John Clare: The Critical Heritage

By Mark Storey | Go to book overview

THE PERIOD PRIOR TO PUBLICATION OF THE SHEPHERD’S CALENDAR: INCIDENTAL COMMENTS

January 1822-December 1826

68.

Eliza Emmerson comments on ‘Superstition’s Dream’

1822

Eliza Emmerson to Clare, 1 January 1822, Eg. 2246, foll. 1-4.

This is a good example of Mrs Emmerson’s desire to tinker with Clare’s text (none of her suggestions was incorporated into the final version), and also of her love of the sublime. The poem, printed in the London Magazine, February 1822, was later included in The Shepherd’s Calendar. Taylor told Clare on 7 August 1826 that it was ‘perhaps the best poem you have written’ (Eg. 2247, fol. 202). Clare sensed the originality of the piece when he saw it in print; as he told Taylor on 8 February 1822, ‘I can see in a moment the Dream will do ’tis the best I’ve done yet’ (LJC, p. 131). Mrs Emmerson did not want the poem to be published in the London Magazine; Taylor insisted, and Mrs Emmerson commented, when she saw it on 5 February, ‘since it must be introduced to public notice through the medium of a half-crown publication, I am truly rejoic’d now that your name is not affixed to it’ (Eg. 2246, fol. 17v). Taylor reported on 18 February, ‘I don’t hear so much Inquiry after the author of the Dream as you suspect would be made, but it is thought very clever’ (Eg. 2246, fol. 44).

-187-

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