Ebenezer Elliott's Corn Law Rhymes (1830) urged the repeal of excessive taxes
on bread and earned him the sobriquet “Corn Law Rhymer.” Elliott was a
crusader for social justice in many other poetic works. His sonnets show that
he was fascinated with metrical experimentation.
Why should the tiny harp be chained to themes
In fourteen lines with pedant rigor bound?
The sonnet's might is mightier than it seems:
Witness the bard of Eden lost and found,
Who gave this lute a clarion's battle sound.
And, lo! another Milton calmly turns
His eyes within on light that ever burns,
Waiting till Wordsworth's second peer be found!
Meantime, Fitzadam's mournful music shows
That the scorned sonnet's charm may yet endear
Some long deep strain, or lay of well-told woes;
Such as, in Byron's couplet, brings a tear
To manly cheeks, or o'er his stanza throws
Rapture and grief, solemnity and fear.
Yet art hath less of instinct than of thought,
All instinct though it seems; for as the flower
Which blooms in solitude, by noiseless power,
And skill divine, is wonderfully wrought,
So from deep study art's high charm is caught;
And as the sunny air, and dewy light,
Are spun in heavenly looms, till blossoms, bright
With honeyed wealth and sweetness, droop o'er-fraught,
And our eyes breathe of beauty; so the bard
Wrings from slow time inimitable grace;
So wins immortal music her reward,
E'en with a bee's industry; and we trace
The sculptor's home-thoughts through his labors hard,
Till beams, with deathless love, the chiseled face.
Frederick William Faber studied at Oxford, where he helped to found the
Oxford University Magazine. He became a disciple of John Henry Cardinal