John Clare: The Critical Heritage

By Mark Storey | Go to book overview

genuine poetry, —how such a flower should have sprung up under the very harrow of poverty. It is seven years since that volume appeared, and we reflect with satisfaction, that, from our Journal, Clare met with (we believe) the earliest notice and the most cordial praise. We could not, however, refrain from expressing our doubt as to the possible effect of further cultivation upon the native originality of his mind. We hardly ventured to hope that he would so far excel his early efforts as he has since done. In the preface to the present volume, he expresses a just and manly confidence of success. ‘I hope, ’ he says, ‘my low station in life will not be set off as a foll against my verses; and I am sure I do not wish to bring it forward as an excuse for any imperfections that may be found in them. ’ We like this spirit. There is a sort of praise which, in its tone, differs little from contempt, and with which no poet would be satisfied. His compositions may now challenge admiration on the ground of their intrinsic merit and interest. Although we have already extracted somewhat largely, it would hardly be doing justice to the volume, to withhold a specimen of his success in narrative poetry; but we can make room for only a short specimen, with which we shall conclude this article.

[Quotes from ‘The Sorrows of Love’]


82.

Unsigned notice, London Weekly Review

9 June 1827, i, 7

We happened to open this little book in so pleasant a mood, that we almost felt our judgment might be somewhat improperly biassed in the estimate of its intrinsic merits. We had not, however, perused many pages before we discovered that our self-suspicions were wholly groundless. Wretched taste, poverty of thought, and unintelligible phraseology, for some time appeared its only characteristics. There was nothing, perhaps, which more provoked our spleen than the want of a glossary; for,

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