Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

streams

pression;" we are made acquainted with The branching greenness of her myriad her condition of mind, when she wishes

woods; to utter her deep imaginings. Nothing Her sky-affecting rocks; her zoning sea; could better represent a heart possessed Her rushing, gleaming cataracts ; her by the mightiest poetic feeling, yet awed before its own mystical emotions. It is That race below, the winged clouds on

high; the scul “ falling away from the imagina. Her pleasantness of vale and meadow ;tion." THE SOUL'S EXPRESSION.

Hush ! With stammering lips, and insufficient Meseemeth through the leafy trees to ring sound

A chime of bells to falling waters tuned; I strive and struggle to deliver right

Whereat comes heathen Zephyrus, out of That music of my nature, day and night

breath Both dream, and thought, and feeling in

With running up the hills, and shakes his terwound,

hair And inly answering all the senses round From off his gleesome forehead, bold and With octaves of a mystic depth and height,

glad Which step out grandly to the infinite With keeping blythe Dan Phæbus comFrom the dark edges of the sensual ground! pany ;This song of soul I struggle to outbear

And throws him on the grass, though halfThrough portals of the sense, sublime and afraid, whole,

First glancing round, lest tempests should And uiter all myself into the air

be nigh; But if I did it-as the thunder-roll

And lays close to the ground his ruddy lips, Breaks its own cloud-my flesh would per.

And shapes their beauty into sound, and ish there,

calls Before that dread apocalypse of soul.

On all the petald fowers that sit beneath

In hiding-places from the rain and snow, Miss Barrett's genius, though subjec- To loosen the hard soil, and leave their tive in its general character, is of con cold, siderable range. She is especially pow. Sad idlesse, and betake them up to him. erful in dealing with the affections. Her They straightway hear his voicereligious poetry is characterised by a

A thought did come, most intense and solemn reverence for And press from out my soul the heathen divine things, and often swells into mag. Mine eyes were purged. Straightway did

dream. nificent bursts of rapture and adoration.

I bind Her feeling for humanity is deep and Round me the garment of my strength, and tender, and she has a warm sympathy

heard with its wants and immunities.

Her Nature's death-shrieking—the hereafter sonnets, though of various degrees of

cry, merit, and some of them crabbed in their When he o' the lion voice, the rainbowversification, have generally a rough crown'd, grandeur which is very imposing. “ The Shall stand upon the mountains and the Drama of Exile,” though teeming with faults, has noble traits of intellect and And swear by earth, by heaven's throne,

and Him passion, which no faults can conceal. Many of her minor pieces show a most

Who sitteth on the throne, there shall be

time delicate perception of beauty and senti. No more, no more! Then, veil'd Eternity ment, expressed with much simplicity Shall straight unveil her awful countenance and melody of style. Mr. Griswold's Unto the reeling worlds, and take the place selections are not made from her last pub. Of seasons, years, and ages. Aye and aye lication, and therefore do not contain Shall be the time of day. The wrinkled some of her best poems.

We cull a few heaven extracts in illustration of her powers: the Shall yield her silent sun, made blind and Drama of Exile was fully commented

white upon, with extracts of great power, in With an exterminating light : the wind,

Unchainëd from the poles, nor having our first number.

charge

Of cloud or ocean, with a sobbing wail How beautiful is earth! my starry thoughts Shall rush among the stars, and swoon to Look down on it from their unearthly death. sphere,

Yea, the shrunk earth, appearing livid pale And sia symphonious—Beautiful is earth! Beneath the red-tongued hame, shall shudThe lights and shadows of her myriad hills; der by

sea,

EARTH.

WHAT ARE WE SET ON EARTH

are

woman.

them up.

From out her ancient place, and leave-a ed to himself. In “ Festus” he displays void.

at times a certain “lust of power, a hunYet haply by that void the saints redeem'd

ger and thirst after unrighteousness, a May sometimes stray ; when memory of sin glow of imagination unballowed save by Ghost-like shall rise upon their holy souls; And on their lips shall lie the name of earth

its own energies," which well indicates In paleness and in silentness ; until,

the element of daring in which his naEach looking on his brother, face to face,

ture moves. To most readers, the poem And bursting into sudden happy tears,

would appear a monstrous compound of (The only tears undried) shall murmur blasphemy and licentiousness. Though “ Christ!" evincing power, and variety of power,

it excites the most wonder from its disre.

gard of all the moral, religious and artisFOR ?

tical associations of others. Pantheism What are we set on earth for? Say to toil! and fatalism, in their most objectionable Nor seek to leave thy tending of the vines forms, are inculcated as absolute truth. For all the heat o' the sun, till it declines, The two flaming ideas in his mind, And death's mild curfew shall from work God and Lucifer. One of his scenes ocassoil.

