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.”

“Like As the Lark”

Quale allodetta che in aere si spazia	
Prima cantando, e poi tace, contenta,	
Dell’ ultima dolcezza che la sazia.	
DANTE: Paradiso, XX.
  LIKE as the lark that, soaring higher and higher,		
Singeth awhile, then stops as ’t were content		
  With his last sweetness, having filled desire,		
So paused our bard; not for his force was spent,		
  Nor that a string was loosened in his lyre,	
But, having said his best and done his best,		
  He could not better what was given before,		
And threescore years and ten, demanding rest,		
  Whispered, They want thee on the other shore!		
And now he walks amid the learned throng,	
  Haply with him who was the sixth of those		
Who towered above the multitude in song,		
  Or by the side of Geoffrey Chaucer goes,		
Who shall remember with his wonted smile		
How James found music in his antique style.	
But we ’ll not mingle fancies with our sorrow		
Nor from his own imagination borrow;		
Holmes, who is left us, best could speak his praise		
Who knew his heart so well and loved his lays,		
And whom Heaven crowns with greater length of days.
Thomas William Parsons [1819-1892]