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the mouth of Empedocles, just before the final plunge into Etna's crater, might have been his own personal utterance.

Is it so small a thing

To have enjoy'd the sun,

To have lived light in the spring,

To have loved, to have thought, to have done;

To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes

That we must feign a bliss

Of doubtful future date,

And while we dream on this,

Lose all our present state,

And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose?

CHAPTER IX

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL AS NATURALIST

APART from his Biglow Papers, the caustic wit and keen satire of which are well known to English readers, this American author's poetry has not received the recognition it deserves. Although a poet of genuine quality, and one who gave utterance to many felicitous and original lines, he suffers from a general verbosity and diffuseness and lack of proportion. Perhaps he wrote too much; at all events it is certain that when he hit upon a good subject he often marred his treatment of it by over-elaborate introduction. He dallied too long in the entry. He had not learned that in poetry the half is greater than the whole. He once wrote: "One word with blood in't 's twice ez good ez two," but he sometimes forgets his own dictum. Endowed with phenomenal fluency and great skill in rhyming, he could spin verses by the yard. He is therefore apt to go on spinning long

after he has exhausted the patience of the reader. His fatal facility costs him many admirers. An Indian Summer Reverie is a fine subject and contains fine thoughts and striking expressions, but he does not know when to stop. It is overdone. This is the sort of defect that comes to a man who has no sense of humour, but that cannot be said of Lowell, and the cause of the weakness must be found elsewhere. Yet he wrote much that is delightful and charming, full of healthy, breezy optimism, wholesome and ennobling. He needs a Matthew Arnold of to-day to edit him and make a good selection of his verse. It is the only way to preserve his poetry as such from oblivion. We must always except The Biglow Papers, which stand by themselves unrivalled as a piquant and telling exposure of "humbug" in politics.

We are here concerned only with Lowell as a Nature poet, and we have chosen him to conclude the present series because he is particularly rich in the kind of lore for which we have been searching the poetry of the nineteenth century; moreover, the fact that he is an American will give a certain variety to the subject, since plant and bird life on the other side of the Atlantic are in some respects different from what we are accustomed to in our

country. Lowell was a passionate lover of Nature, and his poetry is steeped in Nature references-to trees and flowers and birds, and all the varying circumstances connected with Nature's change of raiment throughout the year. Speaking of Agassiz, the scientist, he described him as one who

had the poet's open eye,

That takes a frank delight in all it sees;

and the remark is singularly true of Lowell himself. He loved the outside world as much as Tennyson and Wordsworth, and although on the whole he does not paint so felicitously as Tennyson, has not the same happy skill in his wording, yet his turn of phrase is on occasion almost Tennysonian. And although he had not the same spirituality of insight that Wordsworth had, yet he sometimes approaches the Wordsworthian standpoint. In some respects he is like both, and touches each of them at various points. His picture of the dragon-fly in The Fountain of Youth shows close observation.

Blue dragon-flies knitting
To and fro in the sun,
With side-long jerk flitting,
Sink down on the rushes,

And, motionless sitting,

Hear it bubble and run

Hear its low inward singing,
With level wings swinging

On green-tasselled rushes

To dream in the sun.

This is, of course, far behind Tennyson's graphic

picture, and yet the metaphor "knitting" is decidedly happy and new.

The Nightingale in the Study is very close to Wordsworth.

The poet

calls his bookish friend to come out and enjoy

the beauties of Nature.

Come out beneath the unmastered sky,

With its emancipating spaces,

And learn to sing as well as I
Without premeditated graces.

What boot your many-volumed gains.
Those withered leaves for ever turning,
To win, at best, for all your pains,

A nature mummy-wrapt in learning?

The leaves wherein true wisdom lies

On living trees the sun are drinking;
Those white clouds, drowsing through the skies,

Grew not so beautiful by thinking.

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The whole strain of thought here is undoubtedly suggested by Wordsworth's " Up! up! my friend,' while Wordsworth's belief that "every flower enjoys the air it breathes" is paralleled by Lowell's

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