Young men should not write sonnets

Frederick William Faber was born in Yorkshire 1814, and is known for the hymns he wrote, and as a theologian. Although he was brought up in the Church of England, and was ordained as a vicar, he converted to Catholicism and became a priest.

Faber died at the age of forty-nine, having suffered for much of his life from kidney disease, probably Bright’s disease. The name of Faber is probably best known now as Faber and Faber, the publisher – Geoffrey Faber, was Frederick’s great-nephew (the firm was originally Faber and Gwyer, but when Mr Gwyer left, Geoffrey decided it should be called Faber and Faber, even though there was only one of them).


Sonnet-writing: To Himself
Young men should not write sonnets, if they dream
Some day to reach the bright bare seats of fame:
To such, sweet thoughts and mighty feelings seem
As though, like foreign things, they rarely came.
Eager as men when haply they have heard
Of some new songster, some gay-feathered bird,
That hath over blue seas strayed in hope to find
In our thin foliage here a summer home
Fain would they catch the bright things in their mind,
And cage them into sonnets as they come.
No; they should serve their wants most sparingly,
Till the ripe time of song, when young thoughts fail,
Then their sad sonnets, like old bards, might be
Merry as youth, and yet grey-haired and hale.

Frederick Faber


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