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Whatever excites the mind into a state of fervor, whatever powerfully awakens the feelings, is listened to and applauded. It may be vague, fantastic, and shapeless, produced by a sort of extemporaneous effort, and sent abroad without the labor of revision. It will not have the less chance of becoming, for a time at least, popular. The press was never more prolific than at present. A great deal is written, and, as might be naturally supposed, much is written in haste. The mass of popular literature is swelling to an overgrown bulk ; but much of it is crude, coarse, and immature. Mr Bryant has not been seduced by the temptations to slovenliness and negligence, which the age holds out to view; but, on the contrary, he affords a happy specimen of genuine, classical English. We are gratified to meet with such examples, 'especially among the distinguished and favored poets of our own country. It. augurs well for the interests of taste and letters.
We cannot express in too strong terms our approbation of the moral and devotional spirit, that breathes from all, which Mr Bryant writes. Poetry, which is conversant with the deeper feelings of the heart, as well as the beautiful forms of outward nature, has, we conceive, certain affinities with devotion. It is connected with all our higher and holier emotions, and should send out an exalting, a healing, and sustaining influence. We are pleased to find such an influence pervading every strain, uttered by a poet of so much richness of fancy, of so much power and sweetness, as Mr Bryant. No sentiment or expression ever drops from him, which the most rigid moralist would wish to blot. His works we may put into the hands of youth, confident, that in proportion as they become familiar with them, the best sympathies of their nature will be strengthened, and the moral taste be rendered more refined and delicate. Much of bis poetry is description ; but his descriptions are fitted to "instruct our piety,' and impart a warmth and glow of moral feeling.
We hasten to one or two extracts, as contained in the volume before us. "The Murdered Traveller'is picturesque, affecting, and solemn. The scene is portrayed with a distinctness, which
a causes the heart to shudder.
When Spring to woods and wastes around,
Brought bloom and joy again ;
Far down a narrow glen.
The fragrant birch, above him, hung
Her tassels in the sky ;
And nodded, careless, by.
His hanging nest o'erhead,
Her young the partridge led.
And gentle eyes, for him,
Grew sorrowful and dim.
The fearful death he met,
Unarmed, and hard beset.
The northern dawn was red,
To banquet on the dead.
They dressed the hasty bier,
Unmoistened by a tear.
Within his distant home;
For joy that he was come.
His welcome step again,
Far down that narrow glen. pp. 9, 10. We need not point out to those, who are familiar with the appearance of our forests in spring, the exquisite truth and beauty of the two lines,
The fragrant birch, above him, hung
Her tassels in the sky;' which occur in the second stanza. Such minute and inimitable beauties are scattered over every page of this author's narrative andd escriptive poetry. They go to show his careful observation
of nature, which we consider one of his striking characteristics, and which constitutes one point of resemblance between him and Cowper. We add, it is his habit of minute and diligent observation, which renders his pictures so purely. American. His descriptions have a definite locality. They apply to American scenery, and to no other.
The · Hymn’ is a rich offering of the fancy and heart. The following are the introductory lines.
The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned
Acceptance in his ear. We assure our readers, that much of what Mr Bryant has contributed to the present collection, is as good as that we have here offered them. We will not undertake to point out passages of the greatest beauty. The true lover of poetry will be at no loss in discovering them.
Of Mr Percival, who, next to Mr Bryant, is the largest contributor, less needs be said here, as we have in the preceding pages of our present number spoken somewhat at length concerning him. He has copiousness, we may say exuberance, both of matter and words; a rich and excursive imagination, which delights to revel amid gorgeous and airy forms of beauty ; and often throws off lines of great vigor and sweetness. He has
happy moments of inspiration, and with more labor of revision, with greater willingness to reject what serves only to embarrass the
sense, and more care in selecting from the wilderness of thick coming fancies' only what is adapted to his purpose, he
, might exert a magic influence over our hearts. His narratives are apt to be overloaded or perplexed. The consequence is, the attention is encumbered or distracted, and the impression weakened. His contributions to this volume, as well as his other works, bear the stamp of true genius, but show too frequent marks of carelessness in the execution.
After all, Mr Percival's poetry is of a fascinating character. Amid his negligent versification, his wildness and redundance, he has strains of surpassing beauty. The pieces he has contributed to the present collection bear the characteristic traits of his genius, though they are not chargeable with all the faults, which disfigure some of his larger productions. Several of them are lofty and beautiful creations.
· The Graves of the Patriots,' though not altogether faultless in expression, contains bursts of genuine and exalted feeling. The sines on · Spring' are gay and airy, and the progress of the Zephyr fancifully described. The Desolate City' is fearfully impressive. Of the piece entitled, “Painting-a Personification, we give the opening and concluding parts.
One bright sunshiny autumn day,
And clear as a mirrored sheet it lay;
And phantoms would come and pass away,
Now for the touch of a master hand-
pp. 116, 117, 120, 121. The beauty of the above extract is marred by occasional slovenliness of execution. We refer particularly to the description of the changing expression of the lips, in the last eight or ten lines, which is clumsy and perplexed.
Among Mr Percival's other pieces, “The Last Song of the