curs “Any where," and another “ Every God did anoint thee with his odorous oil

where.” The merest common-place of To wrestle, not to reign--and he assigns All thy tears over like pure crystallines

antagonistical systems of philosophy and Unto thy fellows, working the same soil,

religion, are all mingled together in the To wear for amulets. So others shall chaos of his theory. Occasionally all reTake patience, labor, to their heart and gard for the proprieties of the diabolic is hand,

eschewed. The Devil falls violently in From thy hand, and thy heart, and thy brave love in one place; and in another scolds cheer,

the damned like a Billingsgate fishAnd God's grace fructify through thee to

He reproves his friends for all !

laziness, telling them that they do not The least flower with a brimming cup may

earn enough to pay for the fire that burns stand And share its dew-drop with another near.

Human passions and human ideas are continually blending with

things superhuman and divine. DocI TELL you, hopeless grief is passionless ;

trines of the most monstrous import, and That only men incredulous of despair,

doctrines of the utmost purity and holiHalf-taught in anguish, through the mid- ness, so follow each other that the aunight air

thor evidently sees no discord in their Beat upward to God's throne in loud access connection. He can delineate the pasOf shrieking and reproach. Full desertnesssion of love with great refinement, withIn hearts, as countries, lieth silent, bare

out seeming to distinguish it from the Under the blenching, vertical eye-glare of the free charter'd heavens. Be still! mad, it is certain that all the rest of the

most unhallowed lust. If he be not express

world are. Grief for thy dead in silence like to death,

To accept the poem of “FesMost like a monumental statue set

tus” as the product of a sane mind, would In everlasting watch and moveless wo,

be to declare all other literature superTill itself crumble to the dust beneath. ficial, and P. J. Bailey the most miracu. Touch it spectator? Are its eyelids wet? lously gifted of all created men. Its If it could weep, it could arise and go! madness is not altogether fine madness,

but half comes from Parnassus and the P. J. Bailey, the author of “Festus," rest from Bedlam. It is the madness of is one of the most remarkable men among a mind unable accurately to distinguish the poets of the present century. His the moral and intellectual differences of egotism almost approaches that point of things. the sublime where it topples over into The interest of the poem arises from the ridiculous. He chooses the most its power of imagination and intensity of lofty subjects, without seeming to doubt sensibility. Numerous passages might his capacity to grapple with their myste. be selected of the greatest beauty and ries. He plagiarises from authors, whose majesty. The author's insight into parnames he would not condescend lo men ticular truths is often very acute, and his tion. He hardly realizes the existence command of expression seemingly desof others, except so far as they are relat- potic. He has no fear of startling his

DESPAIR.

reader with a grotesque image, or a And young and old made their hearts over strange verbal combination, or downright

to him ; bombast and buffoonery. So intense and And thoughts were told to him as unto none, lofty is his egotism, that he seems to

Save one who heareth, said and unsaid, all. think all minds will bend their tastes and All things were inspiration unto him their common sense to him. He ends

Wood, wold, hill, field, sea, city, solitude,

And crowds, and streets, and man where'er his poem, at the age of 23, with saying,

he was, « Take it, world.” He swaggers and And the blue eye of God which is above bullies his readers into panegyric. There us; is no instance in English literature of so Brook-bounded, pine spinnies, where spirmuch self-exaggeration on the part of

its flit; any author, untrammeled by a strait And haunted pits the rustic hurries by, jacket The poem indicates the last re Where cold wet ghosts sit ringing jingling sult of the “ Satanic School,” in the

bells ; triumph of sensibility over reason. A

Old orchards, leaf-roofed aisles, and red

cheek'd load; German prince, whose taste was of the “classical” school, once said, that if he And the blood-color'd tears which yew

trees weep were the Almighty, and could have fore- O’er churchyard graves, like murderers reseen before creating the world, that Schil. morseful ; ler's “Robbers” would have been writ. The dark green rings where fairies sit and ten in it, that alone would have prevent sup, ed him from creating the world. What Crushing the violet dew in the acorn cup; this gentleman would have said of Bai. Where by his new-made bride the brideley's “ Festus,” it would task exaggera

groom sips, tion itself to tell.

The white moon shimmering on their longAmidst the chaos of this work, are

ing lips;

The large, o'er-loaded, wealthy-looking passages of great grandeur and beauty.

wains The intense seriousness of the author Quietly swaggering home through leafy gives to the whole a character of sinceri

lanes, ty, which redeems it from the charge of Leaving on all low branches, as they come, intentional irreverence or immorality. Straws for the birds, ears of the harvestWe quote a few of Mr. Griswold's ex

home ;tracts from the poem, in partial illustra He drew his light from that he was amidst, tion of its spirit and power.

As doth a lamp from air which hath itself
Matter of light although it show not. His

Was but the power to light what might be
FESTUS DESCRIBES HIS FRIEND.

lit.

