The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets;: With Critical Observations on Their Works (Google eBook)

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C. Bathurst, J. Buckland, W. Strahan, J. Rivington and Sons, T. Davies, T. Payne, L. Davis, W. Owen, B. White, S. Crowder, T. Caslon, T. Longman, ... [and 24 others], 1781 - English poetry - 503 pages
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Review: The Lives of the Poets: Boxed Set

User Review  - Richard Epstein - Goodreads

It is not Johnson's fault that I am not included: I came along too late for that. Notwithstanding this unavoidable, but lamentable, omission, this is among the very greatest of biographical works, endlessly entertaining and informed by wisdom. Read full review

Review: The Lives of the Poets: Boxed Set

User Review  - Jonathan - Goodreads

The critical gold standard, of course, at the gold standard price of $650. Happily there are cheaper editions. Read full review

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Page 255 - Paradise Lost is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is. Its perusal is a duty rather than a pleasure.
Page 32 - Yet great labour, directed by great abilities, is never wholly lost: if they frequently threw away their wit upon false conceits, they likewise sometimes struck out unexpected truth; if their conceits were far-fetched, they were often worth the carriage. To write on their plan it was at least necessary to read and think.
Page 215 - To be of no Church is dangerous. Religion, of which the rewards are distant, and which is animated only by Faith and Hope, will glide by degrees out of the mind, unless it be invigorated and reimpressed by external ordinances, by stated calls to worship, and the salutary influence of example.
Page 27 - Wit, like all other things subject by their nature to the choice of man, has its changes and fashions, and at different times takes different forms. About the beginning of the seventeenth century appeared a race of writers that may be termed the metaphysical poets; of whom, in a criticism on the works of Cowley, it is not improper to give some account.
Page 246 - Milton's delight was to sport in the wide regions of possibility; reality was a scene too narrow for his mind. He sent his faculties out upon discovery into worlds where only imagination can travel, and delighted to form new modes of existence and furnish sentiment and action to superior beings, to trace the counsels of hell or accompany the choirs of heaven.
Page 224 - In this Poem there is no nature, for there is no truth ; there is no art, for there is nothing new. Its form is that of a pastoral, easy, vulgar, and therefore disgusting : whatever images it can supply, are long ago exhausted ; and its inherent improbability always forces dissatisfaction on the mind.
Page 40 - On a round ball A workman, that hath copies by, can lay An Europe, Afric, and an Asia, And quickly make that, which was nothing, all. So doth each tear, Which thee doth wear, A globe, yea world, by that impression grow, Till thy tears mixt with mine do overflow This world, by waters sent from thee my heaven dissolved so.
Page 31 - Those writers who lay on the watch for novelty could have little hope of greatness; for great things cannot have escaped former observation.
Page 40 - Though God be our true glass, through which we see All, since the being of all things is He, Yet are the trunks, which do to us derive Things, in proportion fit, by perspective Deeds of good men ; for by their living here, Virtues, indeed remote, seem to be near.
Page 266 - ... and preserved by the artifice of rhyme. The variety of pauses, so much boasted by the lovers of blank verse, changes the measures of an English poet to the periods of a declaimer ; and there are only a few skilful and happy readers of Milton, who enable their audience to perceive where the lines end or begin. Blank verse, said an ingenious critic, seems to be verse only to the eye.

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