Poems and odes on various subjects

Poems and odes on various subjects - Unknown I hope this young (I assume he's young) gentleman went on to have a successful law career. The evidence here suggests that he might have: he was clearly intelligent and literate, and had a good eye (and ear) for precedent. As a poet, he was - well, a law student. There's very little evidence of feeling here, just experimentation, and he's humble enough to admit it in his verses on poetry itself, although that too is a poetic trope he probably learned from others. His choice of poets to apostrophize is Byron and Moore: nothing particularly radical there, though Byron may have seemed a bit daring to him. Even the verses on slavery, which might seem to be a bit more topical than most, are quickly conventionalized into moralizing on Avarice, dread Luxury, and the clank of fetters on Afric's plains. He's given to that particular vice of mediocre eighteenth century versifying (as I say, he's a copier): the piling up of personified abstractions without great care for maintaining strict rational sense in their "characterization", let alone any deeper meaning in their combination. Indeed, the inversions and sound-over-sense of poetic language betrayed him into some beautifully absurd lines here and there, of which I have picked out two that made me chuckle:

Soft are thy beams as melt an infant's eyes
(yikes! melting baby eyes! he's apostrophizing "night", and we can work out the intended comparison between the pretty infant gaze and the moonbeams, but still, yikes!)


That soul which swell'd divinely through her tongue
(here we're talking either about Matilda, his muse for the poem on music, or the nightingale her teacher - it's not quite clear which). Anyway, swelling tongues alarm me a bit!

I suppose I'm being slightly unfair; as facebook, blogs and fanfiction.net are to the current crop of youngsters spreading their creative wings, so the modest little printed pamphlet of verse was to those of their ancestors who could afford the printing costs. Only a university library (where I found this opus) betrays the deserved obscurity of the juvenile experiments of the elder generations; will the internet hold a frighteningly larger volume of mediocre, though not wholly rubbishy, juvenile and not-so-juvenile work, including my own, perpetually in the half-light instead of letting it sink into the darkness? Almost certainly. It's not the worst thing in the world, as long as the truly great is not buried irretrievably in the mass of it, and I doubt that'll ever actually happen as long as there are sensitive readers and dedicated teachers.