John Clare: The Critical Heritage

By Mark Storey | Go to book overview

50.

Comments on ‘prettiness’ in poetry

1821

(a) Clare to Taylor, 24 April 1821, LJC, pp. 113-4. Dr Noehden, from the British Museum, had visited Clare.

…he odd enough said ‘he had seen my pretty poems & that curiosity had urged him to seize the first opportunity of seeing the author’…. I didnt much like pretty but will alter these things when out a second time twas natural enough—children say so about playthings—& this first book is our plaything I consider it nothing more now—the muse is there in the bud in the next she will be in the blossom If I mistake not—& these will alter the note a little—a smile shoud dimple to say them pretty—but admiration shall redden the cheek with pronouncing they are good—& if not in the next—if we are left as I hope we shall to wind up the story: in the last admiration shall let fall her muscles into reverence….

(b) Taylor to Clare, 1 May 1821, Eg. 2245, fol. 313v:

I know Dr. Noehden only by Name—Never Mind what Epithet people use—the Feeling you anticipate will have its full Effect in their hearts at some Time or other—if they have any Taste or Feeling. Go on & prosper.

(c) Drury to Clare, no date, Eg. 2250, fol. 121:

That word ‘pretty’ is an odious appellation to a vol. of Poems—and if you call them ‘pretty’ you have said the severest & most provoking thing that can be said. Therefore I hope you will back my endeavours to avoid the idea of ‘prettiness’ being attached to the book.

-134-

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