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None but slaves should bend the soul
Beneath the chains of mortal making:
But crown the night,
With virgin pureness deeply blushing;
While Love stood by to charm its gushing ;
The Moslem's dream
Would joyless seem
Lethe lies far deeper in it,
Whose heart is warm enough to it;
Skies may wear
A darksome air
Nor fear to meet the morning breaking;
While Beauty's beaming eyes are waking.
· Let delight
But crown the night,
morrow. Whatever shall be, hereafter, the position of Mr. Dawes in the poetical world, he will be indebted for it altogether to his shorter compositions, some of which have the merit of tenderness; others of melody and force. What seems to be the popular opinion in respect to his more voluminous effusions, has been brought about, in some measure, by a certain general tact, nearly amounting to taste, and more nearly the converse of talent. This tact has been especially displayed in the choice of no: inelegant titles and other externals; in a peculiar imitative speciousness of manner, pervading the surface of his writings; and, (here we have the anomaly of a positive benefit deduced from a radical defect,) in an absolute deficiency in basis, in stamen, in matter, or pungency, which, if even slightly evinced, might have invited the reader to an intimate and understanding perusal, whose result would have been disgust. His poems have not been condemned, only because they have never been read. The glitter upon the surface has sufficed, with the newspaper critic, to justify his hyperboles of praise, Very few persons, we feel assured, have had sufficient nerve to wade through the entire volume now in question, except, as in our own case, with the single object of criticism in view. Mr. Dawes has, also, been aided to a poetical reputation by the amiability of his character as a man. How efficient such causes have before been in producing such effects, is a point but too thoroughly understood.
We have already spoken of the numerous friends of the poet; and we shall not here insist upon the fact, that we bear him no personal ill-will. With those who know us, such a declaration would appear supererogatory; and by those who know us not, it would, doubtless, be received with incredulity. What we have said, however, is not in opposition to Mr. Dawes, nor even so much in opposition to the poems of Mr. Dawes, as in defence of the many true souls which, in Mr. Dawes' apotheosis, are aggrieved. The laudation of the unworthy is to the worthy the most bitter of all wrong. But it is unbecoming in him who merely demonstrates a truth, to offer reason or apology for the demonstration,
FLACCUS.-THOMAS WARD. The poet now comprehended in the cognomen Flaccus, is by no means our ancient friend Quintus Horatius, nor even his ghost, but merely a Mr. Ward, of Gotham, once a contributor to the New York “ American,” and to the New York “Knickerbocker” Magazine. He is characterized by Mr. Griswold, in-his “ Poets and Poetry of America,” as a gentleman of elegant leisure.
What there is in “elegant leisure” so much at war with the divine aflatus, it is not very difficult, but quite unnecessary, to say. The fact has been long apparent. Never sing the Nine so well as when penniless. The mens divinior is one thing, and the otium cum dignitate quite another.
Of course Mr. Ward is not, as a poet, altogether destitute of merit. If so, the public had been spared these paragraphs. But the sum of his deserts has been footed up by a clique who are in the habit of reckoning units as tens in all cases where champagne and "elegant leisure” are concerned. We do not consider him, at all points, a Pop Emmons, but, with deference to the more matured opinions of the “ Knickerbocker," we may be permitted to entertain a doubt whether he is either Jupiter Tonans, or Phoebus Apollo
Justice is not, at all times, to all persons, the most desirable thing in the world, but then there is the old adage about the tumbling of the heavens, and simple justice is all that we propose in the case of Mr. Ward. We have no design to be bitter. We notice his book at all, only because it is an unusually large one of its kind, because it is here lying upon our table, and because, whether justly or unjustly, whether for good reason or for none, it has attracted some portion of the attention of the public.
The volume is entitled, somewhat affectedly, " Passaic, a Group of Poems touching that river: with Other Musings, by Flaccus," and embodies, we believe, all the previously published effusions of its author. It commences with a very pretty “Sonnet to Passaic,” and from the second poem, "Introductory Musings on Rivers," we are happy in being able to quote an entire page of eren remarkable beauty.
Beautiful Rivers ! that adown the vale
Meeting new playmates still to swell their ranks ;
That cheats the senses, lets it down to night. There is nothing very original in all this; the general idea is, perhaps, the most absolutely trite in poetical literature ; but the theme is not the less just on this account, while we must confess that it is admirably handled. The picture embodied in the whole of the concluding paragraph is perfect. The seven final lines convey not only a novel but a highly appropriate and beautiful image.
What follows, of this poem, however, is by no means worthy so fine a beginning. Instead of confining himself to the true poetical thesis, the Beauty or the Sublimity of river scenery, he descends into mere meteorology-into the uses and general philosophy of rain, &c.—matters which should be left to Mr. Espy, who knows something about them, as we are sorry to say Mr. Flaccus does not.
The second and chief poem in the volume, is entitled “The Great Descender.” We emphasize the poem " merely by way of suggesting that the “Great Descender ” is anything else. We never could understand what pleasure men of talent can take in concocting elaborate doggerel of this order. Least of all can we comprehend why, having perpetrated the atrocity, they should place it at the door of the Muse. We are at a loss to know by what right, human or divine, twattle of this character is intruded into a collection of what professes to be Poetry. We put it to Mr. Ward, in all earnestness, if the “Great Descender,” which is a history of Sam Patch, has a single attribute, beyond that of mere versification, in common with what even Sam Patch himself would have had the hardihood to denominate a poem.
Let us call this thing a rhymed jeu d'esprit, a burlesque, or what not ?-and, even so called, and judged by its new name, we must still regard it as a failure. Even in the loosest compositions we demand a certain degree of keeping. But in the “Great Descender” none is apparent. The tone is unsteady-fluctuating between the grave and the gay-and never being precisely either. Thus there is a failure in both. The intention being never rightly taken, we are, of course, never exactly in condition either to weep or to laugh.
We do not pretend to be the Oracles of Dodona, but it does really appear to us that Mr. Flaccus intended the whole matter, in the first instance, as a solemnly serious thing; and that, having composed it in a grave vein, he became apprehensive of its exciting derision, and so interwove sundry touches of the burlesque, behind whose equivocal aspect, he might shelter himself at need. In no other supposition can we reconcile the spotty appearance of the whole with a belief in the sanity of the author. It is difficult, also, in any other view of the case, to appreciate the air of positive gravity with which he descants upon the advantages to Science which have accrued from a man's making a frog of himself. Mr. Ward is frequently pleased to denominate Mr. Patch
a martyr of science,” and appears very doggedly in earnest in all passages such as the following:
Through the glad Heavens, which tempests now conceal,
That Mr. Patch was a genius we do not doubt; so is Mr. Ward;