Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 August 2020
After his return to Ireland, Swift mixed with brash younger clerics such as Thomas Sheridan and Patrick Delany. Daniel Jackson’s large nose proved to be the unlikely source of profound ekphrastic pieces written by the group. Jovial bagatelles aside, ‘To Mr Delany’ displays a mid-career poet querying his craft. In ‘The Progress of Poetry’ urban hacks and farmer’s geese alike have grown fat and shrill. ‘Advice to the Grub-Street Verse-Writers’ ironically advises how modern hacks might trick a real poet – Pope – into writing original works into the margins of their books. Swift continued to rework British and Irish georgic and pastoral poetry with extraordinary inventiveness in the 1720s, whether in drolly dreary hospitality poems or pseudo-prophecy verses in the voice of St Patrick himself. Swift found new ways to insult his friends, including his hostess Lady Anne Acheson (‘The Journal of a Modern Lady’, ‘Death and Daphne’) and Matthew Pilkington (‘Directions for a Birth-Day Song’), as well as emerging poets for whom he had little taste. Such insults were couched within the unlikely genres with which he engaged, from the Ovidian courtship tale to the royal ode.