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are the 66
The metaphorical language in these lines is incongruous.
"A passing shade of gall would cloud his mien."
Soothing her bitter fetters as she can." To the following we hardly know what epithet to apply.
“ Flooded, he seemed, with bright delicious pain,
As if a star had burst within his brain.” 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 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, Starlike, had battled down the triple gloom
Of sorrow, love, and death." 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 extracts 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. 66 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
Of Harpies blind that fain would soil it, shall
“ Unleash thy crouching thunders now, O Jove !
- now, now set free
Of some o'erbloated wrong, that spirit which
“But no, this cannot be ; for ages yet, In solitude unbroken, shall I hear The angry Caspian to the Euxine shout, And Euxine answer with a muffled roar, On either side storming the giant walls Of Caucasus with leagues of climbing foam, (Less, from my height, than flakes of downy snow,) That draw back baffled but to hurl again, Snatched up 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 ?
" Year after year
pass away in mine eternal agony, But as the shadows of dumb summer-clouds, Which I have watched so often darkening o'er The vast Sarmatian plain, league-wide at first, But, with still swiftness, lessening on and on Till cloud and shadow meet and mingle where The gray horizon fades into the sky, Far, far to northward. Yes, for ages yet Must I lie here upon my altar huge, A sacrifice for man. Sorrow will be, As it hath been, his portion ; endless doom, While the immortal with the mortal linked Dreams of its wings and pines for what it dreams, With upward yearn unceasing Better so :
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,
Rhæcus, I am the Dryad of this tree,'