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Collins Williampoet

Collins, William (poet) (1721-1759), a great English lyric poet, was the son of a Chichester tradesman. He was educated at Winchester and Oxford, and it was at Winchester that he wrote his Persian Eclogues (which were his most popular poems during his lifetime), though they were not produced in London till 1742. He sent in 1739 some verses to the Gentleman's Magazine, which attracted the attention of many, among others Johnson. His second work, A Letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer, a poem in review of poetry, was published in 1743, within a few days of his taking his degree. Shortly afterwards he came to London, but the indolence that was his great weakness prevented his settling into any steady employment, and he fell into habits of dissipation, which reduced him to great straits. It was during this period that he wrote the twelve Odes, which are in some respects matchless. In 1749 he developed symptoms of madness, and wrote nothing of note afterwards. The charm of his Odes has been generally admitted, and for language and form they are considered to be second to none. The Passions, the ode on Popular Superstitions, those to Simplicity and to Evening are general favourites. In 1750 he wrote an Ode on the Music of the Grecian Theatre, but that has not come down to us.