Abbildungen der Seite

mingling of coarse humor and affected pathos, a similar use of slang terms and vulgar expressions, the same striving after oddity of rhyme, with equally shocking success. There are, moreover, repeated attempts at the tender, the devotional, and the sublime, which, unlike those of Don Juan, are bombastic failures.

If the following commissions are not enough to send to the tomb of the Capulets any poem by any poet, then are slang, silliness, and smut, "tolerable, and to be endured."

"The goose that has the largest share of stuffing,"

"And very often went to bed a beast."

"And many, who to ruin are turned over,
But 'go to grass,' to roll themselves 'in clover."

"Who awes the great menagerie of fops,
In admiration at his whisker crops."

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

"Throw off your modesty, and damn your eyes."
'Suppose you have some half-a-dozen daughters,
From four feet high to five, with some odd inches,
But cast your bread, you know, upon the waters,

And save the shoe from telling where it pinches
Throw open wide your doors,-burn spermaceti,
And never more despair of Bell or Betty."

"And so the city Fair of matrimony

Blazes forever, and the bids run high,
'What's offered, ladies, for this matter o' money?-

A hundred thousand in the stocks! who'll buy?-
Going!-who bids ?-going!-he's good as Rothschild-
Gone!-and Miss Wilhelmina rocks the Goth's Child.'”

"Poor devil that was married for his Bentons,
And having lost them, shares his rib's repentance."

"But now-a-days, instead of wasting pearls,
They have a way of melting down the girls."
"Pope Alexander always had his followers,
As Alexander Pope has had his swallowers."
"May rob the very altar of a horn,

Sprinkling with rosy light the dewy lawn.'".
"Now there are many different kinds of lions,

As there are wares, from porcelain to 'Brummagem';
Some manufactured by the curling irons,

And others, the museums, should you rummage 'em."

"While o'er the blue, macadamised rotundo,
Flectit equos, curruque volans, dat lora secundo."

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

These four last are the most shocking violations of Nick Bottom's rule we ever heard of; though the sense can hardly be said to be sacrificed to sound. They are infinitely worse than the Yankee distich

"There goes our old mill down the water

A darn sight faster than it ought to."

We shall cheerfully bid adieu to this ridiculous performance with the quoting of certain passages which read, not as if they were imitations, but as if they were "scissorized" out of the whole cloth of Don Juan.

"-gently raised

Her dimpling hand of snow, where one warm kise
Thrilled to her heart with love's delicious bliss."

"The morn is up again-the dewy morn!

Fresh from the bed of night in matron bloom,
Weeping to see so many take a horn,'

And walk out rosy from the soda-room;"

"Not that there's any pleasure in the danger,
More than in being shot at with ounce bullets;
'Tis sweet to seem to be to fear a stranger,

The while we wish that we were feeding pullets.
Most men can fight a duel to the letter,

Yet when a man survives, he feels the better."

"Long did the combat last, till only five

Were left within the Vulture; they at length

Were overpowered by numbers yet alive,

Faint with the loss of blood and without strength,

But while the pirate was of plunder thinking,
He found both vessels filling and fast sinking."

"The hot sun blazed upon their naked heads,
And boiled the blood within them-till some grew
Mad, and blasphemed and tore their flesh in shreds,
While others, starving, helped the deed to do.
Then, weeping in wild mirth, drank the dark gore,
And cried aloud to God, and shrieked for more."

"Arm locked in arm, they turned them from the crowd,

And gazed upon each other.-"

Like the Irishman's portrait, each one of them may be said to be more like than the original.

Turn we now, with a feeling as grateful as "the cool plashing of a plangent wave" to one who is travel-sore, and nearly stifled with the dust of the desert, unto "Athenia of Damascus." Here is a delightful dramatic poem, the flow of whose lines, like that of a mountain rivulet, is pure, limpid, and sparkling.

The subject is too lofty for the modern stage, although with judicious curtailment, it can doubtless be represented with effect. The

beautiful thoughts and language, with which it is rife, would be lost in recitation; yet it has a sufficiency of incident to keep alive a pleasant interest.

It is deep tragedy. We are trespassing beyond our limits, and can gratify the reader with but one charming extract.

[ocr errors]

"Act II-Scene 1. A pleasure-ground in Damascus. (ATHENIA alone.)

"Ath. I will not pluck thee from thy parent tree,

Sweet rose of beauty! while the rain-drops hang
O'er thy clear blush their modest ornaments-
Another hour shall glory in thy smile,

And when the daylight dies, the queen of heaven
Shall fold thee in a silver veil of love,
Forgetting her Endymion. Foolish heart!
As if I loved!-Yet truly, as I live,

I fear I love the very thought of love!

Oh, childish joy-indefinite delight!

That I should dream so sweetly-and at morn
Find my eyes wet with tears!--

[blocks in formation]

Cal. Say, then, thou lovest me still, Athenia!
Ath. Love thee! indeed I know not if I love.-
When thou art nigh, I fain would be alone-
And when away, I'm sad and desolate:-
Beshrew this maiden fickleness of thought!
I would not give the treasure of my love
For all the wealth that earth or ocean covers :-

And thou wilt save our altars, Caloüs!
The holy cross, and every dear remain
Of sainted martyr, still inviolate!

So shall we wander in our hours of joy,
On the green margin of life's sunny stream,
With more delight than ever-shall we not?

Cal. What grief can throw a shadow o'er our way,
When love is cloudless ?-let thy heart be still,

Young Halcyon, on its marble resting-place!

There is no fear, Athenia, that the foe

Can harm Damascus ;-though his arm is strong,

The arm above is stronger-even now,

[blocks in formation]

Cal. Chase these vain fears!—and dost thou maiden, think,

The soil where Adam trod in majesty

The land Jehovah guarded, when the fiend

Drove Saul to persecute-and where the light

And breath of God softened his heart of steel,
Turning his thoughts to pity and to love;
Think'st thou, this consecrated place can yield,
While He is with us, as He e'er has been ?-
Ath. His ways are dark, and deeply intricate :
When Heaven was kindest, innocence was lost,
And Paradise gave birth to misery.

Cal. Let not such thoughts plant lilies on thy cheek,
My own Athenia! all will yet be well.

Come, let me bind a chaplet of fresh flowers

To deck thy temples-I will steal an hour
From anxious Care, and sacrifice to Love,
The hopes and wishes I have nursed for thee.-
Not always thus shall be our wayward lot,
To wander here, and steal from Love's rich store
These precious moments of sweet ecstacy!
Not always thus, my girl!—when dove-eyed peace
Spreads her white wings again, the sacred tie

Shall bind our wedded hearts;-till then, my love!
Thy smile shall cheer me on in peril's hour,
With its dear influence!"

After "Athenia" comes "Lancaster," a poem that has many excellencies, and is worthy of the genius of the writer. It is, however, upon his miscellaneous pieces that Mr. Dawes' reputation as a poet mainly depends. The melody of their versification is truly enchanting. The ideas, too, are worthy of such exquisite expression. The public are aware of the beauties of all these productions, for none have been more liberally transferred to our literary journals. We have space for the shortest only.


"Art thou happy, lovely lady,

In the splendour round thee thrown;

Can the jewels that array thee

Bring the peace which must have flown 7

By the vows which thou hast spoken,

By the faith which thou hast broken,

I ask of thee no token,

That thy heart is sad and lone.

"There was one that loved thee, Mary!
There was one that fondly kept

A hope which could not vary,

Till in agony it slept.

He loved thee, dearly loved thee,

And thought his passion moved thee,

But disappointment proved thee,

What love has often wept."

Had Mr. Dawes been a common-place poet, or simply a new claimant for distinction, we should have been more prodigal of commendation, and more niggard of blame. Bind up this volume,

without "Geraldine," and you have an admirable collection of poetry, fit to appear worthily, if not the first, in a "Library of American poets."

Some asinine individual, who must have been as partial to paradoxes as his long-eared archetype to thistles, has taken upon himself to remark that there are few or no materials for romance in America. This critic must be nearly related to the observing person of whom Wordsworth remarks:

"A primrose by the river's brim

A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more."

It would, perhaps, not be too extravagant to say that the poetical resources of our country are boundless. Nature has here granted every thing to genius which can excite, exalt, enlarge, and ennoble its powers. Nothing is narrow, nothing is confined. All is height, all is expansion. Cliffs throw aloft mighty bastions; mountains lift impregnable parapets to the sky; rivers "roll in majesty;" lakes spread abroad like seas; and prairies meet the wide horizon all around with undulations of magnificent verdure. Here, too, are forests, in whose vast, dim cloisters the mind may feel a sense of loneliness and an overwhelming awe, which no fabrics of human rearing could impart; for here, in ancient days, man came to build his altars and to worship. These trees are glorious columns; their leaves are gorgeous tracery; here is a majestical roof, fretted with golden fire;"


"The groves were God's first temples!"

In America, too, are diversities of climate, yielding diversified delights. Here winter erects his palaces of glittering ice; while there spring displays her flowery avenues and her green arcades; here summer shows her silver fountains and her billows of golden grain, when in another region of our vast domain, autumn pours from her exhaustless horn the copious harvest, and transmutes, with a subtle alchemy, the emerald of the woods into ruby and topaz, and

"All the hues that mingle in the rainbow."

Our history, too, is poetical. Let time but wrap it in his mighty shadows, and what were the fables of old compared to our familiar story! How inspiring, how sublime the contemplation of those few brave hearts who, led by one greater than Leonidas, dared to cast themselves into the rocky defile of freedom, opposed advancing armies, died not, but conquered! The blood tingles and rushes through our veins as we trace these words. Dull, cold, critical as we are, we are almost incited to the utterance of burning thoughts. Shall there, then, be no more poets in our "dear, dear country?" Shall there not be one great poet-that man whose eye can roam over the borders of our land, and see these things of which we have poken? Needs not the spirit of prophecy answer, "Yes?"

« ZurückWeiter »