Saturday, 19 September 2009

Passage over a Landscape of Ice

John Ruskin to Robert Browning in a letter 2nd December, 1855: 'Your Ellipses are quite Unconscionable; before one can get through ten lines, one has to patch you up in twenty places. Wrong or right, and if one hasn't much stuff of one's own to spare to patch with! You are worse than the worst Alpine Glacier I ever crossed. Bright, & deep enough truly, but so full of Clefts that half the journey has to be done with ladder and hatchet.'

Walter Savage Landor, 'Ovid and the Prince of the Getæ', Imaginary Conversations (first published in the Examiner, 7th April 1855): 'But neither my verses, nor thine in Getic, ran so glibly as what thou repeatedst in thine own tongue. Thine resembled a car running smoothly over the frozen river; mine the same car jolting upon rough masses of ice.'

This coincidence of writers in 1855 troping poetry as passage over a landscape of ice intrigues me. Is there something larger going on here?

No comments: