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THIS little volume is a pledge that the author need not owe any advantage to the eminent name he wears, but is ready to add, to the distinction which already encircles it, the fame of poetry, It is a collection chiefly of occasional poems on domestic, private, and personal topics, with poems of sentiment and reflection, and one or two narrative pieces; all very short, but a skilful reader will readily detect in them the presence of the authentic gifts of music and of fancy. All critics know that in the multitude of writers one who can write English is rare and much more rare is one who can master the keys of rhythm, and express himself naturally in verse. The author of these poems has achieved this mastery in the easy and novel structure of his metrical style, which, though often falling into the popular forms, as into blank verse, or into the common octosyllabic quatrains, keeps a new character in these old forms. Meantime, many of his metres are original and of singular beauty. Especially, we catch some strains of that peculiar lyric eloquence which the old dramatists, and Herrick, and even Donne drew from our rugged and hissing language, which is like an exquisite nerve communicating by thrills, and which we sometimes fear to be a lost art. Equally with his music, we enjoy the activity of the fancy in these thoughtful poems, which never keeps the beaten road, but by its beautiful invention of methods and outlets, communicates a feeling of freedom and power, which the lovers of poetry will hear as the ringing of a wind-harp.

But the samples of his thought which the author of this book has afforded us, few though they be, betray higher gifts than melody and fancy. There is å delicacy and refinement in this mind, which put the reader at once at school in the most agreeable of disciplines, as it requires much culture to apprehend them. Far from being popular verses, we should rather say that this

was poetry for poets, and would be valued in proportion to the poetic taste of its readers. It has given us to think how much sincerity is an indispensable element of high poetry ;— that the author should give us his proper experiences, neither more nor less, and should tell us not what men may be supposed to feel in the presence of a mountain or a cataract, but how it was with him. The truth must be spoken without reference to the reader or hearer, or to anything which is not the life of the poem itself. The writing shall have no foreign reference, but shall be a vent and voidance of things the man has at heart. Poetry thus written, we shall find wholly new, the latest birth of time, the last observation which the incarnate Spirit has taken of its work. This honesty comes only by highest endowment. Men utter follies, not because they prefer them, but from want of thought. The poet is preoccupied with the facts before him, and speaks well because the fact is too strong for him, and will not allow him to babble. That gratification this poetry will afford, as it is not conventional, but is stamped with truth. This veracity makes the value of the whole book; it is made up of the simplest expressions of a gentle and thoughtful mind, its privatest knowledge and feeling. Much of it seems to be poetry of love and sentiment, fruits of a fine, light, gentle, happy intercourse with his friends; the poet obviously and consciously idealizing his portraits, because his interest is not in that which they are in the world, but in what they are to his genius. And the imagery has the same genuineness; it is not borrowed from the great poets, but, though sometimes a little whimsical or surprising, is the form which the thought clothed itself in, and which required some courage to adopt.

As we loitered among these Dorian measures, we have figured the author as a person of wayward habits, early

• Poems by William Ellery Channing. Boston: Little & Brown. 1843.

-or when he contemplates the mysteries of humanity, the spiritual life, and the spectre death, with equal depth of nature to their own. He pauses at birth

"Who drew fine pictures on the swim- days as "the solemnest days of our ming air;" bright lives," at the marriage festival, at the advent and the parting of human life ;

-as one who loves

"To see the early stars, a mild sweet train,

Come out to bury the diurnal sun; "

wisdom, and affectionate speech, with a tone that is tremulous with emotion like a flower in the wind; as one

I think of now as passing gods' estate. -who walks in the grove by the col- I am enraptured that such lot was mine, umns of the temple, whilst

That mine is others'. ".

"Fanned them the softly entering, sing- With a keen sympathy with nature, he ing air;" now mingles his sigh with that of the melancholy autumn:

-who sees Beauty passing through the field ;

"Summer is going,
Cold wind is blowing,

"And dances on the sward the capering

Tale of the autumn-the autumn so drear;
No sower is sowing,
No mower is mowing,

And all the swinging herbs love her soft Seed is sown, harvest mown, time almost steps;"


-who stands in the breezy meadow as in his home ;

"The wind is feeling in each gentle bell, I and my flowers receive this music well"

-and in very deed leading the true and beautiful life of the flowers themselves :

"That I was father to so fair a child,
And that her mother smiled on me so

"A life well spent is like a flower
That had bright sunshine its brief hour;
It flourished in pure willingness,
Discovered strongest earnestness,
Was fragrant for each lightest wind,
Was of its own particular kind,
Nor knew a tone of discord sharp;
Breathed alway like a silver harp,
And went to immortality,
A very proper thing to die."

