Page images
PDF
EPUB

BY EDITH MAY.

BELLOWS.-Well, positively, that is the nods.) Well, I should liken Alice Carey to first sentence you have uttered to-night, Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians in the Doctor, which allows me to breathe. I had shape of the English language; - Elish almost made my mind up that you were a May” to Gulliver escaping from the same gone man as regards the poets especially by the aid of ditto. The Carey is an eagle the female ones. Now since you have in a cage; the May is an eagle on the wing. favorable opinion of a few, I have some You can look longer on and studs the one; hopes, and long to hear who they may be. you see the other passing, and are delighted. Who are the ladies who have been so for- I have directed your attention to some of tunate as to win the critical sympathies of Miss Carey's poems on our last evening, and so ferocious a commentator !

shall now show you why I think so well of JOHANNES.— I will tell you.

First-ha! - Edith May." You must not imagine, beI perceive my speech has not had the same cause she is bold and vigorous, that she has effect on the liquor as it had on your breath; not depth of sentiment beside. She has; you have drawn on that considerable. for at the same time that she dashes along

Bellows.—Well, you know yourself said with a brilliant exterior like the revolutionthat it takes ardent spirits to discuss the ists I compared her to, she has like them a female poets.

purpose. Here is a fine chant :JOHANNES.—No apology, boy. Here, fill my cup, thou witty Ganymede. Now fill

TE DEUM LAUDAMUS. your own, and just hand me that meerschaum. (Lights it-puff, puff.) Now I will tell you. Well, as poets, I have the “Te Deum laudamus !" through the green river

meadows, greatest regard for Alice Carey and “ Edith

Where noon, pacing slow, bolds in leash the fleet May” of all the women writers in the coun

shadows, try. I believe they have more of the mens Blown like a cloud from St. Agatha's altar, divinior in its truth than any of their com- Drifts down the south wind the loud-chanted

Psalter: petitors. I spoke to you of the former and some of her merits before. Both of those One whose fair soul was not whitened by weeping.

Under the light of the tapers lies sleeping writers are highly imaginative. The first perhaps has the more originality, the latter Sorrow stood far from her—love, in mute reve the more graceful expressiveness of the two. rence, The first loses in effect by not having a suf- Knelt to the shrine of her starry intelligence; ficiency of language in her best pieces (“ Ly- Lay coiled in her presence ; and lion-like evil, ra” excepted) to inake her ideas plain to a Lying in wait for her soul frail and tender, casual reader; the second gives a more Crouched at the blaze of its virginal splendor. favorable idea of her imagination by the bounding expressiveness with which she Over her calm face a radiance immortal

Flows from the smile of her mouth's silent portal ; conveys her thoughts. Miss Carey seems

They who kneel round her from matins till even, to have a dreamy imagination, giving every As they kneel at the tombs of the blessed in thing that misty force and present concen- heaven, tration which is so remarkable in dreams; Think not to question that presence resplendent, while Miss May appears like one of our

Where fled the soul that is shining ascendant. modern revolutionists, full of the spirit of

Down from the gray clouds the March winds are energy and vigor. Miss Carey is abstracted,

swooping, lingers much round the sorrowful, and Out of the low soil pale phantoms are trooping; broods over it in the temples of her imagi. Lift on the wings of St. Agatha’s choir, nation. Miss May is a propagandist of her The greatDe Profundis

rolls solemnly higher: thoughts, and as such makes them catching One whom keen anguish made ready for dying. at a glance. You have read Gulliver's Travels, Morton ?

Sorrow, that writes, with the pen of an ang el, Bellows.—Oh, yes. He that lived with God's burning thoughts through her mystic the Brobdig-what-d'ye-call-'em- people,

Evangel; in a box like Tom Thumb ? Capital, eh?

Passion, that, laden with memories tender,

Crowns himself king with their tropical splendor JOHANNES.—Confound you and Tom Weeping Repentance, with hands lifted palely Thumb! You've read the book ? (Morton | These were the spirits that walked with her daily.

Death, creeping near while she knelt in devotion, Her appreciation of the beauties of nature Froze on her features their mournful emotion.

under its various guises is all worthy and They who reluctant draw nearer, to falter

congenial to her high poetic temperament. “Ave," or vow at the steps of the altar, Marking it thence, ask, in fear, if the sorrow Horace was right: nature, not art, makes the Lying slain on her lips will not quicken to-morrow? poet; and it is evident that Edith May is a

true lover of nature. Art to her is secondIt is really a noble hymn. The picture ary, at the same time that without a full in the second stanza is beautifully imagined, appreciation of its power as an ally, and a and the music of the rhythm, which flows steady and judicious acquaintace with it in in like judicious light on a grand painting, consequence, she would do herself and her is only marred by the rhyming of cavil and nature an irretrievable wrong, and but half evil, which, though it has naught to do with display the gifts which nature has presented the especial music of the verse, inasmuch as her with. Art is a sort of showman ; the rhythm and rhyme are two very different more experience, the more to advantage can things, breaks and ripples the perfect grace- it display the beauties of its charge, and the fulness, like a solitary rock in an otherwise better can it costume it for the captivation undisturbed and smooth river. In regard of all visitors. Art is to poetry what Barof art, too, one or two corrections might be num was to your friend Tom Thumb or made which would serve the music of the Jenny Lind. He tricked out the diminutive poem. The second line of the fourth stanza, freak of nature in such artistic equipments, for instance,

and presented him so knowingly, that he

shall in future times take rank with the « Out of the low soil pale phantoms are trooping," Faustus, Paracelsus, Cardan and Cagliostro

of the past, who strove to make people beis rough in its construction. « Low soil

lieve that they possessed the knowledge of pale” fine correctly we must divide it into five making gold from every thing. He has feet of one dactyl , two spondees, one iarnbus, ciation ; for with a dexterity that showed

proved his more than right to such an assoand one trochee; thus,

all his fingers were not thumbs, he made

the pigmy carriage of the Lilliputian a perOut of the low soil | pale phan | toms are fect gold wagon, his woolly horse a conducttroop-ing:

or of auriferous intelligence; and by the

daring dispensation of a “bird song” he which will not read to the preceding line, charmed—what is far more wonderful and which is composed of three consecutive dac- difficult than stealing the heavenly fire—the tyls and an ending trochee. All this dis- money from the purses of the enlightened order is created by the injudicious selection " Yankee Nation." Barnum is the art of of the three words “ low soil pale,” which existence, and art is the Barnum of poetry. cannot by any means le made a dactyl, and And insomuch as Barnum (be that comwhich is the metrical foot necessary to their modity ever so great or little a component) place. I might say, if I was an Irishman, is a necessity to existence as Bunkum seems that the foot is exactly two ells too long to politics, so is art a necessity to poetry. The letter I comes in too quick; if its ap- Bellows (yawning).—Y-e-s, I always pearance in the line was like " angels' visits," thought so; in fact, I know by myself. 'I et cetera, the music would be better, and my love to converse with nature ; it is so delicious remarks unneeded. I would not take this to lounge at Hoboken and fancy one's self trouble, boy, to show you her faults, save in the groves of Arca—of Arcadia ; to feel that I think Miss May is worthy of a serious one's self a poet. I feel like writing a passtudy, and far above a mere puffing excla- toral then I really do; I feel as though I mation of approval. Good ore is always was some heathen god; and, curse them worth refining. Some of “Edith May's ” lutes ! if I could only play one I should feel blank verse is remarkably beautiful-full in capable of something great. I really think felicities of diction, and rich in conceits of I should abandon myself to the woods altofancy and imaginative passages. “ October, gether if I could manage to pipe some meTwilight” affords some extracts of beauty. I lodious reed. Did I ever read you my

