Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Poets.                             231
A look that's fasten'd to the ground,
A tongue chain'd up without a sound;
Fountain heads and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves:
Moon-light walks, when all the fowls
Are warmly hous'd, save bats and owls;
A midnight bell, a passing groan,
These are the sounds we feed upon:
Then stretch our bones in a still, gloomy valley;
Nothing so dainty sweet as lonely melancholy.
Like to the falling of a star, Or as the flights of eagles are, Or like the fresh Spring's gaudy hue, Or silver drops of morning dew, Or like a wind that chafes the flood, Or bubbles which on water stood : E'en such is man, whose borrow'd light Is straight call'd in and paid to-night :— The wind blows out, the bubble dies; The Spring intomb'd in Autumn lies; The dew's dried up, the star is shot, The flight is past and man forgot.
There is a honeyed sweetness in this verse which has never been surpassed. And yet we question if many Sussex ears have feasted on it before. And Rye, has she any memorial of her greatest son ? We wot not. Otway has not long had one at his birth-place, and Horsham knows nothing of Shelley. But poets like these need no monuments beyond their own works. They alone are indestructible.
Thomas Otway was born in 1651, in the little village of Trotton (West Sussex), of which his father was curate, and subsequently rector of the adjacent parish of Woolbeding. The spot is well-fitted by its rural beauty and picturesque scenery for a Pastoral Poet. But Otway's genius did not lie, like Fletcher's, in this direction; nor was there, in the licentious age of the second Charles, much demand for that kind of poetry. A new taste and a new style of literature had been imported from France, and a license was permitted— nay, demanded—of writers for the stage that even the later dramatists of James's days would have scarcely satisfied. The Rochesters, the Davenants, and the Ethereges were now
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