A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival 1750-1850

By Paula R. Feldman; Daniel Robinson | Go to book overview

Horace Smith
(1779–1849)

Percy Bysshe Shelley saw great irony in the fact that his friend Horace Smith,
whom he considered the most generous of men, was also a successful stock-
broker.With his brother James, Smith published the highly successful liter-
ary parody Rejected Addresses (1812), which lampooned Southey, Words-
worth, and Scott. He wrote his sonnet “Ozymandias” in competition with
Shelley and was also the author of a popular novel, Brambletye House (1826).


342. Ozymandias

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the desert knows:—
“I am great Ozymandias, saith the stone,
“The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
The wonders of my hand.”—The city's gone,
Nought but the leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder, —and some hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when through the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the wolf in chase,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

(1818)


John Clare
(1793–1864)

John Clare's first volume, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820),
was a literary sensation. Of laboring-class origins, Clare was known as a
“peasant poet” who had little formal education, who had worked as a farm
laborer, and who had no literary pretentions. His aim was to capture the or-
dinary experience of rural life in a natural idiom.This he did, much as Burns
had some decades before. His fame was short-lived, however; he spent the last
twenty-five years of his life suffering from severe mental illness and confined
to an institution.There, he wrote much of his best poetry, which remained
largely unpublished until the twentieth century.


343. The Primrose

Welcome, pale Primrose! starting up between
Dead matted leaves of ash and oak, that strew
The every lawn, the wood, and spinney through,

-170-

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