Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview

19.

John Conington(?), from a review, ‘Recent Poetry, and Recent Verse’, in Fraser’s Magazine

May 1849, xxxix, 580-5

Conington (1825-69) was Professor of Latin at Oxford (1854-69); he published verse translations of Horace, the Aeneid and half the Iliad. For the convincing ascription of this article to Conington see A. H. C. Descr. Cat. 66.

Most of the quotations from Burbidge have been retained here for their comparative interest.

The next book on our list is one far superior in poetic power to any of the works we have noticed, except the Strayed Reveller, and far superior to that volume in faith and earnestness of purpose. Its name, Ambarvalia, perhaps, is a mistake; for it leads us to expect something of a pastoral, or rather a purely Bucolic nature. On the contrary, the short lyrics and fragments of blank verse of which it consists are almost entirely of a subjective and meditative cast, principally religious and philosophic. Especially in Mr. Clough’s half of the book there is often an obscurity of thought, and a careless roughness of form, which more time spent in polishing, and more exertion given to throwing his thoughts into a concrete and truly imaginative form, might easily have remedied. We must complain, too, of the fragmentary state of the whole book. It is true every scrap is worthy reading and remembering. The authors have a right to say, ‘Whatever we have not done, we have, at least, given you a worthy thought embodied in a worthy form, to help your comprehension and recollection. ’ But still we must ask, Why these mere scraps—very often without titles? Why were they not kept to be inserted as parts of some continuous whole? Why, as we said before, should an artist begin publishing his sketches before he has painted us one perfect picture? He fritters away his own talents by the habit of throwing into verse unconnected his passing thoughts,

-88-

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