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The red wild feathers on his brow were blent,
In the foregoing stanzas we particularly admire the line“ 'Till now, in Gertrude's eyes, their ninth blue summer
shone.” It appears to us like the ecstatic union of natural beauty and poetic fancy, and in its playful sublimity resembles the azure canopy mirrored in the smiling waters, bright, liquid, serene, heavenly! A great outcry, we know, has prevailed for some time past against poetic diction and affected conceits, and, to a certain degree, we go along with it; but this must not prevent us from feeling the thrill of pleasure when we see beauty linked to beauty, like kindred flame to flame, or from applauding the voluptuous fancy that raises and adorns the fairy fabric of thought, that nature has begun! Pleasure is “scattered in stray-gifts o'er the earth”—beauty streaks the “ famous poet's page” in occasional lines of inconceivable brightness; and wherever this is the case, no splenetic censures or “ jealous leer malign,” no idle theories or cold indifference should hinder us from greeting it with rapture. There are other parts of this poem equally delightful, in which there is a
light startling as the red-bird's wing; a perfume like that of the magnolia ; a music like the murmuring of pathless woods or of the everlasting ocean. We conceive, however, that Mr. Campbell excels chiefly in sentiment and imagery. The story moves slow, and is mechanically conducted, and rather resembles a Scotch canal carried over lengthened aqueducts and with a number of locks in it, than one of those rivers that sweep in their majestic course, broad and full, over Transatlantic plains and lose themselves in rolling gulfs, or thunder down lofty precipices. But in the centre, the inmost recesses of our poet's heart, the pearly dew of sensibility is distilled and collects, like the diamond in the mine, and the structure of his fame rests on the crystal columns of a polished imagination. We prefer the Gertrude to the Pleasures of Hope, because with perhaps less brilliancy, there is more of tenderness and natural imagery in the former. In the Pleasures of Hope Mr. Campbell had not completely emancipated himself from the trammels of the more artificial style of poetry—from epigram, and antithesis, and hyperbole. The best line in it, in which earthly joys are said to be
“ Like angels' visits, few and far between”is a borrowed one.* But in the Gertrude of Wyoming “ we perceive a softness coming over the heart of the author, and the scales and crust of formality, that fence in his couplets and give them a somewhat glittering and rigid appearance, fall off," and he has succeeded in engrafting the wild and more expansive interest of the romantic school of poetry on classic elegance and precision. After the poem we have just named, Mr. Campbell's Songs are the happiest efforts of his Muse :—breathing freshness, blushing like the morn, they seem, like clustering roses, to weave a chaplet for love and liberty; or their bleeding words gush out in mournful and hurried succession, like “ruddy drops that visit the sad heart” of thoughtful Humanity. The Battle of Hohenlinden is of all modern compositions the most lyrical in spirit and in sound. To justify this encomium, we need only recall the lines to the reader's memory.
* “ Like angels' visits, short and far between"
“ On Linden, when the sun was low,
All bloodless lay th' untrodden snow,
By torch and trumpet fast array'd,
Then shook the hills with thunder riv'n,
But redder yet that light shall glow
'Tis morn, but scarce yon level sun
The combat deepens. On, ye brave,
Few, few shall part, where many meet !
Mr. Campbell's prose-criticisms on contemporary and other poets (which have appeared in the New Monthly Magazine) are in a style at once chaste, temperate, guarded, and just.
Mr. Crabbe presents an entire contrast to Mr. Campbell :—the one is the most ambitious and as
* Is not this word, which occurs in the last line but one, (as well as before) an instance of that repetition, which we so often meet with in the most correct and elegant writers ?
piring of living poets, the other the most humble and prosaic. If the poetry of the one is like the arch of the rainbow, spanning and adorning the earth, that of the other is like a dull, leaden cloud hanging over it. Mr. Crabbe's style might be cited as an answer to Audrey's question — “Is poetry a true thing?" There are here no ornaments, no flights of fancy, no illusions of sentiment, no tinsel of words. His song is one sad reality, one unraised, unvaried note of unavailing woe. Literal fidelity serves him in the place of invention; he assumes importance by a number of petty details; he rivets attention by being tedious. He not only deals in incessant matters of fact, but in matters of fact of the most familiar, the least animating, and the most unpleasant kind; but he relies for the effect of novelty on the microscopic minuteness with which he dissects the most trivial objects-and for the interest he excites, on the unshrinking determination with which he handles the most painful. His poetry has an official and professional air. He is called in to cases of difficult births, of fractured limbs, or breaches of the peace; and makes out a parochial list of accidents and offences. He takes the most trite, the most gross and obvious and revolting part of nature, for the subject of his elaborate descriptions ; but it is Nature still, "and Nature is a great and mighty Goddess ! It is well for the Reverend Author that it is so. Individuality is, in his theory, the only