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Selected Poems

George Crabbe

Edited by Jem Poster

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Categories: 18th Century, 19th Century
Imprint: FyfieldBooks
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (168 pages)
(Pub. Jan 1996)
£12.99 £11.69
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • To farmer Moss, in Langar Vale, came down
    His only daughter from her school in town;
    A tender, timid maid! who knew not ho
    To pass a pig-sty, or to face a cow:
    Smiling she came, with petty talents graced,
    A fair complexion and a slender waist.
        Used to spare meals, disposed in manner pure,
    Her father's kitchen she could ill endure;
    Whereby the steaming beef he hungry sat,
    And laid at once a pound upon his plate;
    Hot from the field her eager brother seixed
    An equal part, and hunger's rage appeased;
    The air, surcharged with moisture, flagg'd around,
    And the offended damsel sigh'd and frown'd;
    The swelling fat in lumps conglomerate laid,
    And fancy's sickness seized the loathing maid.
    from The Widow's Tale

    "Though nature's sternest painter yet the best" Byron

    George Crabbe (1754-1832) arrived late on the Augustan scene. Born in the same decade as Burns and Blake, he outlived Keats by more than ten years. His father was a warehouse-keeper in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. Schooled in Bungay and Stowmarket, he was apprenticed to an apothecary. In 1779 he went to London as a literary adventurer, arriving without introductions. Edmund Burke became his patron and transformed his fortunes. The Village (1783),and after a silence The Parish Register (1807), The Borough (1810) and Tales (1812), his main works followed.

    Crabbe wanted his readers to feel his writing - accounts of rural and provincial life, of individuals and communities, of landscapes - not only as narrative but in circumstantial detail - some of it harsh and shocking. Peter Grimes is his most famous character, one whom Benjamin Britten found irresistible. 'It is worth registering from the outset,' Jem Poster says, 'the enduring intimacy of Crabbe's contact with the world, the sheer physicality of his grasp of things: the strengths of his poetry are more easily understood if we can visualise him actually grubbing at the slimy roots of the marshplants he so vividly described, delivering a neighbour's child, or assisting his father by piling butter-casks in a quayside warehouse'.
    Table of Contents



    The Village

    Book One

    The Parish Register

    from the Introduction: Lines 129-268

    from Baptisms: Lines 403-448

    from Marriages: Lines 313-357

    from Burials: Lines 233-412

    The Borough

    Letter I General Description

    Letter IX Amusements

    Letter XVIII The Poor and their Dwellings

    Letter XIX The Parish-Clerk

    Letter XXII Peter Grimes


    Tale I The Dumb Orators

    Tale II The Parting Hour

    Tale VI The Frank Courtship

    Tale VII The Widow's Tale

    Tale X The Lover's Journey

    Tales of the Hall

    Book IV Adventures of Richard


    George Crabbe
    George Crabbe was born in 1754 in the village of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. He apprenticed to a doctor at the age of 14 but left his village and medical career in 1780 to pursue his literary interests in London. With the help of Edmund Burke, Crabbe published The Library (1781) and ... read more
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