Thursday, December 18, 2008


Reading the Iliad is like travelling through a Country uninhabited, where the Fancy is entertained with a thousand Savage Prospects of vast Desarts, wide uncultivated Marshes, huge Forests, mis-shapen Rocks and Precipices. On the contrary, the Aeneid is like a well ordered Garden, where it is impossible to find out any Part unadorned, or to cast our Eyes upon a single Spot, that does not produce some beautiful Plant or Flower. But when we are in the Metamophosis, we are walking on enchanted Ground, and see nothing but Scenes of Magick lying round us.
–Joseph Addison, Spectator 417 (2 June 1712)
Reading "A" is like passing a season in an unfamiliar principality where the landscape is so variegated, the prospects so ample and diverse, that one is always encountering a new neighborhood, an undiscovered village, a previously unremarked vista or grotto.
–MS, The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky (2007)
[To my knowledge, I never read Spectator 417 before happening on this passage yesterday in John Dixon Hunt's The Figure in the Landscape: Poetry, Painting, and Gardening During the Eighteenth Century.]

The horse sees he is repeating
All known cultures 
And suspects repeating
Others unknown to him...
–LZ, "A"-12


taiji heartwork said...

Wasn't Addison the one who "damn(s) with faint praise"?

Mark Scroggins said...

Pope, in "Epistle to Arbuthnot," writes that Addison's MO is to

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.

For my part, I prefer to praise with faint damns.