1

[ocr errors]

comes

poem on an evening at Staten Island, com- "gude wife's” proceeding rests on the quesmencing

tion, Had the husband a right to wash the “ O Staten, loveliest of isles

dishes ? Now your silence admitting of no
On which the sunlight ever smiles ! question, I fear me, unless you listen, I
O Staten, Nature's sweetest prize shall have to beave the pitcher (when it is
That ever met my longing eyes !
O brightest pearl in Hudson's mouth,

empty) at your head, (and one shall be as
Which opens to the ocean's foam, hollow as the other.) Keep cool, boy, and
A welcome for the sons of South, let us return to " Edith May.” Of the
And all who ever lost a home!

poetic fancies I spoke of, we find some ele-
O son of Europe, bither flee!
O God-

gant evidences in “ October Twilight:"—

“Oh, mute among the months, October, thou, Hang it! my memory's getting weak from

Like a hot reaper when the sun goes down, study. That's a pretty piece of imagina

Reposing in the twilight of the year! tion, Doctor ?—that allusion to the isle in Is yon the silver glitter of thy scythe, the mouth of the Hudson—daring, you

Drawn thread-like on the west ? September know. I love the Byronic-Moore-ish too. JOHANNES.-Ha! ha! ha! You'll —

Humming those waifs of song June's choral days

Left in the forest; but thy tuneless lips you'll be the death of me. Ha! ha! ha!

Breathe only a pervading haze that seems he! he! he! Yes, a pretty piece of imagina- Visible silence, and thy Sabbath face tion, surely. I wish the island was in your

Scares swart November- from yon northern hills mouth, you confounded fool!

Foreboding like a raven; yellow ferns

Make thee a couch; thou sittest listless there, Bellows.-Doctor, I contend that

Plucking red leaves for idleness; full streams JOHANNES.—An empty head ought to be Coil at thy feet, where fawns that come at doon silent. Morton, be quiet! You can no Drink with up-glancing eyes." more write a poem, or even a tolerable and again :verse, than I could stand on my head on a

-“ Evening comes liberty pole.

Up from the valleys; over-lapping hills Bellows.—You take a great liberty with

Tipped by the sunset, burn like funeral lamps

For the dead day.” my pole, Doctor : really, now, you won't listen

This last passage would be much improved JOHANNES.—Now don't be a fool, boy. (if for the word over-lapping some other was Fill your pitcher, like a sensible man, and substituted. Here is a passage and a piclisten to me; fill your pitcher.

ture which has all the healthiness of tone BELLOWS (filling and singing).

and finish of Thomson ;

-“ Mark how the wind, like one “Give me but this; I ask no more:

That gathers simples, flits from herb to herb My charming girl, my friend and pitcher.”

Through the damp valley, muttering the while

Low incantations! From the wooded lanes JOHANNES.—Stay; that pitcher puts me in mind of a capital little Servian poem. To the slow tread of kine; and I can see,

Loiters a bell's dull tinkle, keeping time which “ Talvi” gives in her “ History of By the rude trough the waters overbrim, Slavic Literature.” It is very good, and The unyoked oxen gathered; some, athirst, runs thus. A woman speaks, or rather Stoop drinking steadily, and some have linked

Their horns in playful war.”
" Come, companion, let us hurry,

The authoress is evidently a student of Ten-
That we may be early home,

nyson. These passages full of beauty re-
For my mother-in-law is cross.

mind me of his neatness of expression, while
Only yestreen she accused me,
Snid that I had beat my husband,

the conception of the pictures, especially the
When, poor soul, I had not touched him : last one, has the grouping of Jamie Thom-
Only bid him wash the dishes,

You must read the entire poem for
And he would not wash the dishes; yourself, boy; I am not going to cull you
Threw then at his head the pitcher, the choicest bits; but here, i' faith, I can't
Knocked a hole in head and pitcher.
For the head I do not care much,

pass without reading these aloud : they are
But I care much for the pitcher,

remarkably happy in expression, and rich in As I paid for it right dearly;

imaginative conceit: Paid for it with one wild apple,

- The dusk sits like a bird Yes, and half a one besides."

