ePub 版

by a singular effort, his last poem combined all these elements, and therefore Don Juan will always be the completest representation of a poet's idiosyncrasy ever revealed to his fellow men. In this many-sidedness Byron holds supreme dominion over his contemporaries. Wordsworth surpasses him in the intensity of his worship of nature. Moore, in his playful elaboration of metaphors, conventional elegances, and finely-edged wit. Scott, in the range of human character; although the objectivity of the novelist, and the subjectivity of the poet, render them perhaps unfit parallels. But in adaptability to the masses, as existing in the nineteenth century, no poet has so completely taken their nature upon him as the author of Don Juan. Even “Childe Harold,” gloomy and subjective as it is, becomes a phase of the human mind, as shadowed in the present age, and has its root as much in the world as in the poet's heart. We make these remarks to show why we do not think that Mr. Halleck is the Byron of America. One half of his poetical labors is an imitation of the noble poet's greatest work. Materials for a poem of this description are not to be found in a young republic; the magazine is in ancient monarchies. Time is a vast storehouse of absurdity, solemnities, sorrows, and jests. This is the gamut of human nature, and it requires centuries to learn its science of harmony.

We conclude our notice of Halleck by assuring him that the Anglo-Saxons will expect finer poems than he has yet produced ; it is in him, we know, for has he not revealed some of his powers by such lines as these? They come forth to the outer world just as a strain of melody bursts from a banquet hall,

where high revel is held, when the door is opened to admit some favored guest.

“ Strike-till the last armed foe expires :

Strike—for your altars, and your fires;
Strike-for the green graves of your sires,

God, and your native land !"


THERE are a simplicity and individuality about Dana's writings, which give him the decided impress of being a man of more originality than he really possesses.

There is less reliance upon foreign sources for his subjects ; he likewise treats them in a manner of his own, which compels the reader to respect him for his intention, if he cannot applaud him for the successful result of his experiment.

We shall treat of his poeins first, and then consider him as a lecturer and essayist.

He is well known to the public as the author of the “Buccaneer,” a poem of great merit, and full of fine thoughts, simply and forcibly described.

His portrait of the freebooter himself is drawn with a vigorous pencil. There is a total absence of all tawdry or adventitious embellishments in this old poet's verse, which stands out in bold relief to the artificial elegances and cuckoo-note tracks of many modern and fashionable authors.

“Twelve years are gone since Matthew Lee

Held in this isle unquestioned sway;

A dark, low, brawny man was he;

His law,— It is my way!
Beneath his thickset brows a sharp light broke

From small grey eyes: his laugh a triumph spoke.”
This is a bold Roman kind of verse, which at once tells upon
the reader. It somewhere or other strongly reminds us of
Wordsworth's opening stanza of “Rob Roy :"

“ A famous man was Robin Hood,

The English ballad-singer's joy;
But Scotland boasts a man as good,
It is her bold Rob Roy."

* *

And shortly after come these lines :
“ The good old rule, the simple plan, "

That they shall take who have the power,

And they shall keep who can." These coincidences are, however, unavoidable in poetry when they partake of the same peculiar nature, and many of Dana's simple, manly productions, remind us of the poet-laureate's.

The American writer dashes off with a few vigorous touches a graphic picture of the old Buccaneer.

“ Cruel of heart, and strong of arm;

Loud in his sport, and keen for spoil,
He little recked of good or harm,-

Fierce both in mirth and toil.
Yet like a dog could fawn, if need there were;
Speak mildly when he would, or look in fear!”

Of another order in poetry, we quote some verses which

show the old poet's strength of hand in painting the sea; it is very suggestive to remark how the nature of the writer comes out in describing the same object. Byron, Cooper, and Dana, of moderns, have been successful in interesting the reader in the glorious old ocean. How differently, yet the same! The quiet simplicity of Dana is shown in these lines :

“ But when the light winds lie at rest,

And on the glassy heaving sea,
The black duck, with her glossy breast,

Sits swinging silently.
How beautiful! no ripples break the reach,
And strong waves go noiseless up the beach.”

* * * *

Observe how little the subjective part of imagination is called into play here ; only one incidental allusion of a remote kind in the ejaculation, “how beautiful!” All is pure outside description, simply and faithfully rendered.

“ 'T is fearful! on the broad-backed waves,

To feel them shake, and hear them roar,
Beneath, unsounded, dreadful caves,

Around, no cheerful shore.
Yet ’mid this solemn world what deeds are done !
The curse goes up, the deadly sea-fight's won.

The ship works hard; the sea runs high;

Their white tops flashing through the night,
Give to the eager straining eye,
A wild and shifting light.

* * *

« 上一頁繼續 »