The Rowley Poems by Thomas Chatterton

“Most people know the legend of Thomas Chatterton -- brilliant poet who failed to make a living, starved himself to send expensive presents to his family, and died by his own hand at seventeen -- much better than his poems. Like all legends, it is partial and exaggerated, but was a powerful influence on the Romantic movement and long after. The painting "The Death of Chatterton" by Henry Wallis epitomises this reputation. His fame rests, apart from this almost unbearably romantic life story, on his "Rowley Poems". These he wrote in a sham Middle English dialect, and passed off as the work of Thomas Rowley, a priest of Bristol in the fifteenth century, and some of his friends. The imposture was quickly detected (though some continued to believe in him for many years), but they were published in a collected edition after his death and were popular and much admired by the Romantic poets, especially Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats, who dedicated "Endymion" to the memory of Thomas Chatterton.”

Pseudodoxia Epidemica:
Into very many Received
And commonly presumed

By Thomas Brown Knight, M. D.
Based on The Sixth and Last Edition of 1672

Thomas Brown’s Vulgar Errors treats the opposite of orthodoxy, pseudodoxy. An intelligent and readable presentation of an amusing classic.

Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791)

“Throughout his political career Hopkinson wrote poetry and satire on the politically derisive issues of the day. He penned a popular and humorous work on the 1787 Constitutional Convention. He was also an accomplished harpsichordist and composer. His work "My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free," set to the words of Thomas Parnell's "Love and Innocence," is the first extant secular song by a native American composer.”


Old Whiter sad, in snow yclad,
Is making a doleful din; 
But let him howl till he crack his jowl,
We will not let him in.

Ay, let him lift from the billowy drift
His hoary, haggard form, 
And scowling stand, with his wrinkled hand
Outstretching to the storm.

And let his weird and sleety beard
Stream loose upon the blast,
And, rustling, chime to the tinkling rime
From his bald head falling fast.

Let his baleful breath shed blight and death
On herb and flower and tree;
And brooks and ponds in crystal bonds
Bind fast, but what care we?

Let him push at the door, - in the chimney roar,
And rattle the window-pane;
Let him in at us spy with his icicle eye,
But he shall not entrance gain.

Let him gnaw, forsooth, with his freezing tooth,
On our roof-tiles, till he tire;
But we care not a whit, as we jovial sit
Before our blazing fire.

Come, lads, let's sing, till the rafters ring;
Come, push the can about; - 
From our snug fire-side this Christmas-tide
We'll keep old Winter out.
Thomas Noel [1799-1861]