Up in the tree-tops, and swart, elvish shadows Now the whole question of the right of the Dart from the wooded pathways.”

sings :

son.

[ocr errors]

II.

And

To paint on canvas the sweet images

That, mocking nature, yet can fancy please, -“ Amid the faded brakes As the poor poet strive, amid the cry The wind, retreating, hides, and cowering there, Of careless tongues, to think, much less to write, Whines at thy coming like a hound afraid !" His thoughts of music in such words as may

Be music too; for even as good light Her descriptions bear the same relation to Is to the painter's work, so quiet day, Thomson's that the mind of woman does to Or if that cannot be, then quiet night, that of man, partaking more of the fanciful Is to the poet's well-beloved lay. and less of the strength of ideality. Her diction bears the same ratio, with an evident study of Tennyson, in her best passages, at

Yes! quiet to the poet is what light

Is to the painter. It disposes well, times equalling either of those poets. Her In pleasant order, thoughts that else would dwell “Chaplet of Bronze" is a beautiful poem. In chaos

, painful to his inner sight; Alice Carey has more genius, “ Edith May" It brings out Feeling's softest tints aright; more force ; Alice Carey more thought,

Gay Fancy's gorgeous gloss it can correct,

And give the shades of reason due effect “ Edith May” more facility; “Edith May” To mellow what would else appear too bright. more briliancy, Alice Carey more terseness ; Without it be becomes morose and sad, “ Edith May” more heartiness, Alice Carey Through the deep longings that are pent within, more heartfulness, than each other respect- Kindred communion with the world's vain din ; ively; and from which I should imagine that

Though oft the master-poet is made glad “Edith May's” writings will have more im- From lessons taught by slaves of strife and sin. mediate popularity, Alice Carey's more longevity.

The last sonnet shows the writer an artist BELLOWS (looking thoughtful).-Ah, yes,

in the painter's sense. The comparison of I suppose so.

quiet and light to the poet and painter is JOHANNES.—Very different from “ Edith” done very picturesquely, and betrays a true is Caroline May. A great lover of nature appreciation of the wants of each. Miss also, she is entirely devoted to the senti- May is an amateur in the pictorial art, and mental and pensive. Without a sufficiency these sonnets may be taken as some of her of imagination to make it a characteristic of experience in the double capacity of author her mind, she is thoughtful, quiet and sen- and artist. In both she is a student of the sible. Her fancy is subdued and temper- fields and the hills; and better than all

, ate, and she never fails, because she has the Morton, boy, she comes up to my idea, good sense to know her own mind. With which I told you of before, and oftener has an ardent love for poetry in its truest sense,

the bodkin and the needle in her hand than she never dares when she is doubtful; and the pen. She makes suitable time however she has too high a sense of her duty as a for both, and in the use of them is alike woman to fall in the track of most female graceful and sensible. Her lines “To a writers, and scream herself to death like the Student” give her own character and likGrecian Cicala. Here are a couple of son-ings: nets which embody much of Miss May's

"Lift up thy face in gladness character and felicity of expression: they To the sky so soft and warm, are the more pleasing for that they are so

And watch the frolic roadness unambitious; and the thought running

Of the changeful clouds, that form

A mimic shape, in every change, through them the more welcome because it

Of something beautiful and strange. conveys a true sense of the poet's necessity

"The love of nature heightens happily and sometimes very happily ex

Our love to God and man; pressed

And a spirit, love enlightens

Farther than others can,
QUIET.

Pierces with clear and steady eyes

Into the land where true thought lies."

All her own writings carry out, at least in As well might that pale artist, whose keen eye intent, what she preaches. At home, abroad, in sunshine, or in storm,

BELLOWS.-Do

you

admire the verses of Seeks in light, shade, position, color, form, Something his picture-love to gratify;

Mrs. Welby? I think they are extremely As well might he in utter darkness try

pretty. VOL. VIII. NO. V.

29

BT CAROLINA MAY.

I.

IBW SBRIES.

