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" commercial metropolis.” To be sure, his ence with which he sets to work to dispel disposing of the remains of his friend Mr. his own conjurations : Toby Dammit in the manner he did, after
“I have often thought how interesting a the transcendentalists refused to bear the ex
magazine paper might be written by any author penses of that gentleman's funeral, was who would---that is to say, who could---detail, out of the common way; but who ever step by step, the processes by which any one heard Dr. Southwood Smith accused of of his compositions attained its ultimate point inhumanity for dissecting his friend Jeremy of completion. Why such a paper has never Bentham?
been given to the world, I am much at a loss
to say.--but, perhaps, the autorial vanity has All these objections and accusations ap- had more to do with the omission than any one pear to us to have arisen from two sources ;
other cause. Most writers---poets in especial first, his success in gaining, at once, what ---prefer having it understood that they comso many would give their eyes for, viz. : a pose by a species of fine frenzy---an ecstatic reputation; and, secondly, his frankness, intuition--and would positively shudder at or want of self-respect. This leads us to letting the public take a peep behind the speak of his poetry, and of what he has re
scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudi
ties of thought---at the true purposes seized lated respecting his mode of writing it.
only at the last moment---at the innumerable Coleridge, speaking of some of his own glimpses of idea that arrived not at the matupoems, observes : “In this idea originated rity of full view---at the fully matured fanthe plan of the 'Lyrical ballads ;' in which
cies discarded in despair as unmanageable--
at the cautious selections and rejections---at it was agreed that my endeavors should be directed to persons and characters super- word, at the wheels and pinions---the tackle
the painful erasures and interpolations---in a natural, or, at least, romantic; yet so as
for scene-shifting---the step-ladders and deto transfer from our inward nature a human mon-traps---the cock's feathers, the red paint interest, and a semblance of truth, suffici- and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine ent to procure for these shadows of imagin- cases out of the hundred, constitute the proation that willing suspension of disbelief for perties of the literary histrio." the moment, which constitutes poetic
In what follows, wherein he goes minutefaith."
“With this view I wrote the ly into his process of composition, though, *Ancient Mariner, and was preparing, in general, true, he was probably misled by among other poems, the Dark Ladie,'
the character of his mind, his love of specand the Christobel, in which I should ulation, his impatience of littleness, the have more nearly realized my ideal, than I had done in my first attempt.”
perverseness" we have claimed for him,
and a secret delight in mystifying the foolFrom this extract we learn that even
ish--to make it appear that he wrote the that most fanciful of modern poems, the whole poem, as he would have demon"Ancient Mariner," was written in con- strated a problem, and without experienformity with a specific purpose, if not “on cing any state or phase of elevated feeling. a plan.” Doubtless, also, had it served | The poem itself is so sufficient an evidence its author's purpose to enlighten us con- to the contrary, and Poe, in his explanacerning the manner of his composition, he tion, in its mode of construction, “ The Phicould have done so ; for, the existence of losophy of Composition,” has carried bis a design argues forethought in execution. analysis to such an absurd minuteness, that How certain words, rhymes, and similes it is a little suprising there should be any came into his mind, he could not have verdant enough not to perceive he was told; but why he chose that peculiar metre,
“chaffing.” He was enough a boy in his or, at least, that he chose a metre, he could feelings to take delight in quizzing. What have told, and also many other incidents
are most of his stories, but harmless hoaxof the poem's composition.
es ? Horrible faces grin at us in them out Poe has done this with regard to “ The of the darkness; but at the end comes the Raven ;” a much shorter piece, and one author, shews them to be nothing but admitting a more regular ingenuity of con- pumpkin lanterns, and cries “ sold !” in struction—but still a poem full of singular our faces. beauty. His opening remarks in this ana- Probably there is not, in all poetry or lysis show the perfect frankness, or indiffer- | prose, an instance where language is made
to present a more vivid picture to the fancy | And, as imagination bodies forth than in this poem. The mysterious intro
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing duction, the “ tapping,” the appearance
A local habitation and a name." the Raven, and all his doings and sayings, The “ stately Raven,” coming in with are so perfectly in character, (we were once, many years ago, the “ unhappy mas- "many a flirt and flutter ;' the “saintly ter” of one of these birds, who, it was
days of yore”—what days? where? when? ; evident, were in league with the devil,) the “ obeisance,” “mein of lord or lady, ” that we seem actually to see him :
how picturesque! And in the second
stanza every line is the offspring of the “ Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a highest power of poetic vision ; “grave flirt and flutter,
and stern decorum," and In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days
“Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute the Nightly shore, stopped or stayed he;
Tell me what thy lordly name is ON THE Night's But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my
PLUTONIAN SHORE!" chamber door
—where is this “ Nightly shore,” which Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door
we recognize as familiar, like the scenery Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
of a dream that we never saw before?
