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everything we need no instructor to assure us; but as this propensity to point it out seems part of our poet's nature, we must not blame him for it. We may, however, be permitted to express our opinion, that it very greatly interferes with his immortality as a master of song. In his “ Death of Schiller," we have his method of teaching by verse very fairly set down.
« 'Tis said, when Schiller's death drew nigh,
The wish possessed his mighty mind
The homes and haunts of human-kind.
“Then strayed the poet, in his dreams,
By Rome and Egypt's ancient graves ;
Stood in the Hindoo's temple-caves;
“Walked with the Pawnee, fierce and stark,
The sallow Tartar, midst his herds,
False Malay uttering gentle words.
“How could he rest ? even then he trod
The threshold of the world unknown;
A ray upon his garments shone;
“Shone and awoke the strong desire,
For love and knowledge reached not here,
Sprang to a fairer, ampler sphere.
“Then—who shall tell how deep, how bright
The abyss of glory opened round ?
Through ranks of being without bound ?” In his lines to the memory of William Leggett, we have a verse which gives a felicitous acconnt of the manner in which impulsive poetry should be written.
“The words of fire that from his pen
Were flung upon the fervent page,
Amid a cold and coward age.”
And his power of personification at times comes out in bold and broad relief.
“Oh FREEDOM! thou art not, as poets dream,
Fall outward; terribly thou springest forth,
In the piece entitled “Seventy-Six” there is a force of diction which rings out loud and clear.
“ What heroes from the woodland sprung,
When, through the fresh awakened land,
The yeoman's iron hand.
“Hills flung the cry to hills around,
And ocean-mart replied to mart,
Into the forest's heart.
“Then marched the brave from rocky steep,
From mountain river swift and cold;
Sent up the strong and bold,
Grew quick with God's creating breath,
To battle to the death.
“The wife, whose babe first smiled that day,
The fair fond bride of yestereve,
Saw the loved warriors haste away,
And deemed it sin to grieve.
“ Already had the strife begun;
Already blood on Concord's plain
Like brooks of April rain.
“ That death-stain on the vernal sward
Hallowed to freedom all the shore;
Profaned the soil no more.”
Mr. Bryant has certainly the rare merit of having written a stanza which will bear comparison with any four lines in our recollection. The thought is complete, the expression perfect. A poem of a dozen such verses would be like a row of pearls, each above a king's ransom. A sermon could be preached from such a text as the following. Let every reader commit it to heart, and when battered down by the sudden blow of a deliberate falsehood, let him repeat it to himself, and live on with unabated heart.
“ Truth crushed to earth shall rise again :
The Eternal years of God are hers;
And dies among his worshippers."
This verse has always read to us as one of the noblest in the English language.
“ The Disinterred Warrior" is probably his best poem, considering its length.
“ Gather him to his grave again,
And solemnly and softly lay,
The warrior's scattered bones away."
As we regard Mr. Bryant as infinitely the most classical poet of the western world, he must pardon our objecting to the needless epithet of “ softly,” in the second line of this otherwise fine verse. There is a mincing step in its sound which spoils the effect of the previous one of “solemnly.” “Solemn and soft” do not harmonize well, either in poetry or in prose. The idea is complete without. The next stanza is confirmatory of our opinion.
“Pay the deep reverence taught of old,
The homage of man's heart to Death !
Once hallowed by the Almighty's breath.
“ The soul hath quickened every part,
That remnant of a martial brow,-
That strong armstrong no longer now !"
The last verse is only a dilution of the two preceding lines. It is another proof of how frequently Bryant weakens a noble metaphor by a needless elaboration. Not content, however, with the bold, graphic force of his first expression, he elongates it till the force is considerably impaired.