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The Poetry of Collins

The standard anthology view of Collins, one of the most important eighteenth century precursors of English Romanticism, is misleading. The three poems by which he is generally known, “Ode to Evening,” “How Sleep the Brave,” and “The Passions,” more adequately reflect the general tradition of mid-eighteenth century poetry than they do Collins’ pre-Romanticism and his individuality and achievement as a poet. It is comparatively easy to acquire a fuller and more just knowledge of Collins’ work, however, for he left only two dozen poems before his last long illness and early death. Among them are his juvenilia, the four PERSIAN ECLOGUES; several songs; a verse epistle; and about fifteen odes. The eclogues and the epistle are largely uninspired and show…