Biography of Robert Southey
Robert Southey was expelled from Westminster School for criticising the practice of flogging in the school magazine. This incident helped to fire his youthful revolutionary ideals, which found expression a few years later in his first long poem Joan of Arc (1796). He went to Balliol College, Oxford, but failed to gain a degree; his attention was taken up by a new friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and his ideas about 'pantisocracy', a scheme to set up a utopian community in America. Southey and Coleridge married two sisters, Edith and Sara Fricker. Though there was some ill-feeling over the abandonment of pantisocracy, the two men remained friends.
By this time Southey had resolved to make his living as a writer. In 1797 he was already printing the second edition of his Poems, and a trip to the Continent resulted in the publication of Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal. In this year he also began to receive an annual sum of £160 from his friend Charles Wynn; this was replaced in 1807 by a government pension for the same amount.
Southey and his family moved into Greta Hall, Keswick, in 1803, where he lived for the rest of his life. They shared the house with the Coleridges, and Southey also got to know William and Dorothy Wordsworth, who lived nearby. When Coleridge went to Malta in 1804 Southey worked extremely hard to provide for both families.
As he grew older, Southey seemed increasingly a part of the Establishment he had sought to rebel against in his pantisocratic days. Like Wordsworth and Coleridge, he became disillusioned by the progress of the French Revolution, and he was criticised as a political turncoat by the younger generation of Romantic writers, notably in Byron's Don Juan. He became Poet Laureate in 1813, a responsibility he later came to dislike.
Though he has been subject to some neglect since his death, Southey was an influential writer in his own day, and even his enemies, like Byron and Hazlitt, professed admiration for his prose style. His later years were clouded by his wife's madness and death in 1837, and his own deteriorating mental and physical health.
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Robert Southey Poems
No stir in the air, no stir in the sea, The Ship was still as she could be; Her sails from heaven received no motion, Her keel was steady in the ocean.
God's Judgment On A Wicked Bishop
The summer and autumn had been so wet, That in winter the corn was growing yet, 'Twas a piteous sight to see all around The grain lie rotting on the ground.
MY days among the Dead are past; Around me I behold, Where'er these casual eyes are cast, The mighty minds of old:
Go, Valentine, and tell that lovely maid Whom fancy still will portray to my sight, How here I linger in this sullen shade, This dreary gloom of dull monastic night;
Cold was the night wind, drifting fast the snows fell, Wide were the downs and shelterless and naked, When a poor Wanderer struggled on her journey Weary and way-sore.
Hold Your Mad Hands
Hold your mad hands! for ever on your plain Must the gorged vulture clog his beak with blood? For ever must your Niger's tainted flood, Roll to the ravenous shark his banquet slain?
The Battle Of Blenheim
It was a summer evening; Old Kaspar’s work was done, And he before his cottage door Was sitting in the sun;
It was a summer evening, Old Kaspar's work was done, And he before his cottage door Was sitting in the sun,
A wrinkled crabbed man they picture thee, Old Winter, with a rugged beard as grey As the long moss upon the apple-tree; Blue-lipt, an icedrop at thy sharp blue nose,
Let ancient stories round the painter's art, Who stole from many a maid his Venus' charms, Till warm devotion fired each gazer's heart And every bosom bounded with alarms.
High In The Air Exposed
High in the air exposed the slave is hung, To all the birds of heaven, their living food! He groans not, though awaked by that fierce sun New torturers live to drink their parent blood;
The Old Man's Comforts And How He Gained...
You are old, Father William, the young man cried, The few locks which are left you are grey; You are hale, Father William, a hearty old man, Now tell me the reason I pray.
Donica - A Ballad
Author Note: In Finland there is a Castle which is called the New Rock, moated about with a river of unfounded depth, the water black and the fish therein very distateful to the palate. In this are spectres often seen, which foreshew either the death of the Governor, or some prime officer belonging to the place; and most commonly it appeareth in the shape of
To A Goose
If thou didst feed on western plains of yore Or waddle wide with flat and flabby feet Over some Cambrian mountain's plashy moor, Or find in farmer's yard a safe retreat
The Battle Of Blenheim
It was a summer evening;
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun;
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,