Biography of Jean Ingelow
Jean Ingelow was an English poet and novelist.
Early Life and Education
Born at Boston, Lincolnshire, she was the daughter of William Ingelow, a banker. As a girl she contributed verses and tales to magazines under the pseudonym of Orris, but her first (anonymous) volume, A Rhyming Chronicle of Incidents and Feelings, did not appear until her thirtieth year. This was called charming by Tennyson, who declared he should like to know the author; they later became friends.
Jean Ingelow followed this book of verse in 1851 with a story, Allerton and Dreux, but it was the publication of her Poems in 1863 which suddenly made her a popular writer. They ran rapidly through numerous editions and were set to music, proving very popular for English domestic entertainment. In the United States, her poems obtained great public acclaim. In 1867 she published The Story of Doom and other Poems, and then gave up verse for a while and became industrious as a novelist. Off the Skelligs appeared in 1872, Fated to be Free in 1873, Sarah de Berenger in 1880, and John Jerome in 1886. She also wrote Studies for Stories (1864), Stories told to a Child (1865), Mopsa the Fairy (1869), and other stories for children. Mopsa the Fairy, about a boy who discovers a nest of fairies and discovers a fairyland while riding on the back of a pelican) was one of her most popular works (it was reprinted in 1927 with illustrations by Dorothy Lathrop). Anne Thaxter Eaton, writing in A Critical History of Children's Literature, calls the book "a well-constructed tale", with "charm and a kind of logical make-believe." Her third series of Poems was published in 1885. The last years of her life were spent in Kensington, and she outlived her popularity as a poet.
Her poems, collected in one volume in 1898, have often the genuine ballad note, and her songs were exceedingly successful.
Sailing beyond Seas and When Sparrows build in Supper at the Mill were among the most popular songs of the day; but they share, with the rest of her work, the faults of affectation and stilted phraseology.
Her best-known poem was High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire. The blemishes of her style were cleverly indicated in a well-known parody (Lovers, and a Reflexion) by Charles Stuart Calverley; a false archaism and a deliberate assumption of unfamiliar and unnecessary synonyms for simple objects were among the worst of her mannerisms. Postmodern novelist Gilbert Sorrentino, in his satirical novel Blue Pastoral (1983), lampooned her Supper at the Mill, a poem cast in the form of a dramatic vignette, as "Supper at the Kind Brown Mill."
She wrote, however, with a sweetness of sentiment, and in prose she displayed feeling for character and the gift of narrative; a delicate underlying tenderness is never wanting in either medium. She was a woman of frank and hospitable manners, with a look of the Lady Bountiful of a country parish. She had nothing of the professional authoress or the literary lady about her, and, as with characteristic simplicity she was accustomed to say, was no great reader. Her temperament was rather that of the improvisatore than of the professional author or artist.
Ingelow died in 1897 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.
Jean Ingelow's Works:
Fated to Be Free
Mopsa the Fairy
Poems by Jean Ingelow, In Two Volumes, Volume I.
Poems by Jean Ingelow, In Two Volumes, Volume II.
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Jean Ingelow Poems
A Sea Song
Old Albion sat on a crag of late, And sung out—'Ahoy! ahoy! Long life to the captain, good luck to the mate, And this to my sailor boy
Subject given—'Light and Shade.' She stepped upon Sicilian grass, Demeter's daughter fresh and fair,
A Dead Year
I took a year out of my life and story— A dead year, and said, 'I will hew thee a tomb! 'All the kings of the nations lie in glory;'
One Morning, Oh! So Early
One morning, oh! so early, my beloved, my beloved, All the birds were singing blithely, as if never they would cease;
An Ancient Chess Set
Haply some Rajah first in ages gone Amid his languid ladies finger'd thee, While a black nightingale, sun-swart as he, Sang his one wife, love's passionate orison:
The High Tide On The Coast Of Lincolnshi...
The old mayor climbed the belfry tower, The ringers ran by two, by three; 'Pull, if ye never pulled before;
Scholar And Carpenter
While ripening corn grew thick and deep, And here and there men stood to reap, One morn I put my heart to sleep,
A Mother Showing The Portrait Of Her Chi...
Living child or pictured cherub Ne'er o'ermatched its baby grace; And the mother, moving nearer,
A Wedding Song
Come up the broad river, the Thames, my Dane, My Dane with the beautiful eyes! Thousands and thousands await thee full fain, And talk of the wind and the skies.
Brothers, And A Sermon
It was a village built in a green rent, Between two cliffs that skirt the dangerous bay.
Song Of The Old Love
When sparrows build, and the leaves break forth, My old sorrow wakes and cries, For I know there is dawn in the far, far north,
A Vine-Arbour In The Far West
Laura, my Laura! 'Yes, mother!' 'I want you, Laura; come down.' 'What is it, mother—what, dearest? O your loved face how it pales! You tremble, alas and alas—you heard bad news from the town?' 'Only one short half hour to tell it. My poor courage fails—
Songs Of The Voices Of Birds: The Warbli...
When I hear the waters fretting, When I see the chestnut letting All her lovely blossom falter down, I think, “Alas the day!” Once with magical sweet singing,
Seven Times One
SEVEN TIMES ONE. EXULTATION. There's no dew left on the daisies and clover, There's no rain left in heaven: I've said my 'seven times' over and over,
An empty sky, a world of heather,
Purple of foxglove, yellow of broom;
We two among them wading together,
Shaking out honey, treading perfume.
Crowds of bees are giddy with clover,
Crowds of grasshoppers skip at our feet,
Crowds of larks at their matins hang over,