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ELIZABETH B. BARRETT.
AMERICAN readers have as yet seen but few of the productions of this lady, but she has already made herself a home in the hearts of the people; a proof that the popular taste does not lie altogether in the direction of singsong echoes, sickly sentiment, or empty blank verse; and a proof, too, in her own case, that the most varied acquirements of learning do not impair the subtlest delicacy of thought and feeling.
Miss BARRETT, in her earlier works and first adventurous attempts, is the poetess of angels and seraphim, breathing a rare and elevated atmosphere, too rare for habitual contemplation. In her later style, she is the sweet poetess of meditation and thought, of a deep and pure spirituality, of
In the pure fountain of eternal love.
Compare the eloquence of her poem entitled "Cowper's Grave," with what generally passes for Byronic eloquence, and mark the difference. Here is thought compact and close, enthusiasm fresh from the heart, noble domestic incident, and sorrow as gentle and as mild as ever breathed from a human bosom. Mark the pathos, the tenderness, the deep sympathy in the poem, "The Sleep."
Miss BARRETT's productions are unique in this age of lady authors. They have the "touch of nature," in common with the best; they have, too, sentiment, passion, and fancy in the highest degree, without any imitation of NORTON, HEMANS, or LANDON.
cellence is her own; her mind is coloured by what it feeds on; the fine tissue of her flowing style comes to us from the loom of Grecian thought. She is the learned poetess of the day, familiar with HOMER and ESCHYLUS and SOPHOCLES; and to the musings of Tempe she has added the inspiration of Christianity, "above all Greek, all Roman fame." She has translated the Prometheus, to the delight of scholars, and has contributed a series of very valuable prose papers "On the Poetry of the Early Church," to the London "Athenæum." Her reading Greek recalls to us ROGER ASCHAM's anecdote of Lady JANE
GREY; but Lady JANE GREY has left us no such verses.
A striking characteristic of Miss BARRETT'S verse, is its prevailing seriousness, approaching to solemnity-a garb borrowed from the "sceptred pall" of her favourite Greek drama of fate. She loses much with the general reader, by a dim mysticism; but many of her later poems are entirely free from any such defect. The great writers whom she loves will teach her the plain, simple, universal language of poetry.
Her dreams and abstractions, though "caviàre to the generale," have their admirers, who will ever find in pure and elevated philosophy, expressed in the words of enthusiasm, the living presence of poetry. On Parnassus there are many groves: far from the dust of the highway, embosomed in twilight woods, that seem to symbol Reverence and Faith trusting on the unseen, we may hear, in the whispering of the trees, the wavering breath of insect life, the accompaniment of our poet's strain. Despise not dreams and reveries. With COWLEY, Miss BARRETT vindicates herself. The father of poets tells us, even dreams, too, are from God."
Miss BARRETT has published two volumes of poetry, "Prometheus Bound, and Miscellaneous Poems," in 1833, and "The Seraphim and other Poems," in 1838; and we understand that she has a forthcoming volume in the press. It will be a welcome one to all lovers of true poetry.
In our judgment, Miss BARRETT is destined, in due time, to take her place at the head of the female poets of Great Britain. The noble ardour with which she writes, makes us believe that this new volume will go far toward determining the question.
Of her personal history, we know very little. She resides in London, and is one of the stars in a brilliant constellation of scholars, philosophers, and poets. She was a contributor, with WORDSWORTH, HUNT, and HORNE, to "Chaucer Modernized," and besides her prose writings in "The Athenæum," has written for that admirable gazette some of her finest poems.
I will invite thee, from thy envious herse
It is a place where poets crown'd
May weep amid their praying-
As low as silence languish ; Earth surely now may give her calm To whom she gave her anguish.
O poets! from a maniac's tongue
Was pour'd the deathless singing!
Your weary paths beguiling,
And now, what time ye all may read
And darkness on the glory
And how, when, one by one, sweet sounds And wandering lights departed,
He wore no less a loving face,
Because so broken-hearted.
He shall be strong to sanctify
The poet's high vocation,
And bow the meekest Christian down
Nor ever shall he be in praise
With sadness that is calm, not gloom,
On God, whose heaven hath won him―
Where breath and bird could find him; And wrought within his shatter'd brain Such quick poetic senses,
As hills have language for, and stars
The pulse of dew upon the grass
The very world, by God's constraint, From falsehood's chill removing, Its women and its men became
Beside him true and loving!
And timid hares were drawn from woods
With sylvan tendernesses.
But while in blindness he remain'd,
Though frenzy desolated,-
Whom only God created!
Like a sick child, that knoweth not
The coolness of her kisses;
That turns his fever'd eyes around
"My mother! where's my mother?"As if such tender words and looks
Could come from any other!
The fever gone, with leaps of heart
Th' unweary love she bore him—
Which closed in death to save him!
Thus! oh, not thus! no type of earth
Deserted! who hath dreamt that when
The cross in darkness rested, Upon the Victim's hidden face
No love was manifested?
