A Self-divided Poet: Form and Texture in the Verse of Thomas by Rodney Stenning Edgecombe

By Rodney Stenning Edgecombe

While Thomas Hood has lengthy been considered as a minor comedian poet, this book--the first to dedicate itself solely to his verse--provides a close research of 2 'serious' poems ('Hero and Leander' and 'The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies') on the way to provide a greater feel of his variety. such a lot commentators have pointed to the impression of Keats on such events, yet shut exam finds an excellent larger debt to Elizabethan and Metaphysical poets, whose occasionally playful deployment of the vanity struck a chord in his sensibility. even as, the ebook provides Hood's comedian genius its due, delivering precise bills of the deftness and panache of his light-hearted oeuvre. One bankruptcy examines his expedition into the mock-heroic mode (Odes and Addresses to nice People), and one other his reliance on that airiest of kinds, the capriccio (Whims and Oddities). The examine concludes with an in depth exam of 'Miss Kilmansegg and Her useful Leg,' exhibiting how Hood was once right here capable of inflect a jeu d'esprit with a very good Juvenalian ardour.

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Hood compounds pathos and paradox when, at the end of the ode, he puts the whole utterance sub specie aeternitatis: When we poor sons and daughters of reality Are in our graves forgotten and quite dead, And Time destroys our mottoes of morality— The lithographic hand of Old Mortality Shall still restore thy emblem on the stone, A featureless death's head, And rob Oblivion ev'n of the Unknown. " By its persistent acts of erasure, time keeps the image of the Great Unknown perpetually itself, which is to say, something essentially unfeatured.

It is Justitia who more usually wears a blindfold (here a "fillet" for the sake of a culinary pun). Hood also makes an undignified substitution for Fortuna's "rolling sphere," placing Kitchiner on the wheel of a kitchen jack. As a result, the "chops and changes" of Fortune spin off in different directions—toward the butcher shop on the one hand and the musical academy on the other, since "changes" also refer to the modulations of harmony, and music was meant to have come from the cranking of the spheres.

It shall not weigh us here—not where The sandy burden's lost in air— Our lading—where is't flown? Since Graham is "in" the gondola with him, Hood's plurals here are perfectly legitimate. Even so, one is tempted to read the "us" and "our" as a dig at the royal "we-ing" favoured by the critics he has just dismissed. The "Ode to the Great Unknown" also centres on questions of literary taste and fashion—in this case, the cult of Sir Walter Scott. He had published his novels anonymously for the sake of creative freedom, and also to avoid any damage to his professional standing—"I shall not own 'Waverley'; my chief reason is, that it would prevent me the pleasure of writing again.

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