Poems, Lyric and Pastoral (London, 1794)

Poems, Lyric and Pastoral

Poems, Lyric and Pastoral

Iolo's poems include compositions of both youth and middle age. The early poems consist mainly of conventional love and nature poems as well as pastoral effusions on the purity and simplicity of the rural life modelled on the work of William Shenstone and William Collins. The more mature 'bardic' poems of the second volume are slightly incongruous with the juvenilia of the first volume, and differ from it both stylistically and ideologically. This did not go unnoticed by contemporary reviewers, some of whom responded negatively to the radicalism of poems such as 'Ode on converting a Sword into a Pruning-hook' and 'Ode on the Mythology of the Ancient British Bards' and the politically charged footnotes which accompanied them.

The preface to the volume deliberately presents Iolo in the guise of a labouring class poet, a persona which he hoped would impress the metropolitan literary audience which had fêted similar figures, such as Robert Burns, Ann Yearsley and Stephen Duck. The preface also alludes to the obstacles (both real and perceived) that Iolo faced during the slow progress that the poems made through the press from 1791 to 1794. This was a period that brought him close to financial ruin, mental and physical exhaustion, and almost caused the breakdown of his marriage.

Ode on the Mythology of the Ancient British Bards