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the word forms in its widest sense as embracing modifications of sound and color) that the soul seeks the realization of its dreams of Beauty. It is to her demand in this sense especially, that the poet, who is wise, will most frequently and most earnestly respond.
“ The Children of the Lord's Supper” is, beyond doubt, a true and most beautiful poem in great part, while, in some particulars, it is too metaphysical to have any pretension to the name. We have already objected, briefly, to its metre—the ordinary Latin or Greek Hexameter--dactyls and spondees at random, with a spondee in conclusion. We maintain that the hexameter can never be introduced into our language, from the nature of that language itself. This rhythm demands, for English ears, a preponderance of natural spondees. Our tongue has few. Not only does the Latin and Greek, with the Swedish, and some others, abound in them; but the Greek and Roman ear had become reconciled (why or how is unknown) to the reception of artificial spondees—that is to say, spondaic words formed partly of one word and partly of another, or from an excised part of one word. In short, the ancients were content to read as they scanned, or nearly so. It may be safely prophesied that we shall never do this; and thus we shall never admit English hexameters. The attempt to introduce them, after the repeated failures of Sir Philip Sidney, and others, is, perhaps, somewhat discreditable to the scholarship of Professor Longfellow. The “Democratic Review,” in saying that he has triumphed over difficulties in this rhythm, has been deceived, it is evident, by the facility with which some of these verses may be read. In glancing over the poem, we do not observe a single verse which can be read, to English ears, as a Greek hexameter. There are many, however, which can be well read as mere English dactylic verses ; such, for example, as the well known lines of Byron, commencing
Know ye the land where the cypress and | myrtle. These lines (although full of irregularities) are, in their perfection, formed of three dactyls and a cæsura—just as if we should cut short the initial verse of the Bucolics thus
Tityre I tu patu | læ recu | bansThe “myrtle,” at the close of Byron's line, is a double rhyme, and must be understood as one syllable.
Now a great number of Professor Longfellow's hexameters are merely these dactylic lines, continued for two feet. For exampleWhispered the race of the I flowers and merry on | balancing | branches
In this example, also, “ branches,” which is a double ending, must be regarded as the cæsura, or one syllable, of which alone it has the force.
As we have already alluded, in one or two regards, to a notice of these poems which appeared in the "Democratic Review," we may as well here proceed with some few further comments upon the article in question—with whose general tenor we are happy to agree.
The Review speaks of “Maidenhood” as a poem, "not to be understood but at the expense of more time and trouble than a song can justly claim.” We are scarcely less surprised at this opinion from Mr. Langtree than we were at the condemnation of “ The Luck of Edenhall.”
“ Maidenhood” is faulty, it appears to us, only on the score of its theme, which is somewhat didactic. Its meaning seems simplicity itself. A maiden on the verge of womanhood, hesitating to enjoy life (for which she has a strong appetite) through a false idea of duty, is bidden to fear nothing, having purity of heart as her lion of Una.
What Mr. Langtree styles "an unfortunate peculiarity” in Mr. Longfellow, resulting from "adherence to a false system" has really been always regarded by us as one of his idiosyncratic merits. "In each poem,” says the critic," he has but one idea, which, in the progress of his song, is gradually unfolded, and at last reaches its full development in the concluding lines; this singleness of thought might lead a harsh critic to suspect intellectual barrenness.” It leads us, individually, only to a full sense of the artistical power and knowledge of the poet. We confess that now, for the first time, we hear unity of conception objected to as a defect. But Mr. Langtree seems to have fallen into the singular error of supposing the poet to have absolutely but one idea in each of his ballads. Yet how " one idea" can be “gradually unfolded” without other ideas, is, to us, a mystery of mysteries. Mr. Longfellow, very properly, has but one leading idea which
forms the basis of his poem; but to the aid and development of this one there are innumerable others, of which the rare excellence is, that all are in keeping, that none could be well omitted, that each tends to the one general effect. It is unnecessary to say another word
upon In speaking of " Excelsior," Mr. Langtree (are we wrong in attributing the notice to his very forcible pen ?) seems to labor under some similar misconception. " It carries along with it,” says he,
a false moral which greatly diminishes its merit in our eyes, The great merit of a picture, whether made with the pencil or pen, is its truth; and this merit does not belong to Mr. Longfellow's sketch. Men of genius may, and probably do, meet with greater difficulties in their struggles with the world than their fellow-men who are less highly gifted; but their power of overcoming obstacles is proportionably greater, and the result of their laborious suffering is not death but immortality.”
