T. L. Peacock’s Views on Burns – January 1924

In a passage in T.L. Peacock’s Gryll Grange he exalts Robert Burns as the “faithful interpreter of nature.” No poet, he says is “truer to nature than Burns” and no one less so than Moore. Again, “Shakespeare never makes a flower bloom out of season” and he compares unfavourably with the poetry of these two great sons of nature such classics as Milton’s Lycidas and Keats’ ode to a nightingale.

This is not to belittle the loftiness of the blind puritanical poet but to draw attention to the fact that he is less in touch with this fair earth than his worldly minded brothers, equally great in entirely different spheres. Some one may write to me protesting at my classification of Burns alongside such great names as Milton and Shakespeare. I merely claim that he is equally great in his own restricted sphere which was that of the humble Scottish peasantry of his day. And he died heart broken at 37 (puir Rabbie).

Thomas Love Peacock has another word to say: Let me end with it: “Burns was not a scholar but he was always a master of his subject. All the scholarship of the world would not have produced Tam O Shanter; but in the whole of that poem, there is not a false image nor a mis-used word.

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