Henley, Hawthorn and Lavender, London, 1901, p. 61. 


if not commonplace are certainly not distinguished. Of these, 
Isolation alone is worthy of him. As he writes of the loneli- 
ness of our lives, he has discovered one of the finest similes 
in modern verse — that of the two islands, once united but 
now severed by "The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea." The 
beautifully wrought simile is characteristic of Arnold's 
writing; two others, that of the tempest-driven mariner in 
A Summer Night, and above aU, that of the Tyrian trader 
at the close of The Scholar Gipsy, rank with the finest ex- 
anlples of poetic illustration. 

Though a more polished writer than Clough, it is the 
subjective rather than the musical element in Arnold's verse 
that places him among our lyric poets. As he avoided rich 
and glowing description, so he shunned the melodies of the 
romanticists. One of his sonnets declares that poetry should 
be austere in speech, and many of his own unrhymed metres 
err in this direction and lack charm. At his best, his verses 
are finely modulated; the Forsaken Merman, on the border- 
land of the lyric, is a triumph in its masterly changes of 
metre; his sonnet on Shakespeare is a notable example of 
dignified, lofty expression. For pure song, his finest is the 
concluding lyric of Callicles in Empedocles on Etna; its 
measure is a difficult one, but the lightly moving verses never 
falter : 

" Not here, O Apollo ! 
Are haunts meet for thee. 
But, where Helicon breaks down 
In cliflf to the sea." 

The greatest lyrical achievement of Arnold is in the ode, 
for surely the Scholar Gipsy deserves that title. Thyrsis, 
his elegy on Clough, is full of the beauty of the country 
about Oxford, 

" that sweet city with her dreaming spires, 
She needs not June for beauty's heightening," 


but his sorrow for his friend is not expressed with as much 
feehng as his lament for the men of his time, the "vague half- 
believers of our casual creeds." The Scholar Gipsy contains 
all the finest qualities of his poetry: his academic spirit, his 
love of nature, his penetrating criticism of modern thought, 
his unconquerable idealism — all expressed in his purest, most 
musical, and loftiest style. If Arnold's fame were to rest 
on any single poem, it would be this one. 


EHzabeth Barrett Browning (1809-1861) is one of the 
strongest personalities of the nineteenth century. Though 
an invalid from girlhood, she had no narrow outlook upon 
the world and in Aurora Leigh eloquently asserted the sur- 
passing interest and significance of the age in which she 
lived. On the other hand, she saw its dark sides, she was 
aroused by the cruelty and the injustice of modern social 
conditions, and her Cry of the Children, reminding us of 
Hood, is a stirring plea against child labor. An idealist, 
neither her own suffering nor the ills of life could shake her 
strong religious faith. Two countries — England and 
Italy — were home to her and both aroused her loyalty ; when 
the Austrians were driven over the border, no one felt more 
keenly the thrill of patriotism that unified a nation. She 
found her inspiration not only in Ufe hut in books, for she 
was a Greek scholar and well read in English poetry. Thus 
she had many of the traits and the gifts that go to the mak- 
ing of a great lyric poet, yet because one was not granted 
to her, very little of her work will endure. She lacked art. 

Her study of Greek did not correct her imperfect sense 
of form. We see this defect most plainly in her verse novel, 
Aurora Leigh. It has a number of striking resemblances 
to that most emotional of romances, Jane Eyre, and these 
are not superficial incidents, but turning points in the plots. 
For example, in both novels the hero's marriage is inter- 


rupted at the very altar in a highly sensational manner ; in 
both novels the hero is bUnded by the burning of his ances- 
tral home. Jane Eyre, however, is much more of an artistic 
whole ; it carries the reader along breathlessly while in Aurora 
Leigh the action is neglected for over-lengthy dialogues and 
discussions. The poem is fuU of keen and even deep comments 
on society and human character; it has many phrases so 
striking that they seem to have come from the pages of our 
finest dramatists ; it is filled with passages of acute and 
sympathetic description — an English garden, a London fog, 
the Paris flower market, Florence seen from Bellosguardo. 
All these fine qualities never hide from us the fact that the 
story is weak in construction, diffuse in method, and super- 
ficial in its character drawing. It lacks art. 

Her lyrics show the same faults : they are long drawn out, 
careless in diction, atrocious in their rhymes. Their thought 
is generally slight and their sentiment is frequently too 
obvious. In the song of imaginations, she is generally unin- 
spired ; she is at her best when she writes of her own feelings. 
The Drama of Exile does not show her finest work, yet its 
choruses are such typical examples of the defects we have 
mentioned that we shall cite one, supposed to be sung by 
angels to the exiled Adam and Eve: 

" Mortal man and woman. 

Go upon your travel! 
Heaven assist the Human 

Smoothly to unravel 
All that web of pain 

Wherein ye are holden. 
Do ye know our voices 

Chanting down the golden.^ 
Do ye guess our choice is. 

Being unbeholden. 
To be barkened by you yet again ?"^ 
1 The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Brovming, Oxford, 1908, 
p. 112. 


This must have made the expulsion from Eden doubly bitter. 
It seems incredible that the same writer should have pro- 
duced, even at a later period, such an imaginative and musi- 
cal lyric as "What was he doing, the great god Pan." 

The Sonnets from the Portuguese contain Mrs. Browning's 
best lyrics. Here the form compelled her to come at once 
to the heart of the matter; she chose the Itahan rhyme 
scheme, and the result justified once again Gautier's advice 
to the artist to select a difficult medium for his thought. 
Yet even here the technique is never remarkable and fre- 
quently lacks distinction ; the sonnets live because of their 
emotional power. 

Written for her husband, these poems are so personal, so 
frank in laying bare her most intimate feeUngs, that they 
give the reader a sense of constraint ; he is overhearing 
whispered vows, he is profaning a sanctuary. Remembering 
their history we can not view them coldly. In the presence 
of this life of the soul, it seems pedantry to speak of art, 
yet we must endeavor to forget the circumstances of the 
composition of these sonnets and read them critically. Why 
is it that we do not turn repeatedly to them.? It is because 
all is emotion, and the tone of the writing becomes morbid; 
it is because introspection is pushed so far that it brings a 
cruel delight in self-abasement. Here again we approach 
Jane Eyre's ruthless examination of her own worthlessness. 
These sonnets have the atmosphere of the sick room in which 
they were written and their feverish tone is too unrelieved. 
It would be hard to find another sequence with so little de- 
scription, by way of adornment or contrast, or as a means 
of illustrating moods. Here indeed is a superabundance of 
that emotion which the Elizabethan sonneteers lacked; in 
fact she repeats an Elizabethan theme : 

" Love me not for comely grace. 
For my pleasing eye or face," 


in "If thou must love me, let it be for nie," but her treatment 
of it has nothing of the old simplicity and lightness of touch. 
We have said that these sonnets live because of their emo- 
tional power and yet we have made these strictures on the 
feelings they disclose. This implies that the collection as a 
whole is written at too high a tension; nevertheless certain 
of the sonnets are worthy to rank with the best that England 
has produced. The finest are numbers one, three, fourteen, 
twenty-five, and above all, forty-three, "How do I love thee." 
With these should be placed one not in this series, the sonnet 
on Grief, "I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless." Her 
simile of the desert may be an obvious one, yet what power 
of suggestion there is in its three lines, while in the impressive 
ending, her style gains an unwonted breadth and strength. 

" Deep-hearted man, express 
Grief for thy dead in silence like to death: — 
Most like a monumental statue set 
In everlasting watch and moveless woe. 
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath. 
Touch it : the marble eyelids are not wet ; 
If it could weep, it woidd arise and go." 

Where Mrs. Browning failed, Christina Rossetti (1830- 
1894!), the sister of the poet of the House of Life, succeeded 
absolutely ; in her work, form and feeling perfectly blend. 
She wrote with ease; her thoughts sung themselves, yet 
fluency never lowered her artistic standards. Her brother, 
W. M. Rossetti, regrets that she was over-scrupulous in her 
spiritual life; in her verse, this trait made her an almost 
flawless artist within the restricted sphere of her work. There 
are no needless rhymes, no unnecessary phrases in her lyrics ; 
she gained her effects quietly, without one superfluous word. 
Unlike Jane Austen in character, she resembled her abso- 
lutely in her exquisite gift of selection and in her sense of 
style. In her religious poems, especially in her carols, she 


has the naivete of the writers of our early English lyrics; 
there is no pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war in 
her religious conflicts. While there is a love of beauty evi- 
dent in all her work, it has nothing of the Pre-Raphaelite 
color or sensuousness. 

In her faultless sense of rhythm, she is worthy to stand 
near Herrick, for though he had a broader nature and a 
wider vision, she has his deHcate ear for the modulations of 
verse, his endless variety of metre, and his economy of phrase. 
Like Herrick also is her avoidance of the greater lyric ; short 
and quick are her songs. Even readers who are not in sym- 
pathy with her prevailing states of mind, are attracted by 
the music of her lines. Forms that are old take on a new 
cadence as she writes them; forms that she invents, surprise 
us by their perfection, not by their novelty, as her lines to 
France written in 1870, in which the same rhyme is repeated 
through every stanza. Never master of the long, slow Une; 
never building up a stately palace of art with Spenserian 
verse, she is past master of the short song that completely 
renders the mood by description or even by mere suggestion : 

" I wish I were a little bird 

Which out of sight doth soar; 
I wish I were a song once heard 

But often pondered o'er. 
Or shadow of a lily stirred 

By wind upon the floor. 
Or echo of a loving word 

Worth all that went before. 
Or memory of a hope deferred 

That springs again no more."^ 

Wordsworth affirmed that "nuns fret not at their convent's 
narrow room," but dramatists tell us otherwise. Christina 

1 W. M. Rossetti, The Poetical Works of Christina Oeorgina Bossetti, 
London, 1904, p. 309. 


Rossetti, ascetic and mystic, was in character a nun; she 
turned from the world believing it to be but vanity of vani- 
ties. It is strange to read that her religious scruples made 
her at eighteen turn aside from the theatre and opera, and 
even from the game of chess; it is pathetic to read that she 
parted from her lover because his religious ideals were not 
her own.^ Not the enjoyment of life but renunciation was 
her creed; several times in her poetry she pictures the Chris- 
tian martyr in pagan Rome. She humbles herself ; she asks 
for the lowest place — and yet from her convent's narrow 
room, to use the image, she sees the beauty of the world and 
loves it; she sees man's devotion and longs for it. It is an 
old theme for a tragedy but it has lost none of its pathos 
whether it appears in her sonnets Monna Irmommata or in a 
slighter song: 

" The door was shut. I looked between 
Its iron bars; and saw it lie, 
My garden, mine, beneath the sky. 
Pied all with flowers bedewed and green."^ 

In some verse entitled Charity, composed when she was 
fourteen, she has imitated, to quote her own words, "that 
beautiful little poem Virtue, by George Herbert," and in 
many of her later lyrics she frequently reminds us of him. 
Like Herbert, she has a series of songs on the festivals of the 
church and saints' days; like Herbert she is impressed with 
her own unworthiness and struggles to gain peace. She did 
not have Herbert's intellectual power ; she was quite incapable 
of such a poem as Man, for instead of searching thought, 
or obstinate questionings, she employs dehcate imagery or 
vivid description, yet no religious poems in the language are 
more penetrating than hers. If she is not more spiritual than 

1 P. liii. 

2 P. 320. 


Herbert in the temper of her mind, she is in her style. One 
of her masterpieces, Sleep at Sea, depicts the indifference of 
mankind drifting on to spiritual death: 

" Soimd the deep waters : — ■ 

Who shall sound that deep? — 
Too short the plummet. 

And the watchmen sleep." 

Herbert would have expressed this thought in a few closely 
packed phrases or in a vivid metaphor ; her imagination is 
so stirred, that the poem has caught something of the magic 
quality of the Ancient Mariner as she sings of the sleeping 
sailors and of the spirits that try in vain to rouse them: 

" One by one slowly. 

Ah how sad and slow ! 
Wailmg and praying 

The spirits rise and go: 
Clear stainless spirits. 

White, as white as snow; 
Pale spirits, wailing 

For an overthrow."^ 

Vanity of vanities is its conclusion, and it is her own view of 
the world. She longs for death because it brings peace. 
There is no shudder as she writes of the grave ; with the sim- 
plicity of the morality plays, she sings in Up-Mll of the 
inevitable end. 

Nature meant more to her than books or art. As she 
made no attempt at a large philosophy of life, so she has 
no desire to. picture the imposing aspects of ocean and moun- 
tain. The wind, the birds, the fruits and flowers, are enough 
for her: 

IP. 155. 


" My heart is like a singing bird 

Whose nest is in a watered shoot: 
My heart is like an apple-tree 

Whose boughs are bent with thickest fruit; 
My heart is like a rainbow shell 

That paddles in a halcyon sea; 
My heart is gladder than all these 

Because my love is come to me."^ 

This lyric, The Birthday, is her one happy love song; 
there is this same note of ecstacy in the opening of To-Day 
and To-Morrow, but the mood quickly changes to 

" I wish I were dead, my foe, 
My friend, I wish I were dead. 
With a stone at my tired feet 
And a stone at my tired head." 

Her fine sonnet, The Pause, with its happy ending, is not as 
typical as "Remember me when I am gone away," "Come to 
me in the silence of the night," or "When I am dead, my 
dearest." In all these poems there is no bitterness or revolt ; 
they are lyrics of resignation not of pessimism. 

We may safely predict that as surely and steadily as Mrs. 
Browning's fame has declined, Christina Rossetti's will grow. 
Mrs. Browning had the larger mind and the wider interests ; 
she attempted greater things, but her success was only a 
partial one. Christina Rossetti's range is exceedingly lim- 
ited ; all her work is in one tone, in one key, but her success is 
absolute. She spoke of the author of the Sonnets from the 
Portuguese as "the great poetess of our own time" ; so far as 
the lyric is concerned, we may with more justice apply that 
phrase to herself. 

It is a natural transition- from the religious lyrics of 
Christina Rossetti to the hymns of the church. Because of 
their music and because of the memories they awaken, their 

1 P. 335. 


appeal is altogether out of proportion to their artistic merit. 
A large percentage of the hymns in any modern collection 
will be found to belong to the eighteenth, not to the nine- 
teenth century, and if we contrast the work of Watts or 
Newton with the religious lyrics of Heber, Keble, and Faber, 
we shall find that the modern writers show more art in their 
metres and in their descriptions, especially of nature, and 
that they offer a more intimate expression of their doubts 
and beliefs. On the other hand, their poems have less of the 
sense of awe ; they are more personal and less sublime. In a 
word, hymnology has felt the influence of the romantic move- 

It would be rash to attempt to decide what modern hymns 
wiU become classics, but a selection of the best and the most 
typical of them would surely include "Forever with the Lord," 
by James Montgomery (1771-1854), "Holy, holy, holy. 
Lord God Almighty," by Reginald Heber (1783-1826), 
"Sun of my soul," by John Keble (1792-1866), "Abide with 
me," by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847), "Lead, kindly 
Light," by Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), "Nearer, my 
God, to thee," by Sarah Flower Adams (1805-1848), "I 
heard the voice of Jesus say," by Horatius Bonar (1808- 
1889), and "Hark, hark, my soul," by Frederick William 
Faber (1814-1863). 

We shall consider as a study in contrasts four poets whose 
works have nothing in common. It is a convenient and a 
striking exposition of the wide range of the modern lyric. 

The first volume published by George Meredith (1828- 
1909) was a book of verse that appeared in 1851 ; his last 
formal publication, A Reading of Life and other Poems, was 
brought out in 1901. Thus for half a century, not satisfied 
with his established reputation as a novelist, he was desirous 
of being numbered among the great poets of his day. He 


had many endowments that justified this ambition. His 
verse is marked by intellectual force, by a tireless energy of 
mind, by imagination and passion. He has the dramatic 
instinct and in Modern Love shows a subtlety of character 
analysis that Browning, except in so long a poem as The 
Ring and the Book, never surpassed. He is a nature lover, 
but he does more than picture the woods and reproduce the 
song of the lark; he has an original and an inspiring phil- 
osophy of life that links closely the earth and man, her son. 
With his equipment, there was every reason to presume that 
he might rank with the chief poets of the Victorian age, yet 
in aU probability very little of his work will endure. Many 
poets have been forgotten because of style misapplied ; Mere- 
dith will be neglected because of style unapplied. 

He has written some of the most obscure poems of the 
century. Compared with many of his pages, Browning's 
most involved passages are fairly lucid. In an appreciative 
and even enthusiastic critique of Meredith's verse, Mr. de 
Selincourt suggests that The Sage Enamoured and the 
Honest Lady "must be read at least twenty times" to be 
understood.^ What baffles us is generally not the subtlety 
or the profundity of the thought but an inexcusable viola- 
tion of the simplest laws of composition. Needless inver- 
sions ; confusing compression or omission of the connecting 
hnks of thought ; the too rapid succession of metaphors ; 
grotesque eccentricities of construction and diction — all these 
faults are too plainly evident. Yet when he wished, Mere- 
dith could write as all true poets must write, with a straight- 
forward appeal to the mind and heart, and then his work 
gained rather than lost in individuality. The Lark Ascend- 
ing; A Night of Frost in May, the best of the sonnets; 
Modern Love; Attila; France, December, 1870, compel our 
admiration not at the twentieth reading but at the first. If 
the study of poetry has taught us anything, it has shown 

1 M. Sturge Henderson, George Meredith, N. Y., 1907, p. 243. 


that neither stimulating thought nor startling originality 
of diction can take the place of clear expression. When 
Meredith chose the wrong path, as he did too frequently, 
he did so deliberately. 

As Meredith's style was new, so were his rhythms. He 
dehghted in avoiding measures proved worthy by long tradi- 
tion and his poetry contains numerous experiments in metre. 
In Modern Love, he uses, in place of the sonnet, a sonnet-like 
form of sixteen lines. In this case, the innovation is a suc- 
cess, but on the whole he does not show in his new forms the 
poet's instinct for the line and stanza that alone fit his 
thought. A sure test of a writer's sense of form is the manner 
in which he varies the rhythm of a poem, as Tennyson does 
in Maud or The Lotos-Eaters. Judged from this stand- 
point, Meredith's odes, even France, show an absence of the 
artistic sense. FitzGerald once said that Tennyson's In 
Memoriam had "the air of being evolved by a Poetical 
Machine of the highest order." This criticism would be a 
fair one if transferred to many of Meredith's attempts to 
discover new metres. 

" When by Zeus relenting the mandate was revoked, 
Sentencing to exile the bright Sun-God, 
Mindful were the ploughman of who the steer had yoked, 
Who : and what a trace showed the upturned sod !" 

In this over-emphasis of accent, we seem to hear "the very 
pulse of the machine," yet in this same poem are such musical 
verses as: 

" Water, sweetest soother to kiss a wound and cool, 
Sweetest and divinest, the sky-born brook. 
Chuckled with a whimper, and made a mirror-pool," 

for as his diction can be above reproach, so his lines can be 
splendidly harmonious. From the Hymn to Colour we take 
this imaginative stanza that would have delighted Spenser: 


" Look now where Colour, the soul's bridegroom, makes 
The house of heaven splendid for the bride. 
To him as leaps a fountain she awakes, 
In knotting arms, yet boundless: him beside, 
She holds the flower to heaven, and by his power 
Brings heaven to the flower." 

yet we fall from this to cacaphony in: 

" With thee, O fount of the Untimed ! to lead ; 
Drink they of thee, thee eying, they unaged 
Shall on through brave wars waged." 

There is the same contradiction in his metres that there is 
in his style. 

The number of lyrics in Meredith's poetry is not large. 
Occasionally he tried to write snatches of song, to give to a 
mood or fancy light and graceful expression; we even find 
him writing anapests — and they are poor ones. Two of the 
shorter lyrics deserve to be remembered: Woodland Peace, 
and Song in the Songless, so exquisite in its rhythm that it 
resembles the best work of the neo-Celtic school. Of his 
sonnets, the best are Earth's Secret, Internal Harmony, The 
Spirit of Shakespeare, and above all, Lucifer vn Starlight. 
Of the last one, we may assert that Milton himself would have 
been proud to own it, for it has caught the exalted spirit of 
his epic. It is sublime in its conception and magnificent in 
its expression. Modern Love — ^his greatest work — is one of 
the most subtle and moving tragedies in English verse. Its 
"sonnets," dramatic and to a greater degree analytic, are 
rarely lyrical; the lovers are no longer "beneath the singing 
sky of May," and when we first see them they are struck by 

" that fatal knife. 
Deep questioning, which probes to endless dole." 

Yet two of the "sonnets" at least, and they are among the 
best of the sequence, belong to our study, "Mark where the 
pressing wind shoots javelin like" and "We saw the swallows 


gathering in the sky," two elegies expressing hopeless 
despair. The first opens with a description of wind and 
waves and has no parallel in English verse, and ends with 
the agonising cry : 

" In tragic life, God wot. 
No villain need be ! Passions spin the plot : 
We are betrayed by what is false within." 

The second is equally poignant, for though it is composed 
in a quieter strain it but shows the calmness of a spirit that 
knows the fatal stroke will not long be delayed. 

Love in the Valley is the best known of all his lyrics. When 
it first appeared in the Poems of 1851, Tennyson wrote that 
he had gone up and down stairs repeating it, and that he 
wished it had been his own ;^ Stevenson has said that the 
stanza beginning "When her mother tends her" haunted him 
and made him drunk like wine. This picture of the young 
girl seen against the background of the four seasons is char- 
acteristic of Meredith's best work only in its original metre 
and its vivid descriptions ; it lacks his incisive thought. We 
would not say of it that "pure description takes the place 
of sense," yet it would be even more of a masterpiece if we 
felt in it more of the poet's mind. In its first version it con- 
sisted of but eleven stanzas ; in adding fifteen more to it, 
Tennyson felt that Meredith had spoiled it. We could ill 
afford to lose some of the later stanzas, yet the poem as it 
now stands is somewhat over-sensuous. If it surprises, it 
also tires us by a fine excess. 

