Christopher Smart: Seatonian Poems

(1579 words)

When he died in 1741, Thomas Seaton, an Anglican priest and hymn writer, bequeathed the rents from one of his estates in Northamptonshire to Cambridge University to establish a prize to be given each year to the writer of the best poem written in English on ‘one of the Attributes of the Supreme Being'. It was first awarded in 1750 and Christopher Smart not only won it that year but in four out of the next five. The only year he did not win was the year he did not enter.

The Poetical Essay – and that is how each of his poems is sub-titled – was an established and recognised literary genre, which meant that there was a recognised way in which it was to be written and that was blank verse. In itself this was no problem for …

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Curry, Neil. "Seatonian Poems". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 November 2007
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]