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son with the simplicity of Cobbett !" Here | Thou hold'st me by a spell; and on thy beach
are some stanzas:
At Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
If, in this wreck of ruin, they
Can yet be thought to claim the tear, O smite your gentle breast, and say,
The friends of freedom slumber here! Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
You too may fall, and ask a tear, etc.
I feel all soul and thoughts unmeasured reach
Before an ear did hear thee, thou didst mourn,
And then once more, unto the silent heaven
And though the land is thronged again, O Sea!
Yonder tall cliff-he with the iron crown.
But we would willingly, out of the selected specimens, ourselves select the best, although it would be perhaps only fair, since the country has itself passed favorable judgment on what is here given us, to scan them strictly, or at least take them indiscriminately. Dana is one of the few names which has reached this country, and "The Buccaneer," a clever imitation of it deservedly holds a high place on the roll Coleridge's style, is his principal poem, of American genius. Dana is, we are in- and it gains, perhaps, as much as his other formed, of a fair English descent; William Dana, Esq., having been sheriff of Middle- poems lose, by being less wild and extrav agant than what it is modelled upon; but sex, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in such a piece as the following, we look and the republican editor adds, "Thus it in vain for the true picturesque—it is near will be seen our author has good blood in being pretty, almost good-no more. his veins an honor which no one pretends little German ballad, to despise, who is confident that his grand-comes nearest to it :father was not a felon or a boor." He, like all the other literary men of America, was a magazine writer and editor, though he has escaped, more completely than most of them, the faults of style, diction, and sentiment, which such an occupation must have a tendency to create. There is a sustained feeling through his compositions, which do not seem to be thrown at the public in fragments, in order that they may stick the more readily and immediately. But there is wanting, too, the bold and fierce energy, the hardihood of thought and language, which constitute at once the faults and the interest of a vigorous mind. Take, for instance, the following good lines from "Factitious Life," which are only a weakened reflection of the more burning thoughts of another poet:
Ho! how the giant heaves himself, and strains
Over thy billows, and I cannot stay
To think; then rests, and then puts forth again.
THE LITTLE BEACH BIRD.
Thou little bird, thou dweller by the sea,
Thy flitting form comes ghostly dim and pale,
doom of us; Thy wail
What doth it bring to me?
Thou call'st along the sand, and haunt'st the surge,
The Mystery-the Word.
Then turn thee, little bird, and take thy flight
Come, quit with me the shore,
Where birds of summer sing.
William Cullen Bryant, the most popu lar of American poets, somewhere about the year 1821 presented his principal poem, Thanatopsis," for insertion in "The North American Review," while Dana was one of its managers. It was agreed by the whole directory that the unknown author
"could not be an American," the poem was so good. He was, however; and to show that now at least the nation appreciates the powers of its author, we need only extract from the notice prefixed to the extracts the following passage
Of Sabbath worshippers. The low of herds
gent; and then close again, like the buzzing of a bee about our ears: and we have no doubt that all this is a merit in America, though she cannot of course expect that we should feel any very lively emotions of interest when we find that what its shores are ringing with is only the echo of what shook our ears at home long ago. Observe in the passage we have extracted the expressions
Here we are perpetually getting sight of "This (The Ages, a poem) is the only Lord Byron. There is ever and anon an poem he has written in the stanza of Spen-approximation, and then off again at a tanser. In its versification it is not inferior to the best passages of the 'Fairie Queene' or 'Childe Harold,' and its splendid imagery and pure philosophy are as remarkable as the power it displays over language:" that is, in versification it is equal to the best parts of the best poems of this class that have ever been written, and in every thing else vastly superior. But it really is good, in spite of this fulsome stuff; and indeed "Thanatopsis" may vie with poems Still this great solitude is quick with lifeof a very high class in English literature." A populous solitude of bees and birds," The tone is solemn, sustained, and digni- Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers, fied-not so much thought as Young, but "And fairy-formed and many-colored things." less of epigrammatic quaintness. The folThen again (of the bee)lowing is a fine admonition :
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
I listen long
Of bees, the voice of girls, the song of birds,
Here are the disjecta verba poetæ ; and, be it remembered, the passage is not seYet even in this fine poem, and in the lected, but simply adduced. There are other compositions of Bryant, are to be detected constant imitations of what has gone plenty of other similarities, bearing the before-a want of originality and indepen-in English poetry; and we should find it same shadowy resemblance to archetypes dence. We only admit such resemblances difficult to show a passage quite original in where the ancient classics are drawn upon. In America we can plainly see that English any one of this author's poems. We wish poetry of every age is admittedly set up for to offer the best specimens of this the best modelling from, and that it pleases instead of American poets-so we give the followof offends a trans-Atlantic ear to perceive ing pretty piece entire :—
that the (in another sense) fontes remotos mix with the julep of their verse.