What frantic hands outstretched have e'er
What tears have washed them from the soul-
Deserted! God could separate
From His own essence rather:
It went up from the Holy's lips
That of the lost, no son should use
Those words of desolation;
That earth's worst frenzies, marring hope,
NAPOLEON! years ago, and that great word,
Napoleon! Foemen, while they cursed that name,
Napoleon! Sages with high foreheads droop'd,
And this name brake the silence of the snows
Yea! this, they shouted near the pyramidal
Motion'd them back with stillness! Shouts as idle
The world's face changed to hear it. Kingly men
Napoleon! The cavernous vastitude
The name which scatter'd in a ruining blare
And Germany was 'ware-and Italy
For, verily, though Gaul augustly rose
To wield a sword, or fit an undersized
King's crown to a great man's head! And though along
Her Paris streets, did float on frequent streams
Napoleon! 't was a high name lifted high !
The kings crept out the people sate at home,-
A deep gloom center'd in the deep repose—
Nay! not so long! France kept her old affection,
And England answers in the courtesy
Because it was not well, it was not well,
To bind and bare, and vex with vulture fell.
Of a fall'n foe and exile! We return Orestes to Electra... in his urn!
A little urn-a little dust inside,
Of Paris, how the wild tears will run down,
And run back in the chariot-marks of time,
And grave-deep, 'neath the cannon-moulded column !
There, weapon spent and warrior spent may rest
And if they ask'd for "rights," he made reply,
He ruled them like a tyrant-true! but none
I do not praise this man-the man was flaw'd, For Adam-much more, Christ!-his knee, unbent
His hand, unclean-his aspiration, pent
I think a nation's tears, pour'd thus together,
The crown'd Napoleon or his senseless dust
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN.
Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers! Ere the sorrow comes with years? mothers, They are leaning their young heads against their And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows, The young birds are chirping in the nest, The young fawns are playing in the shadows,
The young flowers are blowing from the west; But the young, young children, O my brothers! They are weeping bitterly!
They are weeping in the playtime of the others, In the country of the free.
Do you question the young children in their sorrow,
The old man may weep for his to-morrow
The old tree is leafless in the forest,
The old year is ending in the frost;
They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
For the man's grief untimely draws and presses
"Your old earth," they say, "is very dreary;"
Ask the old why they weep, and not the children,
"True," say the young children, "it may happen That we die before our time!
Little Alice died last year, the grave is shapen Like a snow-ball, in the rime.
We look'd into the pit prepared to take her,
Was no room for any work in the close clay! From the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake her, Crying-Get up, little Alice, it is day!'
If you listen by that grave in sun and shower,
With your ear down, little Alice never cries; Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her, [eyes.
For the new smile which has grown within her For merry go her moments, lull'd and still'd in The shroud, by the kirk chime!
It is good when it happens," say the children,
Laugh aloud to feel your fingers let them through! But the children say, "Are cowslips of the meadows Like the weeds anear the mine ?* Leave us quiet in the dark of our coal shadows From your pleasures fair and fine.
"For oh!" say the children, "we are weary,
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
We fall on our face trying to go;
The reddest flowers would look as pale as snow; For all day, we drag our burden tiring,
Through the coal-dark underground, Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iror In the factories round and round.
"All day long the wheels are droning, turning, Their wind comes in our faces! [burning, Till our hearts turn, and our heads with pulses And the walls turn in their places! [ing, Turns the sky in the high window blank and reelTurns the long light that droopeth down the wall, Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling, Are all turning all the day, and we with all! All day long, the iron wheels are droning,
And sometimes we could pray,
O ye wheels (breaking off in a mad moaning,) Stop! be silent for to-day!'"
Ay, be silent let them hear each other breathing, For a moment, mouth to mouth; [wreathing Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh Of their tender human youth;
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion
Is not all the life God giveth them to feel; Let them prove their inward souls against the notion That they live in you, or under you, O wheels! Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,
As if fate in each were stark!
Now tell the weary children, O my brothers!
For the bless'd One who blesseth all the others,
Is it likely God with angels singing round Him,
Two words, indeed, of praying we remember;
* A commissioner mentions the fact of weeds being thus confounded with the idea of flowers.
The report of the commissioners present repeated instances of children, whose religious devotion is confined to the repetition of the two first words of the Lord's Prayer.
We say no other words except " Our Father!” And we think that, in some pause of angels' song, He may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather,
And hold both in His right hand, which is strong. Our Father! If He heard us, He would surelyFor they call Him good and mildAnswer, smiling down the steep world very purely, "Come and rest with me, my child."
"But no," say the children, weeping faster,
And they tell us, of His image is the master
"Go to!" say the children; "up in Heaven,
Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find!
For God's possible is taught by His world's loving,
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
They know the grief of men, but not the wisdom, They sink in their despair, with hope at calm, Are slaves without liberty in Christdom,
Are martyrs by the pang without the palm!
Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly,
They look up, with their pale and sunken faces,
For you think you see their angels in their places, With eyes meant for Deity.
"How long," they say, "how long, O cruel nation! Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart?
Trample down with mailéd heel its palpitation,
SERAPH AND POET.
THE seraph sings before the manifest
God-one, and in the burning of the Seven; And with the full life of consummate heaven. Heaving beneath him, like a mother's breast, Warm with her first-born's slumber in that nest:
The poet sings upon the earth, grave-riven, Before the naughty world, soon self-forgiven For wronging him, and in the darkness prest
From his own soul by worldly weights. Even so, Sing, seraph, with the glory! Heaven is high! Sing, poet, with the sorrow! Earth is low! The universe's inward voices cry "Amen" to either voice of joy and wo. Sing, poet, seraph-sing on equally.