Foolish Verses


Edmund Gosse, by John Singer Sargent, 1886

Thomas Freeman, an Oxford graduate, came to London, as Wood says, “to set up for a poet,” and published in 1614 Rub and a Great Cast, a volume of epigrams, among which are some on Shakespeare and other leading poets of the age.

Edmund Gosse,  The Jacobean Poets  

In The Information I mention a poet named Thomas Freeman, who lived from approximately 1590 to 1630… I would never have heard of Thomas Freeman myself, if Anthony Lane hadn’t happened to discover him in the course of reviewing Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healy’s English Poetry Full-Text Database for The New Yorker. That was seventeen years ago, in 1995… Lane was making the point that the opportunity to read 165,000 poems by 1,250 poets spanning thirteen centuries on four compact discs priced at $51,000 might be considered a mixed blessing. He quoted this couplet by the aforementioned Freeman:

Whoop, whoop, me thinkes I heare my Reader cry,
Here is rime doggrell: I confesse it I.

— James Gleick, Meta Enough for You?

My wife and I, by water, up as high as Putney, with the tide, and back again; talking, and singing, and reading a foolish copy of verses.

— Samuel Pepys (@samuelpepys) May 11, 2012

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