In Meredith's odes there is no lack of thought, but the 
shaping intelligence is not evident enough. They are full 
of high sounding and imaginative phrases ; one discovers in 
them any number of splendid individual lines, but the final 
impression of such an ode as Napoleon is that of strength 
ill used. France is by far the best of the series. It has 

1 T. H. Warren, The Centenary of Tennyson, Oxford, 1909, p. 20. 


force, nobility of thought, and a lofty expression, but in 
many a passage the spirit of song droops and falters. It 
has the epic rather than the lyric quality. 

Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1844-1881) had a metrical gift 
which seemed to so excellent a judge as Palgrave "the finest, 
after Tennyson, of any of our later poets." His first volume 
was cordially received; he was given a place next Rossetti, 
and critics believed that England had produced one more 
poet to continue her great tradition of song. It was real- 
ised that the substance of his verse lacked strength, but it 
was hoped that the years would bring the philosophic mind 
and that he would have something to say which would be 
worth "the garment of perfect poetic speech," to quote from 
a contemporary review. Time would give him a wider out- 
look and a deeper sympathy with life. This hope was never 

Our great poets have had something new to offer us in 
their style as well as in their thought and emotion. The end- 
less variety of human experience will never be even partially 
recorded in verse. O'Shaughnessy never had a firm hold on 
life ; his forte lay in the other direction, in giving us dreams 
and reminiscences of emotion rather than the emotions them- 
selves. There is something exotic in all that he wrote : 

" We are the music makers. 

And we are the dreamers of dreams. 
Wandering by lone sea-breakers. 

And sitting by desolate streams; — 
World-losers and world-forsakers. 

On whom the pale moon gleams: 
Yet we are the movers and shakers 

Of the world forever, it seems."'^ 

To this band of singers he certainly belonged. His vein of 
ore is a very narrow one and in the greater part of his work 

I Music and Moonlight, London, 1874, p. 1. 


we feel constantly disappointed at the poverty of the subject- 
matter. He repeated himself too frequently and the critics 
who heralded his coming, ended by pronouncing him insin- 
cere. Every writer, if he has anything worth saying, repeats 
himself but always with some difference in thought or manner. 
After having written Hamlet's great soliloquy on death, we 
should have imagined that Shakespeare never would have 
composed another. In Measure for Measure he returns to 
the same theme, but here the speaker is a coward and 
Claudio's thrilling lines, inspired by a fear that destroys all 
sense of shame, have little in common with Hamlet's thoughts. 
We do not imply that O'Shaughnessy should have resembled 
Shakespeare ; we point out merely that he lacked the dramatic 
instinct which the finest lyric poets have always felt and that, 
in consequence of this, he never varies his tone. 

It has been suggested that O'Shaughnessy would have 
achieved his greatest distinction by translating French verse 
into English. He was well known in Paris ; he was a great 
admirer of French literature ; and he had made many of the 
Latin principles of art his own. He felt that England needed 
more of art for art's sake ; "correctness of form," he wrote, 
"is virtue. Beauty is all God's gift and man's mastery." 
Despite this, he lacked the restraint of a true artist and his 
lyrics are greatly improved by excisions. In the second part 
of the Golden Treasury, a volume which missed Tennyson's 
guiding hand, Palgrave has included seventeen of O'Shaugh- 
nessy's lyrics ; no other poet, except Tennyson himself, is 
represented by so large a number. Palgrave, however, has 
not only printed practically every lyric of value, but has 
skillfully condensed them. O'Shaughnessy's complete works 
are a disappointment. 

When we have praised the poet's music, we have said 
the final word. It is all pitched in one key: it is plaintive, 
dreamy, charmingly pathetic, but never poignant or inspir- 
ing. His life was saddened by the death of wife and chil- 


dren and all his work is melancholy in tone. The Foimtain 
of Tears; The Spectre of the Past, with its evident reminis- 
cence of De Musset; even his love songs are written in a 
minor strain: 

" She entered with her weary smile. 

Just as of old; 
She looked around a little while, 

And shivered at the cold. 
Her passing touch was death to all, 

Her passing look a blight: 
She made the white rose-petals fall. 

And turn'd the red rose white."^ 

In much that he writes we hear echoes of other poets. In 
Love's Eternity is almost the converse of the Blessed Damozel, 
for it shows us the lover, not the maiden, waiting in heaven. 
Some lyrics have a suggestion of Poe; the Song of Palms 
offers that beauty of description which Leconte de Lisle and 
his contemporaries cultivated. 

It seemed a fatahty that kept O'Shaughnessy from his 
rightful place among the Victorian poets, for he could always 
sing. In music we may listen entranced to a song in a 
strange tongue; in poetry we are not satisfied long with 
mere melody. 

Coventry Patmore (1823-1896) began his poetic career 
as an admirer of Tennyson. One stanza from The River, 
written when he was sixteen, shows his discipleship : 

" The sheep-bell tolls the curfew time ; 

The gnats, a busy rout. 
Fleck the warm air ; the distant owl 

Shouteth a sleepy shout; 
The voiceless bat, more felt than seen. 

Is flitting round about."^ 

ip. 39. 

2 Basil Champneys, Poems by Coventry Patmore, London, 1909, p. 402. 


From this to his Odes is a far cry. If Patmore had con- 
tinued to write in this style, many others would have sur- 
passed him ; but choosing a new form and a firmer and less 
florid tone for his lyrics, he disclosed an individuality which 
will win for him as times goes on more and more readers. 

Sargent took the poet as his model for Ezekiel in his 
frieze of the prophets and there was an appropriateness in 
this, for Patmore considered himself a seer and a teacher. 
He believed that it was given to him to expound an old, and 
yet for our days, a new doctrine of love. Ardent Catholic 
and exalted mystic, he saw in human love a faint type of 
the love of Christ for the soul. In his eyes, passion was 
sanctified by this and he did not hesitate to depict it in some 
of the boldest writing in our poetry. In this conception of 
love, he is far removed from any poet we have considered; 
he has something of Crashaw's spirit — though nothing of 
his fluency, in the odes at least — ^but as a mystic, he soared 
far beyond his predecessor. 

If the eighteen poems in the second book of The Unknown 
Eros are written, as he admitted, "in a dead language"; if 
the analogies which he draws between the earthly and the 
heavenly repel more often than they attract, the odes in the 
first book come very close to human experience and thought. 
Their realism is so true and so intense that we seem to be 
taking part in a tragedy rather than to be hearing a poet 
sing. There is nothing here of the fluent and shallow senti- 
mentalism of The Angel in the House; here are no artful 
dirges sung over Love's grave, but the cries of a stricken 
soul. His wife's death inspired The Azalea and Departure, 
two of the most pathetic poems in the language. It is a sign 
of greatness that in Patmore's odes the simplest event gains 
a significance which we attach to some unusual or terrifying 
catastrophe. An azalea that his wife had tended, wakens him 
in the night by its fragrance, after her death ; his little child 


whom he had struck, "His Mother, who was patient, being 
dead," puts by its bedside: 

" A box of counters and a red-veined stone, 
A piece of glass abraded by the beach 
And six or seven shells, 
A bottle with bluebells 

And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art. 
To comfort his sad heart. "^ 

From these slight incidents, he has gained in the Azalea and 
The Toys the most poignant effects. There is all the in- 
tensity of Donne in Departure and as Gosse has remarked, 
there is much of Donne's spirit in the poet's grief that he 
heard no last good-bye; this afflicts him even more than the 
thought of her death : 

" But all at once to leave me at the last. 
More at the wonder than the loss aghast. 
With huddled, unintelligible phrase. 
And frightened eye. 
And go your journey of all days 
With not one kiss, or a good-bye. 

And the only loveless look the look with which you passed: 
'Twas all unlike your great and gracious ways."^ 

Our quotations have shown the peculiar structure of his 
odes, as irregular as any Pindaric but much more compact. 
Gosse finds in them a resemblance to the Italian canzone, 
though in reading them we miss both the song quality and 
the beauty of phrase of the Italian. At times harsh in dic- 
tion and grotesque in imagery, they have a sincerity of feel- 
ing and a strength of tone that is all too rare in the lyric 
of the present day. 

1 P. 287. 

2 P. 285. 


William Barnes (1801-1886) was a Dorsetshire clergy- 
man. Self-educated, devoted to the history and traditions 
of his shire, he was even better known as a philologist than 
as an antiquarian. Above all else, he valued the dialect of 
Dorset, pointing out with pride its superiority of vocabulary 
and construction over English, of which it is a distinct branch 
and not a corruption, and in Dorsetshire speech he composed 
his best work. He published in 1868 Poems of Rural Life, 
in Common English, but the collection as a whole is thin in 
quality though it contained such lyrics as The Mother's 
Dream (worthy of Blake), The Wind at the Door, Joy Pass- 
ing by, and Plorata Veris Lachrymis which has the simplicity 
of Cowper: 

" How can I live my lonesome days.'' 
How can I tread my lonesome ways ? 
How can I take my lonesome meal? 
Or how outlive the grief I feel? 
Or how again look on to weal? 
Or sitj at rest^ before the heat 
Of winter fires^ to miss thy feet. 

When evening light is waning ?"'^ 

Sprung from the soil, Barnes thoroughly understood the 
Dorset peasant. He aimed to reproduce not only his lan- 
guage, but the turn of his mind and his very emotions, and 
he succeeded. The metres of the poems are too skillfully 
handled to suggest peasant song. Barnes is fond of employ- 
ing the refrain, that favorite device of folk poetry, and the 
ones he uses are the very simplest, "When birds be still," 
"Moonlight on the door," "Sleep did come wi' the dew," but 
there is little of the uncouth swain in his rhythms. In the 
content of his verse and in his language, Barnes is a realist 
of the highest order; his poems are the truest pastorals of 
the century. 

1 P. 197. 


This is to infer that these lyrics of peasant life have a 
limited range. Unlike the Corydons of Elizabethan pastoral, 
these farmers hold no literary or religious discussions ; they 
have no great ambitions, but are contented with "their 
destiny obscure." They enjoy the flowers and the fields; 
they appreciate the physical comforts of their homes; they 
fall in love ; they weep over the dead. The simplicity of 
these poems is equalled by their sincerity of tone; the poet 
does not obtrude himself to explain or to moralise but seems 
to be recording songs he has overheard. He is most effective 
in his pensive moods : 

" We now mid hope vor better cheer, (may hope) 
My smilen wife o' twice vive year. 
Let others frown, if thou bist near 

Wi' hope upon thy brow, Jeane; 
Vor I vu'st lov'd thee when thy Ught 
Young sheape vu'st grew to woman's hight; 
I loved thee near, an' out o' zight. 
An' I do love thee now, Jeane."'^ 

There is nothing of the ardor of Bums in this ; although the 
two poets have been compared, their natures were essen- 
tially different. 

The majority of writers use dialect as a mere ornament; 
with Barnes, it is the very warp and woof of his verse. For- 
tunately, as our quotation shows, the Dorset speech offers 
no difficulties that might hinder the reader from enjoying 
this "genuine, original, exquisite Singer." 


We have saved for the closing pages of the chapter two 
writers of light verse. Whatever definition we may hold of 
poetry, we certainly believe it must give pleasure. Judged 

1 T. Hardy, Select Poems of William Barnes, London, 1908, p. 23. 


by this standard, the Lyra Frivola which has ever added to 
the enjoyment of life, deserves, if we may use the phrase, 
our serious consideration. 

In his anthology of light verse, Lyra Elegantiarwm, 
Locker-Lampson, has given the best definition of this genre. 
"Genuine vers de societe and vers d'occasion should be short, 
elegant, refined, and fanciful, not seldom distinguished by 
chastened sentiment, and often playful. The tone should 
not be pitched high ; it should be idiomatic, and rather in the 
conversational key ; the rhythm should be crisp and sparkling 
and the rhyme frequent and never forced, while the entire 
poem should be marked by tasteful moderation, high finish, 
and completeness: for, however trivial the subject-matter 
may be, indeed rather in proportion to its triviality, subordi- 
nation to the rules of composition and perfection of execu- 
tion should be strictly enforced The two qualities of 

brevity and buoyancy are absolutely essential The 

chief merit of vers de societe is, that it should seem to be 
entirely spontaneous. At the same time, it is right to observe 
that this absence of effort, as recognized in most works of 
real excellence, is only apparent ; the writing of vers de societe 
is a difficult accomplishment." The writer of light verse 
must express his sentiment, his wit, his emotion, in a careless 
tone but in the most finished form. He assumes a nonchalance 
that he does not feel. Humor is no essential element in this 
genre; indeed, light verse is more prone to cause a sigh than 
a smile. 

Locker-Lampson observes that though many poets have 
attempted to compose light verse, they have produced little 
that deserves remembrance. We notice that anthologists are 
compelled to eke out their collections with poems that are 
anything but vers de societe. The latest book of light verse 
reprints Sidney's "Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love 
to show"; Shakespeare's sonnet, "Who will believe my verse 
in time to come"; Jonson's "Drink to me only with thine 


eyes"; Lovelace's To Althea and To Lucasta; Herrick's To 
Dianeme and To Meadows; Blake's To the Muses and "Never 
seek to tell thy love"; Wordsworth's The Tables Turned; 
Browning's The Lost Mistress} Not one of these lyrics has 
the qualities of light verse ; either their emotion is too strong, 
their thoughts too far-reaching, or their art too elevated. 
Typical examples of light verse are Prior's "Dear Chloe, 
how blubbered is that pretty face" ; Gray's Ode on the Death 
of a Favourite Cat; Cowper's Gratitude; Praed's Letter of 
Advice; and to come to the period we are considering, the 
poems of William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) and 
of Frederick Locker-Lampson (1821-1895). 

The light verse of Thackeray possesses the qualities which 
Locker-Lampson demanded, save one. His poems are con- 
versational in tone, they touch the emotions lightly, but they 
are not remarkable for their finish, though they are not 
carelessly written. In Bouillabaisse, the poet sitting in a 
Paris restaurant, an old haunt of his student days, recalls 
his lost friends. It is the same theme that Lamb has touched 
in The Old Familiar Faces, a poem too serious, too pathetic 
for society verse; in Thackeray's lines the poet's reveries of 
"the kind old voices and old faces" can not turn to melan- 
choly, for "Here comes the smoking Bouillabaisse." In The 
Cane-Bottomed Chair, an unhappy romance is lightly 
sketched. We are taken to the bachelor's lodgings beneath 
the chimney-pots and are shown his curios and belongings, the 
most precious of all being "a bandy-legged, high-shouldered, 
worm-eaten seat." It was here that "Saint Fanny, my 
patroness sweet" once sat: 

" It was but a moment she sat in this place, 
She'd a scarf on her neck, and a smile on her face ! 
A smile on her face, and a rose in her hair, 
And she sat there, and bloomed in my cane-bottomed chair. 

1 R. M. Leonard, A Book of Light Verse, Oxford, 1910. 


" When the candles burn low^ and the company's gone, 
In the silence of night as I sit here alone — 
I sit here alone, but we yet are a pair — 
My Fanny I see in my cane-bottomed chair. 

" She comes from the past and revisits my room; 
She looks as she then did, all beauty and bloom; 
So smiling and tender, so fresh and so fair. 
And yonder she sits in my cane-bottomed chair." 

In his Letters to Dead Authors, Andrew Lang calls Thack- 
eray the first of English writers of light verse, but consider- 
ing the small number of poems he has given us, this is over- 
praise. What little we have shows a fine and generous spirit 
and a feeling that never verges on sentimentality. For more 
such lines we would willingly exchange many pages from the 

Locker-Lampson writes with the utmost regard for form 
and finish ; every epithet, every rhyme is well considered, and 
in this small realm of verse he is a thorough artist. His 
London Lyrics have more wit and humor than Thackeray's 
poems, for such broad burlesques as The Ballads of Police- 
man X do not concern us. Piccadilly, Pali Mall, Rotten 
Row are his Elysian fields, and he delights in the comedy of 
Vanity Fair: 

" Philosophy halts, wisest counsels are vain. 
We go, we repent, we return there again; 
To-night you will certainly meet with us there — 
So come and be merry in Vanity Fair !"^ 

yet there is nothing of Worldly-Wiseman in his spirit. He 
is ever on the borderland of romance, and tenderness, even 
pathos, is not far distant when he writes of The Government 
Clerk or The Widow's Mite. If it is but a step from the 

1 London Lyrics, 7th ed., 1874, p. 33. 


sublime to the ridiculous, it is but half a step from laughter 
to tears. 

Thackeray's Cane-Bottomed Chair has its counterpart in 
My Neighbour Rose. 

" Though walls but thin our hearths divide. 
We're strangers dwelling side by side; 
How gaily all your days must glide 

Unvex'd by labour ! 
I've seen you weep, and could have wept; 
I've heard you sing, (and might have slept!) 
Sometimes I hear your chimney swept. 

My charming neighbour ! 

The poet watches her grow from girlhood to womanhood ; he 
sees from his window the coming of her hero, 

"joyous twenty- two, 
Who sent bouquets and billets doux. 
And wore a sabre," 

and finally her wedding procession : 

" What change in one short afternoon, 
My own dear neighbour gone, — so soon ! 
Is yon pale orb her honey-moon 

Slow rising hither? 
Lady! so wan and marvellous. 
How often have we communed thus ; 
Sweet memory shall dwell with us, — 
And joy go with her!"^ 
IP. 63. 

The Lyeic of To-Day 

Before we come to the poets who continue to-day the suc- 
cession of lyrists, we turn to a group of writers who have 
died but recently and whose works belong distinctly to the 

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) told in prose what 
might well have been expressed in poetry. He recorded in 
his essays and, above all, in his familiar letters the questions 
and decisions, the discouragements and enthusiasms which 
so often have inspired lyric verse. If all Stevenson's writ- 
ings, excepting his correspondence, were to be destroyed, 
his place among the English classics would be secure. His 
letters possess the highest charm of style, a delightful fas- 
cination in their self-portraiture, and an intense human 
interest. We accept them gratefully, and yet we can not 
refrain from wishing that he had turned more frequently 
to song. 

It is needless to enlarge upon Stevenson's consummate art, 
his dramatic instinct, his child-hke love of life. Madame 
Zassetsky's remark to him — "mais c'est que vous etes tout 
simplement enfant" — was literally true ; he was fitted by 
nature to write the finest child lyrics in the language. 
Although songs of childhood had been composed before, 
Stevenson's work is thoroughly original. Marvell and Prior 
pay courtly compliments to a beautiful girl; Stevenson does 
not tell us how a child looks, but what it thinks and feels. 
Earlier poets had seen in childhood the age of innocency ; 
they looked regretfully on their "angel days," and con- 
trasted them sorrowfully with the darkened present. Steven- 


son never treated youth as a foil to age. Other writers had 
given to children a deep though unconscious spiritual appre- 
hension ; with Vaughan the child spies heaven in a flower ; 
with Blake it finds a symbol in a lamb. Stevenson is truer 
to life. 

We are all in turn romanticist and realist. In The Child's 
Garden of Verses we find the contrast between the matter- 
of-fact and the imaginative view of life. The poet under- 
stood perfectly the tendency of a child's mind to link the 
small and great : 

" It rains on the umbrellas here. 
And on the ships at sea;" 

he is a realist as he describes the child's intense delight in 
the flowers, the trees, and the wind. When the imagination 
moves him, the boy does not dream of heaven, but is perfectly 
content to make a boat of the bed, a ship of the stairs. In 
every line is the zest of childhood, for Stevenson disdained 
to mar the golden age with a touch of pathos, although 
greater poets have done this. Many writers would have given 
a different ending to The Sick Child in Underwoods. As the 
thoughts in these lyrics are those of children — not one is 
beyond their reach — so is the language, with scarcely a 
phrase which a child does not use naturally. The art dis- 
played in the diction is shown also in the metres ; The Swing, 
Bed in Summer, Where go the boats. My bed is a boat, are 
constantly set to music, for they are pure song. 

In his other lyrics, Stevenson writes with the same clear, 
simple style, with the same indefinable charm. There are no 
flights of imagination or passion in his love songs, in "I will 
make you brooches and toys for your delight" or Youth and 
Love; there are no deep ponderings on life or nature in a 
Song of the Road or A Visit from the Sea; even when he 
writes of his own moods, as in the exquisite "Sing me a song 
of a lad that is gone," the emotion has little in common with 


the outpourings of the romantic school. These lyrics, written 
with no stirring appeal, linger in the memory when many 
greater songs are forgotten. At times Stevenson recalls 
Herrick, as in the envoy to Underwoods; in many poems he 
reminds us of MarveU's "witty delicacy"; but in his finest 
lyric there is hardly a note caught from English or Scottish 
singer. His Requiem is such a triumph of simplicity that 
every word seems inevitable. In this unadorned style Word- 
worth himself wrote nothing more moving and, knowing 
Stevenson's nature, we may say nothing more true. 

It is a far cry from the simpHcity and buoyancy of Steven- 
son's verses to the poems of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) and 
Ernest Dowson (1867-1900). Modem life continually sur- 
prises us with its studies in contrast, yet it would be hard 
to find anything further separated from the Child's Garden 
than the fleurs de mal of these two poets. Dowson's nature 
was the more lyrical, but Wilde had by far the stronger and 
the more brilliant personality and we shall consider him first. 

Wilde's most characteristic work was done in prose, in his 
frankly artificial comedies, masterpieces of sheer cleverness, 
and in his greatest piece of writing, De Profundis, the 
requiem of a ruined life. His verse shows neither the wit 
and art of his plays, nor the pathos, the tragic depths of 
his confession. In his earliest poems he followed a well- 
beaten path when he wrote of Italy, but his best work, espe- 
cially in his sonnets, describes not the 

" purple mist and gleam 
Of morning on the Apennines," 

but the gloom in his own soul. In a typical sonnet, Easter 
Day, he draws two pictures, one of the "Holy Lord of 
Rome" borne in splendor through the crowds, the other of 

" One who wandered by a lonely sea. 
And sought in vain for any place of rest."^ 
i Poems by Oscar Wilde, London, 1892, p. 50. 