We seem to have heard of it and to know “ Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into of it, and yet it is a perfectly new region. smiling,
There is an indescribable power in the By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
sound of these words, as also in the march Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I of the lines which precede it. As the said, ' art sure no craven,
product of a pure vividness of fancy, and Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from
à sustained intense feeling, they are as the Nightly shoreTell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's
remarkable as any similar passages in our Plutonian shore!
poetic literature. Quoth the Raven,' Nevermore.'” The natural expression of intense or
elevated feeling is music. Hence in all Perhaps Poe would tell us that, in wri- poetry which has this characteristic, (and ting these stanzas, having determined, upon all poetry has it in greater or less degree,) good reasons, to introduce the Raven in language is used with a power independent some fantastic manner, he then considered of its meaning to the understanding. The what motions a bird of that species would musical expression strives to predominate ; be likely to make, and finally concluded to and it is so ardent that it can even color choose the most natural, as being the most with its fiery glow the cold and unmelofantastic ; and thus, at length, after look- dious sounds of articulate speech ; under ing his dictionary, pitched upon the word its influence the syllables of words fall into "flirt,” which Johnson defines to mean rythmic forms, and the mere confined “a quick, elastic motion,” as most suited range of the vowel sounds and the ordinary to his
purpose; then, finally, connected inflections of sentences, become a chant. with it "flutter," not so much to add to In Shakspeare, the understanding was the meaning, as for the convenience of so alert that it rarely yields to the feeling, the rhyme with “ shutter.” And for such without evidence of a mighty conflict; genharmless“ philosophy of composition” as erally the result is rather a thought-exciting this, he must be set down for a man of no struggle than a triumphant victory:
haps there is no instance in his blank verse, To our apprehension, it is quite impossi- where the musical expression so entirely ble that most of the words and phrases in overpowers the other, that words have a these two stanzas could have been chosen
sense entirely independent of their meanin any other than an elevated state of feeling. But then how beautifully both effects ing—a condition when
are sometimes blended :“The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling,
“ The murmuring surge, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes, heaven,
Cannot be heard so high.”
Where the great vision of the guarded mount, « let the brow overwhelm it,
Looks towards Namancos and Bayona's hold;" As fearfully as doth a galled rock,
How few who have felt the sense of granO'erhand and jutty his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean." deur, vastness, and antiquity here expressOr, perhaps the finest instance is from the ed, understand the fable of Bellerus," or chorus before King Henry's speech :
have a place for Namancos and “Bayona's
hold,” in their geography ? And again :" Suppose that you have seen
“ As when far off at sea a fleet descry'd, The well-appointed King at Hampton Pier Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds, With silken streamers the young Phæbus fanning. Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles Play with your fancies; and in them behold,
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring Upon the hempen tackle, ship-boys climbing:
Their spicy drugs." Hear the shrill whistle which doth order give
We have a distinct recollection what a To sounds confused : behold the threaden sails, Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,
thrill of pleasure it gave to learn long ago Draw the huge bottoms through the furrowed sea, at school, where those islands really were ; Breasting the lofty surge. O do but think, before that it had been sufficient for their You stand upon the rivage, and behold
poetic effect to know that they were islands ; A city ON THE INCONSTANT BILLOWS DANCING !"
now, of course, we enjoy in addition to the It is only in his ballads, however, where he poetry, the pride of knowledge. But pasabandons himself more entirely to the emo- sages in illustration of the musical effect tion, that the musical element so predom- are in Milton without number. Indeed, inates as to render its effect the primary the whole poem, it is possible to conceive, one. Perhaps the dirge in Cymbeline, might be enjoyed by that order of minds, “Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
which have only elevated feelings, without
clear ideas. the serenade in the same play ;
When the gryphon pursues the Arimas" Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,” pian, few stop to inquire what a gryphon and the ballad in “Love's Labor Lost,"
is, who is an Arimaspian, and what pursuit
is alluded to; so far as the idea is con“ When daisies pied and violets blue,"
cerned, it might as well read for “gryphon,” are the readiest examples.
