John Thelwall: Selected Poetry and Poetics by J. Thompson

By J. Thompson

Drawing on newly-discovered manuscripts, this assortment is the 1st smooth version of poetry by way of John Thelwall, the famed radical Romantic and champion of the operating classification. 8 key essays and one hundred twenty five fully-annotated poems introduce his paintings in correspondence with historic traditions and present severe paradigms.

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Extra resources for John Thelwall: Selected Poetry and Poetics (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)

Sample text

Let me illustrate with a brief Thelwallian close reading of the sonnet in which I first saw—or rather heard—the complexity of Thelwall’s art in (re)action: Sonnet II To Tyranny O HELL-born Tyranny! How blest the land Whose watchful Citizens with dauntless breast Oppose thy first approach! With aspect bland Thou wont, alas! too oft, to lull to rest The sterner virtues that should guard the throne Of Liberty. Deck’d with the gaudy zone Of Pomp, and usher’d with lascivious arts Of glossing Luxury, thy fraudful smile Ensnares the dazzled senses, till our hearts Sink, palsied, in degenerate lethargy.

An experiment in versification Soft was the Season the mayfly was flitting, Perfumes dispensing wherever he flew; Zephyrs were whispering to Fays that were sitting Flora’s gay ranks among, sipping the dew. Violet and Cowslip and Hyacinth tending Fresher and sweeter they taught to unfold; Roses & Woodbines, from hedgerow depending, Lillac’s soft purple, & Broom’s living gold. 28 10 Sweet was the rapture to rapture succeeding! Teem’d every bud in the moment of joy! Birth’s sweeter throe sweet fruition exceeding, Bliss was a phoenix too fragrant to cloy.

719 One of Thelwall’s most important pastoral motifs, the zephyr first appears in his juvenilia as the flirtatious suitor of seductive flowers like those in “The Nosegay,” but is later associated with the breath and voice of the orator, ambivalent source of his potency at once rhetorical, sexual, and moral. This development is seen in the poems below, part of a sequence whose first three parts were published in 1787, while the fourth is a manuscript addition, appearing among love poems, anacreontics, and metrical experiments dated 1804–12, some of which share its intense eroticism and musical notation.

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