I have found very few people, none actually :), who have anything good to say about the poetry of Erasmus Darwin. In fact should you start trying to read some to them they usually object quite loudly 🙂 Apparently this is not a new phenomena….
When Lord Byron wrote ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers’ he dedicated a verse to Erasmus Darwin it reads :-
‘Let these, or such as these, with just applause,
Restore the muse’s violated laws;
But not in flimsy Darwins pompous chime.
That mighty master of unmeaning rhyme,
Whose gilded cymbals, more adorn’d than clear.
The eye delighted but fatigued the ear;
In show the simple lyre could once surpass.
But now, worn down, appear in native brass;
While all his train of hovering sylphs around
Evaporate in similes and sound:
Him let them shun, with him let tinsel die:
False glare attracts, but more offends the eye.’
— The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin by Paul Atkinson
I wonder what he really thought……
My interest in the poetry of Erasmus is probably more the topic than the poetry style. Erasmus was the grandfather of Charles Darwin. Erasmus Darwin was an avowed Rosicrucian follower and also into various mysticisms. He was in the 1700s. I find the ideas expressed in his poetry interesting, especially as an insight into what was floating around in the world at that time. Ultimately what he draws on from the legends and how he applies them to the natural world.