Monday, November 27, 2017

Joseph Addison

Joseph Addison (1672—1719) is an English essayist, poet and dramatist. His greatest contribution may have been his development of the periodical essay through his journal The Spectator. Samuel Johnson’s praise for the prose style of The Spectator established Addison’s influence.

Early on, he used his poetry to advance his political ambitions, praising in verse the influential men he identified with. By 1708, as a Whig candidate, he was elected to parliament, and served as Irish secretary until 1710.

Richard Steele, his friend since youth, had established the influential journal The Tattler in 1709 — to which Addison contributed many of the essays. For a short time Addison was also friends with Jonathan Swift, but political differences soon separated them. In 1711, Addison and Steele started The Spectator, which appeared six days a week. It featured Addison’s influential literary criticism, and weekly papers on John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

As a playwright his tragedy Cato (1713) was a particular success, enjoying an extended run at Drury Lane. His comedy The Drummer also appeared at Drury Lane in 1716.

Addison was buried in Westminster Abbey.


The Spacious Firmament on High,
With all the blue Ethereal Sky,
And spangled Heavens, a Shining Frame,
Their great Original proclaim:
The unwearied Sun from Day to Day,
Does his Creator's Power display,
And publishes to every Land
The Work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the Evening Shades prevail,
The Moon takes up the wondrous Tale,
And nightly to the listening Earth,
Repeats the Story of her Birth:
Whilst all the Stars that round her burn,
And all the Planets in their turn,
Confirm the Tidings as they roll,
And spread the Truth from Pole to Pole.

What though in solemn Silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial Ball?
What though, nor real Voice nor Sound
Amid their radiant Orbs be found?
In Reason's Ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious Voice,
For ever singing as they shine,
“The Hand that made us is Divine.”

This is the first Kingdom Poets post about Joseph Addison: second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.