ANGELA. He had no times of study, and no place; All places and all times to him were one. I LOVED her, for that she was beautiful, His soul was like the wind-harp, which he And that to me she seem'd to be all nature loved,

And all varieties of things in one ; And sounded only when the spirit blew, Would set at night in clouds of tears, and Sometimes in feasts and follies, for he went rise Life-like through all things ; and his All light and laughter in the morning ; fear thoughts then rose

No petty customs nor appearances ; Like sparkles in the bright wine, brighter But think what others only dream'd about ; still,

And say what others did but think ; and do Sometimes in dreams, and then the shining What others would but say; and glory in words

What others dared but do; it was these Would wake him in the dark before his which won me; face.

And that she never school'd within her All things talk'd thoughts to him. The breast sea went mad

One thought or feeling, but gave holiday To show his meaning ; and the awful sun To all ; and that she told me all her woes Thundered his thoughts into him; and at And wrongs and ills; and so she made them night

mine The stars would whisper theirs, the moon In the communion of love, and we sigh hers;

Grew like each other, for we loved each He spake the world's one tongue ; in earth

other ; and heaven

She, mild and generous as the sun in spring; There is but one, it is the word of truth. And I, like earth, all budding out with love. To him the eye let out its hidden meaning; The beautiful are never desolate ;

[graphic]

man.

A LETTER.

saw

him ;

THE END OF LIFE.

For some one always loves them--God or the survey of a considerable number,

there is danger that we may not shift our If man abandons, God Himself takes them. position with a change in the objects to And thus it was. She whom I once loved be seen. Every original poet 'should died.

doubtless be judged by the laws which

inhere in his own writings, and not by WHEN he hath had

law's evolved from other and different A letter from his lady dear, he bless'd The paper that her hand had travel'd over, writings. But it is difficult to decide at And her eye look'd on, and would think he exactly what point a poet becomes a law

unto himself; and difficult also, to estiGleams of that light she lavish'd from her mate the exact value of his originality, eyes,

and consequently his relative position Wandering amid the words of love she'd among men of genius, after it is decided. traced

The poetic faculty is exceedingly elasLike glow-worms among beds of flowers. tic, and all its manifestations in indi. He seem'd

viduals cannot be included in a general To bear with being but because she loved

criticism. In poems of moderate merit, She was the sheath wherein his soul had

we are occasionally struck with fine rest,

imaginations, which seem to give the lie As hath a sword from war.

to the charge of mediocrity. After a critic has most painfully elaborated his

opinion of an author, any tyro can quote We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, with it. From the extreme sensitiveness

lines or passages which seem to conflict not breaths ; In feelings, not in figures on a dial.

of the imagination, a poet of small origiWe should count tiine by heart-throbs. He nal capacity, sometimes catches the tone most lives,

of the great authors he has read, and by Who thinks most ; feels the noblest ; acts blending it with what individuality of the best.

thought and feeling there is in him, often And he whose heart beats quickest lives contrives to puzzle reviewers and delude the longest :

readers. In a literature like that of the Lives in one hour more than in years do present century, in which sensibility and

personal feeling are such prominent eleWhose fat blood sleeps as it slips along ments, imitators are more likely to make

their veins. Life is but a means unto an end ; that end, from Spenser or Pope. A few grains of

a respectable show, than if they copied Beginning, mean, and end to all things~ fancy, whirled about in a gust of simu

God,
The dead have all the glory of the world.

lated passion, will often pass as poetry.

Many of the deep and delicate imaginaWe might easily fill up this number of tions, which Wordsworth and Shelley our review by continuing our observa- originated, have now become common tions on individual poets in Mr. Gris- property, and are reproduced in common wold's volume. But we must pause poems. The spirit of both colors the here, and look forward to some more fit- thoughts of many poets, who, without ting time for a continuation of our re. being deficient in genius, have still look. marks. In what we have said, we have ed at man and nature, not with their own not aimed at any thorough criticism on eyes, but with those of the poets whose the poets we have separately consider. genius has conquered theirs. In this ed, but have merely thrown off such ob- blending of minds, our object should be servations on their life and poetical to discriminate between what the disci. character as were suggested by their pre- ple has obtained from the master, and sent relation to the public, and to current what he has added to the master. Accodes of criticism. Of course, in so large cording to the force of being which a a tract of thought and imagination, varie- poet possesses, will be his resistance of gated by so many individualities of influences coming from other minds. character, there is room for the exercise Many of the poets from whom Mr. Grisof different opinions. We are sorry if wold has selected, have more of the reours have been tainted with an oracular peater than the creator. In others there tone. The estimate we form of a poet, is a mingling of what has grown up in is generally determined by the point of their minds, with what has been caught view from which we look at him. In from other minds. Consequently, in

some

« PreviousContinue »