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Before the Augustan age' of wit and common-sense had completed its course a departure from its precepts and fashions had begun. The complex of tendencies which gradually transformed literature in the course of the eighteenth century is usually referred to as the romantic movement.' Some, however, prefer to conserve this term for a more restricted application to the revival of medievalism which was a part of the broader movement; while still others prefer to think of these changes as the result of two related tendencies, the return to nature' and the revival of the past.' The English genius could not long content itself with the equably ironic view of human fate which found expression in the essays of Addison, or with the jaunty commendations of God and the universe which capped Pope's essentially shallow and worldly philosophy. Even Pope's Essay on Man, it is worth while to notice, had been preceded by Thomson's Hymn on the Seasons. Three-quarters of a century were to elapse before any first-rate mind should survey life with that comprehensive sympathy and penetrate it with that fresh, imaginative insight which marks the truly great and original poet. In the meantime the useful work of our age of prose and reason,' 'our excellent and indispensable eighteenth century,' was being done. Meantime, also, chiefly among men of second-rate and thirdrate quality, we may detect evidences, stray and imperfect, of that longing to inquire into the mystery of this heart which beats so wild, so deep in us' which always underlies literature of the finest power. Now, great literary changes are usually accompanied or heralded,' as Stevenson has phrased it, by a cast back to earlier and fresher models.' Thus, most of these minor writers were in some degree imitative. Discontented, first of all, with the subject-matter of poetry, its restriction to what they deemed superficial and trivial in town life, they sought the fields and the mountain's rugged brow.' And, just as they became interested in the solitudes and the untamed aspects of Nature, so they became interested in wild and primitive, or in simple and rustic society, where the elementary impulses of men have freer play. Discontented, too, with the artificial diction and rhetoric and the restricted couplet verse of the Pope school, they cast back' to the blank verse of Shakspere and Milton, to Milton's octo-syllabies, to the fluid stanza of Spenser, and to the free modulations of the old ballad stave. Emulating their models in subject, diction, rhythm,- they caught at times something of their spirit. There is hardly one of these men of slighter power, thinly descriptive or heavily didactic as they frequently are, who does not at some point flash for a moment with the loveliness, or mystery, or melancholy, or boldness, or fine frenzy,' of the earlier masters, or the wilding songs of the folk.

Edward Young, five years Pope's senior, an Oxford scholar of saturnine temper, a disappointed seeker after the bubble reputation,' first in the theater and then in the church, produced at three-score the poem for which he is remembered. The Complaint. or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality, a didactic poem in ten thousand lines of blank verse, is still impressive for its nervous aphoristic force and somber magnificence of imagery and music.

John Gay, the intimate friend of Swift and Pope, was a compliant creature of his age. His prime gift was for travesty and his greatest success in this kind, The Beggar's Opera. created a type. The Shepherd's Week was intended to burlesque the Pastorals then in vogue. But the effect of reality and truth became conspicuous,' says Johnson, even when the intention was to show them groveling and degraded.'

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Robert Blair was a Scotch minister. The Grave, in some eight hundred lines of blank verse, is an early example of the so-called 'grave-yard' school of poetry. It is somewhat singular among the poems of its time and class, in that its diction and versification suggest the influence of Elizabethan dramatic poets rather than that of Milton.

John Dyer, a Welsh landscape painter, was also a landscape poet. His Grongar Hill was published the year of Thomson's Winter. Its likeness to Milton's L'Allegro is sufficiently obvious. The Ruins of Rome (1740) and The Fleece (1757) are didactico-descriptive poems in blank verse, suggestive of Milton and Thomson.

William Shenstone was a somewhat spiritless bachelor and recluse who amused himself with landscape-gardening on a small scale at the Leasowes, a modest estate adjoining Lord

Littleton's acres at Hagley. His poetry is tamely elegiac and pastoral. The Schoolmistress, his best known poem, is a Spenserian semi-burlesque.

Mark Akenside, a physician whom a youthful addiction to poetry did not prevent from rising high in his profession, published his Pleasures of Imagination in his twenty-third year. His Odes and Hymn to the Naiades appeared successively the two years following. Though too abstract and coldly elegant, his poems are impregnated with the manner of Milton and tinged with romantic aspiration.

