James Henry Leigh Hunt
There is, perhaps, no solitary sensation so exquisite as that of slumbering on the grass or hay, shaded from the hot sun by a tree, with the consciousness of a fresh light air running through the wide atmosphere and the sky stretching far overhead upon all sides. – Leigh Hunt
James Henry Leigh Hunt (19 October 1784 – 28 August 1859), best known as Leigh Hunt, was an English critic, essayist, poet and writer.
In 1816 he made a mark in English literature with the publication of Story of Rimini, based on the tragic episode of Francesca da Riminitold in Dante’s Inferno. Hunt’s preference was decidedly for Chaucer‘s verse style, as adapted to modern English by John Dryden, in opposition to the epigrammatic couplet of Alexander Pope which had superseded it. The poem is an optimistic narrative which runs contrary to the tragic nature of its subject. Hunt’s flippancy and familiarity, often degenerating into the ludicrous, subsequently made him a target for ridicule and parody.
In 1818 appeared a collection of poems entitled Foliage, followed in 1819 by Hero and Leander, and Bacchus and Ariadne. In the same year he reprinted these two works with The Story of Rimini and The Descent of Liberty with the title of Poetical Works, and started theIndicator, in which some of his best work appeared. Both Keats and Shelley belonged to the circle gathered around him at Hampstead, which also included William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, Bryan Procter, Benjamin Haydon, Charles Cowden Clarke, C.W. Dilke, Walter Coulson and John Hamilton Reynolds.
One of Hunt’s most popular poems is “Jenny Kissed Me“. Another is “Abou Ben Adhem”.