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admiration. He is too fastidious to be natural. His hymns to his Goddess breathe too strongly of the lamp.
“ Pleasant it was, when woods were green,
And winds were soft and low,
Alternately come and go.
“ Or where the denser grove receives
No sunlight from above,
The shadows hardly move.
“Beneath some patriarchal tree
I lay upon the ground;
With one continuous sound.
“A slumberous sound—a sound that brings
The feeling of a dream,
O’er meadow, lake, and stream."
All this, though reminding us strongly of Coleridge, both in thought and expression, is a very favorable specimen of that elegant sympathy with nature which is so distinguishing a feature in our author's poetry. It lacks that freshness which has made Wordsworth so great a writer. Listen for a moment to the great High Priest of the open air :
“In vain through water, earth, and air,
The soul of happy sound was spread,
“At noon, when by the forest's edge
* * * * *
As of a dweller out of doors,
We should, however, be doing Mr. Longfellow injustice were we to confine our extracts to his descriptions of nature. He is a firm believer in the better part of human kind. In his Psalm of Life he has declared this faith.
“ Life is real-life is earnest !
And the grave is not its goal !
Dust thou art—to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul !
“Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way:
Find us further than to-day.”
The following verse contains a beautiful image:
“ Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts though stout and brave,
Funeral marches to the grave.
“ Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
Footprints on the sands of time!
“ Footprints! that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er Life's solemn main,
Seeing shall take heart again !"
This “ psalm” is eminently poetical, and has doubtless in the future much fine effect locked up in it. The acorn holds the oak, and the oak in time floats a palace o'er the ocean. How often has the unregarded phrase of one time been the inspirer to the glorious deed of another! We remember one instance, in which a father named his child after a celebrated man, in the express hope that should he at any time feel sinking to the degradation of a mean action, the sound of his name might recall him to the path of honor !
There are, notwithstanding, many happy instances of Mr. Longfellow's talent for applying a fact to a feeling, and of illustrating the processes of duty by metaphors drawn from outside life. This very facility is sometimes fatal : it very often becomes common-place, so that we feel inclined now and then to resent a truism as though it were a falsehood; at all events, to treat it as an impertinence or an intrusion. This strikes us as the prevailing defect in many otherwise very fine poems. We may instance as a proof of this, some otherwise very fine lines which are spoiled by this obtrusive subjectiveness.
“ There is a reaper whose name is Death,
And with his sickle keen,
And the flowers that grow between.
“He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves,
He bound them in his sheaves.
“Oh, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The reaper came that day,
And took the flowers away."
This sounds more like Watts's hymns than a philosophical reflection modified by the spirit of poetry, the highest expression of philosophy. Although somewhat out of keeping, we cannot help here quoting a ludicrous explanation which Leigh Hunt once gave of the difference between philosophy and poetry. He said it was the difference between mutton and venison: and apostrophized “venison as the poetry of mutton !"
In the commencement of the “Hymn to the Night” there is an instance of bad taste in the selection of metaphors, which rarely happens to our author.
“ I heard the trailing garments of the night
Sweep through her marble halls;
From the celestial walls.”
He redeems this artificial imagery by the following verse :
“I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
Stoop o'er me from above;
* * *
What man has done before;
We must, however, warn Mr. Longfellow against the indis