tomson, and for “Arimaspian, PoliopBut even here, though the primary ef- kian. fect of the words is a musical one, that is,
“ And all who since, baptized or infidel, one arising from their sound, in that we
Jousted in Aspramont or Montalban, read them and feel their expression, while Damasco, or Morocco, or Trebisond, our idea of their meaning is indistinct; Or whom Biserta sent from Afric's shore, yet when we come to examine them, we
When Charlemain, with all his peerage, fell
By Fontarabia." find that they have more than an indistinct meaning-a perfectly plain one—so plain So not only in these sublime cadences, but that we wonder it does not strike us at in the common expression of the whole first, (though, familiar as they are, it never poem, the musical so overpowers the logidoes)
cal, that it is possible to feel and relish the But in Milton, and sometimes in others, qualities of the poetry, with only an indiswe have examples where not only the prima- tinct notion of the meaning. Thus, in the ry, but the sole effect of the words is musical, comparison of the swarm of locusts “ warpthe meaning being indistinct. He had a ing on the wind,” the word has so lost meaning, but we enjoy the effect, so far as it its old significance that the meaning is not is purely poetic, without understanding what plain, yet the sound and rythm of the lines is said, and entirely through the sound of do all but create. So in descriptions of of the words. Thus his mere catalogues architecture, "golden architrave," and of names, of which we understand nothing
“Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven," definite, affect us poetically. For example, the passage in Lycidas :
few boys, of the many who it is to be “ Or whether thou to our moist vows deny'd,
hoped,) early learn to love Milton, are so Sleeps't by the fable of Bellerus old,
well up in their architecture as to know
the meaning of these technical words--the extremely artistic construction. And to sole effect to them is through an indistinct counterbalance him, we have, as before obidea of the meaning, just enough to hold served, writers, and their name is legion, the mind interested, joined with a rich whose minds appear to have lost the power flow of language whose words and cadences of sequent thought, whose writing is bald, had their birth in the musical element- unjointed, without form, and void. that very heaven of the fancy, the region Between all such as these (a portion of of pure RAPTURE, which lies above the whom even declined, as we have seen, to plain of things, and whick music alone can reimburse him for the funeral expenses of reach,
his friend Mr. D.,) and Poe, there was, We might multiply insiances out of the necessarily, a wide gulf. Poe's mind, pocts, from Chaucer and Spenser, who though it would have to do with only the abound in them, down to the best of our fragilest ideas, and though ever grasping, own time and country. Marvell, per- and never comprehensive, yet worked chance, caught the lyric power from himn beautifully within its range, while it rewhom he called friend; Collins was a mained unbroken. When he chose, there sweet singer; Gray called the Eolian lyre is no writer who ever had a more perfect to awake, and under bis hand it did awake. command of his native style, or could purNearer us we have Campbell, Wordsworth, sue a flight of subtle thoughts more closely and one of the greatest natural masters of and rapidly. The minuteness of his demusical effect, if Scotchmen tell us truly, scription never wearies. His taste, also, Burns; the power of his broad Scotch can- was like the tunica conjunctiva of the eye, not be properly estimated by any but his sensitive to the least motes; we never know, countrymen; but there is one little change in the “Gold Bug,” whether the scarabeus of a word in Tam O'Shanter which shows is a supernatural insect or only a mechanithe genius :
cal contrivance; we never know who sent
the Raven from “the Night's Plutonian “ Or, like the rainbow's lovely form,
Shore !" it would have been less mysteriEVANISHING amid the storm."
ous in either case if we had been told. In Who could have taught him to use that some of his later things we see where his almost obsolete word with such power ? physical strength was failing him, and his For it really sets the whole line quivering mental power getting enfeebled through like a flash of lightning.