That the chief merit of a picture is its truth, is an assertion deplorably erroneous. Even in Painting, which is, more essentially than Poetry, a mimetic art, the proposition cannot be sustained. Truth is not even the aim. Indeed it is curious to observe how very slight a degree of truth is sufficient to satisfy the mind, which acquiesces in the absence of numerous essentials in the thing depicted. An outline frequently stirs the spirit more pleasantly than the most elaborate picture. We need only refer to the compositions of Flaxman and of Retzch. Here all details are omitted—nothing can be farther from truth. Without even color the most thrilling effects are produced. In statues we are rather pleased than disgusted with the want of the eyeball. The hair of the Venus de Medicis was gilded. Truth indeed! The grapes of Zeuxis as well as the curtain of Parrhasius were received as indisputable evidence of the truthful ability of these artists—but they were not even classed among their pictures. If truth is the highest aim of either Painting or Poesy, then Jan Steen was a greater artist than Angelo, and Crabbe is a more noble poet than Milton.
But we have not quoted the observations of Mr. Langtree to deny its philosophy; our design was simply to show that he has misunderstood the poet. “Excelsior” has not even a remote tendency to the interpretation assigned it by the critic. It depicts the earnest upward impulse of the soul-an impulse not to be subdued even in Death. Despising danger, resisting pleasure, the youth, bearing the banner inscribed “ Excelsior !" (higher still !) struggles through all difficulties to an Alpine summit. Warned to be content with the elevation attained, his cry is still “Excelsior!” and, even in falling dead on the highest pinnacle, his cry is still “ Excelsior !” There is yet an immortal height to be surmounted—an ascent in Eternity. The poet holds in view the idea of never-ending progress. That he is misunderstood is rather the misfortune of Mr. Langtree than the fault of Mr. Langfellow. There is an old adage about the difficulty of one's furnishing an auditor both with matter to be comprehended and brains for its comprehension.
FANCY AND IMAGINATION.
DRAKE'S CULPRIT FAY AND MOORE'S ALCIPHRON.* Amid the vague mythology of Egypt, the voluptuous scenery of her Nile, and the gigantic mysteries of her pyramids, Anacreon Moore has found all of that striking materiel which he so much delights in working up, and which he has embodied in the poem before us. The design of the story (for plot it has none) has been a less consideration than its facilities, and is made subservient to its execution. The subject is comprised in five epistles. In the first, Alciphron, the head of the Epicurean sect at Athens, writes, from Alexandria, to his friend Cleon, in the former city. He tells him (assigning a reason for quitting Athens and her pleasures) that, having fallen asleep one night after protracted festivity, he beholds, in a dream, a spectre, who tells him that, beside the sacred Nile, he, the Epicurean, shall find that Eternal Life for which he had so long been sighing. In the second, from the same to the same, the traveller speaks, at large and in the rapturous terms, of the scenery of Egypt; of the beauty of her maidens; of an approaching Festival of the Moon; and of a wild hope entertained that
* Alciphron, a Poem. By Thomas Moore, Esq., author of Lalla Rookh, etc., etc. Carey and Hart, Philadelphia.
amid the subterranean chambers of some huge pyramid lies the secret which he covets, the secret of Life Eternal. In the third letter, he relates a love adventure at the Festival. Fascinated by the charms of one of the nymphs of a procession, he is first in despair at losing sight of her, then overjoyed at again seeing her in Necropolis, and finally traces her steps until they are lost near one of the smaller pyramids. In epistle the fourth, (still from the same to the same,) he enters and explores the pyramid, and, passing through a complete series of Eleusinian mysteries, is at length successfully initiated into the secrets of Memphian priesteraft ; we learning this latter point from letter the fifth, which concludes the poem, and is addressed by Orcus, high priest of Memphis, to Decius, a prætorian prefect.
A new poem from Moore calls to mind that critical opinion respecting him which had its origin, we believe, in the dogmatism of Coleridge-we mean the opinion that he is essentially the poet of fancy—the term being employed in contradistinction to imagination. “The Fancy,” says the author of the “ Ancient Mariner," in his Biographia Literaria, “the fancy combines, the imagination creates.” And this was intended, and has been received, as a distinction. If so at all, it is one without a difference ; without even a difference of degree. The fancy as nearly creates as the imagination; and neither creates in any respect. All novel conceptions are merely unusual combinations.
The mind of man can imagine nothing which has not really existed; and this point is susceptible of the most positive demonstration-see the Baron de Bielfeld, in his Premiers Traits de L'Erudition Universelle, 1767. It will be said, perhaps, that we can imagine a griffin, and that a griffin does not exist. Not the griffin certainly, but its component parts. It is a mere compendium of known limbs and featuresof known qualities. Thus with all which seems to be new.-which appears to be a creation of intellect. It is re-soluble into the old. The wildest and most vigorous effort of mind cannot stand the test of this analysis.
We might make a distinction, of degree, between the fancy and the imagination, in saying that the latter is the former loftily employed. But experience proves this distinction to be unsatisfactory. What we feel and know to be fancy, will be found still only