Somewhat like that of Akenside, but incomparably more exquisite, is the poetry of William Collins,- slight and fragile in everything except its hold on immortality. Collins' delicately cultivated mind was early obscured and he died in his thirty-eighth year, having written nothing for a decade. Lowell has said of his Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands, that it contained the whole Romantic School in its germ'; but his grace of spirit and the importunate loveliness of his diction are seen in purest perfection in his shorter pieces.

Thomas Warton, in his youth a friend of Thomson and Collins and, in later years, an admirer of Gray and a valued member of Johnson's club, spent most of his life at Oxford. He was an accomplished antiquarian, author of the first History of English Poetry, and a 'pioneer of the medieval revival.' His verse shows the confluence of many romantic elements but is too little original to be of much intrinsic value.

Thomas Chatterton spent most of his few years at Bristol, where his ancestors had been, for a century and a half, sextons of St. Mary Redcliffe. In the muniment room' of this church he pretended to have discovered the manuscripts of the poems which he gave to the world as those of a fifteenth century priest, Thomas Rowley. His forgeries were clever enough to impose upon Horace Walpole, though Gray readily detected the deception. In London, whither he had gone with the hope of living by his pen, the morbidly precocious boy took his own life at the age of seventeen years and nine months. His strange hectic genius and the romantic tragedy of his death exercised a spell upon the poets of the next two generations.

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Nor eye nor listening ear an object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and Nature made a

An awful pause! prophetic of her end. 25
And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled:
Fate! drop the curtain; I can lose no more.
Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters!

From ancient Night, who nurse the tender

To reason, and on reason build resolve - 30
That column of true majesty in man-
Assist me: I will thank you in the grave;
The grave your kingdom: there this frame
shall fall

A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
But what are ye?


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This is the desert, this the solitude:
How populous, how vital is the grave!
This is creation's melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades!
All, all on earth, is shadow, all beyond 60
Is substance; the reverse is folly's creed;
How solid all, where change shall be no


This is the bud of being, the dim dawn, The twilight of our day, the vestibule; Life's theater as yet is shut, and death, Strong death alone can heave the massy bar, This gross impediment of clay remove, And make us embryos of existence free From real life; but little more remote Is he, not yet a candidate for light, The future embryo, slumbering in his sire. Embryos we must be till we burst the shell, Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life, The life of gods, O transport! and of man. Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts;



Inters celestial hopes without one sigh. Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon,

Here pinions all his wishes; winged by heaven


To fly at infinite: and reach it there
Where seraphs gather immortality,
On life's fair tree, fast by the throne of

What golden joys ambrosial clustering glow
In his full beam, and ripen for the just,
Where momentary ages are no more!
Where time, and pain, and chance, and
death expire!

85 And is it in the flight of threescore years

To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust?
A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptured or alarmed, 91
At aught this scene can threaten or indulge,
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.

JOHN GAY (1685-1732)

FROM THE SHEPHERD'S WEEK When fast asleep they Bowzybeus spy'd, His hat and oaken staff lay close beside. That Bowzybeus who could sweetly sing, Or with the rozin'd bow torment the string: That Bowzybeus who with finger's speed 5 Could call soft warblings from the breathing reed;

That Bowzybeus who with jocound tongue, Ballads and roundelays and catches sung. They loudly laugh to see the damsel's fright, And in disport surround the drunken wight. Ah, Bowzybee, why didst thou stay so long?


The mugs were large, the drink was wond'rous strong!

Thou shouldst have left the fair before

't was night,

But thou sat'st toping 'till the morning light.

Cic'ly, brisk maid, steps forth before the rout,


And kiss'd with smacking lip the snoring lout.

For custom says, 'Whoe'er this venture proves,

For such a kiss demands a pair of gloves.'
By her example Dorcas bolder grows,
And plays a tickling straw within his nose.
He rubs his nostril, and in wonted joke 21
The sneezing swains with stamm'ring speech

To you, my lads, I'll sing my carols o'er,
As for the maids-I've something else in


No sooner 'gan he raise his tuneful song, But lads and lasses round about him throng. Not ballad-singer plac'd above the crowd Sings with a note so thrilling sweet and loud,

Nor parish-clerk who calls the psalm so clear,

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