Take as an instance part of a description of the prairies
Still this great solitude is quick with life.
And birds, that scarce have learned the fear of man,
THE DEATH OF THE FLOWERS.
The melancholy days are come,
The robin and the wren are flown,
And from the shrubs the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow,
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers,
In brighter light and softer air,
The rain is falling where they lie,
The wind-flower and the violet,
They perish'd long ago,
And the brier rose and the orchis died,
And the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sun-flower by the brook
In autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the clear, cold heaven,
And the brightness of their smile was gone
And now, when comes the calm, mild day,
To call the squirrel and the bee
From out their winter home;
The waters of the rill,
The south wind searches for the flowers
And then I think of one who in
Her youthful beauty died,
The fair, meek blossom that grew up
In the cold, moist earth we laid her,
Should perish with the flowers.
The following are perhaps the best lines in the collection. They occur in an address to the evening wind :
Languishing to hear thy welcome sound,
Lies the vast inland, stretched beyond the sight. Go forth, into the gathering shade; go forth,GOD's blessing breathed upon the fainting earth! Go, rock the little wood-bird in his nest, Curl the still waters, bright with stars, and rouse The wide, old wood from his majestic rest,
Summoning, from the innumerable boughs, The strange, deep harmonies that haunt his breast.
It will not be expected by the reader that we should pretend even to enumerate the names of the first-class American poets. If we adduce a few, it is without prejudice to those we omit to mention, and almost without assigning any superiority in those we notice over the rest. The volume before us embraces extracts from at least one hundred writers, and some of the poems given run to a considerable length. Certain names, however, are better known here than others, and have attained higher celebrity; and such is the case, too, with our own writers in America. For instance, Kirke White, instead of being classed with
those geniuses who are more eminent for their promise than their performance, is perhaps more quoted and imitated in America than any modern English poet. We could easily multiply examples; and hence we may not, perhaps, fall in with American feeling or public judgment in the remarks we make, or the authors we quote. Lucretia and Margaret Davidson, accordingly, we dismiss without notice. They were written into popularity by a popular author, and never would have attracted interest by their writings, or, indeed, by their history, which, as we have remarked in a former number of this Magazine, is, in its manufacture, but an affected imitation of a literary history published in the parent country years ago.
The most remarkable poem that has ever appeared from an American pen, is undoubtedly "Zophiel," by Mrs. Brooks, a lady who, in publishing, assumed the name of Maria Del' Occidente. This poem was published in London in 1833, at a time when Mrs. Brooks was the guest of Southey, and that eminent man honored it by correcting the proof-sheets as they passed through the press. He has himself borne testimony to the genius of the author in that strange book of his, "The Doctor," in which he styles her "the most impassioned and the most imaginative of all poetesses;" and the Quarterly Review, in denying her the full benefit of the laureate's praise, admits the poem to be "altogether an extraordinary performance." The germ of the story is to be found in the sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters of the apocryphal book of Tobit, and the mysterious obscurity of the text admits of the full play of her imagination, or fancy, as the reviewer would have it called, which involves and evolves itself in the most extraordinary, and at times magnificent flights. The observations of the editor of the collection upon the merits and defects of this performance are impartial and sound, and unbiassed by the leaning which in some instances misleads him into undue panegyric. He says, "in some of her descriptions she is perhaps too minute; and, at times, by her efforts to condense, (or rather we should say, by the over-rapidity of her thoughts,) she becomes obscure. The stanza of Zophiel' will probably never be very popular, and though the poem may, to use the language of Mr. Southey, have a permanent place in the literature of our language, it will never be generally admired."
