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Poem by Anna Seward


Sonnet 76. Lo! modern Critics emulously dare


 THE CRITICS OF DOCTOR JOHNSON'S SCHOOL[1].

Lo! modern Critics emulously dare
    Ape the great Despot; throw in pompous tone
    And massy words their true no meaning down!
    But while their envious eyes on Genius glare,
While axioms false assiduously they square
    In arrogant antithesis, a frown
    Lours on the brow of Justice, to disown
    The kindred malice with its mimic air.
Spirit of Common Sense[2]! must we endure
    The incrustation hard without the gem?
    Find in th' Anana's rind the wilding sour,
The Oak's rough knots on every Osier's stem?
    The dark contortions of the Sybil bear,
    Whose inspirations never meet our ear?

1: In jargon, like the following, copied from a Review, are the works of Genius perpetually criticized in our public Prints: Passion has not sufficient coolness to pause for metaphor, nor has metaphor ardor enough to keep pace with passion.Nothing can be less true. Metaphoric strength of expression will burst even from vulgar and illiterate minds when they are agitated. It is a natural effort of roused sensibility in every gradation, from unlettered simplicity to the highest refinement. Passion has no occasion to pause for metaphors, they rush upon the mind which it has heated. Similies, it is true, are not natural to strong emotion. They are the result of spirits that are calm, and at leisure to compare.

2: This idea is from a speech of Mr. Burke's, recorded by Boswell.



Anna Seward


Anna Seward's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 87. Round Cleon's brow the Delphic laurels twine
  2. Sonnet 56. What bashful wildness in those crystal eyes
  3. Sonnet 45. From Possibility's dim chaos sprung
  4. Sonnet 78. Sophia tempts me to her social walls
  5. Sonnet 99. Remorseless Winter! in thy iron reign


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