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Encyclopedia > Spasmodic poets

The term "spasmodic," certainly with some derogatory as well as humorous intention, was applied by William Edmonstoune Aytoun to a group of British poets of the Victorian era. The epithet itself is attributed to Thomas Carlyle to Lord Byron. Spasmodic poets include, possibly with justice, George Gilfillan, the friend and inspiration of William McGonagall. Gilfillan worked for 30 years on a long poem, but he is best known for his encouragement of the young Spasmodics in his literary reviews written under the pseudonym Apollodorus. Others associated were Sydney Thompson Dobell, Philip James Bailey, John Stanyan Bigg (1826–1865), Alexander Smith, and possibly Gerald Massey. The term "spasmodic" has also been applied by contemporary reviewers to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, Tennyson's Maud, and the poetry of Arthur Hugh Clough, though these poets are not generally included in the Spasmodic school by modern literary critics. Spasmodic poetry was extremely popular from the late-1840s through the 1850s when it abruptly fell out of fashion. Aytoun's parodic Firmilian: A Spasmodic Tragedy (1854) is credited with getting the verse of the Spasmodic school laughed down as bombast. A word or phrase is pejorative if it expresses contempt or disapproval. ... William Edmonstoune Aytoun (June 21, 1813 - 1865) was a Scottish poet, humorist and writer. ... Queen Victoria (shown here on the morning of her Accession to the Throne, June 20, 1837) gave her name to the historic era. ... Thomas Carlyle, Scottish essayist and historian. ... Lord Byron, English poet Lord Byron (1803), as painted by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, (January 22, 1788 – April 19, 1824) was the most widely read English language poet of his day. ... George Gilfillan (January 30, 1813 - August 13, 1878), a Scottish author. ... William Topaz McGonagall (1825–September 29, 1902) was a weaver, actor, and poet. ... Sydney Thompson Dobell (April 5, 1824 - August 22, 1874), English poet and critic, was born at Cranbrook, Kent. ... Philip James Bailey (1816—1902), English poet, author of Festus, was born at Nottingham on April 22 1816. ... John Stanyan Bigg (1828 - 1865) was an English poet, one of the so-called Spasmodic School. ... Alexander Smith (31 December 1830_ 5 January 1867) was a Scottish poet, and labelled as one of the Spasmodic School. ... Gerald Massey (May 29, 1828 - October 29, 1907), English poet, was born near Tring, Hertfordshire. ... 1854 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...

Spasmodic poetry often took the form of verse drama, the protagonist of which was often a poet. It was characterized by a number of features including lengthy introspective soliloquies by the protagonist, which led to the charge that the poetry was egotistical.



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