Sonnets, by Edward Moxon
I must admit that I was impressed with the author when I finished reading this book. I am not sure that everyone would be so impressed, though. As a reader, I feel that this book is going to be somewhat polarizing, in that in order to fully appreciate what the author is doing in these two collections of sonnets, one is going to need to come to the book with a lot of context. In reading this work I was pleased to note the author’s immense vocabulary, which benefited him in allowing him to craft sets of sonnets that capture very different moods, although the word melancholy gets used a bit too often in the first collection of poems for my tastes. I was also pleased, in general, with the obvious signs that the author was well read in the writings of the Elizabethan world, because not only Shakespeare but Spencer and a few others are given high praise, and the author assumes the reader is going to be familiar with works about the legends of Arcadia that formed the aristocratic metier of of the 16th and 17th centuries in opposition to royalist centralism, references that not everyone reading them is going to be able to appreciate, obviously.
This book is a relatively short one at less than 100 pages and it is divided into three sections. The first two sections of the book are made up of sonnets. The first collection of sonnets is more melancholy and reflective of death and loss and historical memory and that sort of material. This material reflects on the loss of Arcadia and the death and memory of those who helped to enshrine it within English literature as a worthwhile dream. The second part of the book is a selection of romantic sonnets that is apparently aimed at his wife and dedicated to Wordsworth, and this section of the book consists of beautiful poetry that shows a much more optimistic mindset than the sad poems that began the collection. The rest of the book then consists of quatrains, also of a romantic tone, that are also apparently directed at his beloved wife. If you like romantic poetry, this is a book that definitely ends well with plenty of worthwhile poems that one can easily appreciate if this is your preferred mood. If you like neither sad or gloomy poems or romantic poems, though, this is not going to be a collection you will enjoy.
In reading this book it is easy to note that the author is going above and beyond at showing off a high degree of literary flair and knowledge. The author seems to want the reader to think of him as an aristocratic sort of person, but his modest background would seem to indicate that the showiness of his intellect results from a desire to put hard-earned literary education as a way of showing class. This is a motivation I can well understand personally and as I am not offended by people showing off their intellect and wide reading, quite the contrary really, this is a book that I can definitely appreciate for its virtues. Yet it is not a book that I feel as sanguine about recommending to others, because I do not feel that many people would appreciate it to the degree that I would because I am amused at the references it makes to earlier writings within English literature. And without getting those references, all you see is someone with a knowledge of a lot of fancy words showing off their skill at writing poetry, and that is not something that appeals to everyone, sadly.