It is impossible for us to give more than a single passage out of the third canto of the
poem, the whole of which is quoted in the rer," both of which, our editor tells us, collection:
PALACE OF GNOMES.
"Tis now the hour of mirth, the hour of love,
The nether earth looks beauteous as a gem';
The while his plumy leaves scarce in the breeze are waving.
The nightingale among his roses sleeps;
The soft-eyed doe in thicket deep is sleeping; The dark-green myrrh her tears of fragrance weeps, And every odorous spike in limpid dew is steeping.
Proud, prickly cerea, now thy blossom 'scapes
Its cell; brief cup of light: and seems to say, "I am not for gross mortals; blood of grapesAnd sleep for them. Come, spirits, while ye may!"
A silent stream winds darkly through the shade, And slowly gains the Tigris, where 'tis lost; By a forgotten prince, of old, 'twas made,
And in its course full many a fragment cross'd Of marble fairly carved; and by its side
Her golden dust the flaunting lotos threw
Gold-sprinkling lotos, theme of many a song,
Still tastes the stream thy rosy kiss, though long
The little temple where its relics rest
Long since has fallen; its broken columns lie Beneath the lucid wave, and give its breast A whiten'd glimmer as 'tis stealing by. Here, cerea, too, thy clasping mazes twine The only pillar time has left erect; Thy serpent arms embrace it, as 'twere thine, And roughly mock the beam it should reflect.
We add a few lines, quoted by "The Doctor," from a smaller poem, which to us ap. pear eminently beautiful
And as the dove to far Palmyra flying,
From where her native founts of Antioch beam, Weary, exhausted, longing, panting, sighing, Lights sadly at the desert's bitter stream;
So many a soul, o'er life's drear desert faring, Love's pure, congenial spring unfound, unquaff'd, Suffers, recoils, then, thirsty and despairing
Of what it would, descends and sips the nearest draught.
N. P. Willis, so well known to us as a flippant and amusing prose writer, is also a poet, and we had occasion lately to extract some pretty passages from his drama of "Bianca Visconti." He is also the author of another drama, "Tortesa the Usu
have been the most successful works of their kind produced in America.
His "Lines on leaving Europe" begin well:
Bright flag at yonder tapering mast,
And point as Freedom's eagle flew!
The wind blows fair, the vessel feels
In whose white breast I seem to lie,
I've seen your semblance in the sky, And long'd, with breaking heart, to flee On such white pinions o'er the sea!
Adieu, O lands of fame and eld!
I turn to watch our foamy track,
My cheek once more is hot with joy;
O, what has changed that traveller-boy! As leaves the ship this dying foam, His visions fade behind his weary heart speeds home!
In the following he is a little less affected than usual, and we wish him to have the benefit of so rare a perfection :—
THE BELFRY PIGEON.
On the cross-beam under the Old South bell
Whatever is rung on that noisy bell-
For man to strike his plaintive lyre and fail,
Interpreted. Therefore we will not say
We confess we neither see the meaning nor melody of the following, entitled
A butterfly bask'd on an infant's grave,
Then it lightly soar'd through the sunny air,
I was a worm till I won my wings,
And she whom thou mourn'st like a seraph sings—
Let us leave a favorable impression by the following few lines, which have merit, in spite of the "dashed it out" of the second line, which would almost ask a change in
first line from "on" to "neath" to make the image presented perfect:
DEATH OF AN INFANT.
Death found strange beauty on that polish'd brow,
The cloister'd chambers where the sea-gods sleep,the
Whose hymns thy tuneful spirit learn'd so well
The sentiment reminds us faintly of that beautiful idea of Martial's
Mors vocis iter properavit cludere blandæ,
Theodore S. Fay is known in these countries as the author of "Norman Leslie," "The Countess Ida," etc., and is now secretary of legation at Berlin. He is a native of New-York. The following is the spirited commencement of a poem, which, as it proceeds, becomes heavy with scenery descriptions, the ballast which sinks most of the American versifiers :
MY NATIVE LAND.
Columbia, was thy continent stretch'd wild,