The lines are picturesque, the phrasing is admirable, yet 
we can not help feeling that what chiefly interested Wilde 
was a striking contrast. In much of his poetry the art is 
too evident, yet there is the ring of sincerity in E Tenebris 
when he writes : 

" My heart is as some famine-murdered land, 

Whence all good things have perished utterly, 
And well I know my soul in HeU must lie 
If I this night before God's throne should stand."' 

or in another sonnet in which he cries out against himself 
because his life is scrawled with idle songs when he might 
have trodden the heights and "struck one clear chord to 
reach the ears of God." Equally sincere is Requiescat, 
whose six stanzas combine the grace of Herrick with the 
more intense note of modern song: 

" Tread lightly, she is near 
Under the snow. 
Speak gently, she can hear 
The daisies grow. 

" CofBn-board, heavy stone. 
Lie on her breast, 
I vex my heart alone. 
She is at rest."^ 

The downfall of Wilde produced both his greatest piece 
of prose and his greatest poem. The Ballad of Reading 
Gaol bears the stamp of genius. It is the most terrifying 
poem of the century. We go back to the Elizabethans, to 
the scene between Othello and Desdemona in the fourth act 
of the drama, to find such shuddering fear, such a laying 
bare of the brutaUty of life. To match its realism, we must 

ip. 51. 

2 P. 37. 


turn to the Russian novel. There is a grim irony in the 
poem when we remember that its ballad metre was employed 
by Rossetti in The Blessed Damozel. Here are no dreams 
of Paradise, not even a ray of sunlight, but on horror's 
head horrors accumulated. As a whole, this ballad can not 
be brought within our field of study, yet throughout it the 
feehng is so intense that the poet can not restrain himself 
to a bald narration of the tragedy. The "lyric cry" has 
become a hackneyed phrase, yet for certain passages in this 
poem, it is the only one to use. 

" In Reading gaol by Reading town 
There is a pit of shame. 
And in it lies a wretched man 

Eaten by teeth of flame, 
In a burning winding-sheet he lies, 
And his grave has got no name. 

" And there, till Christ call forth the dead. 

In silence let him lie: 
No need to waste the foolish tear, 

Or heave the windy sigh: 
The man had killed the thing he loved, 

And so he had to die. 

" And aU men kill the thing they love. 

By all let this be heard. 
Some do it with a bitter look. 

Some with a flattering word. 
The coward does it with a kiss. 

The brave man with a sword l"^ 

In his sympathetic memoir of Dowson, Symons declares 
that the poet was undoubtedly a man of genius, yet it is 
hardly probable that time will confirm this friendly estimate. 

1 The Ballad of Beading Gaol, London, 1898, p. 31. 


After a short residence at Oxford, Dowson passed the greater 
part of his life in France and the influence of French poetry 
is perceptible in all his work. His master is Verlaine; we 
should know it even though Dowson had never translated 
one of his lyrics. In his best work, Verlaine was a subtle 
invoker of moods and reveries, a musician who touched the 
emotions rather than the intellect. By the harmony of his 
lines, by a suggestion of some dim-described image "ou 
I'imprecis au precis joint," he charms rather than inspires 
us. His meaning is more often felt than apprehended. Thus 
in Clair de Lime he compares a woman's soul to a landscape 
fiUed with maskers, playing the lute and singing, and in the 
closing stanza he tells us that their songs mingle with the 
moon-beams : 

" Au calme clair de lune triste et beau. 

Qui fait rever les oiseaux dans les arbres, 
Et sangloter d'extase les jets d'eaux, 

Les grands jets d'eau sveltes parmi les marbres." 

Every reader will have his own conception of this woman's 
soul; on the contrary, there can be no doubt as to the type 
of woman depicted in Wordworth's "She was a phantom of 
delight." It is this power of Verlaine's to sing a song that 
re-echoes in the mind, to write a lyric in which "more is meant 
than meets the ear," that stamps him a man of genius. Dow- 
son's lyrics are not so freighted with suggestion. Symons 
believes that "he had the pure lyric gift, unweighted or unbal- 
lasted by any other quality of mind or emotion ; and a song, 
for him, was music first, and then whatever you please after- 
wards, so long as it suggested, never told, some delicate sen- 
timent, a sigh or a caress."^ His music, however, is too 
faint; his delicate sentiments are not far-reaching in their 

1 The Poems of Ernest Dowson. With a memoir by Arthur Symons, 
London, 1906, p. xxvi. 


appeal. Even when he translates Verlaine, the force of the 
lyric seems to vanish: 

" Qu'as tu fait, 6 toi que voila 
Pleurant sans cesse, 
Dis, qu'as tu fait, toi que voila, 
De ta jeunesse?" 

" What hast thou done, who comest here. 
To weep alway? 
Where hast thou laid, who comest here. 
Thy youth away?"'^ 

The magic has gone. 

The theme of Dowson's poetry is his own line "Exceeding 
sorrow consumeth my sad heart." Driven by a suicidal 
impulse to seek relief from the tadium vita in narcotic and 
stimulant, he wore his life away. His lyrics are the poetry 
of exhaustion : 

"late I come, long after lily-time. 
With burden of waste days and drifted rhyme;" 

the verse of a man 

" tempest-tost, and driven from pillar to post, 
A poor worn ghost." 

Nature appears to him in her mournful moods ; April weeps 
because she knows that autumn and winter will bring all to 
barrenness ; his garden is a garden of sorrow. Throughout 
his work there is no relief and his last word is 

" O pray the earth unfold 
Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust." 

He sighs rather than sings; his best quality is a plaintive 
music, a grace of expression. If any of his lyrics are found 
in the anthology of this century, it will doubtless be his 
ip. 139. 


Non sum qualis eram bonce sub regno Cynarae, for it is an 
epitome of all his work: 

" I have forgot much, Cynara ! gone with the wind, 
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng, 
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind; 
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion. 

Yea, all the time, because the dance was long: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara ! in my fashion."^ 

Of the later Victorian poets, William Ernest Henley 
(1849-1903) was the greatest personal force. Though a 
cripple, he was unsubdued by physical suffering and fairly 
flung himself into the literary and artistic life of his day. 
London, The Scots Observer, The New Review, The Maga- 
zine of Art, were all for a time under his management, and 
though he was unsuccessful as an editor, he rendered an 
invaluable service to contemporary letters by discovering and 
encouraging new writers. He is said to have been the first 
critic of distinction who recognized the genius of Meredith; 
he was one of the first to welcome Kipling, who resembles 
Henley in many of his qualities though he never equals him. 
In the field of art, he fostered and inspired the critical writ- 
ings of R. A. M. Stevenson ; he proved himself a valiant friend 
and a courageous champion of Rodin. He ranged over a 
wide field — art, music, the drama, belles-lettres— and the 
seven volumes of his collected writings do not include all his 
work. As a critic, he was interesting and stimulating, 
though too often governed by his prejudices. He is seen at 
his best in his essay on Burns, yet his most penetrating 
and vigorous prose does not possess the intrinsic value of 
his verse; it is for his lyric poetry that Henley will be 

With the writers of his generation, led by Austin Dobson 
and Edmund Gosse, Henley felt the attraction of French 

IP. 28. 


verse forms. What Wyatt and Surrey could not do, our 
modern poets have accomplished : they have made the rondeau 
a perfectly familiar metre, and we may say as much of the 
villanelle and the ballade. Even the Restoration writers, who 
might be expected to look with favor on all things French, 
cared nothing for these graceful measures. The two ron- 
deaux of Cotton, the triolets of Carey, are but rare excep- 
tions to their general disregard of French lyric forms. In 
1650 there was published at Paris the Nouveau Recuml de 
divers Rondeaux, in two parts. It did not inspire imitation 
on the other side of the Channel, and not until quite recently 
were there enough English rondeaux to form even a small 
collection. Henley's poems in French metres are most suc- 
cessful. His rondeau, "When you are old" ; his rondel, "The 
ways of death are soothing and serene" ; his ballade On Mid- 
summer Days and Nights and the one of A Tot/okuni Colour 
Print, anticipating the Japanese poems of Noyes, have much 
more than their finish and their style to recommend them. 
They do not show, however, the real essence of Henley's 

In 1873-1875 Henley was a patient in the Old Infirmary 
of Edinburgh. Unsubdued by suffering, he did not seek to 
escape from his surroundings by a flight of the imagination 
but with senses pretematurally alert, shaped the material for 
In a Hospital, a startlingly truthful record of all he saw and 
felt. Many of the twenty-eight poems in this series are 
purely descriptive, such as the well-known sonnet describing 
Stevenson. There are, however, a number of unrhymed 
lyrics. Operation, Vigil, Ave Ccesar, Music, Nocturn, Dis- 
charged, which showed unmistakably a new genius in English 
song.' This uncompromising realist found nothing common 
or unclean in the most dismal experience of the sick ward; 
he fashioned his verses from materials that no one had used 
before. Nothing that we naturally expect to find in lyric 

1 The Works of William Ernest Henley, London, 1908, vol. I. 


verse is offered to us. Instead of the scent of flowers, we 
have the smell of the anaesthetic reaching "hot and subtle 
through your being"; or when he is discharged, 

" The smell of the mud in my nostrils 
Blows brave, — like a breath of the sea !" 

He listens not to the song of birds but to the tunes of the 
barrel organ in the street or "at the barren heart of mid- 
night," hears the dripping of a cistern. Other poets have 
felt their hearts leap up at beholding the sky or the ocean ; 
for Henley the "beautiful world" is in the spell of the streets, 
the roar of wheels, the long line of grey houses. Elsewhere 
in his lyrics he is the laureate of the city. He brushes away 
all the conventions and traditions of EngUsh poetry and finds 
his inspiration in the very pavements and the crowds that 
throng them. His London Volwntaries are so lyrical, so 
thrilled with his spirit, that they are odes. The Thames, the 
Parks, Trafalgar Square in the glow of the setting sun, stir 
him as deeply as Italy affected the romantic poets. In his 
songs he never avoids the obvious happenings of life, the 
common sights and sounds. 

" I took a hansom on to-day 

For a round I used to know — 
That I used to take for a woman's sake. 
In a fever of to-and-fro."^ 

As we read the lyric, the trivial first hne becomes as full of 
meaning as Sidney's 

" Having this day, my horse, my hand, my lance 
Guided so well, that I obtained the prize." 

Other poets have given us realism in the analysis of feeling ; 
Henley brings us face to face with the most ordinary aspects 
of life. 

1 Vol. II, p. 38. 


The French and Russian novelists have taught us that 
men become disillusioned when they look too closely at life, 
when they see things as they are and not through the veil of 
fancy. At times realism has seemed but another term for 
pessimism. The most insistent note in Henley is the joy of 
life; this is his "brave, irresistible message." 

" ' Life is worth living 

Through every grain of it, 
From the foundations 
To the last edge 
Of the cornerstone, death.' " 

or again: 

" Life-life-life ! 'Tis the sole great thing 
This side of death."^ 

His lyrics fairly tingle with vitality. His song is boisterous ; 
"they shouted it over the bar," he writes ; and surely it is in 
no quiet mood that he declares "I am the master of my fate," 
or returning to his favorite theme, demands 

" Life — give me life until the end. 
That at the very top of being. 
The battle-spirit shouting in my blood, 
Out of the reddest hell of the fight 
I may be snatched and flung 
Into the everlasting lull. 
The immortal incommunicable dream."^ 

The calm of the artist is not for him ; there is a superb sense 
of motion and of force in nearly everything he writes. Such 
a dream as 

" Or ever the knightly years were gone 
With the old world to the grave," 

1 Vol. I., p. 219. 

2 P. 222. 


has the same energy we find in his songs of the present: 

" I saw, I took, I cast you by, 

I bent and broke your pride. 
You loved me well, or I heard them lie, 

But your longing was denied. 
Surely I knew that by and by 

You cursed your gods and died.""^ 

Even in death he seeks no sleep, but wishes to be buried in 
the sea that he may roam with the waves in "brotherly 

To understand Henley, so a critic has affirmed, we must 
realize that his character was elemental and essentially primi- 
tive. Certainly his lyrics reveal no complex nature ; in many 
ways he was like a child and shouted for joy or cried for 
pain. There is little reflection in his writings ; he does not 
stop to ask himself why he has these emotions ; his songs are 
accordingly the direct and impulsive expression of his moods 
and passions of the moment. In their spirit, they remind 
us of our earliest English lyrics, of "Winter wakeneth all 
my care," and kindred poems, for though their expression 
is more resourceful and more beautiful, Henley's poems have 
the same outspoken delight in life and love, the same joy in 
the coming of spring. He likewise resembles our first lyrists, 
not in what we may call the art of nature, but in its life. 
Though the poet of the city and its types, he too longed to 
go a-Maying and sang of the country. He loved the sea 

" that breaks and glooms and swings 
A weltering, glittering plain;" 

he believed that the earth "utters her joy in a million ways," 
and he heard it : 

iP. 171. 


" The nightingale has a lyre of gold. 
The lark's is a clarion call. 
And the blackbird plays but a boxwood flute. 
But I love him best of all. 

" For his song is all of the joy of life. 

And we in the mad, spring weather. 
We too have listened till he sang 
Our hearts and lips together."^ 

He catches in a phrase the bit of sky or field, the moving 
cloud or bird that delights him : 

'^' Gulls in an aery morrice 

Circle and swoop and close." 

He is always the lyric poet and what he sees is not so impor- 
tant as what he feels. 

Henley believed in the joy of life and he lived his creed; 
he never allowed disappointment, pain, or even death to 
daunt him. He bids us praise the "generous gods" for 
giving "unto all the joy of life"; he tells us that the very 
sun seems glad to shine and that life should thrill us with 
its bounty. The song he would have made of himself when 
he is dead must tell that 

" early and late. 
Glad ran the days with me."^ 

When his task is accomplished and he is gathered to the 
quiet west, there will be in his heart "some late lark singing." 
Yet he felt the desolation of sorrow. There are no more 
pathetic lines in recent poetry than the epilogue to his wife, 
picturing his lost child calling to him across the grave. 

1 Vol. I, p. 142. 

2 Vol. II, p. 58. 


In one of his most ringing poems, Henley appeals to us to 

" Think on the shame of dreams for deeds, 
The scandal of unnatural strife. 
The slur upon immortal needs. 
The treason done to life."^ 

No such reproach could be laid at his door ; he found himself 
and his own message. Whatever impulse he may have 
received from Heine and Whitman, with whom he has been 
compared frequently, he is one of our most individual poets. 
If we consider their variety, he has written the finest un- 
rhymed lyrics in the language; he has sounded a protest 
against the over-refinement and artificiality of modem verse ; 
he has enlarged the scope of the lyric. His songs, musical, 
true in feeling, vivid yet simple in expression, are not as he 
called them 

" Poor windlestraws 
On the great, sullen, roaring pool of Time 
And Chance and Change."^ 

They are rather those enduring monuments of which many 
lyrists have spoken but which very few have ever reared. 

All that Henley represented made little or no appeal to 
Francis Thompson (1859-1907). He had known the life of 
the city streets and the memories of that "night-mare time" 
haunted him, yet he seldom pictures it in his poetry. When 
he writes of London, he sees not the men and women that 
stirred Henley's imagination, but a Jacob's ladder "Pitched 
between Heaven and Charing Cross." Thus he never throws 
himself into the life about him, but seeks to escape it for a 
world of dreams and high imaginings. He is a poet, to quote 
his own line, who "lives detached days." If his early career 
was unfortunate, he was peculiarly happy, as his genius was 

1 Vol. I, p. 215. 

2 P. 239. 


unfolding, in being received into a home devoted to art and 
letters. The names of Wilfrid and Alice Meynell are forever 
linked with his, for without their friendship and inspiration 
it is doubtful whether his spirit would have found utterance. 
The first page of Thompson that one opens discloses a 
highly artificial diction. He is an avowed beauty-worshipper 
but never content with the beauty in the obvious or common- 
place : 

" I disdain 
To count the beauty worth my wish or gain 
Which the dull daily fool can covet or obtain."^ 

This is seen at once in his language. He is a seeker of 
gorgeous phrases ; what Sir Thomas Browne was in prose, 
he is in verse. Keats, we remember, looked upon fine phrases 
as a lover, but his greater art kept him from that fantastic 
revel of sound in which the modern poet too frequently 
indulges. There could be no sharper contrast possible than 
exists between Keats's exquisite picture of autumn "sitting 
careless on a granary floor," and the personification that 
Thompson offers us : 

" Tanned maiden ! with cheeks like apples russet. 

And breast a brown agaric faint-flushing at tip, 
And a mouth too red for the moon to buss it 
But her cheek unvow its vestalship; 
Thy mists enclip 
Her steel-clear circuit illuminous, 
Until it crust 
With the glorious gules of a glowing rust."^ 

He compares his poetry to a treasure galleon and the simile 
is an apt one, for he has plundered the riches of the older 

1 Selected Poems of Francis Thompson. With a Biographical Note 
by Wilfrid Meynell, London, 1909, p. 43. 

2 P. 64. 


poets and made them his own. At times he takes the whole 
measure and Drayton's Shepherd's Sirena becomes his Car- 
rier Song; at other times he has caught merely a striking 
epithet. Yet though his diction is over-elaborate and his 
thoughts correspondingly involved, back of it all is the ever- 
compelling force of his feeling. This seems paradoxical yet 
so is the appearance of such a spirit, a greater Crashaw, 
in this day of realism, this age that prizes action above the 

No description of Thompson's style can do it justice. He 
may remind us at times of Spenser, of Donne, of Crashaw, 
of Rossetti, yet his manner is distinctly individual. He loves 
the pomp and pageantry of language. He employs the con- 
ceit, as did the metaphysical poets, but his diction is more 
magnificent than theirs : 

" When, like the back of a gold-mailed saurian 

Heaving its slow length from Nilotic slime, 
The first long gleaming fissure rmis Aurorian 
Athwart the yet dun firmament of prime. "^ 

A better example is offered by The Poppy : 

" Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare. 
And left the flushed print in a poppy there: 
Like a yawn of fire from the grass it came, 
And the fanning wind puffed it to flapping flame. 

" With burnt mouth red like a lion's it drank 
The blood of the sun as he slaughtered sank. 
And dipped its cup in the purpurate shine 
When the eastern conduits ran with wine."^ 

He writes often of nature but we are more interested in what 
he thinks he sees, than in the sky or the landscape spread 
before him. His style is at its best not when he seeks to 

ip. 22. 
2 P. 3. 


reproduce the aspects of the outer world but when he ex- 
presses thoughts and feelings so high or subtle that they 
would seem to defy speech or when self-confession impels a 
more direct manner. To see this, one has only to read those 
superb lines from Sister Songs describing the child-woman: 

" Wild Dryad ! all unconscious of thy tree. 

With which indissolubly 
The tyrannous time shall one day make thee whole; 
Whose frank arms pass unfettered through its bole: 

Who wear'st thy femineity 
Light as entrailed blossoms, that shall find 
It erelong silver shackles unto thee. 
Thou whose young sex is yet but in thy soul ; — 

As hoarded in the vine 
Hangs the gold skins of undelirious wine, 
As air sleeps, till it toss its limbs in breeze : — 

In whom the mystery, which lures and sunders, 

Grapples and thrusts apart, endears, estranges, 
— The dragon to its own Hesperides — 

Is gated under slow-revolving changes. 
Manifold doors of heavy-hinged years. ""^ 

Equally beautiful, and more moving because of the personal 
appeal, is the passage from the same poem in which he speaks 
of his outcast days when he 

" endured through watches of the dark 
The abashless inquisition of each star," 

or his description of himself and of his fears in the Lines to 
the Dead Cardinal. 

There are obvious dangers in employing such a style. To 
use the poet's own phrase, "My figured descant hides the 
simple theme"; there is little song quality in these odes, 
though there is music. As Narcissus became enamored of 
his own image, so the poet is led astray by the sound of his 

1 P. 26. 


own voice. Thompson was an ascetic, the gospel of renun- 
ciation was the word heaven spoke to him, but there is no 
austerity in his verse. Though admiring it, we weary of its 
elaborate imagery, of its revelry of color, of its "gong and 
cymbals' din," and, to quote Watson again, we crave "a living 
voice, a natural tone." Such a keen critic of nineteenth cen- 
tury literature as Professor Walker even goes so far as to 
question whether in the end Thompson's Hoimd of Heaven 
will have the appeal of Daisy, one of his simplest poems, 
almost Wordsworthian in tone yet nearer our own time in its 
touch of mysticism, its far-reaching hints of loss and hope: 

" The fairest things have fleetest end: 
Their scent survives their close. 
But the rose's scent is bitterness 
To him that loved the rose ! 

" She went her unremembering way. 
She went, and left in me 
The pang of all the partings gone, 
And partings yet to be."^ 

We have called Thompson a greater Crashaw and indeed 
he surpasses him in brilliancy of technique as well as in the 
significance of his thought. He has something of the earlier 
poet's morbid spirit. He feels the call of the world yet he is 
forbidden to enjoy it; he is to be beauty's hermit, gazing 
from a cell on distant loveliness ; he believes that life unshared 
was ordained him that through pain of loneliness his song 
might be sweeter. Yet with Crashaw, he dreams of a sup- 
posed mistress, but without his calm of vision ; with Spenser, 
beauty is a religion to him, yet he has nothing of Spenser's 
serenity. In his moods of dejection, like Donne he thinks 
of his grave and shakes to the wind that waves the grass 
upon it. He has not fought his way to the heights from 

iP. 2. 


which he can look down with contempt on the kingdoms of 
this world. An American critic has remarked that the poet's 
distress "is aggravated at once by the impatience and uncer- 
tainty of his faith, impatient in its clamour for the heavenly 
rapture, uncertain whether this rapture is to be obtained 
by a repudiation of the flesh or 'by that embrace of the body 
and spirit, Seen and Unseen,' as he calls it."^ Nowhere is 
this so poignantly expressed as in those stanzas in which he 
asks whether his great desires are "food but for nether 
fires," whether he must finally 

" Through sacrificial tears, 
And anchoretic years. 
With the sensualist ?" 

