Robert Bloomfield Criticism - Essay

Monthly Review, or Literary Journal (review date September 1800)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of The Farmer's Boy, by Robert Bloomfield. Monthly Review, or Literary Journal 32 (September 1800): 50-56.

[In the following excerpt, the reviewer notes Bloomfield's elevation of his rustic subject through unaffected and eloquent poetry.]

This poem [The Farmer's Boy] is ushered into the world under the obstetric auspices of the ingenious Mr. Capel Lofft, but it is the production of a journeyman shoemaker, who was himself originally destined to be a Farmer's Boy. The preface contains some particulars of his life, communicated by his brother to Mr. Lofft; whence it appears that the only literary instructions which he ever had he...

(The entire section is 990 words.)

British Critic (review date April 1802)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Rural Tales and Poems, by Robert Bloomfield. British Critic 19 (April 1802): 338-43.

[In the following excerpt, the author finds Bloomfield's second book an extension of the virtuosity of his first.]

We are pleasingly called away from our abstruser studies, by these productions of a genuine Child of Nature. In Bloomfield's first Poem, the Farmer's Boy, we saw and commended the evidence of an original genius, well deserving of encouragement and cultivation1. The public has agreed with us, and five editions of that work exhibit the most unequivocal attestation of general favour. Of the author's history, as detailed in the...

(The entire section is 1331 words.)

Critical Review (review date May 1802)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Rural Tales and Poems, by Robert Bloomfield. Critical Review 35 (May 1802): 67-75.

[In the following excerpt, the critic asserts that Bloomfield's second work, Rural Tales, equals the brilliance of his well-known The Farmer's Boy.]

This volume cannot be better introduced than by the author's preface—a manly and modest performance, highly honourable to his feelings and his abilities.

‘The poems here offered to the public were chiefly written during the interval between the concluding, and the publishing of The Farmer's Boy, an interval of nearly two years. The pieces of a later date are,...

(The entire section is 1802 words.)

Robert Bloomfield (essay date 1806)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bloomfield, Robert. Preface to Wild Flowers; or, Pastoral and Local Poetry, pp. vii-x. London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, Poultry; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, Paternoster-Row, 1806.

[In the following essay, Bloomfield's preface to Wild Flowers; or, Pastoral and Local Poetry, the author offers insight into his subject matter.]

A man of the first eminence, in whose day (fortunately perhaps for me) I was not destined to appear before the public, or to abide the Herculean crab-tree of his criticism, Dr. Johnson, has said, in his preface to Shakespeare, that—“Nothing can please many, and please long, but just representations of general nature.”...

(The entire section is 535 words.)

Literary Journal, a Review (review date July 1806)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Wild Flowers; or, Pastoral and Local Poetry, by Robert Bloomfield. Literary Journal, a Review 2, no. 2 (July 1806): 61-65.

[In the following excerpted review, the author values Bloomfield for his lack of pretension and for his generosity toward his subjects.]

Mr. Bloomfield's poetry, when connected with the remarkable particulars of his story, possessed irresistible attractions for the public curiosity; but even had he possessed every opportunity which the young poet can require to awake his fancy and improve his taste, his poetry would have acquired him a just reputation. His writings, with very few exceptions, have nothing in them which could...

(The entire section is 1197 words.)

Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (review date January-June 1822)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of May Day with the Muses by Robert Bloomfield. Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 11 (January-June 1822): 722-31.

[In the following excerpt, the author satirically meditates on “humble” poets before turning to extol Bloomfield as among the best of the uneducated poets, quoting extensively from his work as evidence.]

A great many ploughmen—shepherds—ditchers—and shoemakers—nay, even tailors—have in this free and happy country of ours wooed the Muses. Apollo, on the other hand, has been made love to, (and in some instances very nearly ravished, as, for example, by that vigorous milk-woman, Ann Yearsley,) by vast flocks of young women in...

(The entire section is 2564 words.)

Edmund Blunden (essay date 1929)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Blunden, Edmund. “The Farmer's Boy: Duck, Bloomfield.” In Nature in English Literature, pp. 106-131. London: The Hogarth Press, 1929.

[In the following excerpt, Blunden examines Bloomfield's contribution to the genre of “earth-born poetry.”]

The conversation of the men who work on the land, when their topic is their life and experience, is full of translated colour and significant sound; it is with little difficulty that I have sometimes fancied, as I listened to three or four hearty haymakers, that there grew the true poem of Nature. Their whole sense seemed peculiarly trained to answer all that Nature in this country has to say or do, from the...

(The entire section is 3101 words.)

Rayner Unwin (essay date 1954)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Unwin, Rayner. “Robert Bloomfield.” In The Rural Muse: Studies in the Peasant Poetry of England, pp. 87-109. London: Goerge Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1954.

[In the following excerpt, the author reviews the critical response of Bloomfield's contemporaries to his poetry as well as some of the salient features of the poet's biography. A close reading of The Farmer's Boy yields a discussion of Bloomfield's restraint from moralizing and of his conservative intellectual approach.]

First made a Farmer's Boy, and then a snob,
A poet he became, and here lies Bob.

Robert Bloomfield: MS. scribble, April 1823

In 1781 Robert...

(The entire section is 9014 words.)

Jonathan Lawson (essay date 1980)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lawson, Jonathan. “The Later Works: Continued Awareness and Final Decline” and “Bloomfield and the Rural Tradition: Its Value and Values.” In Robert Bloomfield, pp. 94-154. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.

[In the following excerpt, Lawson discusses some of Bloomfield's later works, including his poem on the smallpox epidemic, and evaluates the poet's rural identity and influences.]

THE LATER WORKS: CONTINUED AWARENESS AND FINAL DECLINE

I RURAL TALES, BALLADS, AND SONGS

If there is a unified critical opinion of Bloomfield's works, it is that the first are the best. One modern critic finds that the...

(The entire section is 21604 words.)

John Lucas (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lucas, John. “Bloomfield and Clare.” In The Independent Spirit: John Clare and the Self-Taught Tradition, edited by John Goodridge, pp. 55-68. Helpston: John Clare Society and the Margaret Grainger Memorial Trust, 1994.

[In the following essay, Lucas argues that Bloomfield's “poetry was a means of securing a social identity at odds with his own origins.” He also interprets Clare's praise for Bloomfield's poetry as praise for the depiction of an ideal, uncorrupted rural life.]

[John] Clare's intense admiration for Bloomfield is well known. ‘The English Theocritus & the first of the Rural Bards in this country’, he called him. He also said that in...

(The entire section is 5545 words.)