In Truants And Rebels from "Preface To Poetry"

Further excursions into unfamiliar regions, in which the eighteenth-century poet threw off his habitual responsibilities to the reader, may be found in such pieces as Young's 'Paraphrase on Part of the Book of Job', Gray's Norse and Welsh odes, Francis Fawkes's translations of Gawin Douglas, the numerous imitations of English and Scots ballads (e.g. by William Hamilton of Bangour, Mallet, Shenstone, Mickle, Goldsmith, Chatterton, Cowper), and such popular songs as Gay's 'Sweet William's Farewell to Black-Ey'd Susan' or Carey's 'Sally in our Alley', with their conscious but not too-sophisticated simplicity. In these and other experiments in translation and imitation the poet is not speaking altogether with the voice of his own century; he is trying to recapture the effect of a poetry that may be very different from that of his own age. Whether his readers approve or disapprove of the results, they will judge the poet mainly by those of his works that are in the contemporary poetical idiom. Success in his imitations may add to his reputation; failure will not seriously detract from it. Had Chatterton first made a name for himself by writing Pastorals and Epistles in the modern style, and then proceeded quite openly to write 'AElla', 'The Bristowe Tragedie', and 'An Excelente Balade of Charitie' as professed imitations, he might have had a greater reputation among his contemporaries.

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