Tuesday, July 6, 2010

All You Really Need to Know

1. He was an English poet, controversial in his own day.

2. He enjoyed riding his pony across the moors.

3. He was caricatured by "Ape" in Vanity Fair in 1874.

4. He became one of Lady Pauline Trevelyan's intellectual circle at Wallington Hall.

5. He debuted a new poem as he walked by the sea, declaiming it to a handful of Pre-Raphaelites.

6. He was diminutive in height--just over five feet--rather like a human pony. Which is how many of his friends treated him.

7. He wrote a bosom-mate in 1883: "I have got a tiny new book of songs or songlets, in one form and all manner of metres ... just coming out, of which Miss Rossetti has accepted the dedication. I hope you and Georgie [his wife Georgiana, one of the MacDonald sisters] will find something to like among a hundred poems of nine lines each, twenty-four of which are about babies or small children".

8. He was an alcoholic and algolagniac, and a highly excitable character.

9. He lost his youthful rebelliousness and developed into a figure of social respectability.

10. He brought out a "pronounced bitchiness" in Oscar Wilde.

11. He is the virtual star of the third volume of George Saintsbury's famous History of English Prosody, and A. E. Housman, a more measured and even somewhat hostile critic, devoted paragraphs of praise to his rhyming ability.

12. His work was once quite popular among undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge, though today it has gone out of fashion.

13. Eliot wrote of the poet's prose, "the tumultuous outcry of adjectives, the headstrong rush of undisciplined sentences, are the index to the impatience and perhaps laziness of a disorderly mind."

13. His versification, and especially his rhyming technique, remained in top form to the end.

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