Bard of Tropes

Jonathan Lamb

  • Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture by Nick Groom
    Palgrave, 300 pp, £55.00, September 1999, ISBN 0 333 72586 7

Chatterton could ‘do’ any poet from Chaucer to the recently dead Charles Churchill; and after his own death poets ‘did’ him. This stanza from ‘Bristowe Tragedie or the Dethe of Syr Charles Bawdin’, is a blend of the Spenserian antique and ballad poetry, a combination which uses phrases that are heard again in Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’:

How dydd I know thatt ev’ry darte
Thatt cutte the airie waie
Mighte nott fynde a passage to my harte
And close myne eyes for aie?

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