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FEw of us in this world are so very prosaic, as not to be delighted occasionally with poetry. Moments are sound in every profession, and crevices even in the closest hearts that need filling up some way or other; and this same “some way or other' no other way, than stretching one's self lazily on his sofa, shoving by a monstrous effort his troubles from his mind, and surrendering himself to the pleasing lassitude of dreamy meditation. We never sound the man so dull, or the mind so dead to the high and ardent revelings of a fine imagination, that it did not sometimes love this employment. We never saw the man—though we have seen those who professed otherwise— who could not by some means or other be betrayed into a confession of this, and thus prove the truth one of universal application, that every man is something of a poet. We do not mean by this that every man writes poetry, or attempts it even. Perhaps not one out of fifty on an average, is bent on making himself ridiculous. But we do mean to say, that every man has felt the power which the poet makes others feel, that there is that in him which sympathizes though he understand it not, and that in this sympathy he finds a pleasure when other things are tasteless. here is poetry in every thing that lives and breathes, and poetry in every thing that contributes to the happiness of all living intelligences. The clown who stops his plow and leans on his paddlestaff, hushing his own gay whistle to hear the gayer whistle of the robin in the covert, gives evidence of the poetry in his nature. The fact that a man never attempts the exercise of this power, is no evidence that he does not possess it; while the fact that he is involuntarily betrayed into an approval of its principles, proves it written on his heart. Men are so betrayed when they admire a landscape, a cataract, or the rush of the ocean, giving evidence of the same sense WOL. I.1. 15

of beauty which the poet possesses though differing in degree, yet they would laugh at you to tell them so. We have even heard some men condemn poetry, who are melted into tears by music; and have heard them withhold the tribute to its merit, and yet confess its excellence. The secret of all this incongruity is, their ignorance of its nature; for if, instead of regarding it as a gift for the few, they would see it, as it is, a blessing for the many, the difficulty would vanish. We know very well this is somewhat heretical, and that sonneteers and singers in scores will condemn it, and probably shut us forever from the pale of poetic good-breeding, nevertheless we shall hold to the doctrine and support it with all our eloquence. We never believed in this exclusive right of poets, under which they have committed all manner of abominations; we never believed they had a right to all their eccentricities and to die in garrets. They are as much obliged to eat beef, to walk on Turkey carpets, and sleep on a bed of down, as the greatest lord of the land. The privileges extended to them, have only made them the most miserable fellows in existence; made them feel that like Cain every man's hand was against them, and shut from society some of the noblest hearts that ever knocked against the ribs of mortality. A poet's heart is a fountain of the best feelings in the work ; his susceptibility is such that he can find pleasure in little things as well as great, and therefore there's no necessity for his being treated fastidiously; his wit is as sparkling as the first foam on the summer stream, while his face is a sort of looking glass in which every one may see good nature. He whiles off our leisure moments, and cheers us up when the heart aches; he keeps alive the freshness of youthful feelings, and binds them like a green laurel around the brow of age; he wooes for us when we love, complains for us when we suffer, and when we die writes epitaphs. How in the world he got the privilege of being the only miserable body, no body knows. Ever since Dante was exiled and Tasso starved, it has been forced upon him that he was a favored person; and under this belief he has exhibited weakness that put the world out of countenance, while all the rest of us have suffered as much as he and yet bear it like men. Now one evil arising from allowing him this privilege is, the tendency to make fools. A young man no sooner finds within himself a longing to be something, than he takes it to be the incipient throes of genuine inspiration; he therefore claps a laurel on his brow a la Tasso, or throws back his delicately wrinkled neckcloth a la Byron, and begins sighing to his mistress or bedeviling human nature. Now the result of all this is as we readily perceive, the desecration of the high art of poetry and the overstocking of bedlam. The genuine poet sees his noble profession degraded, the eagle comes down from its high altitude, and the philanthropist mourns over the waste of human energies, while the puling melody itself falling on our ears, stirs the stomach up like the tossing of the sea in a thunder storm. You can’t reason young bards from such fits, any more than you can reason music into a cart-wheel or poetry into a Dutch cheese, and each successive expostulation is considered by them as a renewed persecution of this ‘heart wearying world.' Parnassus becomes a huge charnel-house, or rather a dwelling for rooks and ravens judging from the sound; the world has nothing cheering in it and is literally a vale of tears, while the stream of Arethusa is the stream of forgetfulness, under which they long to sleep from the oppressive weight of human wo—lack-a-day ! Another evil resulting from allowing them this privilege is, the destruction of all manly sentiment. Any one who reads the poetry of the present day, will see that the day of manly sentiment has mostly gone by ; that ease, brilliancy, force, and naturalness, the four great characteristics of good poetry, have given place to voluptuous insipidity. How many are our poets who can be easy without weakness, brilliant without the show of it, powerful without bombast, and simple without mawkishness 2 We have one or two in each department and but one or two; while every year spawns its imitators in crowds and fools in every thing. The essence of pure poetry seems going from us, the crowd will catch up a piece of rant before the sweetest efforts of Cowper's muse, and it is to be feared that every thing will go—except the form. We shall hold that as we hold the shell picked up on the sea shore, which once “discoursed eloquent music, but from its fractures can now do so no more; or as we cherish the ‘clayey sold’ of a loved one, whose music breath has died on our ears forever. The sweet spirit which came in our summer dreams and breathed into our souls the awe of its witchery, shall come to us no more; and the bright creations of our young imaginations shall pass away, and leave us but the dull cold realities of common day existence. The fire breathed on the heart at its birth, is the last saint flashes of an extinguished altar, of which the poor dust and ashes left on it, are the only evidences of its Heavenborn illumination. We shall be flung upon an age of utilitarianism— practicality will be the cry from the east to the west—and every thing which is pure and beautiful, every thing which is high and holy in the ideal world, will wither before it. The age of poetry will have become the age of folly; the age of elevated and far reaching thought the age of visionaries; while all that tribe of glorious spirits of the best days of letter'd Greece and Rome, and the few who have followed them, will have become a tribe of madmen. Now to counteract this evil we need the prevalence of our doctrine, viz. that poets—poets according to the received phraseology— are nothing different from other men. Surely there's a lack of modesty in some of their assumptions; as, for instance, when they arrogate to themselves certain prerogatives over other men, such as the right to starve, to shut themselves in garrets, live on bread and water,

