We have Gascoyne, Surrey
, stiff, pedantic, artificial, systematic as a country cemetery, and, worst of all, the whole time desperately in love.
Every verse is as flat, thin, and regular as a lath, and their poems are nothing more than bundles of such tied trimly together.
They are said to have refined our language.
Let us devoutly hope they did, for it would be pleasant to be grateful to them for something.
But I fear it was not so, for only genius can do that; and Sternhold
are inspired men in comparison with them.
was at least the author of two noble stanzas:—
The Lord descended from above
And bowed the heavens high,
And underneath his feet he cast
The darkness of the sky;
On cherubs and on cherubims
Full royally he rode,
And on the wings of all the winds
Came flying all abroad.
But Gascoyne and the rest did nothing more than put the worst school of Italian
love poetry into an awkward English dress.
The Italian proverb says, ‘Inglese italianizzato, Diavolo incarnate,’ that an Englishman Italianized is the very devil incarnate, and one feels the truth of it here.
The very titles of their poems set one yawning, and their wit is the cause of the dulness that is in other men. ‘The lover, deceived by his love, repenteth him of the true love he bare her.’
Where I sought heaven there found I hap;
From danger unto death,
Much like the mouse that treads the trap
In hope to find her food,
And bites the bread that stops her breath,—
So in like case I stood.
‘The lover, accusing his love for her unfaithfulness, proposeth to live in liberty.’