Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Poets.
the word, a poet. Certainly, the axiom of Shelley, in his "Julian and Maddalo," as echoed by him from Byron, that
Most wretched men are cradled into poetry by wrong : They learn in suffering what they teach in song,
did not apply to Hurdis. He had no such cradling, and *no
such lesson is conveyed in his poems. He was content with
singing the external attributes of men and Nature; he never
dived into the depths of the human heart or sought to fathom
the higher mysteries of Nature. Mr. M. A. Lower quotes, in
his "Sussex Worthies," a passage from the "Village Curate"
as one of " startling beauty," "amidst much that is prose-like
and unattractive." Here it is :—
It wins my admiration To view the structure of that little work, A bird's nest. Mark it well, within, without; No tool had he that wrought, no knife to cut, No nail to fix, no bodkin to insert, No glue to join: his little beak was all; And yet how neatly finished! What nice hand, "With every implement and means of Art, And twenty years' apprenticeship to boot, Could make me such another ? Fondly then We boast of excellence, whose noblest skill Instinctive genius foils.
With every deference to the talented author of "The Worthies of Sussex," we fail to see the "startling beauty," of this. To us it is the perfection of common-place—the antipodes of Poetry!
There was one poetical incident in the life of Hurdis. He met Cowper at Eartham, the country seat of Hayley, near Chichester. There, in 1792, says Mr. Lower, "the three poets met," of whom one certainly was a poet. "But as for the other two"-----
But this meeting was at the close of the 18th century— that sterile period in English poetry—and Coleridge, Southey, and Wordsworth, like young eagles, were as yet purging their eyes in the light of that poet-awakening event, the French Revolution. At no other period could such platitudes as are contained in the foregoing lines have been sent forth as poetry.
- S
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