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And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade
Again, in his “Thanatopsis," there is too much ostentation of purpose expressed in the opening.
“ To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
While we are on this trail we may as well quote a few instances of this peculiarity, and then dismiss the subject altogether. It seems as though Mr. Bryant could not begin a subject in blank verse, without a superfluity of explanation, which materially destroys the pleasure of the perusal. It is
much like impairing the unexpectedness of a play by unnecessarily announcing the denouement before it begins. All writing, more especially poetry, is dramatic, and very much of all its interest depends upon curiosity. In addition to this besetting tendency, alike characteristic of Wordsworth and Bryant, is a prolixity in the opening sentences in many of his poems.
Few poets can write simpler, closer English than Mr. Bryant, but mark how feeble is the commencement of a very fine poem :
“ The time has been that these wild solitudes,
There is a homely phrase of “putting one's best leg foremost;" but our poet seems to take a delight in putting his dullest thought and feeblest verse at the porch of his otherwise fine structures of verse. We should advise the man who opened Bryant for the first time to plunge into the middle of each poem at once, and read right through to the end ; it takes him a dozen lines to get warmed sufficient to go on with his theme. We now dismiss our objections on this score, and consider the brighter side of his poetical world.
In the opening lines to that beautiful composition called "The Burial Place,” there is a piece of quiet painting very effective :
* Erewhile, on England's pleasant shores, our sires Left not their churchyards unadorned with shades
Or blossoms; and indulgent to the strong
We were somewhat jarred at one expression in these lines “ of vegetable beauty”-it sounded strangely out of keeping.
As a diversion from these snatches of blank verse, let us quote a song:
“Soon as the glazed and gleaming snow
Reflects the day-dawn cold and clear,
In depth of woods to seek the deer.
“His rifle on his shoulder placed,
His stores of death arranged with skill,
Why lingers he beside the hill ?
“Far, in the dim and doubtful light,
Where woody slopes a valley leave,
The dwelling of his Genevieve.
6 And oft he turns his truant eye,
And pauses oft, and lingers near ;
He bounds away to hunt the deer.”
We merely point out, as a singular trait in the compositions of so classical a writer as Mr. Bryant, the numerous expletive epithets he indulges in ; he very often weakens the whole force of a thought by one needless or uncharacteristic adjective. We think this line an illustration of our remark:
“ Soon as the glazed and gleaming snow.”
The words “must go” also seem deficient in naturalness of expression.
As a specimen of graceful and elaborate writing few exceed 66 The Indian Girl's Lament."