A poetaster's holiday

A poetaster's holiday - Anonymous I quite enjoyed this, even though the author didn't think enough of his half-dozen or so long poems to own up to them. Obviously an intelligent man (pretty definitely a man, I think - has obviously had a professional education of some kind, and there's not a love poem in sight), this author declares:

Don't think of me. Alas! I'm not a poet.
I have one merit - one alone - I know it.

That's from his opening effort, a satire in rhyming couplets that could fit quite easily into the 18th century, except that having complained about the current state of poetry, he goes on to suggest in glowing terms the subject of science as the new source of poetic imagination. And, despite his disclaimer, that is essentially what this little collection goes on to explore. Sometimes it straightforward, as in the verses on seeing phosphorescence while travelling by ship. In the longer poems, it is contrasted with religion; the longest and most ambitious poem is called The Fakir and is structured around the deathbed encounters of a self-immolating Hindu of the most extreme kind with beings that have the attributes of Brahma, Siva and Vishnu. A similar visionary deathbed journey, this time in the first person, takes more direct aim at the Christian church, contrasting the hell-fire-and-damnation rhetoric of the "Spirit of the Past" with the "Spirit of the Future"

I am the Spirit of a Time to come,
When human progress will have reached a state
As yet undreamed of man. ...
And man denies the Church's power to bann
For all eternity!

This chap (who goes unidentified by any of the librarians who have submitted their copy of his work to worldcat) has a decent ear and knows how to use different stanza forms appropriately and effectively. While he may not be a capital-P poet, I think I would have enjoyed knowing him. Glad at least to have made this passing contact with his spirit.