This conflict between things temporal and things eternal, 
between man and God, is most magnificently shown in his 
ode. The Hound of Heaven, the flower of modern catholic 
poetry. The theme, the pursuit of the soul by God, is no 
new one. We find it in the Psalms; the very title is almost 
suggested by a passage in Aurora Leigh describing Truth: 

" I, Aurora, still 
Have felt it hound me through the wastes of life 
As Jove did lo; and until that Hand 
Shall overtake me wholly and on my head 
Lay down its large unfluctuating peace, 
The feverish gad-fly pricks me up and down."^ 

If the theme be old, its treatment is new, for no English poet 
has so combined a conception Miltonic in its sweep, with an 
expression as beautiful and as personal as Shelley's: 

1 P. E. More, Shelburne Essays, seventh series, N. Y., 1910, p. 160. 

2 Seventh Book. 


" I fled Hinij down the nights and down the days ; 
I fled Him, down the arches of the years ; 
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways 

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears 
I hid from Him, and under running laughter. 
Up vistaed hopes I sped; 
And shot, precipitated 
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears. 

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. "^ 

We may say confidently that already Thompson's place 
among English poets is secure; whether it be so high a one 
as his friends have claimed may well be questioned. Milton 
has said that poetry should be simple, sensuous, and pas- 
sionate. Sensuous and passionate these poems certainly are ; 
they lack that highest gift, an inevitable simplicity. 

John Davidson (1857-1909), after a brief career as school 
teacher and clerk, came to London in 1890 to win his fortune 
by his pen. It was a hard experience, the old story of worth 
by poverty depressed, and it is significant that three of his 
most pathetic lyrics are entitled From Grub St.^ He chose 
to cast them in French forms and they are all the more 
touching because we have associated the rondel and villanelle 
with gayer moods. Though a man of infinite courage, over 
much that he wrote falls the shadow of gloom and of tragedy. 
He was an unsparing worker, he produced some twenty 
books — novels, plays, lyrics — yet his audience was always 
a limited one. Worn out by his tasks, believing himself to 
be struck with a hopeless malady, he threw himself into the 

Browning's line, "I was ever a fighter," might well have 
been Davidson's device. The son of a Scottish clergyman, he 
conceived it to be his mission to overthrow not merely the 
stricter Calvinism in which he was reared but all religions, 

1 Selected Poems, p. 51. 

^In a Music Hall and other Poems, London, 1891, p. 25. 


and to set up in their stead a new gospel, a new materialism, 
though that word does not adequately describe it. This 
became with him not simply a determined purpose but an 
obsession; again and again he rings the changes on the 
havoc wrought by Christianity. This revolt against accepted 
belief appears in song and eclogue; it is set forth with the 
greatest feeling in his tragic Ballad in Blank Verse of the 
Making of a Poet, in which much of his own experience 
seems interwoven.^ It led him far astray. He was a lyric 
poet of unusual gifts. He felt the music, the witchery of 
words ; he loved the colors and sounds of nature ; he was 
inspired by the greatness of the present age ; he was exult- 
ingly confident of man's progress and final triumph. Such 
a temperament would find its best expression in song but his 
doctrine of materialism made him in the end a preacher, a 
controversialist, a bitter arraigner of society. In his last 
volume, the lyric note had almost ceased. 

Davidson's poetry possessed the rare combination of 
strength and delicacy. It had a force and vitaKty which in 
its best expression is positively thrilling. We feel this not 
only in his oft-expressed rebellion against the modern order- 
ing of life, but even in his pictures of nature: 

" The adventurous sun took Heaven by storm; 
Clouds scattered largesses of rain; 
The sounding cities, rich and warm. 

Smouldered and glittered in the plain."^ 

There is no better hunting song in the language than his 
ballad of A Rwnnable Stag.^ We could imagine that the 
stanzas came to him while galloping against the wind; in 
their sense of motion at least they surpass Browning's How 
they brought the good news from Ghent to Aix. The rush 

1 Ballads and Songs, London, 1895, p. 7. 

2 P. 53. A Ballad of a Nun. 

3 Holiday and other Poems, London, 1906, p. 14. 


and impetus of Davidson's verse is one of its rarest qualities, 
yet he knew as few have known the woods, the flowers, and 
the birds, and he sings of them in a spirit far removed from 
the turmoil of his ballads. 

As Wordsworth and his followers discovered nature, within 
the last two decades a group of poets has discovered the 
city, "London the unknown," richer than the ocean floor and 
its treasure house, insolent and beautiful, a place of infinite 
horror and despair, of infinite courage and felicity. David- 
son was one of this band, for with Henley, who certainly 
influenced him, he finds beauty in the thronged streets, in 
the noise of the traffic, in the city half hidden in the mist 
and fog, or bathed in the light of sunrise or sunset. Tenny- 
son's great lyric has almost a counterpart in his song: 

" ' Oh sweetheart^ see ! how shadowy, 

Of some occult magician's rearing, 

Or swung in space of heaven's grace 
Dissolving, dimly reappearing. 

Afloat upon ethereal tides 

St. Paul's above the city rides !' 

" A rumour broke through the thin smoke 

Enwreathing abbey, tower, and palace. 

The parks, the squares, the thoroughfares. 
The million-peopled lanes and alleys. 

An ever-muttering prisoned storm. 

The heart of London beating warm."'^ 

In the last analysis Davidson is a realist rather than a roman- 
ticist and he gives us not merely visions of the city but etch- 
ings in which even its sordid aspects are not hidden. But 
above the unfolding panorama of London, its vast power 
stirs him; it is the living symbol of England's greatness to 
this poet, as ardent a patriot and imperialist as KipHng 

1 Ballads and Songs, p. 86, London. 


The volume of Davidson's which has the greatest promise 
of long life is his Fleet Street Eclogues, an unassuming little 
book which, in English at least, has no rival. Here, in the 
heart of London, at all seasons of the year, a few men meet 
to sing of themes ranging from England's greatness to the 
tragedy of heredity, for science deeply influenced this poet. 
Whatever the subject may be, very shortly one and all are 
chanting the praises of the country Hfe they have just left 
and to which they long to return. Many pages of these 
eclogues are merely a series of nature songs, for it is char- 
acteristic that the beauty of earth moves Davidson so pro- 
foundly that he can not describe it or moralize upon it — he 
must sing it. Because of his creed, nature, matter glorified, 
stirred him to his depths. He endeavored to put his most 
enduring thoughts in his so-called Testaments. In the 
Testament of a Man Forbid, the poet proclaims the worth- 
lessness of art, philosophy, and religion : 

" The rainbow reaches Asgard now no more; 
Olympus stands untenanted; the dead 
Have their serene abode in earth itself. 
Our womb, our nurture, and our sepulchre. 
Expel the sweet imaginings, profound 
Humanities and golden legends, forms 
Heroic, beauties, tripping shades, embalmed 
Through hallowed ages in the fragrant hearts 
And generous blood of men ; the climbing thoughts 
Whose roots ethereal grope among the stars, 
Whose passion-flowers perfume eternity, 
Weed out and tear, scatter and tread them down; 
Dismantle and dilapidate high heaven."^ 

For this he is banished from his fellows. Despairing, he 
turns to the earth and finds a refuge in the hills that over- 
look the sea, in the pageant of spring, in all the changes 

1 The Testament of a Man Forbid, London, 1901, p. 11. 


of the year. To no recent poet has the beauty of nature 
brought more delight or more solace. 

It is Davidson's misfortune that at times the fires of his 
mind smouldered and did not melt the gold from the ore. 
Merely from the point of taste, there are many lapses in 
his work and there is need of rescuing the best from much 
that was published too hastily. Time, the safest critic, will 
eventually do this. Davidson will not be forgotten, for his 
verse has much of that force which he admired in the hfe 
of the city, much of that beauty which he discovered in the 
life of nature. 


Of the living poets, we shall consider but seven, and first of 
all, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (b. 1840). He is interesting 
because so much of his work is in the sonnet form, which he 
employs for narrative in Esther, and for a study of emotions 
in the Love Sonnets of Proteus. More than any other metre, 
it has brought out his best qualities. His Love Lyrics, writ- 
ten in many different measures, lack charm, though one song 
at least from this series has attracted composers. "Oh for 
a day of Spring" is the exultant expression of a familiar 
theme : 

" Oh for a day of youth, 

A day of strength and passion, 

Of words that told the truth 

And deeds the truth would fashion! 

I would not leave untasted 

One glory while it lasted."^ 

As a sonneteer, Blunt is not distinguished for his technique. 
He believed that the Petrarchian rhyme scheme is not adapted 
to our language and he accordingly invented a new one; 
it has not found favor. The musical element in his verse is 
1 Esther, Love Lyrics, and Natalia's Resurrection, London, 1893, p. 62. 


the slightest one. We have noticed, however, that an intense 
moment, a sudden vision of the imagination will often find an 
expression that is ordinarily beyond the poet's reach and 
there are times when Blunt's sonnets attain a style that is 
admirable. To give but a single instance, the two descrip- 
tive sonnets entitled The Sublime are well worthy of their 

In the preface to A New Pilgrimage the poet regrets that 
unlike the Italians of the fourteenth century, we do not 
make the sonnet "the vehicle of our daily thoughts about 
daily affairs as well as that of our profoundest utterances 
in religion, love and politics." This he desires to do and he 
accordingly gives us not a series of pictures but of expe- 
riences. With a simplicity, a frankness, and a force, at 
times disconcerting — for rightly or wrongly the Anglo- 
Saxon is reserved where the Latin poets find nothing to con- 
ceal — he tells in Esther the story of another des Grieux or 
in Proteus shows another Manon. The ringing note in these 
poems is their pitiless sincerity. Henley considered that they 
disclosed more plainly than any other writing of the age a 
poet's personality and experience.^ The simple and even 
homely vocabulary ; the strict avoidance of the gilded phrase 
or skillful epithet; the striking absence of studied contrasts 
give to these verses the very impress of reality. 

The Love Sonnets of Proteus are Blunt's best claim to 
remembrance. This book, first issued anonymously, dis- 
closed in the plainest speech a life not governed by 

" a smooth and stedfast mind, 
Gentle thoughts and calm desires." 

On the contrary, he had "gambled with his soul"; he had 
pawned his heritage; he had tasted the fruit from the tree 

1 The Love Sonnets of Proteus, fourth edition, London, 1898, pp. 113- 

2 The Poetry of Wilfrid Blunt, selected and arranged by W. E. Henley 
and George Wyndham,, London, 1898, p. v. 


of knowledge of good and of evil and found it but poison. 
He is sick and travel-worn ; he calls himself 

" the latest fool of Time, 
Sad child of doubt and passionate desires," 

yet there is no trace of Dowson's pale cast of thought in 
these verses. With the intensity of Hamlet, he cries out upon 

" Lame, impotent conclusion to youth's dreams 
Vast as all heaven !" 

He is a fatalist and considers man a foolish worm that can 
not change its lot : 

" Behold, the flower-pot 
Of fate is emptied out, and one by one 
The fisher takes you, and his hooks are blind." 

The inevitable summing up of life is his exclamation "There 
is no comfort underneath the sun." This, then, is the old 
Weltschmerz expressed in modern phrase. Such writing has 
the bitter flavor of Meredith's Modern Love; indeed, many 
of Blunt's lines could appear undetected in the earher 
sequence. His tragic conclusion 

" We planted love, and lo it bred a brood 
Of lusts and vanities and senseless joys," 

might be the text for both writers. 

These sonnets are not aU despairing; they have at least 
their happy moments. St. Valentine's Day, describing a ride 
on the downs ; A Day in Sussex, praising nature the con- 
soler; Gibraltar, thrilling with patriotism, show that the 
poet can forget what he has called The Mockery of Life, 
yet these moods come rarely.' 

In a sonnet entitled On Reading the Memoirs of M. 
D'Artagnan, Blunt longs to be a "ruffler in the camps of 

1 Proteus, Nos. L., LXXVIII., CVI., LXIX.-LXXI. 


Mazarin," and regrets that he was bom in these degenerate 
times to a sad heritage 

" Of fierce desires which cannot fate control. 
Of idle hopes life never can assuage.""^ 

He would turn his steps backwards to escape the present. 
Austin Dobson (b. 1840) dwells in "the past Georgian day" 
and writes of an old Sedan chair or of Beau Brocade, not 
because he is embittered and wishes to forget modern life, 
but because he has made the eighteenth century his own and 
moves in it as naturally as one to its manner bom. In his 
prose, in biography and essay, he has shown us the life and 
thought of that period; in his verse, he discovers for us the 
poetry of an age we have considered eminently prosaic. 

This implies that Dobson's verse is written in a library 
rather than in the open air. He is a reminiscent writer and 
appeals most strongly to one who knows Horace and Prior, 
to those who appreciate the art of French metres. As Lang 
has put it: 

" A little of Horace, a little of Prior, 
A sketch of a Milkmaid, a lay of the Squire — 
These, these are "on draught' 'At the Sign of the Lyre !' 

" A lai, a pantoum, a ballade, a rondeau, 
A pastel by Greuze, and a sketch by Moreau, 
And the chimes of the rhymes that sing sweet as they go."^ 

There is nothing of modern realism in such work. If the 
pathos of life is there, its sordidness, its tragedies are care- 
fully hidden. He would rather captivate our fancy and call 
up delightful reveries than stir our feelings ; consequently 
his appeal to the past has little that the romantic novelist 

iNo. LXV. 

2 A Review in Rhyme, in Grass of Parnassus, London, 1888, p. 62. 


offers us. No one is further from the pedant than Dobson; 
he has always worn his learning lightly, and yet only a 
student could have caught this atmosphere of old Paris or 
old London, precisely as only the most careful workman 
could have written his ballades and what are probably the 
best rondeaux in the language. 

All that Dobson has written possesses charm. "Assume 
that we are friends," he tells the reader, and indeed he need 
not have said it, for we are friends at once without this invi- 
tation. He has Prior's gift of putting himself immediately 
en rapport with his audience. This intimacy is increased by 
his avoidance of the higher style ; there are few long flights 
in his verse. He has understood perfectly his limitations as 
well as his gifts; he is happy in his own realm and conse- 
quently there is no unevenness in his work. More important, 
there is no dull level of mediocrity in it, for in every line that 
he writes, Dobson is an artist. This it is that gives to his 
poetry its attractiveness and its value. The finest living 
writer of vers de societe, he lacks Praed's wit and Thack- 
eray's humor, but he surpasses both of his predecessors in 
the finish of his work. He has taken to heart Gautier's 
lesson : 

" Leave to the tiro's hand 

The limp and shapeless style; 
See that thy form demand 
The labour of the file."' 

He has what Herrick called a "terse Muse." In all his word- 
pictures, not a syllable is wasted ; in all his songs, there is no 
meaningless note. 

We have compared Dobson with Prior and in one point 
especially these two poets resemble each other: the lyric is 
not their chief form. Dobson's feeling is not superficial yet 

1 Ara Victrix, in Old-World Idylls, London, 1893, p. 206. 


it is not deep enough to demand song; there are not many 
times when, to quote his own words, 

■' the pent sensation 
Leaps to lyric exultation 

Like a song-bird from a grave."^ 

A Httle group of lyrics show what he could do when he wished 
a more musical form — A Song to the Lute, The Ladies of 
St. James, The Milkmaid, A Garden Song, A song of the 
Four Seasons, and we must not omit the song in "Good- 
Night, Babette !" for which he has provided such an exquisite 

Andrew Lang is the most versatile of modern Enghsh 
writers. He has won well-deserved distinction as an essayist, 
poet, historian, translator of Homer, a writer of romances, 
a student of primitive religions and folk-lore. Indeed what 
has he not written, if we except the realistic novel to which 
he is a sworn foe.'' He turns from fishing to the Homeric 
question, from golf to Celtic mythology, and what is more 
astonishing, he has invariably something worth saying. He 
is the standing exception in our day to the rule that rapid 
writing makes poor reading. 

For his lyric verse, he has studied under the best masters— 
the poets of the Greek anthology, Charles D'Orleans, Villon, 
Marot, Du Bellay, Ronsard. If for nothing else, he would 
be remembered for his translations. To give but three typi- 
cal examples, it would be difficult to improve upon his ren- 
dering of Ronsard's De Velection de son Sepulchre, Belleau's 
Avril, and Du Bellay 's Chanson du Vanneur. His love for 
French verse is reflected in many a poem; it is shown most 
delightfully in his series of ballades, grave and gay, written 
with the most facile pen. If not one of them is a master- 
piece, Lang himself has pointed out that "no man since 

1^ Revolutionary Relic, in At the Sign of the Lyre, London, 1894, 
p. 49. 


Fran9ois Villon has been immortalized by a single ballade — 
Mais O'd, sont les neiges d'antanf"^ 

This poet is a skilled musician who can play deftly for all 
moods. If the muse of Dobson wears an arch smile, the muse 
of Lang indulges in heart-easing mirth. He knows just 
how far to carry parody — what could be neater than his 
answer to Jules Lemaitre's Britannia? — and his gayety and 
wit have given him a place with our best writers of hght 
verse.^ He has, however, never allowed his wit to rule his 
poetry. To see his lyric style, one should read his Scythe 
Song, a bit of pure melody ; Desiderium, a low-pitched dirge 
that strikes home ; Alma Matres, one of the sincerest poems 
university life has inspired; and Homeric Unity, his best 
sonnet, though he does not admit it.' But the poet is at his 
best when he plays on the old theme of romance. He loves 
to linger in "Le Vieux Chateau de Souvenir," and proclaim 
that "King Romance has come again." Two poems in this 
mood will be long remembered : "My love dwelt in a Northern 
land" and the less known Lost Love. 

" Who wins his Love shall lose her, 

Who loses her shall gain. 
For still the spirit woos her, 

A soul without a stain; 
And Memory still pursues her 

With longings not in vain ! 

" Oh, happier he who gains not 

The Love some seem to gain: 
The joy that custom stains not 

Shall still with him remain. 
The loveliness that wanes not, 

The Love that ne'er can wane. 

1 Introduction to reprint of Ballades and Rhymes, London, 1911. 

2 Ban and Arri^re Ban, London, 1897, p. 45. 

3 Grass of Parnassus, p. 55; Ballades and Rhymes, pp. 143, 139, 181. 


" In dreams she grows not older 

The lands of Dream among, 
Though all the world wax colder. 

Though all the songs be sung. 
In dreams doth he behold her 

Still fair and kind and young."'- 

The value of the lyrics of Robert Bridges (b. 1844) has 
not been adequately recognized. On this side of the Atlantic 
at least, he is known but by the few songs published in anthol- 
ogies. His verse is certain to reach a wider audience and 
eventually win for him a place among the foremost lyrists 
of the whole line of singers. As he sings of reflection and not 
of action, his appeal will never be a popular one. His quali- 
ties are not of a kind to force a hearing and he has chosen 
to live quietly, almost in retirement. Much of his work, his 
plays for example, despite many fine passages scattered here 
and there, have chiefly an academic interest, and it is possible 
that they have somewhat obscured his songs. The second 
volume of his Poetical Works is worth all the rest, for it con- 
tains lyrics that Campion, Herrick, and Blake would have 
been proud to own. 

We are at once attracted in these lyrics by the exquisite 
taste of the poet. He writes of the best in nature and life in 
the choicest words that language can offer. He is gifted 
with what seems an instinct for the right phrase, expressing 
himself with a simplicity that partially conceals his art : 

" — And every perfect action hath the grace 
Of indolence or thoughtless hardihood — " 

In this respect he rivals the best French stylists, yet his 
sincere, serene, and lofty spirit prevents him from looking 
upon his songs as mere bits of dull perfection. They are 

i Ballades and Rhymes, p. 166; Ban and Arriire Ban, p. 24. 


never Emaux et Camees; even in his objective songs of nature, 
we feel the man. He gives us both art and life. 

The metrical charm of these lyrics exceeds their verbal 
felicity. There are but two qualifying statements to be made 
in this praise. Strangely enough his sonnets show little of 
his best work, though they remind us at times of Spenser. 

" AH earthly beauty hath one cause and proof, 
To lead the pilgrim soul to beauty above: 
Yet lieth the greater bliss so far aloof, 
That few there be are wean'd from earthly love. 

Joy's ladder it is, reaching from home to home. 
The best of all the work that all was good; 
Whereof 'twas writ the angels aye upclomb, 
Down sped, and at the top the Lord God stood."^ 

This lacks the rare quality we perceive at once in the songs. 
Again, the larger, broader style is not his and with all his 
kinship with the Elizabethans, he never approaches their 
"mighty line." He is our best interpreter of the metre of 
Paradise Lost, yet he is not of Milton's school. To take the 
positive side of the case, we have spoken of Campion. 
Bridges far surpasses him in the resources of his technique 
and is not already a classic because he is unfortunate enough 
to be one of our contemporaries. Much like the author of 
"Now winter nights enlarge" are many stanzas in Bridges's 
second ode to spring; yet when he catches the cadences of 
the Elizabethans, one never thinks of imitation. In such 
a bit of melody as "I heard a linnet courting" he has all 
their lightness, but with our modern feeling. "Crown Winter 
with green" is but a trifle, yet it seems to have strayed from 
Herrick's Hesperides. To complete our comparison, how 
like Blake at his best are such poems as "Angel spirits of 

1 The Poetical Works of Robert Bridges, London, 1898, vol. I., p. 263. 


sleep," "Love on my heart from heaven fell," "The idle life 
I lead," or 

" My delight and thy delight 
Walking, like two angels white, 
In the gardens of the night."^ 

It would be poor praise to say that Bridges recalled the 
work of past singers. He has a quality all his own, in the 
feeling that informs his style. He is a beauty worshipper 
and his creed is simply expressed : 

" I love all beauteous things, 

I seek and adore them; 
God hath no better praise. 
And man in his hasty days 

Is honoured for them. 

