December 24 1815: Leigh Hunt’s Sonnet

 

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Sonnet

Were I to name, out of the times gone by,
The poets dearest to me, I should say,
Pulci for spirits, and a fine, free way;
Chaucer for manners, and close, silent eye;
Milton for classic taste, and harp strung high;
Spenser for luxury, and sweet, sylvan play;
Horace for chatting with, from day to day;
Shakspeare for all, but most, society.

But which take with me, could I take but one?
Shakespeare,—as long as I was unoppressed
With the world’s weight, making sad thoughts intenser;
But did I wish, out of the common sun, .
To lay a wounded heart in leafy rest,
And dream of things far off and healing,—Spenser.

— Leigh Hunt, published in the London Examiner, December 24 1815.

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