“too much conceiving ;” we see it, as we Coleridge's Kubla Khan is the first in can see it, in a greater or less degree, in stance, that we are aware of, in which an the working of all minds which are or have attempt is made by an assumed, yet not been overwrought. But even in these unnatural, indistinctness of meaning, to things---even in Eureka-to read is like portray a phase of feeling too subtle and wandering through the ruins of a fair city evanescent to be touched with definites that has been pillaged by barbarians; there About his time, the same thing was done sacred things wantonly mutilated, by Beethoven in music ; among his trifles, beautiful images broken and scattered, and “bagatelles," as they are rightly named, yet still enough left to show the original for the piano, are some which begin sanely structure. and run off into actual wildness ; in his What rank Poe is to take in the catalogue last symphony, and in some of his posthu- of our poets, Time will assign him, in the mous works, he is thought to have ven- face of all that might be urged by the most tured too far unintentionally. In painting, sagacious reviewer. But as Tíme never too, the notion of aiming at only a single
tells his secrets till they are found out, we effect has arisen, and is a favorite one with may be excused for offering an opinion. a numerous class of artists. And in litera- That Poe will long be considered, as he ture, we have, at last, Poe, who writes
is now, a poet of singular genius, there can poems that move us deeply, but in which be no question. What he attempted, had the meaning is only hinted at, and even never been attempted before; and he sucthat sometimes so obscurely that it is im- ceeded in it. He wrote poems addressed possible to find out an unbroken connection; to the feelings, wherein the meaning is but there is always an evident design and an | designedly vague and subordinate. As
long as our language retains its present By the lakes that thus outspread shape and inflection, we think the musical Their lone waters, lone and dead,
Their sad waters, sad and chilly effects of these poems will be felt and ac
With the snows of the lolling lily, knowledged. But when the next change By the mountains near the river comes over it—and that might be very Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,soon, by the sudden uprising of a great
By the grey woods,-by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp, poet, with a new song in his mouth,—they
By the dismal tarns and pools will be forgotten. For they have no power Where dwell the Ghouls, to stay change. Their indistinctness does
By each spot the most unholynot arise, like the indistinctness of Milton In each nook most melancholy, and Shakspeare, from the reader's igno
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memoirs of the Past rance, and hence there is nothing in them
Shrouded forms that start and sigh to keep them forever in the world's eye; As they pass the wanderer byno learning, nor any powerful burden of White-robed forms of friends long given, true philosophy to overawe the majority In agony, to the Earth-and Heaven. who have no perception of poetic beauty.
For the heart whose woes are legion Hence, also, though Poe succeeded, mar- 'Tis a peaceful, soothing regionvellously succeeded, yet we cannot find it For the spirit that walks in shadow in our heart to wish what he accomplished
'Tis-oh 'tis an Eldorado! ever to be undertaken again. We would
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not—dare not openly view it; prefer to keep the old lines distinct; to
Never its mysteries are exposed have neither poetry or music, the brother To the weak human eye unclosed; or the sister, infringe upon each other's So wills its King, who hath forbid domain. The mind is never permanently
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes satisfied with single effects; when the first
Beholds it but through darkened glasses. glow has passed, we look deeper, and if there is no fuel the fire goes down. Hence,
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only, also, again, though we now feel the excel
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, lence of Poe so strongly, it is with a sort of On a black throne reigás upright, misgiving that we may outgrow or become I have wandered home but newly indifferent to him hereafter.
From this ultimate dim Thule.” We will quote one or two of his pieces, which may be new to our readers, to illus- The repetition with which the third stanza, trate an observation upon some of his pe
or strophe, commences, “By the lakes that culiarities of construction. The following thus outspread,”. &c., is one of Poe's ob
It occurs in every has much of the form and effect of a wild vious peculiarities. rondo in music :
stanza of the Raven, &c. “DREAM-LAND.
* Eagerly I wished the morrow ;-vainly I had
sought to borrow By a route obscure and lonely,
From my books surcease of sorrow-sorrow for Haunted by ill angels only,
the lost LenoreWhere an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the an. On a black throne reigns upright,
gels name Lenore.” I have reached these lands but newly From an ultimate dim Thule
The same repetition makes “ Ululume" From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime, nearly twice as long as it would be without Out of Space-out of Time.
it: Bottomless vales and boundless floods, And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
“ The skies they were ashen and sober; With forms that no man can discover
The leaves they were crisped and sere : For the dews that drip all over ;
The leaves they were withering and sere." Mountains toppling evermore Into seas without a shore;
We observe it also in “ The Bells,” “AnSeas that restlessly aspire,
nabel Lee,” “Eulalie," and other pieces Surging, unto skies of fire ;
-indeed, indications of a tendency to a Lakes that endlessly outspread Their lone waterslone and dead,
similar form may be traced in his prose. Their still waters still and chilly
This form was natural to Mr. Poe beWith the snows of the lolling lily.
cause it is the natural expression of intense