" I too will something make 

And joy in the making; 
Altho' to-morrow it seem 
Like the empty words of a dream 

Remembered on waking." 

In the old metre so roughly handled by Queen Elizabeth he 
sings : 

" My eyes for beauty pine. 
My soul for Goddes grace: 
No other care nor hope is mine; 
To heaven I turn my face."^ 

He finds the highest beauty in nature. He turns to the 
fields and woods, not as did Davidson, to forget the city and 
modem life and to discover a new philosophy, but in the 

1 Vol. II., London, 1899, pp. 20, 160, 145, 137, 144, 241. 

2 Pp. 123, 134. 


placid mood of Walton. Even when this poet's spirit is most 
delighted, there is a quietness and calm in his verse. He 
seeks no inspiration from the past, nothing from France or 
Italy, but finds England, with its clear and gentle streams, 
its cliff-tops, its downs, its birds and flowers, a sufficient 
theme for his best work. He does not shut his eyes to the 
tragedy of life. If the Elegy on a Lady, whom grief for the 
death of her Betrothed killed seems too consciously Eliza- 
bethan, certainly the dirge 

" I never shall love the snow again 
Since Maurice died," 

and the most pathetic On a Dead Child are almost too poig- 
nant.^ In general, however, the endeavor of this poet is to 
give us the beauty of each season, of every glimpse of land, 
or sea, or sky. 

This beauty has no fatal dowry ; it brings the most exalted 
happiness : 

" But since I have found the beauty of joy 
I have done with proud dismay: 
For howsoe'er man hug his care, 
The best of his art is gay."^ 

He invites us to leave our joyless ways. We are offered 
more than we can enjoy; the days are all too short for the 
"rare delight of mortal stuff." This intense pleasure in life 
and in his own art is expressed always with serenity, with 
nothing of "the wild joy of living." Here are no greater 
happenings than can come to every one ; there is no adven- 
ture, no conflict. We must simply open our eyes and we 
may see what he sees : 

1 Pp. 34, 187, 91. 

2 P. 1ST. 


" Then comes the happy moment: not a stir 
In any tree, no portent in the sky: 
The morn doth neither hasten nor defer, 
The morrow hath no name to call it by, 
But life and joy are one, — we know not why, — 
As though our very blood long breathless lain 
Had tasted of the breath of God again."^ 

He knows that there is an end to beauty, but there is noth- 
ing of Shelley's lament in "I have loved flowers that fade," 
a lyric of Bridges that should be familiar to every lover of 
English verse. He realizes that to attain to the highest 
beauty and truth, one must "look not back nor tire." There 
is no palHd aestheticism here, for he does not forget that 
though "Beauty and love are nigh" life has its tempest, 
flood and fire. He sums up his belief not in an ode, but in 
the simple lines: 

" Press onward, for thine eye 
Shall see thy heart's desire."^ 

We forget the serene happiness of Bridges when we turn 
to the poems of William Watson (b. 1858). Compared with 
his older contemporary, he has a broader if not a deeper 
mind ; he has a wider outlook upon life ; he is more a child of 
the past. This is to say that Watson has so communed with 
his great predecessors that he has caught a portion of their 
spirit; we may say that he has inherited it, for he is no imi- 
tator. As he himself proudly declares, he is thoroughly 
English ; he deprecates the deference paid to the writers of 
the continent and takes for his masters Milton and Words- 
worth, and we might add, Arnold and Tennyson.' His very 
finest writing is found in his interpretation and praise of 

ip. 110. 

2 P. 119. 

3 To Edward Dowden, The Poems of William Watson, London, 1905, 
vol. I., p. 149. 


the dead poets. Among his best epigrams are the ones on 
Marlowe, Shelley, Keats ; his elegy on Tennyson, a remark- 
able piece of occasional verse, was the most adequate tribute 
the death of the laureate called forth; while Wordsworth's 
Grave is inspired criticism, surpassed by no English poem of 
its kind. It is interesting to contrast its vivid pictures of the 
Queen Anne age, of Gray and Collins, of Burns and Words- 
worth, with the maxims of Pope's Essay on Criticism, for it 
shows at once how much more personal, we may even say 
"lyrical," has become the work of the modern critic. 

Watson has stated that he owes most to Milton, "The 
starriest voice that e'er on Enghsh ears hath rung," and 
without even faintly suggesting a comparison, one may point 
out his resemblances to him. His best sonnets are not love 
poems, but intimate expressions of friendship or declarations 
of his attitude on the political questions of the day. Like 
Milton, he is an apostle of liberty, and the intense anger 
of "Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints," is felt in Wat- 
son's sonnets called forth by the Turkish atrocities in 
Armenia. A good illustration of his Miltonic style is found 
in Vita Nuova, a poem written after his recovery from an 
illness that had clouded his mind. These lines have some- 
thing of the dignity and restraint of Milton's references to 
his blindness: 

" I too have come through wintry terrors, — yea. 
Through tempest and through cataclysm of soul 
Have come, and am delivered. Me the Spring, 
Me also, dimly with new life hath touched. 
And with regenerate hope, the salt of life; 
And I would dedicate these thankful tears 
To whatsoever Power beneficent. 

Veiled though his countenance, undivulged his thought. 
Hath led me from the haunted darkness forth 
Into the gracious air and vernal morn."^ 

1 Vol. I., p. 105. 


The more we read modem poetry, the more plainly we 
perceive the abiding influence of Wordsworth. Watson 
glories in it. He is no poet of the city which he would fain 
forget, but of the tarn, of the sea which he has hymned in 
elegiacs unsurpassed in English. He wishes that we could 

" more near allied 
To cloud and mountain, wind and tide, 
Cast this unmeaning coil aside. 
And go forth free," 

for then we could 

" hail the mystic bird that brings 
News from the inner courts of things. 
The eternal courier-dove whose wings 

Are never furled; 
And hear the bubbling of the springs 

That feed the world.''^ 

Despite such stanzas, despite the rare enthusiasm and power 
of his Ode in May, Watson's lines on Arnold are true of his 
own work : 

" The deep, authentic mountain-thrill 
Ne'er shook his page !" 

He has nothing of Wordsworth's confidence in the restoring, 
the teaching inspiration of nature, but confesses that 
beneath the dome of the sky or by the ocean he has "never 
wholly been at ease." There is nothing of Wordsworth's 
optimism in a poet who believes himself fated "among time's 
fallen leaves to stray," and that inevitably "A want of joy 
doth in his strains abide." He can not hold the faith of the 
fathers and writes of The Unknown God. The church is out- 
wardly splendid, but inwardly cold and dead as the moon. 

iVol. I., p. 146. 


" I wandered far in the wold. 

And after the heat and glare 
I came at eve to a churchyard old: 
The yew-trees seemed at prayer. 

" And around me was dust in dust, 

And the fleeting light, and Repose — 
And the infinite pathos of human trust 
In a God whom no man knows."^ 

With Arnold, he feels that men do not know for what they are 
striving. No account of Watson must omit his epigrams — ■ 
they rank with the best — and a single one of them — The 
Cathedral Spire — is enough to show this mood. 

" It soars like hearts of hapless men who dare 
To sue for gifts the gods refuse to allot; 
Who climb for ever toward they know not where. 
Baffled for ever by they know not what."^ 

There is nothing of Henley's force or love of action, but 
something of Clough in this poet's view of life. Our ideals 
too quickly vanish and leave us resigned to our ignoble days ; 
The Glimpse but leaves a man 

" to carry in his soul 
The torment of the difference till he die." 

As these quotations show, there is back of aU that Watson 
writes, a profound moral sense that gives to his work dignity 
and nobility of tone. He has never courted popularity; he 
is perhaps a little too disdainful of modern life and dwells 
too much "In the cold starlight where thou canst not climb." 
Nothing that he writes is careless or trivial in diction; im 

iNew Poems, London, 1909, p. 112. 
^ Poems, vol. II., p. 109. 


style, as in life, he advocates "The things that are more 
excellent." Much of modern poetry is to him an orgy on 
Parnassus, and he turns from it to Tennyson : 

" You phrase-tormenting fantastic chorus, 

With strangest words at your beck and call; 
Who tumble your thoughts in a heap before us ; — 
Here was a bard shall outlast you all."'^ 

With his liking for the graver harmonies, and with his tem- 
perament, his best lyrics are elegies. There is a certain 
formaHty in the studied contrasts of "Thy voice from in- 
most dreamland calls," "That beauty such as thine," "When 
birds were songless on the boughs," that overcomes the song 
impulse. On the other hand, writing in the elegiac strain, 
such a descriptive poem as The Frontier — surely the equal 
of The Autumnal by Donne, which Walton so admired — 
becomes almost a lyric.^ 

There is something of Hamlet (though nothing of his 
bitterness) in this poet. He needs a compelling force, a 
high theme that shall engage all his gifts. He himself 
expresses this idea in his sonnet Christmas Day: 

" Fated among time's fallen leaves to stray, 
We breathe an air that savours of the tomb. 
Heavy with dissolution and decay; 
Waiting till some new world-emotion rise. 
And with the shattering might of the simoom 
Sweep clean this dying Past that never dies."' 

In nearly every respect, Rudyard Kipling (1865) offers 
the most striking contrast to Watson. He cares little for 
finish ; he writes not of books or of men of the past, but of 

1 New Poems, p. 103. 

2 Poems, vol. I., pp. 64, 79, 80 ; vol. II., p. 22. 

3 Vol. II., p. 4. 


the intense life of the present ; he prizes work above thought ; 
he is a confirmed optimist. No poet since the great Victorians 
has enjoyed the popularity that has come to him; at its 
height, it must have resembled the eager reception given 
Byron's works. At the present moment, his fame seems 
undergoing an eclipse ; certainly his recently published verse 
has proved disappointing, and critics seem convinced that he 
wiU be remembered by his prose. This implies that the 
attractiveness of much of the poetry has vanished. The over- 
brilliant colors have faded; the over-emphasis has ceased to 
be eifective — "The tumult and the shouting dies." We tire 
of the Proverbial Philosophy of Imperialism and the trick of 
the Barrack-Room Ballads, once learned, no longer catches 
our fancy. There must be a complete readjustment of our 
estimates of him. 

Of all modem poets, Kipling resembles most closely the 
old ballad makers. Their mantle has fallen on his shoulders ; 
their swiftness and force are his, and he has shown in The 
Last Rhyme of True Thomas his right to this poetic suc- 
cession.' But the ballads can be superb in their simplicity 
and vigor, because they do not preach ; when Kipling exhorts, 
he can descend to doggerel. Love, war and death are the 
themes which most surely inspired these old makers ; Eng- 
land and the ocean are the best sources of inspiration for 
this poet. Our English cousins are singularly fortunate in 
their literature of patriotism. Since London was Spenser's 
"kindly nurse," many a poet has sung of every aspect of 
that city. Each English county, it seems, has its writer to 
praise it, and there is a song for each mountain, lake and 
beach. If we except a few poems by Whitman, no American 
city has its singer, and our prairies, rivers, and forests rarely 
have found verse makers. England, then, haunts Kipling's 
imagination : 

1 The Seven Seas, p. 115. 


" She is not any common Earth, 
Water or wood or air. 
But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye, 
Where you and I will fare."^ 

He sees her sending her soldiers and sailors, her explorers 
and her colonists to all comers of the earth: 

" Her hearth is wide to every wind 

That makes the white ash spin; 
And tide and tide and 'tween the tides 
Her sons go out and in; 

" And some return by failing light, 
And some in waking dream. 
And she hears the heels of the dripping ghosts 
That ride the rough roof-beam." 

We hardly associate delicacy and grace with his work, but 
his style gains it when he writes of English flowers: 

" Buy my English posies! 

Kent and Surrey may — 
Violets of the UnderclifF 

Wet with Channel spray; 
Cowslips from a Devon combe — 

Midland furze afire — 
Buy my English posies 

And I'll sell your heart's desire !"^ 

The natural culmination of this spirit is his Recessional, the 
high-water mark of his verse. 

To Kipling, the sea is the great adventure ground of the 
world, and he knows its power and its cruelty. What other 
poet could have written The Last Chantey, The Bell Buoy, 
White Horses, The Sea and the Hills, to name but a few of 

1 Puck's Song in Puck of Pook's Hill. 

2 The Sea-Wife and The Flowers in The Seven Seas, pp. 100, 111. 


the best? He sings of the man-of-war, the ocean liner, the 
sealer, the fisherman's smack, caught up in the sweep of the 
waves, and we feel the very deck shake beneath our feet and 
the spray dash in our face. If we could demand any one 
thing of Kipling, it would be to abandon his sermons and 
history in rhyme and to give us a collection of sea lyrics. It 
would contain his finest writing and it would be unequaled. 

Alfred Noyes (b. 1880) has not yet found himself and for 
this reason it is hard to form a definite opinion of his work. 
It arouses the keenest expectations and then disappoints us. 
His style, at its best, is fluent and musical ; he has a sane and 
healthy attitude towards life; romance and nature make the 
great appeal to him. This is good but there must be some- 
thing more — and the personahty we seek in the verse is not 
there. He has written so much that he should write less ; 
he has written so well that he should write better. When 
we read him, we think now of this, now of that poet, which 
implies that his verse lacks a character of its own. It has 
little of the economy of thought and expression that mark 
the best writing; it has none of those surprises, none of 
those phrases that startle by their unexpected beauty or 
strength. This does not mean that his work offers little of 
interest ; it is rather an expression of regret that he has 
not learned what Arnold has called the "austerity of poetry." 
It is certainly a pleasure to hear him sing of the "cool of 
the evening," of "Sherwood in the twilight," or of "The 
World's May-Queen," "When Spring comes back to Eng- 
land." His lyrics show his finest writing. 

If, in closing our chapter, we attempt to generalize on 
these latter-day poets, we shall find it a difficult matter, for 
each is a law unto himself. They have enlarged the resources 
of lyric expression, offering us such widely differing measures 
as the most graceful of French verse forms and the vigorous 
unrhymed songs of Henley. They have employed a style 
as realistic as the modern novel can show, and they have 


written with the grace of Herrick. They have searched 
with the keenest vision for the shameful sights of city life 
and sung of them with burning anger; they have shut their 
eyes to the present and dreamed of the past. They have 
discovered a beauty in sights and sounds that earher poets 
neither saw nor heard; they have been content to rediscover 
nature and to sing the old themes. They mourn their loss 
of faith or are combatively pagan; they have the visions 
of the mystic and the faith of a child. On the whole, they 
have brought the lyric closer to our life. They are more 
subtle, but they have not written with the force or the imagi- 
nation of the older generation, for they are lesser person- 
alities. They are too prone to dwell upon the moods of the 
moment, and we are seldom caught up by the sweep of their 
thought, the surge of their emotion. They have more than 
talent but they have less than genius. 

We have now come to the end of our long journey and we 
pause for a moment to look back over the winding road. 
We still retain the impression formed on the way that the 
great age of the lyric, save for songs in the drama, is not 
so far distant as the time of Elizabeth. The question that 
comes to us now is not what the lyric has been but what it 
shall be. Is the long succession broken.'' Zola had little of 
the poet in him and it was, therefore, natural that he should 
be the one to declare most positively that verse had given 
its message and exhausted its resources. He believed that 
it would die and that henceforth the realistic novel would 
depict and interpret life for us. 

If our study has taught us anything, it has shown us that 
the very periods when song seemed dead were but the quiet 
of the early morning before the day begins. The limited 
accomplishment of Wyatt and Surrey was succeeded by the 
Elizabethan lyric ; Shenstone and the Wartons are followed 
by the romantic school. If to-day there is no great English 
poet, it by no means follows, as we have shown, that our 


verse is unworthy or that it points to the end. The great 
spiritual gift of the English race is its poetry. Other nations 
have painted finer pictures, written finer music, carved finer 
statues. No people has produced such a band of inspired 
singers. England can not forget what is in her very blood. 
We may wait with confidence for her new lyric poet, for he 
will surely come; if we may not, as least our children shall 
hear him. 



This bibliography contains merely a selected list. Editions 
of the poets, together with the titles of critical works and articles, 
will be found in the footnotes of the various chapters. Imme- 
diate reference to these may be had in the extended index of 
authors, editors, and titles of books (HI). At the present time, 
when elaborate bibliographies of individual poets are constantly 
appearing, it has seemed unwise for the purpose of a general 
history to attempt a comprehensive scheme. 

Works on English Metre. J. ' Schipper, Englische Metrih, 
Bonn, 1881-1888; A History of English Versification, Oxford, 
1910 ; G. Saintsbury, A History of English Prosody, London, 
1906-1910 ; Historical Manual of English Prosody, London, 
1910 ; R. M. Alden, English Verse, N. Y., 1903. Other useful 
books are, H. Corson, A Primer of English Verse, Boston, 1 893 ; 
J. B. Dabney, The Musical Basis of Verse, London, 190I ; C. M. 
Lewis, The Principles of English Verse, N. Y., 1906; T. S. 
Omond, A Study of Metre, London, 1907; English Metrists in 
the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, London, 1907; R. M. 
Alden, Introduction to English Poetry, N. Y., 1909; C. F. 
Richardson, A Study of English Rhyme, Hanover, 1909; B. 
Matthews, A Study of Versification, Boston, 191I. A good 
bibliography of articles and books on English metres will be 
found in C. M. Gayley and F. N. Scott's An Introduction to the 
Methods and Materials of Literary Criticism, chapter V, Boston, 
1899. For French metres, see L. E. Kastner, A History of 
French Versification, Oxford, 1903. 

Chapter I. For the classic lyric, see A. Croiset, La Poesie 
de Pindare et les lois du lyrisme grec, Paris, 1880; E. Nageotte, 
Histoire de la poesie lyrique grecque, Paris, 1888; A. and M. 
Croiset, Histoire de la litterature grecque, Paris, 1898. For the 
modern lyric, see F. T. Palgrave, Golden Treasury of Songs and 
Lyrics (Preface), London, I86I; T. - Watts-Dunton, article 
"Poetry" in Encyclopcedia Brittanica; E. C. Stedman, The 
Nature and Elements of Poetry, Boston, 1892; F. E. Schelling, 


A Book of Elizabethan Lyrics (Introduction), Boston, 1895; 
F. B. Gummere, A Handbook of Poetics (chapter II, Lyric 
Poetry), Boston, 1898; F. B. Gummere, The Beginnings of 
Poetry, N. Y., 1901 ; J. Erskine/^T/ie Elizabethan Lyric (chapter 
I), N. Y., 1903; R. M. Alden, Introduction to Poetry (chapter 
II), N. Y., 1909. F. Brunetiere, L'ivolution de la poesie 
lyrique en France au dix-neuvieme siecle, Paris, 1894; R. M. 
Werner, Lyrik und Lyriker, Leipzig, 1890 (a disappointing 

For the Old English lyric see F. B. Gummere, Germanic 
Origins, N. Y., 1892; The Beginnings of Poetry, N. Y., 1901. 
Cook and Tinker, Select Translations from Old English Poetry, 
Boston, 1902, contains a brief but excellent bibliography. 

Chapter II. For the early French lyric see K. Bartsch, 
Altfranzosische Romanzen und Pastourellen, Leipzig, 1870; 
Chrestomathie de I'ancien frangais, Leipzig, 1872; J. Brakel- 
mann, Les plus anciens chansoniers frangais, Paris, 1891; A 
Jeanroy, Les Origines de la poesie lyrique en France au moyen 
age, Paris, 1889. C. Voretzsch, Einfuhrung in das Studium der 
altfranzosischen Literature, Halle, 1905, contains a good list of 
books. J. H. Smith's The Troubadours at Home, N. Y., 1899, 
contains an extensive bibliography on the subject of Troubadour 
verse; there is a brief but excellent list of the most important 
books on this subject in Jean Beck's valuable La Musique des 
Troubadours, Paris, 1910. 

The best bibliography of the Middle English lyric is contained 
in E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick's Early English Lyrics, 
London, 19O6; there is also a good bibliography in F. A. Pat- 
terson's The Middle English Penitential Lyric, N. Y., 1911- 
Indispensable are Early Bodleian Music, ed. by Sir John Stainer, 
London, 1901, and K. Boddeker's Altenglische Dichtungen des 
MS. Harleian 225S, Berlin, 1878. The E. E. T. S. promises a 
new edition of this MS. For the Planctus Marios see Englische 
Studien, Vol. XVI, p. 124; Modern Philology, Vol. IV, p. 605; 
H. Kiel, Ueber die englischen Marienklagen, Kiel, 19O6. For 
carols see bibliography in Early English Lyrics. F. J. Crowest, 
The Story of the Carol, London, 1911, contains a convenient 
bibliography (Appendix D) of carols and music both in MSS. 


and print. To this list should be added, E. Rickert, Ancient 
English Christmas Carols, London, IQIO; C. J. Sharp, English 
Folk-Carols, London, 191I. 

Chapter III. For a bibliography of writings on Petrarch, 
see Luigi Suttina, Bibliographie delle Opere a Stampa intorno 
a Francesco Petrarca, esistente nella Biblioteca Rossettiana di 
Trieste, Trieste, 1908. For a brief bibliography, see P. De 
l^o\ha.c, Petrarch et I'humanisme, Paris, 1892; G. Finze, Petrarca, 
Firenze, 19OO; C. Segre, Studi Petrarchesci, Firenze, 1903; F. 
De Sanctis, Saggio critico sul Petrarca, nuova edizione a cura 
di B. Croce, Napoli, 1907; H. C. Holway-Calthorp, Petrarch, 
His Life and Times, N. Y., 1908; M. F. Jerrold, Petrarca, Poet 
and Humanist, N. Y., 1908. For the Italian essays and dialogues 
on the nature of love, see M. Rosi, Saggio sui tratti d'amore del 
cinquecento, 1889. 

