Christopher Smart - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about Christopher Smart

Selected works by this author

Selected books about / related to this author

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Picture of Christopher Smart, poet and author of
Christopher Smart
(1722 - 1771)

Category:  English Literature
Born:  April 3, 1722
Shipbourne, Kent, England
Died:  May 21, 1771
King's Bench Prison
Related authors:
Allen Ginsberg, Robert Browning, Samuel Johnson
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Christopher Smart - LIFE STORIES
4/6/1763     Kit Smart, Johnson & Ginsberg
On this day in 1763 Christopher Smart's most famous poem, "Song to David," was published. Though a minor poet, Smart was friendly to those in Samuel Johnson's circle, notorious to many for his enthusiastic public displays of "religious mania" -- "Song to David" was composed in Mr. Potter's Madhouse -- and an important influence on Allen Ginsberg's "Howl."
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The Annotated Letters of Christopher Smart
by Betty Rizzo (Editor), Robert Mahony (Editor), Christopher Smart
The Poetical Works of Christopher Smart: Miscellaneous Poems English and Latin
by Karina Williamson (Editor), Christopher Smart
anthology, poetry
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Christopher Smart and the Enlightenment
by Clement Hawes (Editor)
non-fiction, literary history
Mania and Literary Style: The Rhetoric of Enthusiasm from the Ranters to Christopher Smart
by Clement Hawes
non-fiction, literary criticism
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Academy of American Poets
Find a biography which briefly explores the influence of the Roman poet Horace on Smart's works, the "religious mania" which consumed him, and the poet's enduring legacy. With recommended links.

"Smart is best known for A Song to David (1763), which praises the author of the Psalms as an archetype of the Divine poet. Although in its own time the poem was greeted largely with confusion, later poets such as Browning and Yeats would single out this poem for its affirmation of spirituality in an increasingly materialistic world. In this respect Smart has been considered as a forerunner to poets such as John Clare and William Blake. ... Smart's work has captured the attention of contemporary artists such as Benjamin Britten, Allen Ginsberg, and Theodore Roethke."
Essay: "Insolent Women and Crest-fallen Men: Christopher Smart,The Midwife, and Literary Travestism"
A scholarly essay examines the roles of men and women in Smart's works, with commentary on the developments in mid-eighteenth century society which influenced the author's views.

"In Jubilate Agno, a collection of fragments written in a Bethnal Green madhouse during the early 1760s, Christopher Smart makes a number of observations on the relationship between gender and what he perceives to be a deterioration of the cultural and political order. Though a prolonged hymn of praise to God, the poem is infected by a deep sexual bias and dwells at some length, and with much bitterness, on `mischief concerning women', as well as on the causes and effects of this unruliness. Often drawing on examples from the Old Testament and the classical world - privileged sites of patriarchal cultural value for Smart - his idiosyncratic musings assert both the importance to a maintenance of social order of rigidly enforced gender distinctions and the dangers of their effacement by men who act like women and women who act like men."
Jubilate Agno
Find the entire (albeit, never completed) text of Smart's lengthy poem "Jubilate Agno," with introductory notes and commentary.

"Christopher Smart wrote a long free-verse manuscript between 1758 and 1763, largely while in a madhouse. 32 pages of this manuscript survive."
Samuel Johnson on Christopher Smart
Read a brief excerpt from The Life of Johnson in which the doctor questions Kit Smart's sanity:

"Madness frequently discovers itself merely by unnecessary deviation from the usual modes of the world. My poor friend Smart showed the disturbance of his mind, by falling upon his knees, and saying his prayers in the street, or in any other unusual place. Now although, rationally speaking, it is greater madness not to pray at all, than to pray as Smart did, I am afraid there are so many who do not pray, that their understanding is not called in question."
The Poet's Corner
Find poems including

  • "The Long-Nosed Fair"

  • "On a Lady Throwing Snow Balls at her Lover"

  • "On My Wife's Birthday"

  • "The Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"

  • "Faith as a Grain of Mustard-Seed" (A Parable of Jesus)

  • "Good-Nature to Animals"

  • "Mirth"

  • "On the Eternity of the Supreme Being"
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