Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Poets.
the Sussex-born dramatist, Fletcher, next in order to the "Swan of Avon,"—
No second growth the western isle could bear,
At once exhausted with too rich a year :
Too nicely Jonson knew the critic's part;
Nature to him was almost lost in art.
Of softer mould, the gentle Fletcher came,
The next in order, as the next in fame ;
With pleased attention 'midst his scenes we find
Each glowing thought that warms the female mind;
Each melting sigh and every tender tear;
The lover's wishes and the virgin's fear.
His every strain the Smiles and Graces own ;
But stronger Shakspeare felt for man alone:
Drawn by his pen, our ruder passions stand—
Th; unrivall'd picture of his early hand.
A long dreary night in poetry has to be passed (but feebly lighted up by three Sussex luminaries, Hayley, Charlotte Smith, and James Hurdis), before the close of the 18th century, with its French Revolution, and the breaking forth of new hopes, new ideas, new passions, called forth a new race of poets — first Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth—all Revolutionists, or, as they called themselves, Pantisocratists, in their " salad days "—then Byron, Keats, Leigh Hunt, and, last and greatest of all, the Sussex boy-poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. These later poets took up the opinions of the earlier ones of the 19th century at the point they had cast them off for more sober and orthodox views. Hence the bitter feud between them. But literary quarrels are for a generation—poetry is for "all time." Shelley—expelled from Oxford, driven from his home and country—even deprived of his children for his theological opinions, now takes his place beside Coleridge and Wordsworth, and is looked upon as one of the brightest names and purest natures that adorn the literature of England. He did not live to see the change. The clouds were still over him when he went down into that watery element with which, even in life, his nature seemed to mingle, and which he loved more than the tame land.
Never, surely, did the storms of life beat more fiercely
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