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for this haste, were it not that the amiable and frank spirit, which pervades the work, makes us reluctant to blame him for anything. He will, at least, pardon us for expressing our opinion, that all authors of what are called works of taste, should set out with a resolution never to come hastily before the public. There is a respect due to the literary world, which should restrain an author from publishing his work, before he has made it as perfect as he is able; in like manner as the decorums of civilized society restrain us from ushering ourselves into a polite assembly with a long beard, an unbrushed coat, and dirty boots. Besides, the advantages of a careful revision are so many and so important, as to render it matter of surprise that any class of authors, particularly the poets, should ever neglect them. It is true, that if the high state of mental excitement, requisite for the writing of poetry, could be kept up from the beginning to the end of a production of any tolerable length; if all the parts could be written with the same glow of inspiration, it might be better for the work that, the author should not tamper too freely with what had been so felicitously and forcibly struck out. But all poems will have their languid passages, the moment of exhaustion always arrives too soon, and often a stubborn idea refuses to be happily expressed. For these evils there is no remedy but revision; the weak passages may be strengthened; the original excitement may be recalled; a lucky moment may supply what was wanting to the first search; or at least what cannot be entirely dispensed with may be rendered more tolerable by being abridged.
From this charge of haste, however, the Ruins of Pæstum, the first and largest poem in the collection, and in our opinion the best, must, in justice to the author, be exempted. It is full of beautiful images and fine thoughts. It is a series of reflections suggesting themselves to a beholder of those wonderful and venerable ruins, the remains of fabrics whose founders are unknown, but which still offer models of architecture to the world. The following brief outline, with the extracts we shall give, will enable our readers to judge both of the plan and the execution.
The poem opens with a reflection upon the oblivion into which, to the confusion of human pride, the builders of those mighty edifices have fallen, the works of whose hands have
for so many ages survived even the memory of their names. The history of Pæstum is then briefly traced, from the Phonician Colony by whom it was founded, through its various fortunes and changes of inhabitants, till
the Roman Eagle seized
The double prey, and proudly perched on high!
And impotent through age, headlong he plunged,
While nations shuddered as they saw him fall.' p. 8.
The decay and desertion of Pæstum followed in the night of barbarism, that succeeded the northern invasion, and the particulars of its decline are involved in the darkness of that period.
The author then passes to the consideration of the individual fortunes of those by whom these solitudes were once peopled. The joys and sorrows of the children of that ancient race were like those of the men of our own time. Crimes were perpetrated, and great and good actions performed from age to age on this spot, which is now so desolate, and both alike are now forgotten. The attachments of domestic life were with them, as with us, the causes of happiness;
'And, ah! how oft has sorrow pierced the hearts
Yet this race, with all their enjoyments and their sufferings,
In youth's perpetual bloom shall still survive;
groves, the green retreats of happier times,
And still these streams shall flow, though not as once,
Here, too, amid the waste, with blush of morn,
The author closes his poem with an apostrophe to his country, of which we give the following lines.
'When shall that day come?
When shall thy homesick mariner from far
And seabeat coasts, the colonnade sublime
"Enda Mohatink,' and 'the Deserted Wreck,' the two poems which follow, cannot, for reasons already given, be considered as very perfect specimens of narrative poetry. Yet they are written with so much feeling, and so true a sympathy, that in reading them, we must regret that any fault of manner should lessen the interest they might otherwise excite. A variety of miscellaneous poems follow, of different degrees of merit, among which that entitled, 'I thought it slept,' seems to us particularly beautiful.
There is also a collection of Sonnets, from which we extract the following, not only on account of its intrinsic elegance, but because it gives us the opportunity of transferring to our pages a just compliment to an illustrious and highly gifted citizen of our own country.
'Allston! thy name dear to the enlightened few
Still nobly emulous of those sons of art,
Who once the admiring eyes of Greece and Rome
Still dare aspire and mount to Fame's bright home.
The last poem in the collection, entitled Tockwallerdon, reciting an instance of great generosity and heroism in an Indian youth, is the best specimen of narrative poetry in the volume. With the exception of a few passages evidently composed in haste, it is abundantly spirited and impassioned.
We had written thus far, when the volume entitled, Athens and other Poems, by the Author of the Ruins of Pastum, was put into our hands. In addition to the poem, which gives a name to the collection, it contains several miscellaneous compositions in blank verse, all partaking largely of the same interesting qualities, which pervade the volume we have just noticed. We are glad to see in it so many proofs, that the author has employed to good purpose the interval which has elapsed since his first appearance before the public. He shows a greater confidence in his own powers, and more compactness and vigor of thought; and his numbers flow with a more easy and varied modulation. We find too that he has in some measure anticipated our criticisms on his style, and several of the poems in the present collection show, that he has projected certain important changes in his poctical dialect. There is more force and directness, and less of com
monplace in his phraseology. There is not such an expression as 'fair science' in the whole book, and few instances of that capricious collocation of words, not called for by any of the exigencies of blank verse, which put the reader in a sort of despair to know the agent from the object. The poem entitled Athens describes a view of the ruins of that city from the Museum hill, and sets before us the surrounding country, with its picturesque scenery and glorious recollections. We are, however, less pleased with it than with several of the smaller pieces of a pathetic cast, among which are the Ocean Travellers, Florello, Daphne, and Alphonso. We give the following passage from the poem entitled Daphne, because we believe our readers will be pleased with its soft and sober beauty, and because it will help them to understand what we mean, when we speak of the improvement in our author's poetical diction.
'Softly I tread the mazy labyrinth, lest
The rustling noise should interrupt the deep
The mole has burrowed deep and heeds me not,
And covered nook, while at my feet sleep those,
Whom not the crash of worlds shall wake again.' p. 53.
There is a brightness and warmth of coloring about the piece entitled Spring, which suits well with the bloom, and cheerful hopes of the season it describes.
We take the liberty in this place to hint to the author a trifling fault in the mechanism of his verse. We have noticed several lines ending with an unaccented word or syllable, as in the following instances;
'Immortal streams, on your loved banks reposed,
Are seen,' &c. pp. 8, 9.