Sending this on Martin's behalf:
(Poem #1061) Thomas Hood
The man who cloaked his bitterness within This winding-sheet of puns and pleasantries, God never gave to look with common eyes Upon a world of anguish and of sin: His brother was the branded man of Lynn; And there are woven with his jollities The nameless and eternal tragedies That render hope and hopelessness akin. We laugh, and crown him; but anon we feel A still chord sorrow-swept, -- a weird unrest; And thin dim shadows home to midnight steal, As if the very ghost of mirth were dead -- As if the joys of time to dreams had fled, Or sailed away with Ines to the West.
Note: winding sheet: a shroud Today's sonnet showcases a lot of the things I enjoy about Robinson's work. It displays, as usual, his uncanny ability to capture a person's essence in a few short lines, and the way he can evoke sympathy without being overly sentimental. But it also captures, at a slightly higher level, something of the feel of Hood's own verse, especially in the sestet - compare, for instance, the following bit from Hood's "Silence": No voice is hush'd--no life treads silently, But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free, That never spoke, over the idle ground Of course, this is not a mere pastiche of Hood, but there are several deliberate echoes of his style blended into the poem. As for the poem's content itself, it is a fairly straightforward assessment of Hood's poetic output: It would be easy to dismiss Hood as a lesser poet of the Romantic Era and early Victorian age, but his contribution was far greater than most realise. Mostly known during his lifetime for his comic writings, many self-published, it is his more serious writings that are best known today. -- [broken link] http://www.photoaspects.com/chesil/hood/ Robinson's poem does indeed address both aspects, but, more than that, it highlights the predominance of Hood's serious work, and the fact that it wound through, and ultimately came to overshadow his "puns and pleasantries". This is, in the end, as much an epitaph of Hood as it is an assessment. -martin Links: References to Hood's poems: 'branded man of Lynn': "Eugene Aram", Poem #720 'sailed away with Ines': "Fair Ines", http://www.bartleby.com/101/650.html Other poems on poets: Poem #12, John Keats, "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" Poem #50, W. H. Auden, "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" Poem #127, John Milton, "On Shakespear " Poem #128, William Wordsworth, "London, 1802" Poem #130, Robert Browning, "The Lost Leader" Poem #148, Ambrose Bierce, "With a Book" Poem #250, Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Walt Whitman" Poem #530, J. K. Stephen, "A Sonnet" Poem #630, T. S. Eliot, "To Walter de la Mare"