And now had weighed me down, but that the day Appeared, and Phoebus, from his eastern tower, With new-tricked beam, like truth immortal, shone, And chased the visionary forms away.
With footstep slow, in furry pall yclad, His brows enwreathed with holly never-sear, Old Christmas comes, to close the waned year; And ay the shepherd's heart to make right glad; Who, when his teeming flocks are homeward had, To blazing hearth repairs, and nut-brown beer, And views, well-pleased, the ruddy prattlers dear Hug the gray mongrel; meanwhile maid and lad Squabble for roasted crabs.—Thee, Sire, we hail, Whether thine aged limbs thou dost enshroud, In vest of snowy white, and hoary veil, Or wrap'st thy visage in a sable cloud; Thee we proclaim with mirth and cheer, nor fail To greet thee well with many a carol loud.
During the last two decades of the eighteenth century, Charlotte Smith was England's preeminent sonneteer. The first edition of her Elegiac Sonnets in 1784 galvanized interest in the sonnet and became one of the most wellrespected and popular books of the century. John Thelwall, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott, and Leigh Hunt were among the contemporary writers who celebrated Smith's poetic achievements. She was also a bestselling novelist.The hardships of Smith's personal life find expression in the intense melancholy of her sonnets. She continued to expand Elegiac Sonnets for most of the rest of her career, producing nine editions by 1800. Her blank-verse tour de force, Beachy Head, appeared posthumously in 1807.
The partial Muse has from my earliest hours Smiled on the rugged path I'm doomed to tread, And still with sportive hand has snatched wild flowers, To weave fantastic garlands for my head: But far, far happier is the lot of those Who never learned her dear delusive art;
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Publication information: Book title: A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival 1750-1850. Contributors: Paula R. Feldman - Editor, Daniel Robinson - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 29.
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