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This report is taken from PN Review 198, Volume 37 Number 4, February - March 2011.

From the Bow-Wow Shop 3 Michael Glover
Darwin, Charles

Imagine this. One evening, late in the life of Charles Darwin, his beloved wife leans over the back of his bath chair and whispers some words into his ear about the fact that, in times to come, some female descendant on his father's side will distil the story of his life and intellectual achievements into a slender book of fairly pithy poems, tricked out in a pretty green jacket. Would it have pleased him to hear those words? Perhaps not. Here is a late letter in which he talks about his youthful passion for poetry, and of how that season passed as he went from youth to maturity.

I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the work of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shelley gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, ...


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