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Theme: Perspective Share This Page
Bard-Bashing
by Richard H. Williams
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  I
William Shakespeare

What trash are his works in the gross.
This enormous dunghill!
The undisputed fame enjoyed by Shakespeare as a writer'is, like every other lie, a great evil.
We can say of Shakespeare, that never has a man turned so little knowledge into such great account.
Crude, immoral, vulgar, senseless!
With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare.
I have lately read Shakespeare and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.

II
Lord Byron

Of Byron one can say, as of no other English poet of his eminence, that he added
nothing to the language, that he discovered nothing in the sounds, and developed
nothing in the meaning, of individual words.
Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
I hate the whole race of them; there never existed a more worthless set than Byron
and his friends.
[On Byron's death] The world is rid of Lord Byron, but the deadly slime of his
touch still remains.
Byron dealt chiefly in felt and furbelow, wavy Damascus daggers, and pocket
pistols studded with paste.
He seemed to me to be the most vulgar-minded genius that ever produced a great
effect in literature.

III
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A huge pendulum attached to a small clock.
Never did I see such apparatus got ready for thinking, and never so little thought.
Let simple Wordsworth chime his childish verse, and brother Coleridge lull
the babe at nurse.
Coleridge was a muddle-headed metaphysician who by some strange streak of
fortune turned out a few poems amongst the dreary flood of inanity that was his
wont.

IV
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A gap-toothed and hoary ape, who in his dotage spit and chatter from a
dirtier perch of his own finding and fouling.
Waldo is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.
Emerson is one who lives instinctively on ambrosia--- and leaves everything in-
digestible on his plate
Emerson's writing has a cold, cheerless glitter.

V
Rudyard Kipling

I doubt that the infant monster has any more to give.
Mr. Kipling 'stands for everything in this cankered world which I wish were otherwise.
Kipling is a gingo imperialist; he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.

VI
Alexander Pope

Who is this Pope that I hear so much about? I cannot discover what is his merit.
I wonder that he is not thrashed; but his littleness is his protection; no man shoots a wren.
There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it; the other is to read Pope.
Some call Pope little nightingale---all sound and no sense
His verses, when they were written, resembled nothing so much as spoonfuls of boiling oil, ladled out by a fiendish monkey at an upstairs window.
The great honor of that boast is such that hornets and mad dogs may boast as much.

VII
Ezra Pound

To me Pound remains the exquisite showman without the show.
A village explained. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.

VIII
Percy Bysshe Shelley

A lewd vegetarian.
A poor creature, who has said or done nothing worth a serious man taking the trouble of remembering.
Poor Shelley always was a kind of ghastly object; colorless, pallid, tuneless, without health or warmth or vigor.
A poor, thin, spasmodic hectic shrill and pallid being.

IX
Algernon Swinburne

He sits in a sewer and adds to it.
A perpetual functioning of genius without truth, feeling, or any adequate matter to be functioning on.
I attempt to describe Mr. Swinburne; and lo! the Bacchanal screams, the sterile sweats, serpents dance, men and women wrench, wriggle and foam in an endless alliteration of heated and meaningless words.

X
Alfred Tennyson

To think of him dribbling his powerful intellect through the gimlit holes of poetry.
A dirty man with opium-glazed eyes and rat-tailed hair.
Tennyson is a beautiful half of a poet.
There was little about melancholy that he didn't know; there was little else that he did.

XI
Walt Whitman

A large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.
This awful Whitman. This postmortem poet. This poet with the private soul leaking out of him all the time.
Walt Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog with mathematics.

XII
William Wordsworth

Is Wordsworth a bell with a wooden tongue?
Open him at any page and there lies the English language not.
The languid way in which he gives you a handful of numb unresponsive fingers.
Dank, limber verses, stuft with lakeside sedges, and propt with rotten stakes from rotten hedges.

XIII
William Butler Yates

He looks like an umbrella left behind at a picnic.
Yates amuses me part of the time and bores me to death with psychical research the rest.
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March 13, 2005
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