But he has not only these strains pure and untiring as the summer-wind itself, but a sterner, autumnal, and even wintry music, when he expresses his impatience of the unmeaning conventions of cities, the lowness of our social aims, and the equal paltriness of our concealment and our display, and bids the aspirant—

"Boom like the roaring, sunlit waterfall, Humming to infinite abysms; speak loud, speak free!"

Flowers are fading,

Autumn's wreath braiding,
To deck the sad burial-sad burial lone;
The bees have done lading
And finished their trading,
Honey made, cellars laid, hive almost

Gray clouds are flying,
Gray shades replying,

Soon shall come mourning-mourning so

And the babe shall be crying,
And the mother be sighing,

Coldly lie, coldly die, in the arms of the

-now bursts into brief ejaculation of happiness, as he glances a glad eye round over the wealth of beauty which is all his, and ours, and every man's :

"A dropping shower of spray,

Filled with a beam of light,-
The breath of some soft day,-
The groves by wan moonlight,-
Some rivers flow,

Some falling snow,
Some bird's swift flight;—

A summer field o'erstrown

With gay and laughing flowers,
And shepherd's clocks half-blown,
That tell the merry hours,-
The waving grain,
The spring soft rain,-
Are these things ours?"

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Those who bear up in their so generous


The beautiful ideas of matchless forms; For were these not portrayed, our human fate,

Which is to be all high, majestical,

To grow to goodness with each coming age,

to see

Till virtue leap and sing for j So noble, virtuous men,-would brief decay;

And the green, festering slime, oblivious, haunt About our common fate. Oh honor them!


And need enough in this low time, when they,

Who seek to captivate the fleeting notes Of heaven's sweet beauty, must despair almost,

So heavy and obdurate show the hearts Of their companions. Honor kindly then

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For words too excellent; the noble, true, The majesty of earth; the summer queen: In whose conceptions nothing but what's great

Has any right. And, O! her love for him, Who does but his small part in honoring her;

Discharging a sweet office, sweeter none,
Mother and child, friend, counsel and re-
pose ;-
Nought matches with her, nought has
leave with her

To highest human praise. Farewell to
Who reverences not with an excess
Of faith the beauteous sex; all barren he
Shall live a living death of mockery.

we say

Ah! had but words the power, what could Of woman! We, rude men, of violent phrase,

Harsh action, even in repose inwardly harsh;

Whose lives walk blustering on high stilts, removed

From all the purely gracious influence
Of mother earth. To single from the host
Of angel forms one only, and to her
Devote our deepest heart and deepest mind
Seems almost contradiction. Unto her

We owe our greatest blessings, hours of cheer,

Gay smiles, and sudden tears, and more than these

A sure perpetual love. Regard her as She walks along the vast still earth; and see!

Before her flies a laughing troop of joys, And by her side treads old experience, With never-failing voice admonitory; The gentle, though infallible, kind advice, The watchful care, the fine regardfulness, Whatever mates with what we hope to find, All consummate in her-the summer queen.

To call past ages better than what now
Man is enacting on life's crowded stage,
Cannot improve our worth; and for the
Blue is the sky as ever, and the stars
Kindle their crystal flames at soft-fallen


With the same purest lustre that the east
Worshipped. The river gently flows
through fields
Where the broad-leaved corn spreads out,

and loads

Its ear as when the Indian tilled the soil. The dark green pine,-green in the winter's cold,

Still whispers meaning emblems, as of old; The cricket chirps, and the sweet, eager birds

In the sad woods crowd their thick melodies;

But yet, to common eyes, life's poetry Something has faded, and the cause of this May be that man, no longer at the shrine Of woman kneeling with true reverence, In spite of field, wood, river, stars and sea Goes most disconsolate. A babble now, A huge and wind-swelled babble, fills the place

Of that great adoration which of old
Man had for woman. In these days no

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Merit in this? Where lies it, though thy


Ring over distant lands, meeting the wind Even on the extremest verge of the wide world.

Better to pile the glittering coin, than seek To overtop our brothers and our loves.

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He sees the footsteps of death in all parts of nature, in the sea, the fields, the rivers, and the hills;—

"The air is full of men who once enjoyed The healthy element;"

-and he challenges the approach of the Angel with the most considerate tranquillity:

"Thou art not anxious of thy precious fame,

But comest like the clouds soft stealing on;
Thou soundest in a careless key the name
Of him, who to thy boundless treasury is

And yet he quickly cometh; for to die
Is ever gentlest to both low and high.
Thou therefore hast humanity's respect;

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