It is the first intimation we have of what our best English poetry has done for the best French poets of the present, and what our first free verse poet has done for the general liberation of emotions and for freedom of form in all countries. He has indicated the poets that are to follow him.
Craig, the ingenious architect of the new town of Edinburgh and nephew of Thomson, to whom Dr. Johnson has since done so much justice, in his Lives of the Poets. We talked of memory, and its various modes. JOHNSON. 'Memory will play strange tricks. One sometimes loses a single word.
The piano is then locked up, the music sent to Bath or Canterbury, and the lady is married and cannot sing. But the Greek poets sang their own verses: "Homer literally sang the wrath of Achilles, and the woes of Greece;" would it were so in England.
They were scholars as well as poets; and their great object was to create a tradition in the poetry of France which should bring it into accord with the immortal models of Greece and Rome. This desire to imitate classical literature led to two results.
Two Mans being together, they uttered noises at each other like this: "Haw-haw-haw dam good, dam good," together with other sounds of more or less likeness to these, wherefore ye poets conceived that they talked, but poets be always ready to catch at any frantic folly, God he knows.
Waller is his favourite: and as that admirable writer has the best and worst verses of any among our great English poets, Ned Softly has got all the bad ones without book, which he repeats upon occasion, to show his reading, and garnish his conversation.
Very delicate, slender, and bizarre talents are indeed incapable of being used for an outside purpose, whether of public good or of private gain. But about very great and rich talent there goes a certain disdainful generosity which can turn its hand to anything. Minor poets cannot write to order; but very great poets can write to order.
I could not fancy even a Boston grocer's boy doing the like; and perhaps this was an uncommon boy in Wales itself. He told me a good deal, which I have mainly forgotten, about the state of polite learning in his country and in what honor the living bards were held. It seems that in that rhyming and singing little land, the poets are still known as of old by their bardic names.
Conventional epitaphs are marked by two characteristics; artistically, when in verse, they are the worst specimens of poetry known to man; even good poets seldom write good epitaphs, and among all the sins against art perpetrated by the uninspired, the most flagrant are found here; to a bad poet, for some reason or other, the temptation to write them is irresistible.