Popular Poets

25. In 1825, A Tale of Paraguay was published following several years of intermittent composition. This verse romance was composed of Spenserian stanzas and is based on a Latin narrative composed by Martin Dobrizhoffer, a Jesuit priest in Paraguay. The account was published in English as An Account of the Abipones, an Equestrian People of Paraguay (1822) and translated by Sara Coleridge, wife of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and resident in Southey’s home at the time he began composing A Tale of Paraguay. The poem dealt with issues surrounding Catholicism, a theme Southey had explored a year earlier in his episodic narrative The Book of the Church (1825) and would also return to the following year with Vindiciæ Anglicanæ (1826). Although a poor seller in the nineteenth century, the poem has received resurgent interest in recent years due to its depiction of nineteenth-century attitudes towards Christianity in England and its generic classification as a colonial contact and conversion narrative set immediately after Paraguay gained its independence in 1811. This edition of Southey’s A Tale of Paraguay was published in 1825 for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster-Row.