51 per cent of the population remember him for one thing only: his ghastly letter to Charlotte Bronte - "Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life".
Thankfully, after initially promising to, she took no notice of him.
I'd forgotten that.
It's the old, old story: he was a bright young radical who degenerated into a smug and very reactionary old fart.
Yes, for that and writing the poem of which 'Old Father William' is a parody.
I'm unable to forgive Southey for The Holly Tree:
"O READER! hast thou ever stood to see
The Holly Tree?
The eye that contemplates it well perceives
Its glossy leaves
Order’d by an intelligence so wise,
As might confound the Atheist’s sophistries."
That is outstandingly bad.
I just read an article about Frieda Hughes on the BBC website, about her training to be a counselor. She's had a difficult life and I feel for her - but Christ, tin ear for poetry or what? Makes Southey look like Tennyson.
I have the lowest opinion of her father it's possible for anyone to have, but even I wouldn't say she takes after him in aptitude. He had an ear.
Edited at 2014-05-13 03:19 pm (UTC)
I don't like Hughes either- as a man or a poet- but I'll concede he had talent.
It must be tough having to carry Ted and Sylvia around as parents.
Months later, my marriage/Already rotting on its acrimonious stalk/ Follows him into the ground/And my brother too, who couldn't wait to leave
Following this devastating series of events, she describes her inner life as a wasteland.
Now my internal landscape is little more/ Than a bone yard
Holy shit, that's really terrible. She should get a day job and never ever give it up. Hopefully counselling will work for her.
I see she's had collections published. O dear :(
Poetry rarely runs in families. Coleridge had a son- Hartley- who wasn't bad. I can't think of any other example of a good poet who had a good poet among his/her offspring.
Her brother "who couldn't wait to leave" had a very respectable career as a marine biologist. Sensible bloke. I was sorry to hear about his depression and suicide.
Hartley Coleridge knocked around with Branwell Bronte, or so I've heard, which brings us round back to Southey in a very large circle. Mind you with Hartley and Branwell, hard to know which was the worse influence on the other.
''When the rock was hid by the surges' swell,
The mariners heard the warning bell,
And then they knew the perilous rock,
And bless'd the Abbot of Aberbrothok.''
Oh, Mr Southey! Mr Southey, Oh!
Think I'll stick to being influenced by Hopkins.............
There's something so adamantine and steadfast and reassuring about thoroughly bad poetry, isn't there? I get the same feeling about this as from Frieda Hughes's little ditty above.
This may explain why I have had a lifelong love affair with the wonderfully execrable verse of William Topaz McGonagall! :o)
'The authorities of Berlin in honour of the Emperor considered it no sin,
To decorate with crape the beautiful city of Berlin;
Therefore Berlin I declare was a city of crape,
Because few buildings crape decoration did escape.'
Edited at 2014-05-13 04:56 pm (UTC)
You know, there's an internal rhyme scheme that prefigures Eminem. Maybe poor Mr McGonagall was just born in the wrong century...
McGonagall as a rapper- now there's a thought!
I am now unable to read/hear this as a hip-hop song. Respect!
He was a stage performer after all- Shakespeare in the grand manner apparently.
Er, that was "not read/hear" but of course you got that. I had better look up McGonagall. :)
I knew what you meant. :oD
McGonagall is heaps of fun if very groanworthy.
Just friended you btw- my blog's f-locked so I need to let folks in.
Edited at 2014-05-13 05:04 pm (UTC)
Jolly good! Come on in :)
McGonagall is in a class of his own. So bad he's sublime.
I got a complete works of SOuthey as a prize for 100% attendance in my first year of secondary school. I started playing truant the following year.
How to turn a kid off poetry for life....