Biography of Barry Cornwall
Bryan Waller Procter who wrote under the name Barry Cornwall was an English poet.
Born at Leeds, Yorkshire, he was educated at Harrow School, where he had for contemporaries Lord Byron and Robert Peel. On leaving school he was placed in the office of a solicitor at Calne, Wiltshire, remaining there until about 1807, when he returned to London to study law. By the death of his father in 1816 he became possessed of a small property, and soon after entered into partnership with a solicitor; but in 1820 the partnership was dissolved, and he began to write under the pseudonym of "Barry Cornwall".
After his marriage in 1824 to Miss Skepper, daughter of Mrs Basil Montague, he returned to his profession as a conveyancer, and was called to the bar in 1831. In the following year he was appointed, metropolitan commissioner of lunacy -- an appointment annually renewed until his election as one of the Commissioners in Lunacy constituted by the Lunacy Act 1845. He resigned in 1861. Most of his verse was composed between 1815, when he began to contribute to the Literary Gazette, and 1823, or at latest 1832. His daughter, Adelaide Anne, was also a poet.
His principal poetical works were: Dramatic Scenes and other Poems (1819), A Sicilian Story (1820), Marcian Colonna (1820), Mirandola, a tragedy performed at Covent Garden with Macready, Charles Kemble and Miss Foote in the leading parts (1821), The Flood of Thessaly (1823). and English Songs (1832). He was also the author of Effigies poetica (1824), Life of Edmund Kean (1835), Essays and Tales in Prose (1851), Charles Lamb; a Memoir (1866), and of memoirs of Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare for editions of their works. A posthumous autobiographical fragment with notes of his literary friends, of whom he had a wide range from William Lisle Bowles to Robert Browning, was published in 1877, with some additions by Coventry Patmore.
Charles Lamb gave the highest possible praise to his friend's Dramatic Sketches when he said that had he found them as anonymous manuscript in the Garrick Collection he would have had no hesitation about including them in his Dramatic Specimens. He was perhaps not an impartial critic. "Barry Cornwall's" songs have caught some notes from the Elizabethan and Cavalier lyrics, and blended them with others from the leading poets of his own time; and his dramatic fragments show a similar infusion of the early Victorian spirit into pre-Restoration forms and cadences. The results are varied, and lack unity, but they abound in pleasant touches, with here and there the flash of a higher, though casual, inspiration.
Rather unknown outside Britain in his times and largely considered to be imitator of greater romantic authors, Barry Cornwall however inspired Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin to some translations and imitations in 1830. Just hours before his last duel in 1837 Pushkin sent a collection by Cornwall to a fellow author, Mrs. Ishimova, suggesting that she should translate some poems selected by him.
William Makepeace Thackeray dedicated Vanity Fair to B.W. Procter.
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Barry Cornwall Poems
Sit Down, Sad Soul
SIT down, sad soul, and count The moments flying: Come,—tell the sweet amount That ’s lost by sighing!
THE SEA! the sea! the open sea! The blue, the fresh, the ever free! Without a mark, without a bound, It runneth the earth’s wide regions round;
A Petition To Time
TOUCH us gently, Time! Let us glide adown thy stream Gently,—as we sometimes glide Through a quiet dream.
The New-Born Baby's Song
When I was twenty inches long, I could not hear the thrush's song; The radiance of the morning skies Was most displeasing to my eyes.
The Blood Horse
GAMARRA is a dainty steed, Strong, black, and of a noble breed, Full of fire, and full of bone, With all his line of fathers known;
The poplars in the fields of France Are golden ladies come to dance; But yet to see them there is none But I and the September sun.
The Old Witch In The Copse
I am a Witch, and a kind old Witch, There's many a one knows that-- Alone I live in my little dark house With Pillycock, my cat.
The Poet's Song To His Wife
HOW many summers, love, Have I been thine? How many days, thou dove, Hast thou been mine?
I wakened on my hot, hard bed; Upon the pillow lay my head; Beneath the pillow I could hear My little watch was ticking clear.
WE are born; we laugh; we weep; We love; we droop; we die! Ah! wherefore do we laugh or weep? Why do we live, or die?
The Stormy Petrel
A THOUSAND miles from land are we, Tossing about on the roaring sea; From billow to bounding billow cast, Like fleecy snow on the stormy blast:
The Hunter’s Song
RISE! Sleep no more! ’T is a noble morn: The dews hang thick on the fringed thorn, And the frost shrinks back, like a beaten hound, Under the steaming, steaming ground.
Peace! What Do Tears Avail?
PEACE! what do tears avail? She lies all dumb and pale, And from her eye The spirit of lovely life is fading,
SING, I pray, a little song, Mother dear! Neither sad nor very long: It is for a little maid,
A Poet’s Thought
TELL me, what is a poet’s thought?
Is it on the sudden born?
Is it from the starlight caught?
Is it by the tempest taught,
Or by whispering morn?
Was it cradled in the brain?
Chain’d awhile, or nurs’d in night?
Was it wrought with toil and pain?