Christopher Smart Analysis

Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

In London, Christopher Smart did hackwork for booksellers, wrote songs for Vauxhall Gardens entertainment, and edited the magazine Midwife: Or, Old Woman’s Magazine from 1749 to about 1750. The Works of Horace, Translated Literally into English(1756) is a prose translation of the poems from the Latin; A Translation of the Psalms of David Attempted in the Spirit of Christianity (1765) was rendered from the Hebrew in poetic form; another translation, The Works of Horace Translated into Verse, came out in 1767.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Christopher Smart became a fellow of Pembroke Hall, the University of Cambridge, in 1745, and attained college office after receiving his master’s degree in 1747. He won the Seaton Prize for poetry every year from 1750 to 1755, with the exception of 1754, when he did not enter.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Curry, Neil. Christopher Smart. Tavistock, England: Northcote House/British Council, 2005. A biography of Smart that also examines his writings.

Dillingham, Thomas F. “’Blest Light’: Christopher Smart’s Myth of David.” In The David Myth in Western Literature, edited by Raymond-Jean Frontain and Jan Wojick. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1980. The biblical David is central to Smart’s highest poetic achievements, says Dillingham, whether used as subject, as in A Song to David, or as a model for imitation, as in the translations and biblical paraphrases. Smart combines the Old Testament figure with the Greek Orpheus and Christian theology in seeking a unified vision for his faith.

Hawes, Clement, ed. Christopher Smart and the Enlightenment. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. A reappraisal of Smart’s legacy and his remarkable impact on twentieth century poetry. Analyzes the generative impact of Smart on modern poetry and music, demonstrating the reach of his contemporary resonance.

Jason, Philip K., ed. Masterplots II: Poetry Series. Rev. ed. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2002. Contains an analysis of Smart’s “My Cat, Jeoffry.” Summary, forms and devices, and themes and meanings are discussed.

Mounsey, Chris. Christopher Smart: Clown of God. Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 2001. A biography of the poet, detailing his confinement for mental illness. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Spacks, Patricia Ann Meyer. Reading Eighteenth-Century Poetry. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. In one chapter, Spacks examines the poetry of Smart and Mary Leapor, a kitchen maid who died of measles at the age of twenty-three. She sees both of them as outliers who were nonetheless able to achieve some popularity in their lifetimes. She sees Smart as using poetic forms in new ways and Leapor as employing new themes.