Edward Young

1683-1765. English poet. Born at Upham (Hampshire) and educated at Winchester and Oxford, he included among his works satires (The Love of Fame, 1725-28) and plays (Busiris, 1719), but his best-known work is Night Thoughts (1742-45). He had entered the church in 1727, becoming rector of Welwyn in 1730. His Conjectures on Original Composition (1759) place him among the early theorists of Romantic views of literature. Young thus belongs to two worlds, the Augustan and the Romantic. Likewise in matters religious, he is of the transition. Night Thoughts originates in real sorrow, in the bereavement of his wife and stepdaughter, but there is much in it of the rational Augustan theology with its moral and cosmological arguments. Meant as a poem of Christian triumph over death, Night Thoughts is often dismissed as a prolix and gloomy work. There is indeed too much argument, but there are also flashes of joy, particularly in the fourth Night with its celebration of Christ's victorious death and resurrection. These flashes show the intuitive response in its rare emergence from behind the repelling façade of reason.