William Collins : Poetical Contribution

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     William Collins (1721-1759) : was born at Chichester, and was educated at Winchester and Oxford, where he graduated in 1743. He next tried to follow a literary career in London, but with scant success, being arrested for debt. He was released by the generosity of his publishers, and a fortunate legacy relieved him from the worst of his financial terrors. Recovering after several violent fits of insanity, he lapsed into a mild species of melancholia, finally dying in his native city at the early age of thirty-eight.

The work of Collins is very small in bulk, and even of this scanty stock a fair proportion shows only mediocre ability. His Persian Eclogues (1742) are in the conventional style of Pope, and though they profess to deal with Persian scenes and characters the Oriental setting shows no special information or inspiration.
William Collins

      The work of Collins is very small in bulk, and even of this scanty stock a fair proportion shows only mediocre ability. His Persian Eclogues (1742) are in the conventional style of Pope, and though they profess to deal with Persian scenes and characters the Oriental setting shows no special information or inspiration. The book that gives him his place in literature is his Odes (1746), a small octavo volume of fifty-two pages. The work is a collection of odes to Pity, Fear, Simplicity, and kindred abstract subjects.

      Some of the odes are overweighted with the cumbrous, creaking machinery of the Pindaric; but the best of them, especially the Ode to Evening (done in unrhymed verse), are instinct with a sweet tenderness, a subdued and shadowy pathos, and a magical enchantment of phrase. In the same book two short elegies, one beginning "How sleep the brave" and the other on James Thomson ("In yonder grave a Druid lies"), are captivating, with their misty lights and murmuring echoes of melancholy. 'In the finest work of Collins, with his eager and wistful searching, with what Johnson morosely called his "flights of imagination which pass the bounds of nature," we are ushered over the threshold of romance.

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