and take poison. By what right do they all this which extends not to other men, and why may not we if we find the world press us sorely, shift off our troubles | When the doctrine shall be fully established, that poetry is nothing but manly sentiment in the garb of a pleasing imagination, it will once more become honorable. The flocks of croakers on the sides of Parnassus, will be swept away by the common sense of mankind; and the few whose steadiness of wing sustains them at the top, will still stay there the admiration of the world. We have been helped to some of these notions by a little book before us, purporting to be writ by one O. W. Holmes—an unpretending one indeed, yet full of instruction. We thank the author for it, and in the spirit of gratitude take occasion to commend him. At the present day we are almost afraid to take up a book of poetry, for we can generally tell its contents about as well before as aster reading it, and a review were about as well when prepared on the same principles, a pretty good proof of the book's worthlessness. We have thought that Editors of magazines—and indeed we don't know but they do so—would do as well to keep some dozen or two on hand well written out with a few blanks for extracts. They would be handy in all emergencies, and we’ll venture to say that in nine cases out of ten they would give just decisions. It is the same with them all, a few thoughts that look like inspiration, and all the rest a dead level of mediocrity; and instead of stopping to descant on the merits of the performance, we pity the publishers. Not so with this little book of beautiful writing—beautiful we call it, not from interested motives or because we are bribed to it, but because it is beautiful. The name of the writer has come to us before with one or two playsul little puerilities, yet such puerilities as made us wish to have more of him. There was always a sort of affected dislike of his art, under cover of which we invariably detected a genuine enthusiasm; and though he has doubtless imposed on many by it and made them think him in earnest, not so with us. A man of delicate sensibility, knowing well how a part of the world think and speak of poetry will shield himself in this very way, and we have always laid thus much sin at the door of Mr. Holmes. We have seen in him a love of his art, a delicate appreciation of a poet's peculiar situation, and have honored him for it. We always felt him to be a man of genius, and his book has not altered our opinion; for in it he has given us some genuine poetry, and nobly vindicated his claim to the appellation. The distinguishing characteristics of Mr. Holmes’ book, are manliness and humor. We say of his book, we shall give our notions on what we think are the true elements of his character (id est his poetic character) in the course of our article. The first thing that strikes is, that the writer has a way of saying a thing which is his own way, and that this is always manly. He casts his thoughts in a mould that shows his familiarity with the best writers; that he has been to the very sountain head for instruction, and come away benefitted by it. He knows how to be sentimental without silliness, and vigorous without violence; and in such situations as we would think him most likely to fail, he has contrived to acquit himself with credit. He does not for the sake of a thought let himself down to it, but if he must have it he brings it up to his own station. Neither does he seem to have yielded to that most besetting sin of all clever writers, a disposition to run as near to mawkishness as possible without falling into it, and by a delicacy and a mastery of good language produce something which we can't call bad, and yet for the life of us cannot give them credit for. We see nothing of this. On the contrary, there is too little sentimentality; and we could wish he had allowed himself more latitude where he shows himself so capable. He stops as if he were afraid of cloying us, and contents himself with saying a little less than just enough. Now though we honor the motive here we could wish it otherwise. We would have Mr. Holmes indulge himself in that delicate vein of simple melancholy which is so full of pathos, which is always found in every genuine poet, and which he himself possesses in an eminent degree; and though we know advice of this kind would let a host of evils on us is taken indiscriminately, yet we have no fears in giving it to a man like him whose good sense will surely never let him overstep the bounds of modesty. The other characteristic of this book is, its playfulness. We don't recollect ever to have met before, in any one book and written by one person, so many pieces of sparkling humor. Some of them are conceived in the happiest vein, and executed in the most felicitous manner. They have the advantage of being finished without the appearance of study—in fact seem to have dropped from the pen without essort. They open sly and soberly, about the middle you begin to suspect something, at last you lay aside the gentleman and literally roar. We notice also that there rarely or never recurs the same thought. The old Greeks and Latins set a bad example here, and all the luckless wights of modern times bent on showing up “the gift and faculty divine,' have done the same; with this difference however, the ancients showed it was not for want of substance, while moderns have given evidence of a most immodest lack of this same commodity. The thoughts in this book are rarely or never diluted; every line seems to have its business there, and the conclusion you come to after reading it is, that the thing is “about done up.' Now this is saying a great deal. The art of writing a playsul poem, easy yet vigorous, familiar yet original, and then to know just when to leave off, is the highest art of poetry. When we try to be natural, and select smooth and musical words to make the rhythm melodious, there is danger of letting the thought go for the word; and while we are chasing after this phrase or that, twisting it about and

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