Blair, Robert

Blair, Robert
   Born in Edinburgh and educated at Edinburgh University and in Holland, Blair followed his father and grandfather into the Church, and was ordained at Athelstaneford (East Lothian) and licensed to preach in 1729. He is thought to have been a member of the Athenian Society, a small literary club in Edinburgh that published in 1720 the Edinburgh Miscellany. Although anonymous, Blair seems to have contributed two brief paraphrases of Scripture. In 1728 he wrote "Poem Dedicated to the Memory of William Law" (professor of philosophy in Edinburgh, whose daughter Isabella, he married in 1738). His major poem "The Grave" (1743) expressed his feelings on bereavement and death and was one of the first of the Romantic Movement in English literature. It is believed to have influenced Thomas Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" (1751). It was the first and (some say) the best of a whole series of mortuary (or graveyard) poems, containing seven hundred and sixty-seven lines of blank verse. William Blake (see entry) produced twelve illustrations for the 1808 edition. Some of his other poems: "A New Dawn," "Law," "Ode," translated from the Latin of Florentius Volusenus.
   Sources: A Little Book of Comfort. Anthony Guest, ed. HarperCollins, 1993. Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Overview of Rev. Robert Blair ( The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 ( The Oxford Anthology of English Poetry. Vol. I: Spenser to Crabbe. John Wain, ed. Oxford University Press, 1990. The Oxford Book of Death. D.J. Enright, ed. Oxford University Press, 1987. The Works of the British Poets, Vol. 33 (Blair, Glynn, Boyce, Shaw, Lovibond, and Penrose). J. Sharpe, 1808.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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