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The metaphorical language in these lines is incongruous.
"A passing shade of gall would cloud his mien."
To the following we hardly know what epithet to apply.
If he had written, as if a bombshell had burst, the expression would have been comparatively reasonable.
Again, what is "the starry energy of truth"? and what are the days unruth"? "Wherewith it wont to soar; wont is not now used as an imperfect tense, and to revive such an archaism is of questionable taste. The weary creep of time"; as there is no such noun as creep in the English language, the expression is of course false.
Is there not a strange jumble of literal and figurative expression in this couplet ?
"Watching and waiting there with lovelorn breast, Around her young dream's rudely scattered nest." The meaning of "starlike" in the following connexion is not very obvious:
"that mother's heart whose instinct true,
In the song of " Rosaline," a poem of much beauty, this strange couplet occurs :
"I waited with a maddened grin
To hear that voice all icy thin.”
There is not the least necessity of using such a specimen of American manufacture as that which we have marked in the following line.
"Through the everydayness of this work-day world."
We had marked many other examples of faulty expression, but it is unnecessary to copy more. They are all of that kind, which, though they mar the effect of the poems in which they occur, and should, therefore, be carefully avoided, are not inconsistent with the possession of all the essential attributes of a good poetical style. Mr. Lowell is in the right way to rid himself of them all.
We are now prepared to present our readers a few ex
tracts from these poems, wherein the genius of Mr. Lowell has done itself justice, and which, in our judgment, will give him a high rank among the poets of America.
The first poem, " A Legend of Brittany,” is written with great beauty and pathos ; but we prefer to leave it to be read as a whole. 6. Prometheus ought to be short enough to quote entire ; but as it is not, we must give the conclusion only.
“ Thou and all strength shall crumble, except Love,
Grows but more lovely ’neath the beaks and claws
- No. 123. 37
Of Harpies blind that fain would soil it, shall
“Unleash thy crouching thunders now, O Jove! Free this high heart, which, a poor captive long, Doth knock to be let forth, this heart which still, In its invincible manhood, overtops Thy puny godship, as this mountain doth The pines that moss its roots. O, even now, While from my peak of suffering I look down, Beholding with a far-spread gush of hope The sunrise of that Beauty, in whose face, Shone all around with love, no man shall look But straightway like a god he is uplift Unto the throne long empty for his sake, And clearly oft foreshadowed in wide dreams By his free inward nature, which nor thou, Nor any anarch after thee, can bind From working its great doom, - now, now set free This essence, not to die, but to become Part of that awful Presence which doth haunt The palaces of tyrants, to hunt off, With its grim eyes and fearful whisperings And hideous sense of utter loneliness, All hope of safety, all desire of peace, All but the loathed forefeeling of blank death, Part of that spirit which doth ever brood In patient calm on the unpilfered nest Of man's deep heart, till mighty thoughts grow fledged To sail with darkening shadow o'er the world, Filling with dread such souls as dare not trust In the unfailing energy of Good, Until they swoop, and their pale quarry make
Of some o'erbloated wrong, that spirit which
“But no, this cannot be ; for ages yet,
in wrath and horrible turmoil, Mountain on mountain, as the Titans erst, My brethren, scaling the high seat of Jove, Heaved Pelion upon Ossa's shoulders broad, In vain emprise. The moon will come and go With her monotonous vicissitude ; Once beautiful, when I was free to walk Among my fellows, and to interchange The influence benign of loving eyes, But now by aged use grown wearisome ; False thought! most false ! for how could I endure These crawling centuries of lonely woe Unshamed by weak complaining, but for thee, Loneliest, save me, of all created things, Mild-eyed Astarte, my best comforter, With thy pale smile of sad benignity?
6 Year after
For wisdom is meek sorrow's patient child,
And patience, which at last shall overcome.” We omit the beginning and the end of “Rhæcus,” but give all that properly belong to the subject.
“A youth named Rhæcus, wandering in the wood,