JOHANNES.— Extremely pretty ? Bah! | wisdom. They don't say any thing, beIf prettiness is a poet's chief characteristic, cause they haven't any thing to say, and like the writings of such are extremely useless. all empty spaces, their brains but give a Prettiness in poetry is like prettiness in good echo to whatever is said last. Of all woman, for that it is generally unaccom- people, such are the most contemptible. A panied by any thing more substantial. I man without an opinion, be it right or say generally, for we have some exceptions. wrong, is like a withered tree which cannot Some of the handsomest, prettiest people shelter one from either the sunshine or the I ever met, were complete fools and idiots; storm, and is indicative of naught but a as Carlyle says, mere " clothes screens.” present barrenness. AndIt is a matter of fact that numbers of light- Bellows.—Yes, Doctor, exactly ; but as headed people were and are very pretty. to the poems of “ Amelia ?" No doubt, this prettiness, bringing on

JOHANNES.- Well, as to the poems of vanity, especialiy in women, facilitates a Mrs. Welby, I think them musical: that monomania on the subject of self, until the puts me in mind that my voice is quite the unhappy“ prettiness” becomes insanity, and opposite. Just fill my glass, boy; my " wastes its sweetness ” in a very pretty throat is as dry as edifice, 'ycleped a lunatic asylum. The Bellows.-A fish's. most diabolical piece of furnitnre ever invent- JOHANNES.—Or a work on political econed was a looking-glass. It has ruined more omy. (Drinking.) Ha! the machine women and sent more mustachioed young can't work without oiling. Well, Mrs. gentlemen to destruction than can possibly be Welby's verses I consider not only pretty, comfortably situated in the next world. If but musical; sometimes hearty, sometimes any piece of domestic intelligence ever was faulty, when she rhymes hers and tears and concocted by Lucifer, it must have been the hers with years, which occur in her “Melooking-glass. It is a sort of decoy for lodia.” Riven and heaven and impearled human geese, seducing them within the and world are allowable, where the thought long range of flattery; then consequently more than balances the execution; but ocfollow confusion, weakness, and annihilation. curring in poems, the chief beauty of which Nature carries out her laws through every is in the music, are scarcely to be tolerathing. Some of the most delicate and ted. Such rhymes as torches and arches I pretty flowers have not the slightest perfume think not “ according to law," nor entrances, to delight the sense of smell. They are glances, and enhances with fancies. Mrs. great on appearances, like very many hu- | Welby rhymes too often on the same word. man and quadruped animals. Some of Her rhythm has a pleasant bound, and her the most seemingly delightful and plausible conceits are generally happy, but lack mortals are the most infernal scoundrels be- strength. I agree with Dr. Griswold, that hind their appearances; and some of the "she walks the Temple of the Muses with most beautiful animals are the most treach- no children of the imagination ; but her erous and vicious you can hunt up in nat- fancy is lively and discriminating.” In a ural history. As to your “prettiness” as notice of her life he says, perhaps in extenucharacteristic of Mrs. Welby's poetry, you ation of her lack of remarkable force, that are as shallow as you usually are. Whom “ No painful experience has tried her heart's did you hear say it was pretty! You full energies." " It is not strange that the don't know of yourself what it is ! I advise tide of misfortune, like the Nile to its banks, you to read her verses; but as you asked should fructify the poet's brain. I believe my opinion, I will give it to you before- it. True stamen only shows itself when hand. Don't shake your head, Morton; there are obstacles to overcome; and manI won't make the old joke about there being kind is never so happy, hopeful and trustnothing in it, for that is a fact too well es- ful, take my word for it, as when it has tablished. You remind me of some persons tugged with, and overcome, evil fortune. I know who have attained a reputation Man, so made strong, fears not the future, (but, by-the-bye, which you have not) for a save that his strength be taken from him

) vast amount of sense because they never say by disease. He always has a force in himany thing; and I cannot refrain from self

, an army in his brain, that will cross smiling when I hear them characterized for | Alps and ford oceans. I know it, Morton,

« PreviousContinue »