For the English lyrics of this period, see E. Fliigel, Neueng- 
lisches Lesebuch, HaUe, 1 895 ; Chambers and Sidgwick's Early 
English Lyrics. F. M. Padelford's Early Sixteenth Century 
Lyrics, Boston, 1907, contains an excellent bibliography for the 
study of Wyatt and Surrey ; see also W. J. Courthope, A History 
of English Poetry, Vol. II, London, 1897. A short but most 
excellent bibliography of sonnet literature is contained in Alden's 
English Verse, chapter IV. For the vogue of the sonnet on the 
continent, see J. Vaganay, Le sonnet en Italic et en France au 
XVIme siecle, Lyons, 1902. 

For the French sixteenth century lyric, see J. Vianey, Le 
Petrarquisme en France au XVIme siecle, Montpellier, 1909. A 
convenient anthology of the Pleiade is G. Meunier's La Poesie de 
la Renaissance, Paris, N. D. See also H. Belloc, Avril, London, 
1904; G. Wyndham, Ronsard and a Pleiade, London, 1906. 

Chapter IV. Erskine's Elizabethan Lyric contains a good 
bibliography of this period. See G. Saintsbury, Elizabethan 
Literature, London, 1890; F. E. Schelling, A Book of Eliza- 
bethan Lyrics. For the sonnet sequences, see Sidney Lee, Eliza- 
bethan Sonnets in the re-issue of Arber's English Garner, Lon- 
don, N. D. ; A. H. Upham, The French Influence in English Lit- 
erature from the Accession of Elizabeth to the Restoration, N. Y., 
1908; Sidney Lee, The French Renaissance in England, chapter 


IV, London, 191O. See also the important articles by L. E. 
Kastner in the Modern Language Review, 1907-1909- For 
Shakespeare's sonnets, see Sidney Lee, Life of William Shakes- 
peare, London, 1898; Introduction to Shakespeare's Sonnets, 
being a reproduction in facsimile of the first edition, Oxford, 
1905; E. Dowden, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, London, 
1881; H. C. Beeching, The Sonnets of Shakespeare, Boston, 
1904; J. Jusserand, A Literary History of the English People, 
Vol. Ill, part II, N. Y., 1909- 

For the Elizabethan song, see the collections edited by Bullen. 
Interesting essays upon the nature of these songs are to be found 
in J. A. Symonds^ In the Key of Blue and other Prose Essays, 
London, 1893; H. A. Beers, Points at Issue, N. Y., 1904. See 
also T. Oliphant, La Musa Madrigalesca, London, 1837; F. A. 
Cox, English Madrigals in the Time of Shakespeare, London, 
N. D. W. Bolle, Die gedruckten englischen Liederbucher bis 
1600, Berlin, 1903. For the music, E. F. Rimbault, A Biblio- 
graphical Account of the Musical and Poetical Works published 
in England during the 16th and 17th centuries, London, 1847; 

E. Walker, The History of Music in England, chapter IV, 
Oxford, 1907; E. W. Naylor, An Elizabethan Virginal Book, 
London, 1905, contains interesting examples of and comments 
upon Elizabethan music. See also V. Jackson, English Melodies 
from the 13th to the 18th Century, London, 191O. 

Chapter V. E. Gosse, Seventeenth Century Studies, London, 
1883; G. Saintsbury, Elizabethan Literature, London, 1890; 

F. E. Schelling, A Book of Seventeenth Century Lyrics, Boston, 
1899- For Cavalier Lyrics, see Charles Mackay, The Cavalier 
Songs and Ballads of England, London, 1863; The Jacobite 
Ballads of Scotland, London, 1863. There is a brief bibliography 
for Herrick in E. E. Hale, Selections from the Poetry of Robert 
Herrick, Boston, 1895. See also F. W. Moorman, Robert Her- 
rick, London, 1910. For other books on this period, the reader 
is again referred to the footnotes of the chapter. 

Chapter VI. E. Gosse, Eighteenth Century Literature, 
London, 1889; R. Garnett, The Age of Dryden, London, 1895. 
See Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Little has been written on the 
minor lyrists of this period; generally they are treated as in 


Thomas Longueville's gossipy Rochester and other Literary 
Rakes of the Court of Charles II, London, 1902. 

Chapter VII. T. S. Perry, English Literature in the 
Eighteenth Century, N. Y., 1883; W. L. Phelps, The Begin- 
nings of the English Romantic Movement, Boston, 1893; W. 
Minto, The Literature of the Georgian Era (new edition), N. Y., 
1 895 ; G. Saintsbury, Nineteenth Century Literature, London, 
1896; H. A. Beers, A History of English Romanticism in the 
Eighteenth Century, N. Y., 1899. 

Chapters VIII and IX. H. A. Beers, A History of English 
Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century, N. Y., 1901; A. 
Symons, The Romantic Movement in English Poetry, London, 
1909; Hugh Walker, The Literature of the Victorian Era, Cam- 
bridge, 1910. 

Chapter X. W. Archer, Poets of the Younger Generation, 
London, 1902; A. Symons, Studies in Prose and Verse, N. Y., 


Inbex of First Lines Quoted in the Text 

A babe is born 87 

A face that should content me 126 n 

A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by 397 

A slumber did my spirit steal 395 

A sonnet is a moment's monument 461 

A sunny shaft did I behold 400 

A sweet disorder in the dress 266 

Abide with me 494 

Absense of yeu 93 

Absent from thee I languish still 326 

Ae fond kiss 220, 389, 412 

Ah Chloris ! that I now could sit 324 

Ah ! Chloris, 'tis time 322 

Ah fading joy I 318 

Ah, sweet Content ! 158 

Ah were she pitiful 200 

Ah ! what a weary race 365 

Ah, what is love? 200 

Al gold Jonet is thin her 48 

Alas ! have I not pain enough ? 152 

All along the valley 450 

AU earthly beauty hath one cause 541 

AU in the Downs 343 

All my past life 326 

All the flowers of the Spring 206 

Alle that beoth of huerte trewe 54 

Amor, che nel penser mio 121 

And let me the canaldn clink, clink t 205 

And thou art dead as yoimg and fair 405 

And wilt thou leave me thus ? 125 

Angel spirits of sleep 541 

April is in my mistress' face 217 

A qualunque animale 102 

Art thou pale for weariness 156 n 

Art thou poor 205 

As Chloe came into the room 342 

As god of heven 80 

As on a bank I sat 295 

As one who, long by wasting sickness worn 391 


As slow our ship 435 

As through the land at eve we went 445, 451 

Ase y me rod 61 

Ask me no more 451 

Ask me no more where Jove bestows 251, 451 n 

At beauty's bar 143 

At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time 458 

Avenge, O, Lord, thy slaughtered saints 298, 545 

Awake, my soul, and with the sun 369 

Ay, ay, O, ay — the winds that bend the briar 451 

Ay, besherewe you 96 

Back and side go bare 117 

Be pes, ye make me spill my ale 89 

Beauty, sweet love , 162 

Before the dread j ourney 19 

Behold, dear mistress 147 

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms 435 

Belle Aliz matin leva 34 

Bid me to live 330 

Birds in the high wood calling 451 

Blame not my lute 126 n 

Blow, blow thou winter wind 207 

Blow high, blow low, let tempests tear 367 

Break, break, break 450 

Bright star ! would I were steadfast 425 

Bright was the morning 335 

Buy my English posies ! 550 

Bytuene mersh ant aueril 60 

Call for the robin-redbreast 206 

Care-charmer Sleep ! 162 

Celeste forma ISO n 

C'est la fins, koi que nus die 36 

Chiare, fresche e dolci aeque 105, 123 

Clear Ankor, on whose silver-sanded shore 163 

Come leave the loathed stage 227 

Come live with me (Marlowe) 201 

Come live with me (Donne) 235 

Come over the woodes 112 

Come pass about the bowl to me 261 

Come, shadow of my end 217 

Come Sleep! O Sleep! 155 

Come to me in the silence of the night 493 

Come unto these yellow sands 207 


Come, ye disconsolate 437 

Conceit begotten by the eyes 194 

Crown Winter with green 54] 

Cupid and my Campaspe played 151, 204 

De ma dame vxdl chanter 43 

Dear Chloe, how blubbered is that pretty face ! 340, 507 

Dear, if you change 218 

Dear, why should you command me to my rest 163 

Del mar Tirreno alia sinistra riva 107 

Disdain me not 126 n 

Dormi, fill, dormi ! 36 

Drink to me only with thine eyes 232, 266, 506 

Dronken, dronken, y-dronken 48 

Edi beo thu heuene queue 49 

En mai an douz tens nouvel 33 

Entre le boeuf et I'Sne gris 39 

Era il giorno 134 n 

Even such is Time 195 

Evermore in mine ears 417 

Far, far away, O ye. Halcyons of Memory 411 

Farewell ! thou art too dear 157 

Fair and fair 200 

Fair stood the wind for France 187 

Fayr and discrete 93 

For her gait 243 

For love Apollo 133 n 

Forever with the Lord 494 

Forget not yet 125 

Foweles in the frith 49 

Free love — free field 451 

Fresh Spring, the herald 165 

From a lone tower 350 

From Tuscan came 130 n 

FuU fathom five 208 

Gather ye rosebuds 330 

Give me more love 2S0 

Give me my scallop shell of quiet 195 

Give place, ye lovers 131 

Give place you ladies 134 

Glory to thee, my God, this night 369 

Go and catch a falling star 235 

664 INDEX 

Go, gOj quaint follies 288 

Go hert, hurt witli adversite 91 

Go, lovely rose 305, 306 

Go, piteous sighs 95 

Go, pretty child 269 

God is it refuge for his saints 370 

God moves in a mysterious way 373 

Gone are my games 83 

Good and great God 232 

Good hostess, lay a crab in the fire 116 

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah 370 

Gulls in an aery morrice 533 

Had I a. heart for falsehood framed 366 

Hail, orient Conqueror of gloomy night 397 

Hail, meek-eyed maiden 363 

Happy were he 139 

Hark, hark, my soul 494 

Hark, hark the lark 208, 213 

Hark, joUy shepherds 215 

Hark my soul ! it is the Lord 372 

HajTnakers, rakers, reapers, and mowers 205 

Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance 519 

Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes 456 

He that loves a rosy cheek 251, 268 

Help me to seek 136 n 

Hence, all you vain delights 206 

Here's to the maiden of bashfull sixteen 366 

Highway ! since you my chief Parnassus be 155 

His golden locks 200 

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty 494 

Home they brought her warrior dead 445, 451 

Hope like the taper's gleamy light 366 

How am I changed ! My hopes were once like fire 411 

How are thy servants blessed 337 

How do I love thee 489 

How doth the little busy bee 369 

How happy could I be with either 344 

How happy is he 395 

How hey I it is none lese 90 

How like an angel 338 

How many bards 430 

How many paltry, foolish painted things 163 

How many Summers, love 444 

How sweet the music echo makes 449 

INDEX 565 

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds 370 

How unhappy a lover am I 318 

Hush, my dear, lie still 370 

Hyd Absolon, thy gilte tresses clere 73 

am as lighte as any roe 90 

am monarch of all I survey 373 

came, I saw, and was undone 310 

care not for those ladies 319 

did not live until this time 339 

faint, I perish with my love ! 413 

find no peace 133 

fled Him, down the nights .539 

have loved flowers that fade 544 

heard a linnet courting 541 

heard men upon the mould 65 

heard the voice of Jesus say 494 

know a little garden close 467 

love aU beauteous things 543 

love to hear that men are bound 417 

might — unhappy word 153 

ne'er could any lustre see 366 

never shall love the snow again 543 

pant for the music which is divine 413 

pass all my hours 332 

prithee let my heart alone 363 

prithee send me 254, 330 

prithee spare me 354 

remember, I remember 442 

saw from the beach 437 

saw my lady weep 218 

sing of a maiden 86 

stood tip-toe upon a. little hill 277 

strove with none 414, 416 

tell you hopeless grief is passionless 489 

told my love 384 

took a hansom on to day 519 

wandered far in the wold 547 

wandered lonely as a cloud 394 

wish I was by that dim lake 436 n 

wish I were where Helen lies 10 

wonder, by my troth, what thou and I 336 

would not be a king *11 

cham of Irlaunde "^8 

chaue a mantel *8 

666 INDEX 

Ich em nu alder thene ich was 43 

Ichot a burde 57 

If ever Sorrow spoke 160 

If love vifere what the rose is 471 

If there were dreams to sell 446 

If thou must love me, let it be for me '. 489 

If thou wilt cure thine heart 445 

II pleure dans mon coeur 451 

In a herber green 117 

In going to my naked bed 196 

In love, if love be love 451 

In somer when the shawes be sheyne 89 

In the bleak mid-winter 88 

In the merry month of May 190 

In the white-flowered hawthorn brake 468 

Integer vitae scelerisque purus 8 

In time the strong and stately turrets fall 159 

It is a beauteous evening 397 

It is no dream that I am he 418 

It is not growing like a tree 230 

It soars like hearts of hapless men 547 

It was a' for our rightful king 430 

It was a lover 207 

I wish I were a little bird 490 

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight 511 

Jentill butler, bellamy 89 

Jesus, lover of my soul 370 

Know then, my brethren 294 

Lady the birds right fairly 315 

L'aspetto sacro 104 n 

Lay a garland 205 

Lead, kindly Light 494 

I,enten ys come with loue to toune 60 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds 175 

Like as tlie waves 175 

Like to the clear 189 

Little Lamb, who made thee 383 

Look, Delia, how we 'steem the half blown rose 162 

Love and harmony combine 382 

Love in my bosom 189 

I-ove is a sickness full of woes 104, 188 

Love me not for comely grace 488 

INDEX 567 

Love on my heart from heaven fell 543 

Love, that doth reign 127 

Love's but the frailty of the mind 320 

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show .506 

Lutel wot it anymon 62 

Lysteneth, Lordynges, a newe song 54 

Man in the moon 61, 89 

Many a merry meeting 244 

March, march, Ettrick and Teviotdale 429 

Mark where the pressing wind shoots j avelin like 497 

Martial, the things that do attain 128 

Mary 1 I want a lyre with other strings 374 

Memory, hither come 382 

Men call you fair 166 

Merie it is while sumer ilast 46 

Merie sungen the muneches 19 

Methought I saw my late espoused saint 194, 464 

Mignonne, allons voir si la rose 162 

Mihi est propositum 57 

Mine eye and heart 176 

Moder milde, fiur of alle 49 

Mon ime a son secret 158 

Mon, wi seestu loue ant herte 51 

Mortal man and woman 487 

Move eastward, happy earth 450 

Music, when soft voices die 414 

My banks they are furnished with bees 349 

My comforts drop and melt 280 

My darlyng dere 96 

My dear mistress has a heart 326 

My delight and thy delight 542 

My eyes for beauty pine 542 

My galley charged with forgetfulness 123 

My gentle bird 146 

My girl, thou gazest much 143 

My gostly f adir, y me confesse 77 

My heart is like a singing bird 493 

My heart is yours 113 

My heart leaps up when I behold 394 

My heart, my mind, and my whole power 113 

My little pretty one 114 

My love's an arbutus 57 

My love is of a birth as rare 274 

My love is like to Ice 165 

568 INDEX 

My lute, awake 125 

My mind to me a kingdom is 408 

My prime of youtli 140, 172 

My silks and fine array 382 

My soul is an enchanted boat 413 

My spotless love 161 

My true love hath my heart 178 

My wofull heart 89 

Nearer, my God, to thee 494 

Nel dolce tempo 134 n 

Never love unless you can 220 

Never seek to teU thy love 507 

No, no, poor suffering heart 318 

Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent 458 

Not at first sight 152 

Not, Celia, that I juster am 324 

Not here, O Apollo 485 

Not to know vice at aU 229 

Now is the month of maying 215 

Now springes the sprai 66 

Now that the Spring hath fiUed our veins 243 

Now that the winter's gone 246 

Now the lusty Spring is seen 205 

Now the white violet blooms 417 

Now welcom somer 73 

Now winter nights enlarge 541 

O do not wanton with those eyes 233 

Oh ! for a closer walk with God 372 

O for a day of Spring 533 

O June, O June, that we desired so 469 

O life ! what lets thee 193 

O mistress mine 207 

O my Luve's like a red, red rose 387 

O only Source of all our light 480 

Oh ponder well ! be not severe 344 

O sacred head now wounded 62 

Oh, sing unto my roundelay 378 

O sonno, o della queta 155 

O stream descending to the sea 480, 481 

O that sad day 328 

Oh that those lips had language 374 

O that 'twere possible 452 

O thou whose image in the shrine 480 

INDEX 569 

O Time ! who know'st a lenient hand to lay 390 

O'er Cornwall's cliffs the tempests roared 364 

Of a rose, a lovely rose 85 

Of a' the airts 389, 4,37 

Of beauty yet she passeth all 114 

Oft in the stilly night 437 

On a poet's lips I slept 413 

On distant heaths beneath autumnal skies 349 

On hire is al my lif ilong 51 

One day I wrote her name 167 

One struggle more and I am free 405 

Or ever the knightly years were gone 520 

Our bugles sang truce 434 

Our God, our help in ages past 370 

Out upon it 255 

Over hiU, over dale 207 

Over the hills and far away 320 

Owre kynge went forth 91 

Pack, clouds, away 205, 271 

Pan, leave piping 331 

Pastime vrath good company Ill 

Phillis is my only joy 324 

PhiUis, men say that all my vows 323 

Poichfe '1 cammin 102 n 

Prayer, the Churches banquet 280 

Princes that rule 319 

Pus vezem de novelh flour 31 

Put forth thy leaf, thou lofty plane 481 

Quando piu guardo 210 

Quant I'erba f resqu' 26 

Quant li estez 27 

Queen and huntress 231 

Queen, for whose house my fathers fought 471 

Quel antiquo mio dolce empio signore 121 

Questa nuova del ciel felice Stella 150 n 

Rarely, rarely comest thou 410 

Reach with your whiter hands 266 

Reign in my thoughts 1^1 

Remember me when I am gone away *93 

Rendez k I'or cette couleur qui dore 161 

Restore thy treasure 161 

Ring out your bells 1''^^ 

670 INDEX 

Rock of Ages 370 

Rough wind that moanest loud 407 

S' Amor non k 70 

Say not, the struggle naught availeth 480 

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled 385, 436 

See how the feathered blossoms 333 

See where my love 214 

Se'l viver nostro 136 

Shall I wasting in despair 244 

She I love (alas in vain) 418 

She is far from the land 437 

She walks in beauty like the night 405 

She was a phantom of delight 515 

Sherwood in the twilight 551 

Si come 1' amorosa, e vaga stella 150 n 

Si k debile il filo 122 

Si notre vie est moins qu'une j ournde 136 

Sigh no more, Ladies 208 

Since love will needs 126 n 

Since there's no help 164, 462 

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone 511 

Slow, slow, fresh fount 230 

So cruel prison 131 n 

So feeble is the thread 154 n 

Songs of Shepherds 332 

Soimd the deep waters 492 

Steer, hither steer your winged pines 243 

Stella : che degna ben vi dimostrate 150 n 

StiU to be neat 231 

Such green to me as you have sent 134 

Sumer is icumen in 46, 47 

Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare 525 

Sun of my soul 494 

Sweet and low, sweet and low 451 

Sweet are the thoughts 200 

Sweet, be not proud 272 

Sweet day, so cool, so calm 280 

Sweetest love, I do not go 235, 239 

Sweet violets. Love's Paradise 198 

Tagus, farewell 126 n 

Take, O take those lips away 208, 330 

Tapster, drynker, fille another ale 89 

Tears, idle tears 451 

INDEX 571 

Tell me not, sweet 357 359 

Tempus adest floridum 41 

Terly terlow, terly terlow 126 

That beauty such as thine 548 

That time of year 176 

That was my Joy 92 

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold 406 

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day 355 

The day grows old 394 

The door was shut 49I 

The faery beam upon you 266 

The flower that smiles to-day 411 

The flude comes fleeting 80 

The glittering shows 197 

The glories of our blood and state 319 

The glorious image of the Maker's beauty 166 

The golden gift 130 n 

The greatest kings do least command content 137 

The idle life I lead 542 

The king sits in Dumferling toune 10 

The lark now leaves his watery nest 319 

The little boy 256 

The long love that in my thought I harbour 121 

The marigold so likes the lovely sun 146 

The merchant's daughter 197 

The merry cuckoo 167 

The night her blackest sables wore 346 

The Nightingale — as soon as April bringeth 179, 217 

The nightingale has a lyre of gold 522 

The nightingale, the organ of delight 215 

The nymph that undoes me 321 

The poetry of earth Is never dead 424 

The rushing rivers that do run 144 

The sea ! the sea ! the open sea 443 

The spacious firmament on high 327 

The swallow leaves her nest 445 

The ways of death are soothing and serene 518 

The wisest scholar of the wight most wise 154 

The world is too much with us 173, 397 

The year's at the spring 457 

The young May moon is beaming, love 43T 

There be none of Beauty's daughters 406 

There is no rose of swich vertu 85 

There's none without love 331 

There's not a joy the world can give 404 

572 INDEX 

There was never nothing 124 n 

There were three ravens 216 

They flee from me 124 n 

This ae nighte 20 

This endris night 86 

This mystic wreath 263 

This silken wreath 247 

This time when lovers 77 

Those eyes that set my fancy 198 

Thou yomigest Virgin-daughter 317 

Through the dim veil of evening's dusky shade 348 

Thus I compleyne 91 

Thus to a ripe, consenting maid 320 

Thy voice from inmost dreamland calls 548 

Tiger ! Tiger ! burning bright 383 

To all you ladies now on land 323 

To laugh, to smile 113 

To one who has been long in city pent 424 

To this moment a rebel 326 

Ton kme est un paysage choisi 412 

Tout la gieus 24 

Touch us gently, Time 444 

Tread lightly, she is near 513 

Treading the path to nobler ends 307 

Trowl the bowl 205 

Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel 451 

'Twas but a single rose 266 

'Twas when the seas were roaring 344 

'Twas within a furlong of Edinborough town 335 

Twice or thrice had 1 loved thee 236 

Two lines shall tell the grief 144 

Under the greenwood tree 207 

Underneath this sable hearse 268 

View me. Lord 220 

Waken, lords and ladies gay 430 

Wassayle, wassayle 116 

We are the music makers 499 

We now mid hope vor better cheer 505 

We saw the swallows gathering in the sky 497 

Weep no more, nor sigh, nor groan 206 

Weep not, my wanton 200 

Were I a king 139 


Wert thou a king , 139 

What dawn-pulse at the heart of heaven 462 

What should I say 126 n 

What sweet relief the showers 133 

What was he doing, the great god Pan 488 

What we, when face to face we see 480 

When as the nightingale 262 

When all thy mercies 337 

When birds were songless 548 

When by Zeus relenting the mandate was revoked 496 

When, dearest, I but think of thee 256 

When first I met thee 435 

When forty winters 174 

When I am dead, my dearest 493 

When I behold a forest spread 266 

When I do hear thy name 144 

When I have fears that I may cease to be 425 

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced 175 

When I see winter return 64 

When in disgrace with fortune 129 n 

When Love, rocked by his mother 436 n 

When Love with unconfined wings 257 

When lovely woman stoops to foUy 365 

When May is in his prime 146 

When raging love 131 n 

When Spring comes back to England 551 

When the hounds of Spring 472 

When the lamp is shattered 411 

When the winds whistle 319 

When thou must home 218, 220 

When to the sessions l^T 

When we two parted 406 

When you are old 518 

Where griping grief 1^^ 

Where she her sacred bower adorns 320 

Where the quiet coloured end of evening smiles 458 

Wherever I am, and whatever I do 318 

Whether on Ida's shady brow 382 

While History's Muse *35 

While I listen to thy voice 307 

Whoever comes to shroud me 236 

Who is Sylvia ^^"^ 

Who will believe my verse in time to come 506 

Who wins his love shall lose her 539 

674 INDEX 

Why art thou silent 39S 

Why dost thou shade thy lovely face 325 

Why so pale and wan 255 

Why weep ye by the tide, ladie 430 

Why weeps, alas ! my lady love 217 

With how sad steps, O Moon 156 

With margeraln jentyl 97 

With what sharp checks 154 

Winter wakeneth al my care 63, 64, 469, 521 

Ye Gentlemen of England 432 

Ye happy swains 331 

Ye living lamps 274 

Ye Mariners of England 431 

Ye meaner beauties of the night 262, 295 

Ye that in love 121 n 

You are a tulip 272 

You cannot love, my pretty Heart 163 

You phrase-tormenting fantastic chorus 548 

You that have spent the silent night 142 


Titles of Lyric, Naerative and Desceiptive Poems 
Cited in the Text 

[Dramas, masques, collections of poems, including sonnet sequences, 
are indexed in III.] 

