ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE

I

WORDSWORTH more than any other poet stamped the speech and the images of the poets after him. Since he wrote, hardly a poet has been able to choose his images away from the natural scene. Wordsworth gave poets a finished tool; and it has since made and marked the most unlikely poems.

But the thought for which poets have used the tool has been Coleridge's thought. Coleridge was strikingly a maker of beginnings. Beginnings of books, of poems, of thoughts are his work. Two of his best known poems are unfinished. His best book, the Biographia Literaria, is a heap of odds and ends, unfinished and only half begun. The poets of the nine- teenth century took up these unfinished thoughts. They took the finished tool from Wordsworth; but they took their thought, their hope and their unsureness from the lavish beginnings which Coleridge had left.

The poets after Wordsworth and Coleridge took over Coleridge's discovery of psychology. They wrote of psychology in terms of the natural images of Wordsworth. In part they held to these images because they were ill at ease with people. They shirked the work of squaring their notion of people with what people are. Mary Shelley made this

-187-

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The Poet's Defence
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword 1
  • Sidney & Shelley 17
  • Philip Sidney 19
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley 57
  • John Dryden 87
  • Wordsworth & Coleridge 127
  • William Wordsworth 129
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge 155
  • Swinburne and His Heirs 185
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne 187
  • Alfred Edward Housman 209
  • William Butler Yeats 229
  • List of Quotations And Index 253
  • Index 257
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