Meaning of THOMSON, JAMES in English

THOMSON, JAMES

born Sept. 11, 1700, Ednam, Roxburgh, Scot. died Aug. 27, 1748, Richmond, Eng. Scottish poet whose best verse foreshadowed some of the attitudes of the Romantic movement. His poetry also gave expression to the achievements of Newtonian science and to an England reaching toward great political power based on commercial and maritime expansion. Educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and the University of Edinburgh, Thomson went to London in 1725. While earning his living there as a tutor, he published his masterpiece, a long, blank verse poem in four parts, called The Seasons: Winter in 1726, Summer in 1727, Spring in 1728, and the whole poem, including Autumn, in 1730. The Seasons was the first sustained nature poem in English and concludes with a Hymn to Nature. The work was a revolutionary departure; its novelty lay not only in subject matter but in structure. What was most striking to Thomson's earliest readers was his audacity in unifying his poem without a plot or other narrative device, thereby defying the Aristotelian criteria revered by the Neoclassicist critics. Thomson's belief that the scientist and poet must collaborate in the service of God, as revealed through nature, found its best expression in To the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton (1727). The poet also is remembered as the author of the famous ode Rule, Britannia, from Alfred, a Masque (1740, with music by T.A. Arne); for his ambitious poem in five parts, Liberty (173536); and for The Castle of Indolence (1748), an allegory in Spenserian stanzas of what may occur when Indolence overcomes Industry. born Nov. 23, 1834, Port Glasgow, Renfrew, Scot. died June 3, 1882, London pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis, or B.v. Scottish Victorian poet who is best remembered for his sombre, imaginative poem The City of Dreadful Night, a symbolic expression of his horror of urban dehumanization. Reared in an orphanage, Thomson entered the Royal Military Academy, Chelsea, became a regimental schoolmaster, and in 1851 was sent to Ireland. There he met the freethinker and radical Charles Bradlaugh, who was to be of great importance to his literary career. In 1862 Thomson was discharged from the army and went to London, where he supported himself as a clerk while writing essays, poems, and stories, many of them published in Bradlaugh's National Reformer, a worker's weekly. The City of Dreadful Night first appeared in this periodical in 1874. Thomson's chronic depressions and periods of alcoholism made either social or professional success difficult, and eventually he quarrelled even with Bradlaugh. Nevertheless, the publication of a volume of Thomson's poetry, The City of Dreadful Night and Other Poems (1880), received favourable critical attention. Thomson's poem Insomnia is autobiographical; and in Mater Tenebrarum and elsewhere among his writings, passages of self-revelation are frequent. He was an admirer and translator of Giacomo Leopardi, but, unlike the Italian poet, Thomson did not temper his pessimism with any kind of social optimism. No other Victorian poet displays more bleakly the dark underside of an age of change and hope.

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