The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

VII. George Crabbe

§ 12. Summary

In spite of this excess, he gave the poetry of nature new worlds to conquer (rather than conquered them himself) by showing that the world of plain fact and common detail may be material for poetry; just as, in dealing with the characters of men and women, he enlarged the scope of both poetry and fiction. He was not, like Wordsworth, a lofty and passionate dreamer; so far is he from possessing the engaging tenderness of Cowper, that often, even at his finest moments, he repels by his ruthless insistence upon the truth as he sees it. On the other hand, his keen, if rugged, sympathy widely separates his “realism” from the dreary chronicle of a Zola; and his not infrequent doggerel comes from his saying too much, not from saying anything beside the mark. He has left some vivid and beautiful passages of descriptive poetry, some admirably told tales and a long gallery of profound and lively portraits; and, by the intensity of his vision, the force of his mind and his sturdy sincerity, he ploughed for future workers wide tracts which, before him, poetry had allowed to lie fallow.