Thursday 16 January 2020

Landor Miniatures

Following a link on Frank Wilson's Books Inq blog, I see that another blog, Form in Formless Times, has nominated Leigh Hunt's 'Jenny Kiss'd Me' as the best short poem ever – which I think is stretching it a bit, but it's certainly a delightful little anthology piece. I've written about it here before – and it's even been quoted on Call the Midwife. Oddly I've never featured another short poem of Leigh Hunt's that has at least an equal claim to be one of the best, and is even shorter. This one, a perfectly formed epitaph –

Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher

I strove with none, for none was worth my strife:
Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm'd both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks; and I am ready to depart.

And then there's this intriguing little number, which has some formal similarity to 'Jenny Kiss'd Me', but is very different in tone –

“Do you remember me? or are you proud?”
Lightly advancing thro’ her star-trimm’d crowd,
         Ianthe said, and lookt into my eyes,
“A yes, a yes, to both: for Memory
Where you but once have been must ever be,
       And at your voice Pride from his throne must rise.”

And 'Ianthe' is the subject of another short and sweet Landor miniature –

From you, Ianthe, little troubles pass   
Like little ripples down a sunny river; 
Your pleasures spring like daisies in the grass,   
Cut down, and up again as blithe as ever. 


  1. Brainstorm alert! I've somehow slipped from Leigh Hunt to Walter Savage Landor in the above post. Blame the New Zealand air...

  2. In Anthony Burgess's Earthly Powers, the narrator's brother, a comedian, adds the gloss that Art was the butcher's boy around the corner. I like the poem well enough, but think the jape not unfair, since nature and art seem to be one of those pairs like pork and beans or city and country,.

    If the New Zealand air is anything like the New Zealand wines, I do understand.