A. B. C. to the Virgin, An 71 

A Child my Choice 193 

Accontius and Cydippe 468 

Adieux k Marie Stuart 471 

Ad seipsum 198 

Aged Lover renounceth Love, 

The 135 

Agincourt (Anon.) 91 

Agincourt (Drayton) 187 

Adonais 221, 414 

Albion 156 n 

Alexander's Feast 316, 359 

All in a garden fair 197 

Alliance of Education and 

Government, The 351 

Almae Matres 539 

Alysoun 55, 60, 65 n 

Amantium Irae 196 

Amyntor's Grove 258 

Annus Mirabilis 315 

Arraignment of a Lover 141 

Ars Victrix 537 n 

Arthour and Merlin 23, 32, 67 

A se stesso 107 

As slow our ship 435 

Atli, Old Lay of 14 

At the Grave of Burns 390 n 

Attila 495 

Aurora Leigh 486, 487, 528 

Autumnal, The 548 

Ave atque Vale 472 

Ave, Caesar 518 

Avril 538 

Azalea, The 502, 503 

BaUad of a Nun, A 530 n 

Ballad of Charity, The 376 

Ballad of Reading Gaol, The 

513, 514 n 
BaUad in Blank Verse of the 

Making of a Poet 530 

Ballad upon a Wedding, A . . . 256 

Ballade of Dead Ladies 73 

Banished Wife's Complaint, 

The 17 

Bard, The 4, 353 

Battle of Brunanburh, The ...20 
Battle of the Baltic, The 

431, 432 

Beauty's Pageant 462 n 

Bed in Summer 511 

Believe me, if all those en- 
dearing young charms 435 

Bell Buoy, The 550 

Belle Dame sans merci. La . . . 

422, 424, 442 

Beowulf 17, 20 

Bermudas, The 278 

Birth-Bond, The 464 

Birthday, The 493 

Blessed Damozel, The 

460, 461, 462, 501, 514 

Boke of the Duchesse, The 72 

Bonnie Dundee 428 

Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich, 

The 178, 476, 477 

Bouillabaisse 507 

Bridge of Sighs, The 440 

Bright Star 425 



Bristowe Tragedy, Hie 376 

Britannia 539 

Brook, The 449 

Bruce 385 

Bugle Song, The 449 

Burning Babe, The 193 

By the Fire Side 474 

By the North Sea 473, 475 

Campaign, The 68, 337 

Cane-Bottomed Chair, The . . 

507, 509 

Canonization 240 

Carol, A Christmas 88 n 

Carrier Song, A 625 

Cathedral Spire, The 647 

Cavalier's Song 428 

Charity 491 

Chanson du Vanneur .... 136, 638 

Child Jesus to Mary, The 76 

Child's Laughter, A 472 

Childe Harold 405, 406 

Christ 19 

Christabel 398 

Christmas Day 548 

Ciceroes Death 133 

Clair de Lune 515 

Claribel 449 

Cloud, The 412 

Collar, The 280 

Community 238 

Complaint, Hoccleve's 76 

Compleint to his Lady 72 

Compleynt of Venus 72 

Confined Love 238 

Corinna's going a-Maying . . . 

272, 273, 275 

Corydon and Phillida 190 

Cour de Paradis, La 24 

Crossing the Bar 416, 452 

Crusade, The 364 

Cry of the Children, The 486 

Cuisse cassfe, La 140 

Cupid and Psyche 468 

Cynthia (Barnfleld) ...164, 164 n 

Cynthia (Raleigh) 355 

Daisy 527 

Dawning 289 

Day in Sussex, A 535 

Death Bed, The 442 

Death of Zoroas, The 133 

De Gustibus 458, 474 

Dejection 398, 400, 401 

De I'^lection de son Sepulchre 


Deor's Lament 15, 17 

Departure 502, 503 

Desiderium 539 

Discharged 518 

Dolores 472 

Don Juan 405, 406, 407 

Dora 475 

Dover Beach 482 

Down-Hall 343, 373 

Dream, The 402 

Dream Pedlary 445 

Dying Christian to his Soul, 
The 346 

E Tenebris 513 

Eagle, The 474 

Earth's Secret 497 

Easter Day 289, 513 

Edward I, Elegy on 54 

Edward IV, Elegy on ....95, 136 
Elegy on a Lady, whom grief 
for the death of her Be- 
trothed killed 543 

Elegy to the Memory of an un- 
fortunate Lady 348 

Elegy written in a Country 
Churchyard, 136, 184, 315, 
333, 353, 354-356, 358, 458. 

Elixir, The 282 

Elysium, The Apparition of 
his Mistress calling him to . .265 

Eloisa to Abelard 286 n 

Empedocles on Etna 485 

Endymion . .374, 419, 423, 425, 426 



Epilogue to Asolando 457 

Bpipsychidion 408, 410 

Epistle of the Second Book of 

Horace, The First (Pope) .302n 

Epistle to a friend 404 

Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot 343 

Epistle to J. Lapraik 388 

Epistle to James Smith 389 n 

Epithalamion, The ...70, 166, 

181, 183-186, 308, 321, 230. 

Epode (Jonson) 229 

Erlkonig, Der 216 

Essay on Criticism 

316, 3S6, 357, 545 

Euthanasia 404 n 

Evangeline 178 

Eve of Crecy, The 465 n, 466 

Eve of St. Agnes, The 425 

Faerie Queene, The 130, 140, 
141, 164, 181, 194, 242, 315, 
397, 422. 

Faery Song 423 

Fair Elenor 381 

Fair Helen 10 

Fair Ines 441 

Fair Virtue 343 

Fairy Lough, The 436 

Fancy, A 139 

Far-Far-Away 449 

Farewell to Poetry 268 

FareweU to Sack 267, 268 

Fever, The 241, 242, 248 

Flowers, The 550 n 

Flowers without Fruit 284 n 

For my own Monument 339 

Forsaken Merman, The 485 

Fountain of Tears, The 501 

France 496, 497 

From Grub St 529 

Frontier, The 548 

Garden, The (Grimald) 133 

Garden, The (Marvell) 

273, 277, 289 

Garland of Laurel, A 94, 95 

Garden of Proserpine, The ...472 

Garden Song, A 538 

Gebir 415 

General Eclipse, The 261 

Gertrude of Wyoming 431 

GiUiflower of Gold, The 466 

Girl I left behind me. The ..435 

Glimpse, The 547 

Go, piteous sighs 95 

God's Dominion and Decrees 

370 n 
Good Council to a Young Maid 


Good Gossipes Song, The 80 

Good-Night, Babette! 538 

Good-Night to the Season 439 

Government Clerk, The 508 

Gratitude 507 

Grave, The 379 

Grave of King Arthur, The ..364 
Green-Gown, A Ballad called 

the 330 

Greensleeves 88, 197 

Groves of Blarney, The 435 

Gwin, King of Norway 381 

Haystack in the Flood, The . .466 

Hayswater Boat, The 483 

He Who Never Laughed Again 


Heart's Hope 463 n 

Henry and Emma 340 

Hero and Leander 415 

Hohenlinden 433 

Homeric Unity 539 

Home-Thoughts from Abroad 

Horatian Ode upon Crom- 
well's Return, An 273,376 

Hound of Heaven, The 527 

House of Fame, The 71 

How they brought the good 

news from Ghent to Aix . . 530 
Hudibras 315 



Hunter's Song 444 

Husbandman's Complaint, The .55 
Hymn in honour of Love; of 
Beauty; of Heavenly Love, 

181, 183, 186, 231, 229 
Hymn to Adversity . .361, 352, 397 

Hymn to Beauty 463 

Hymn to Colour 496 

Hymn to God, my God 241 

Hymn to Light 313 

Hynm to Proserpine 472 

Hymn to the Supreme Being 

371 n 
Hunting of the Gods, The 332 

I die alive 193 

I wish I was by that dim lake 

436 n 

In a Gondola 459 

In a Lecture Room 477 

In Guernsey 474 

In Hospital 518 

In Love's Eternity 501 

In Memoriam 

291, 448, 452, 456, 496 

In Prison 466 

In the Children's Hospital ...448 

Indian Serenade, The 411 

Indifferent, The 238 

Infant Sorrow 384 

Internal Harmony 497 

Isolation 485 

Joy Passing by 504 

King Arthur's Tomb 466 

Knightes Tale, The 28 

Kubla Khan 398 

Lact6e 274 n 

Ladies of St. James, The 538 

Lady of the Lake, The 427 

Lady's Dream, The 440 

Lak of Stedfastnesse 73 

Lalla Rookh 434 

L' Allegro 11, 190, 295 

Land East of the Sun, The . . .468 

Lark Ascending, The 495 

Last Chantey, The 550 

Last Rhyme of True Thomas, 

The 549 

Last Ride Together, The . . 100, 457 
Last Rose of Summer, The ... 435 

Laus Veneris 472 

Lay of the Labourer, The . . ..440 
Lay of the Last Minstrel, The 

126, 399 

Le Fils du Titien 105 n 

Le Lac 356 

Legend of Good Women, The . . 73 

Letter from Italy, A 337 

Letter of Advice, A 439, 507 

Letter to the Honourable Lady 

Margaret Harley 341 

Lie, The, 179, 194, 199, 208, 244, 440 
Life and Death of Jason, The 

466, 467 

Lines on Poland 431 

Lines to the Dead Cardinal . . .526 
Litany to the Holy Spirit, His 

265, 270 

London (Blake) 384 

London (Davidson) 531 n 

Looking Glass, The 248 

Lost Cupid, The 156 

Lost Days 464 

Lost Love 539 

Lost Mistress, The 507 

Lotos-Eaters, The 

208, 399, 449, 450, 496 

Love among the Ruins 456, 458 

Love and age 444 

Love in the Valley 498 

Love — Sweetness 462 n 

Lover describeth. The 197 

Lover in great distress, The . . 197 

Lover's Anger, A 342 

Love's Alchemy 238 

Love's Farewell 307 

Lucifer In Starlight 11, 497 



Lullaby of a lover. The 142 

Lycidas 299, 300, 314, 397 

Lyke-Wake Dirge, A 20 

Man 282, 491 

Mannerly Margery 95 

Mark Antony 262 

Marmlon 364, 42T 

Master George his sonnet 144 

Match, A 471 

Maud 252, 496 

May Queen, The 448 

May-Queen, The World's 551 

Meditation 287 

Meditation in a Grove 369 n 

Mercy Seat, The 287 

Milkmaid, The 538 

Miller's Daughter, The 450 

MUton 380 

Mockery of Life, The 535 

Moder of God 76 

Monk's Tale, The 70 

Monody on the Death of Chat- 

terton 375 

Mother's Dream, The 503 

Mower to the Glow Worms, 

The 274 

Music 518 

Music's Duel 285, 286, 316 

My bed is a boat 511 

My Mother's Grave 438 

My Neighbour Rose 509 

My Star 459 

Napoleon 498 

New Charon, The 264 

New Prince, new Pomp 193 

News from Rome 252 

Night of Frost in May, A ...495 

Night-Piece to Julia 266 

Noctum 518 

Nbe 156 n 

Non sum quails eram 517 

Northern Farmer, The 448 

Nosegay, A 197 

November 469 

Nox Nocti Indicat Sclentiam . .293 
Nutbrowne Maide, The ...35, 340 
Nymph Complaining for the 
Death of her Fawn, The 

273, 277, 451 n 

O, Patrick, fly from me 435 

Ode, Armada, The 472 

Ode from the French. Water- 
loo 406 

Ode in May 546 

Ode on a distant prospect of 

Eton College 351 

Ode on a Grecian Urn 426 

Ode on Rural Elegance 350 

Ode on Solitude 346 

Ode on the Approach of Sum- 
mer 363 n 

Ode on the Death of a Favour- 
ite Cat 351, 507 

Ode on the Departing Year . .400 
Ode on the First of April ..363n 
Ode on the Intimations of 


231, 292, 397, 409, 421 
Ode on the Morning of 

Christ's Nativity 296 

Ode on the Power of Sound . .397 
Ode on the Popular Supersti- 
tions of the Highlands of 

Scotland 361, 424 

Ode on the Resurrection 313 

Ode on the Spring 351 

Ode on Wit 314 

Ode, Patriotic 345 

Ode sur la Prise de Namur . . .340 

Ode to a Nightingale 

221, 422, 426 

Ode to Athens 472 

Ode to Autumn (Hood) 442 

Ode to Autumn (Keats) . .421, 425 

Ode to Content 362 

Ode to Duty 352, 397 

Ode to Evening 360, 362, 413 



Ode to Fancy 362 

Ode to Fear 361 

Ode to France 400 

Ode to Health 362 

Ode to Liberty (CoUins) 358 

Ode to Liberty (SheUey) 409, 410 
Ode to Liberty (J. Warton) ..362 

Ode to Master Stafford 262 

Ode to Memory 453 

Ode to Napoleon 406 

Ode to Nothing 326 

Ode to Simplicity 360 

Ode to Sorrow 426 

Ode to the Departing Year . . . 221 

Ode to the Evening 381, 413 

Ode to the memory of Mrs. 

KiUigrew 316 

Ode to the Memory of Gary 

and Morison, A Pindaric ..230 

Ode to the Royal Society 313 

Ode to the West Wind, The 

412, 413 

Ode upon Liberty 311 

Of a' the airts 389, 437 

Ogier the Dane 467 

Old Familiar Faces, The 507 

Old Pictures in Florence 456 

Old Song ended, An 461 

On God Ureisun of Ure Lefdi 

44, 45 

On a Dead Child 543 

On a Drop of Dew 273 

On a Fair Beggar 327 

On First Looking into Chap- 
man's Homer 424 

On Going beyond the Seas . . . 257 
On Midsummer Days and 

Nights 518 

On Observing a Blossom on 

the First of February, 1796 

375 n 
On Reading the memoirs of M. 

D'Artagnan 535 

On this day I complete my 

Thirty-sixth Year 405 n 

One Hope, The 464 

One long Whitsun holiday ..334n 

Operation 518 

Ornament, The 289 

Our Ball 439 

Owl, The 449 

Ozymandias 173, 407 

Paddy Whack 435 

Pancharis 231 

Paracelsus 456 

Paradise Lost ..296, 300, 463, 541 
Parlement of Foules, The . . . 

71, 74 n 

Pastoral Ballad, A 349, 350 

Passions, The 359 

Pause, The 493 

Pearl, The 74, 75 

Pfelerinage de I'Ame, Le 71 

Penseroso, II, 11, 358, 359, 360, 362 

Pharsalia 171 

Pilgrim of Glencoe, The 431 

Pleasures of Hope, The 431 

Pleasures of Melancholy, The, 363 

Plorata Veris Lachrymis 504 

Plowman's Song, The 170 

Poema Morale 43, 44 

Poppy, The 525 

Power of Russia, The 431 

Praise of my Lady 466 

Prayer 289 

Pretty girl milking her cow. 

The 435 

Princess, The 3, 449, 451 

Progress of Poesy, The 

7, 313, 353, 354 

Prospice 416, 457 

Prothalamion, The, 70, 181, 

183-186, 221, 228, 297, 317, 426 

Proud Maisie 427, 431 

Psalms, The 393, 528 

Puck's Song 550 n 

Pulley, The 289 

Pursuit, The 289 



Quiet Work 484 

Quip, The 280, 389 

Rabbi Ben Ezra 291 

Rape of Lucrece, The 253 

Rape of the Lock, The . . .361, 363 

Raven, The 461 

Rebel Scot, The 261 

Recessional 550 

Relapse, The 263 

Requiem 512 

Requiescat 513 

Resolution and Independence 

375 n 

Resolve, The 260 

Resurrection 533 n 

Retreat, The 291, 292 

Review in Rhyme, A 536 n 

Revolutionary Relic, A 538 n 

Richmond, Earl of, Elegy on, 130 
Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 

The, 105, 392, 398, 399, 400, 415 

Ring and the Book, The 495 

Ritter Bann, The 431 

River, The SO, 501 

Rizpah 448 

Roman de la Rose, ou de Guil- 

laume de Dole 24 n 

Rose, The 257 

Rose Aylmer 418 

Rosalynde 188, 463 

Rosamund 337 

Runnable Stag, A 530 

Sage Enamoured and the 

Honest Lady, The 495 

Saint Agnes' Eve 453 

Sally in our Alley 345 

Scholar Gipsy, The 485, 486 

Scholar's Relapse, The 348 

Scythe Song 539 

Sea and the HiUs, The 550 

Sea of Death, The 4,42 

Seafarer, The 16 

Sea- Wife, The 550 n 

Scrutiny, The 358 n 

Seasons, The 344 

Secretary, The 339 

Self-Dependence 484 

Sensitive Plant, The 410 

Session of the Poets, A 

249 n, 353, 264 

Shepherd's Calendar, The 

145, 180, 180 n, 221, 343 

Shepherd's Hunting, The 343 

Shepherd's Oracle, The 294 

Shepherd's Sirena, The ...187, 525 

Sick Child, The 511 

Sick Rose, The 384 

Silent Noon 464, 474 

Silent Voices, The 452 

Sinner's Complaint, A 139 

Sir Giles' War-Song 466 

Sir Peter Harpdon's End 466 

Sister Songs 536 

Skylark, To a 413 

Sleep at Sea 493 

Sluys, Song on fight at 68 

Snow 333 

Soldier's Dream, The 433 

Son-Days 388 

Song for St. Cecilia's Day 337 

Song in the Songless 497 

Song of Palms 501 

Song of the Four Seasons, A . .538 

Song of the Road, A 511 

Song of the Shirt, The 440 

Song to David, A 371 

Song to his Mistress 348 

Song to the Lute, A 538 

Soul's Beauty 464 

Spectre of the Past, The 501 

Spirit of Shakespeare, The ...497 

Spring, The 246 

St. George's Day 185 n 

St. Valentine's Day 535 

Stanzas from the Grande 

Chartreuse 483 

Stanzas to Augusta 404 

Stanzas written in Dejection 


near Naples 411 

Sublime, The 534 

Sudden Light 461 

Summer Night, A 484, 485 

Summum Bonum 459 

Sunday 280, 289 

Sweet and Low 451 

Sweet William's Farewell to 

Black-eyed Susan 343 

Swing, The 511 

Tables Turned, The 507 

Testament of a Man Forbid, 

The 532 

Thallasius 475 

Thanksgiving to God for his 

House 269 

Threnodia Augustalis 315 

Thyrsis 314, 476, 485 

Tintern Abbey 9, 392 

To a Daisy 389 

To a Fieldmouse 389 

To Althea from Prison . .257, 259 

To Anthea 268 

To a child of quality . . . .324, 341 

To a Girdle 306 

To Blossoms 271 

To Celia .....324 

To Cupid 292 

To Daffodils 271, 394 

To-Day and To-Morrow 493 

To Dianeme 507 

To Edward Dowden 544 n 

To his Coy Love 187 

To his Coy Mistress 275 

To his Saviour, a Child 81 

To Lucasta ....257, 259, 323, 507 

To Mary 374 

To Meadows 268, 507 

To Night 413, 415 

To CEnone 268 

To Primroses 271 

To Spring 381 

To the Evening Star 381 

To the Lady A. L 258 

To the Muses 381, 507 

To the Winds 327 

Tom BowUng 367 

Toyokuni Colour Print, A 518 

Toys, The 503 

Trionfo d'Amore, II 32 

Triple Roundel of Merciles 

Beaute, A 73 

Tristesse d'Olympio 356 

Tristram and Iseult 484 

Troilus and Criseyde 70 

Troubadour, The 438 

Truth 73n 

Two in the Campagna 456 

Two Red Roses across the 

Moon 466 

Unknown God, The 546 

Up-hiU 492 

Upon Appleton House 273 

Upon the Image of Death . . . 193 

Valediction 260 n 

VaUey lay smiling before me, 

The 435 

Venus and Adonis 146 

Verse in praise of Lord 

Henry Howard 129 n 

Vigil 518 

Virginian Voyage, The 186 

Virtue 280, 282, 491 

^'isit from the Sea, A 511 

Vita Nuova 545 

Voie Lact^e, La 274 

Von Ewiger Liebe 216 

Wanderer, The 17 

Water Lady, The 442 

When first I met thee 435 

Where go the Boats 511 

While History's Muse 435 

White-Hall 244 

White Horses, The 550 

Widow's Mite, The 508 

Widsith 14, 15 n 



Wind at the Door, The 504 

Wishes to his supposed Mis- 
tress 269, 285 

Without Her 464 

Woodland Peace 497 

Woodspurge, The 461 

Wordsworth's Grave 545 

Work without Hope 400 

Workhouse Clock, The 440 

World, The 288, 290 

Wounded Hussar, The 433 

Ye Gentlemen of England 432 

Ye Mariners of England . .431, 432 
Youth and Love 511 

Zapolya, Song from 400 


General Index 

Abelard 171 

A cademy. The 232 n 

Achilles (Gay) 344 

Adams, S. F 494 

Addison, Joseph 68, 143, 146, 335, 336, 337-338, 345, 352 

Aelfric 20 

Aella (Chatterton) 377 

Aeschylus 8 

Alamanni, Luigi 110 

Alcaeus 2 n, 7 

Aitken, G. A., Poems of Andrew Marvell, 274 n, 275 n, 276 n, 277 n, 278 n 

Alcibiades (Otway) 319 

Alden, R. M., English Verse, 555, 557; Introduction to English 

Poetry, 555, 556. 

