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rather an anatomical auctioneer Robins cataloguing her limbs, than a fine picture of death, sketched by the hand of a poet.

Our readers must pardon our placing in juxtaposition to this elegant elaboration, a passage from Byron. However well known these lines may be, their reiteration now will do more to show the difference between false and true poetry than a volume of critical analysis.

“ He who hath bent him o'er the dead,

Ere the first day of death is fled,
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress ;
Before decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,
And marked the mild, angelic air,
The rapture of repose that's there,
The fixed yet tender traits that streak
The languor of that pallid cheek ;-
And but for that sad, shrouded eye,
That fires not, wins not, weeps not now,
And but for that chill, changeless brow,
Where cold obstruction's' apathy
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,
As if to him it would impart
The doom he dreads yet dwells upon,-
Some moments, aye, a treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power,
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed,
The first, last look by death revealed.”

Although these vices of style pervade to a great extent

the poems of Mr. Willis, there are many occasions when he writes with force and plainness. The following opening to his poem entitled “Rizpah with her Sons,” is not open to our former objections. We dare say, however, that many will consider our former quotations the best poetry; and we fear that the poet has himself been frequently led to consult the taste of his admirers, rather than his own.

“ Bread for my mother! said the voice of one

Darkening the door of Rizpah. She looked up
And lo! the princely countenance and mien
Of dark-browed Armeni. The eye of Saul,
The very voice and presence of the king,
Limb, port, and majesty, were present there,
Mocked like an apparition in her Son.
Yet as he stooped his forehead to her hand
With a kind smile, a something of his mother
Unbent the haughty arching of his lip,
And through the darkness of the widow's heart
Trembled a nerve of tenderness, that shook
Her thought of pride all suddenly to tears."

It is a conclusive proof of the bad taste of over ornament that it always fails of effect when so unsparingly laid on. The mind readily welcomes the poetical and intensed lines :

“ And through the darkness of the widow's heart

Trembled a nerve of tenderness, that shook
Her thought of pride all suddenly to tears."

We here feel that the metaphor is justified by the passion

of the scene ; but the besetting sin is too strong, and after a few more lines we come to these :

“ Was this the fairest of the sons of Saul ?

The violet's cup was harsh to his blue eye,
Less agile was the fierce barb's fiery step;
His voice drew hearts to him: his smile was like
The incarnation of some blessed dream,
Its joyousness so sunned the gazer's eye!
Fair were his locks : his snowy teeth divided
A bow of love, drawn with a scarlet thread.
His cheek was like the moist heart of the rose,
And but for nostrils of that breathing fire
That turns the lion back, and limbs as lithe
As is the velvet muscle of the pard,
Mephibosheth had been too fair for man.”

It really seems, on reading these lines, that the author had deliberately resolved to rack his fancy for the most outrageous conceits and hyperboles that he could invent.

It is pleasant to leave this strained metaphorical style, and come to such verses as these.


Oh! weary heart, thou'rt half way home!

We stand on life's meridian height,
As far from childhood's morning come,

As to the grave's forgetful night.
Give youth and hope a parting tear,

Look onward with a placid brow

Hope promised but to bring us here,

And reason takes the guidance now.
One backward look—the last—the last,

One silent year—for youth is past !”

These are natural, manly verses, and show how much Mr. Willis has lost by not cultivating this simpler style. The whole of this poem is so good that we shall quote it.

“Who goes with hope and passion back ?

Who comes with me and memory on?
Oh! lonely looks that downward track-

Joy's music hushed-Hope's roses gone.
To pleasure and her giddy troop

Farewell, without a sigh or tear!
But heart gives way, and spirits droop,

To think that love may leave us here."

There is a pathos in the last line which had Mr. Willis more frequently displayed, would have rendered him one of the most charming of modern American Poets.

“ Have we no charm when youth has flown,
Midway to death left sad and lone”


“ Yet stay, as 'twere a twilight star

That sends its thread across the wave,
I see a brightening light from far, sind

That shows a path beyond the grave,
And nowbless God !--its golden line

Comes o’er, and lights my shadowy way,

And shows the dear hand clasped in mine!

But list what those sweet voices say:

The better land's in sight,

And, by its chastening light, All love for life's midway is driven, Save her whose clasped hand will bring thee on to Heaven.”

The close of this is certainly too much in the old orthodox school, but they are almost entirely free from the faults of style we have before objected to.

There seems to us a great affinity between the poetry of Barry Cornwall and Willis; not so much the imitation of the younger one, as a natural resemblance. If Mr. Proctor excels his younger competitor in verse, Mr. Willis has the advantage over him in prose, and they will make an admirable parallel in some future poetical Plutarch.

Who would believe that the author of the tinsel tawdry verses we have presented to our readers had written the following natural poem :


“ I love to look on a scene like this,

Of wild and careless play,
And persuade myself that I am not old,

And my locks are not yet grey.

« For it stirs the blood in an old man's heart,

And makes his pulses fly,

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