Alenfon, Due d' 168 

Alfieri 459 

Alfred 18 

Altenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harl. 2253. See Boddeker. 
AUfranzoaische Romanzen u Pcistourellen. See Bartsch. 

Amoretti (Spenser) 164-167 

Anacreon 227, 265 

Anacreontics (Cowley) 313 

Analecta Hymnia Medii Aevi. See Dreves. 

Anatomy of Melancholy (Burton) 35 

Andresen, H., Maistre W ace's Roman de Rou 22 n 

Angel in the House, The (Patmore) 502 

Anglade, J., Les Troubadours 28 n, 29 n 

Anglia 44 n, 48 n, 113 n, 114 n, 138 n 

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 20 

Anjou, Due d' 168 

Annales. See Tacitus. 

Anne, Queen 336, 338 

Antidote against Melancholy, An 330 

Antigone (Sophocles) 145 

Appel, C, Provenzalische Chrestomathie 26 n 

Apollo Club, The 224 

Arbeit u. Rhythmus. See Biicher. 

Arber, E., 126 n, 138 n, 145 n, 146 n, 147, 147 n; English Oamer, 

149 n, 151 n, 152 n, 153 n, 154 n, 155 n, 156 n, 157 n, 158 n, 159 n, 

160 n, 162 n, 163 n, 164 n, 165 n, 166 n, 167 n; English Scholars' 

Library, 197 n; Castara (Habington), 292, 293 n. 

INDEX 586 

Arcadia, The (Sidney) 148, 178 

Archer, W., Poetg of the Younger Generation 559 

Archiv fiir das Studivm der Neueren Sprachen u. Literaturen 93 n 

Areopagus, The 177 

Aretino 14,1 

Ariosto 118, 141, 159 

Aristotle 1, 2, 5, 106, 154 

Aristotle's Poetics. See Bouchler. 

Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Pine Arts. See Butcher. 

Armada, The 245 

Arminius 14 

Arnold, Matthew, 2, 106, 395, 424, 443, 447, 470, 476, 477, 478, 48I- 
486, 544, 546, 547, 551; Poems, 481 n, 482 n. 

Arnold, Thomas 476, 481 

Arraignment of Paris, The (Greene) 200 

Art of English Poesy, The. See Puttenham. 
Arthour and Merlin. See Kolbing. 

Arundel, Earl of 168 

Arvers 158 

Asolani 108 

Asser 18 

Asser's Life of King Alfred. See Cook. 

Astrophel and Stella (Sidney) 147-156, 159 

At the Sign of the Lyre. See Dobson. 

Atalanta in Calydon (Swinburne) 469, 472, 473 

A thencBum, The 243 n 

Attila 14 

Attraverso il Cinquecento. See Graf. 

Aubrey, John 304 

Audelay, J., 83; Carols by, see Chambers. 

Austen, Jane 489 

Avril, see BeUoc, H. 

Ayres, Philip, 3, 327 ; Lyric Poems, 3 n. 

Ayres and Dialogues (John Gamble) 263 

Bach 62 

Bacon, Sir Francis 224, 427, 455 

Baif, Jean-Antoine de 136 

Bale, John 116 

Ballads, Old EngUsh 10-11, 89, 135 

Ballads of Policeman X (Thackeray) 508 

Ballads and Songs. See Davidson. 
Ban and Arriire Ban. See Lang. 

Bannistre, Gilbert ^^ 

Banquet of Music (Playford) 333 

686 INDEX 

Barbour, John 385 

Barnes, Barnabe 156-158, 159 

Barnes, William, 504-506; Select Poems, see Hardy, T. 

Barnfield, R 164 

Baron, Robert 256 n 

Barrack Room Ballads (Kipling) 367, 549 

Bartsch, K. Altfranzosische Romanzen n. Pastourellen, 33 n, 34 n, 
556 ; Chrestomathie de I'ancien franqaU, 26 n, 36 n, 556. 

Bassus 113 n 

Batista della Palla 109 

Beattie, James 433 

Beddoes (T. L.), 444-446; Poems, see R. CoUes. 

Beck, Jean, La Musique des Troubadours 556 

Bede 18, 18 n, 19 

B^dier, J 25 n 

Beeching, H. C, The Sonnets of Shakespeare 558 

Beedome, Thomas 287 

Beers, H. A., 377; A History of English Romanticism in the 
XVIII th Century, 348 n, 350 n, 559; in the XlXth Century, 559; 
Points at Issue, 558. 

Beethoven 470 

Beggar's Opera, The (Gay) 343, 344, 345 n 

Beginnings of Poetry, The. See Gummere. 

Bell, Songs from the Dramatists 82 n, 204 n, 208 n 

Belleau, Remi 538 

Belloc, H., Avril 557 

Bembo 108, 149 

Benoit de Sainte-More 31 

Benson, A. C, Rossetti 460 n 

Beowulf 20 

Berdan, J. M., Poems of John Cleveland 262 n 

Berger, P., William Blake: Mysticisme et Poisie 384 n 

Bibliographical Account of Musical Works. See Rimbault. 
Bibliothek der angelsdchischen Poesie. See Wlilcker. 

Bismarck 448 

Blake, William, 12, 191, 370, 375, 378-385, 388, 393, 429, 458, 504, 507, 
511, 540; WilKcmi Blake, see Berger; Lyrical Poems; The Poeti- 
cal Works, see Sampson; Letters of, see Russell. 
Blunt, W. S., 5SS-535; Esther, Love Lyrics and Natalia's Resurrec- 
tion, 533 n.; Love Sonnets of Proteus, 534 n, 535 n, 536 n; Poetry 
of, see Henley. 

Boccaccio 141, 385 

Boddeker, K., AUenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harl. S^5S, S3n, 

65 n, 112, 368, 556. 
Boileau, Despr^aux 303, 340 

INDEX 587 

Bolle, W., Die gedruckten engl. Liederbilcher bis 1600, 313 n, 213 n, 

Bonar, Horatius 494 

Bonduca (PurceU). See Rimbault, E. F. 

Bonifacio, Dragonetto 309 

Bonnefons, Jean 331 

Born, Bertrand de 26 

Boswell, James 235 

Botticelli 105, 184 

Bouchier, E. S., Aristotle's Poetics In 

Bowles, W. L., S90-391; Sonnets and other Poems 391 n 

Bradley, A. C, 425; Oxford Lectures on Poetry 425 n 

Brahms, Von Ewiger Liebe 216 

Brakelmann, J., Les plus anciens chansonniers frangais, 27 n, 28 n, 

30 n, 556. 
Breton, Nicholas, 190-191, 197, 199, 200; Works, see Grosart. 

Brett, C, Minor Poems of Michael Drayton 187 n 

Bridges, Robert, 432, 434, 435, 540-544; Poetical Works, 540, 541 n, 
543 n, 543 n, 544 n; Poems of John Keats, 424 n. 

Britannia's Pastorals (Wm. Browne) 242, 305 

Brome, Alexander S60-^61 

Bronson, W C, Poems of William Collins 357 n, 359 n, 360 n, 361 n 

Bronte, Charlotte, 406; Life of, see Gaskell. 

Bronte, Patrick 376 

Brooke, Stopford A ^ 410 

Brown, Ford Maddox 460 

Browne, Sir Thomas 524 

Brown, T. E 475 

Browne, William, $4^-^43, 368, 305; Poems of, see Goodwin, G. 

Browning, Elizabeth B., 486-489; Poetical Works 487 n 

Browning, Robert 3, 13, 100, 170, 291, 407, 416, 447, 450, 454-459, 
463, 470, 480, 495, 507, 530. 

Bruce (Barbour, J.) 385 

Brunetifere, 8, 9; L'tivolution de la poisie lyrique en France au 
dix-neuviime siicle, 9 n, 556. 

Bruno, De gV heroici furori 181 

Buchanan, Robert 464 

Bucher, K. W., Arbeit u. Bhythmus 4 n 

Bucke, G 1*5 

Bull, John (organist at Antwerp) 212 

BuUen, A. H., 186; Songs from the Elizabethan Dramatists, 82 n, 
204 n; Longer Elizabethan Poems, 164 n; Lyrics from Eliza- 
bethan Romances, 189 n, 190 n, 200 n; reprint of Poetical Rhap- 
sody, 199 n. 
Bume-Jones, Sir Edward 465 

588 INDEX 

Burnet, Bishop 325 

Burns, Robert, 30, 157, 259, 260, 335, 338, S85-390, 391, 392, 403, 
412, 424, 436, 437, 443, 505, 517, 545; Poetry of, see Henley. 

Burton, Robert 35 

Butcher, S. H., Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Arts, 7n; 

Harvard Lectures on Greek Subjects, 1 n. 

Butler, Samuel 294, 322 

Byron, Lord, 336, 390, 395, 4OS-407, 408, 410, 412, 414, 418, 419, 434, 

437, 447, 454 478, 549; Poetical Works, 404 n, 405 n. 
Byrd William, Psalms, Sonnets and Songs of- Sadness and Piety, 211, 


Caedmon 18 

Caesar, Julius 154 

Calthorp, H. C. Holway, Petrarch, His Life and Times 557 

Cambridge, 92, 94, 223, 251, 261, 262, 263, 273, 283, 296, 298, 309, 338, 

351, 371, 393, 451. 

Cambridge History of English Literature 86 n 

Camden, Wm 223, 224 

Campbell, Thomas, 427, 431-434, 439, 444; Poetical Works, see 

Campion, Thomas, 178, 199, 212, S19-S20, 336, 430, 540, 541; Works, 

see Vivian. 

Canterbury Tales (Chaucer) 71 

Carew, Thomas, 217, 246-261, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 268, 

287, 295, 302, 303, 330, 346, 368; Poems, see Vincent. 
Carey, Henry, 345, 518; Poems on Several Occasions, 345 n. 

Carey, Lady Elizabeth 166 n 

Cariteo 162 

Carlyle, Thomas 403 

Carmina Burana. See Schtneller. 

Carols 83-88 

Carols, Specimens of Old Christmas, see Wright; Ancient English 

Christmas Carols, see Rickert; English Folk-Carols, see Sharp, 

C. J. ; The Story of the Carol, see Crowest, F. J. 

Carpaccio 181 

Cartwright, William 260 

Cary, I^ucius. See Falkland. 

Casa, Giovanni della 155, 162 

Cassola, Luigi 309 

Casson, T. E 390 n 

Castara (Wm. Habington). See Arber. 

Castelvetro 1 

Castiglione, II Cortegiano 209 

Cato (Addison) 336 

Catullus 265 

INDEX 589 

Cavalcanti, Guido 98 

Cavalier Songs and Ballads of England. See Mackay. 

Cavallo, M 150 n 

Caxton, WilUam 94 

Celebration of Charts, A. (Jonson) 213 n 

Cellini, Benvenuto 109 

Cenci, The (Shelley) 407 

Century Magazine 129 n 

Chalmers, A., The Works of the English Poets, 129 n, 143 n, 144 n, 

323 n, 324 n, 362 n. 
Chambers, E. K., Poems of John Donne, 253 n, 236 n, 237 n, 238 n, 

239 n, 240 n, 241 n; Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist, 287 n, 

288 n, 289 n, 290 n, 291 n, 293 n. 
Chambers, E. K., and Sidgwick, F., Early English Lyrics, 46 n, 49 n, 

SO n, 66 n, 87 n, 90 n, 91 n, 93 ii, 111 n, 112 n, 557; Fifteenth 

Century Carols by John Audelay, 83 n. 

Champneys, Basil, Poems by Coventry Patmore 501 n, 503 n 

Champany, M. de 212 

Chansons populaires du fays de France. See Weckerlin. 
Chanson populaire en Prance, Mistoire de la. See Tiersot. 
Chansonniers franqais, Les plus anciens. See Brakelmann. 

Chappell, W., Popular Music of the Olden Time 214 n 

Charles I 244, 246-246, 304 

Charles II 315, 332, 334 

Charles d'Orleans, 76-78, 98, 536; Poems in English by, see Taylor. 
Chatterton, Thomas, 234, S76-S78, 419; Poetical Works, see Skeat. 

Chatterton (De Vlgny) 375 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, 28, 69-74, 75, 76, 78, 127, 180, 368, 376, 385, 466, 468 
Chaucer, Studies in. See Lounsbury. 

Child's Oarden of Verses (Stevenson) 511, 512 

Chloris (Smith) 167 

Chrestien de Troies 29 

Chrestomathie de I'ancien frangais. See Bartsch. 

Christ (Cynewulf ) 18 n, 19, 19 n 

Cinquecento, II. See Flamini. 

Cinthio, G , 387 

Clarendon, Edward, Lord 229 

Clarissa Harlowe (Richardson) 355, 403, 435 

Cl^dat, L., La Po4sie lyrique et satirique en France au moyen dge . .25 n 

Cleomenes (Dryden) 318 n 

Cleveland, John, 261, 262; Poems, see Berdan. 

Clough, A. H., 178, 476-481, 485, 547; Poetical Works, see Palgrave. 

Cnut 18, 19 

Coelia (Percy) 159, 160 


Coleridge, S. T., 105, 161, 286, 390, 393, S98-402, 444, 455 ; Coleridge's 

Literary Criticism,, see Mackail. 
Collection de choeurs, etc., see Gevaert. 

Collection of all the New Songs, A 333 

Collection of Royal Songs written against the Btunp Parliament . .251 n 
Colles, R., Complete Poetical Works of George Darley, 444 n; The 

Poems of Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 446 n. 

Collier, J. P., Reprints 197 n, 198 n 

CoUins, William, 9, 357-361, 362, 363, 366, 368, 381, 413, 424, 436, 545 ; 

Poems, see Bronson. 

Colonna, Giacomo 102, 123 

Colvin, Sidney, Selections from the writings of Landor 419 n 

Comparative Literature. See Posnett. 

Complete Angler, The (Walton) 307 

Comus (Milton) 295 

Conaro, Marco ISO n 

Congreve, William, 254, 364, 312, 320, 352; Essays and Plays, 312 n. 

Conquest of Grenada, The (Dryden) 318 n 

Constable, Henry, 159, 160; Diana, 159, 160. 

Cook, A. S., Asser's Life of King Alfred, 18 n; Christ of Cynewulf, 

The, 18 n. 
Cook, A. S., and Tinker, C. B., Select Translations from old English 

Poetry, 15 n, 16 n, 17 n, 18 n, 19 n, 556. 
Cornwall, Barry. See Proctor. 

Corson, H., A Primer of English Verse 555 

Cortegiano. See Castiglione. 

Cotton, Charles 337, 338, 518 

Couci, Chatelain de 27 

Courthope, W. J., A History of English Poetry 557 

Cowley, Abraham, 309-S14, 316, 326, 339, 349, 354,, 369, 397; Poems; 

Essays and Plays, see Waller, A. R. 
Cowley, A., Life of. See Johnson, S. 
Cowper, William, 343, 371, S7S-374, 386, 507; Complete Poetical 

Works, see Milford. 
Cox, F. A., English Madrigals in the time of Shakespeare, 215 n, 

317 n, 318 n, 558. 
Crashaw, Richard, 193, 368, 378, 380, S8S-^87, 393, 293, 294, 303, 

303 n, 314, 316, 369, 464, 503, 525, 527 ; Poems, see Waller, A. R. 

Crescimbeni 310 

Croiset, A. and M., Histoire de la littirature grecque 3 n, 8 n, 555 

Croiset, A., La Po4sie de Pindare et les lois du lyrisme grec, 6 n, 7 n, 

8 n, 555. 

Cromwell, Oliver 276, 296, 303, 448 

Cromwell. See Hugo. 

Crowest, F. J., The Story of the Carol 556 

INDEX 591 

Crump, C. G., Poems, Dialogues in Verse and Epigrams by Walter 

Savage Landor 416 n, 417 n, 418 n 

Cunliffe, J. W., The Posies of George Oascoigne 141 n, 142 n, 143 n 

Cunningham-Gifford, The Works of Ben Jonson, 223 n, 225 n, 226 n, 
227 n, 328 n, 229 n, 230 n, 231 n, 232 n, 233 n. 

Cymbeline (Shakespeare) 213, 361, 389 

Cynewulf 18, 19 

Cynthia (Barnfield) 164 

Cynthia's Revels (Ben Jonson) 230 n, 231 n 

Dabney, J. B., The Musical Basis of Verse 555 

Daniel, Samuel, 104, 160-161, 163, 170, 188, 219, 225, 368; DeUa, 

159, 162 n ; Works, see Grosart. 

Danielle, Bemadino 136 

Dante 98, 106, 118, 171, 414, 420 

Darley, George, 444; Poetical Works, see CoUes. 

Davenant, Sir William 319 

David and Bethsabe (Peele, G.) 200 

Davidson, John, 185, 529-533, 542; Ballads and Songs, 530 n, 531 n; 

Holiday and Other Poems, 530 n; In a Music Hall and Other 

Poems, 530 n. 

Davison, Francis, Poetical Rhapsody 199 

Death's Jest Book (Beddoes, T. L.) 444 

Defence of Guinevere, The (Morris) 465 

DeguiUeville 71 

De Heredia 451 

Dekker, Thomas 205, 366 

Delia. See Daniel. 

Deir infinitd, d'Amore 109 

Demosthenes 427 

Deor 15 

De Profundis (Wilde) 512 

De Sanctis, 100, 101, 103; Saggio Critico sul Petrarca 103 n, 557 

Desportes 136, 159, 162, 165, 189, 226 

Devereux, Penelope 148-153, 178 

Devereux, Robert, Earl of Essex 139, 140, 148, 245 

Devil is an Ass, The (Jonson) 231 n 

Diana. See Constable. 

Dibdin, Charles, 366-367; Songs, see Hogarth. 

Diella. See Linche. 

Diodati, Charles 299 

Discoveries (Ben Jonson) 224, 228 

Divine Songs for Children (Watts) 370 

Dobell, Bertram, 328; The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne ..329n 

592 INDEX 

Dobson, Austin, 340, 342, 517, SS6-BS8, 539; At the Sign of the 

Lyre, 538 n; Old World Idylls, 537 n; Selections from Prior, 340. 

Dodsley, J., A Collection of Poems 368 n 

Dodsley, Robert, 115; see Hazlitt. 

Dolce, L ISO n, 189 

Domenichi 108 

Don Carlos 168 

Donne, John, 123, 194, 208, 222, 226, Z3S-Z4H, 247, 248, 253, 255, 258, 

263, 267, 273, 274, 275, 279, 287, 304, 309, 329, 346, 415, 446, 463, 

525, 527, 548; Poems, see Chambers. 
Dorset, Charles, Earl of . . .258, 294, 311, 32S-323, 325, 326, 338, 346, 372 
Dowden, Edward, 415; The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, 558. 

Dowland, John, First Book of Songs and Airs 211-212 

Dowson, Ernest, 512, 614-617, 535; Poems, see Symons. 

Drake, Sir Francis 245 

Drama of Exile, A (E. B. Browning) 487 

Dramatis Persona (R. Browning) / 170 

/ Drayton, Michael, 159, 160, 162-164, 186-188, 199, 242, 326, 368, 462, 

525 ; Idea, 159, 162, 163 n. 

Dreves, G. M., Analecta Hymnia Medii Aevi 40 n 

Droeshout 126 

Drolleries Windsor; Epsom; Norfolk; Westminster 331 

Drummond, William, of Hawthornden 223, 225, 226, 228, 233, 385 

Drury, G. T., The Poems of Edmund Waller, 304 n, 305 n, 306 n, 

307 n, 308 n. 
Dryden, John, 293, 302, 305, 308, S14-S19, 322, 329, 3