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Poetry: A Metrical Essay
by [?]



This Academic Poem presents the simple and partial views of a young
person trained after the schools of classical English verse as
represented by Pope, Goldsmith, and Campbell, with whose lines his
memory was early stocked. It will be observed that it deals chiefly with
the constructive side of the poet’s function. That which makes him a
poet is not the power of writing melodious rhymes, it is not the
possession of ordinary human sensibilities nor even of both these
qualities in connection with each other. I should rather say, if I were
now called upon to define it, it is the power of transfiguring the
experiences and shows of life into an aspect which comes from his
imagination and kindles that of others. Emotion is its stimulus and
language furnishes its expression; but these are not all, as some might
infer was the doctrine of the poem before the reader.

A common mistake made by young persons who suppose themselves to have
the poetical gift is that their own spiritual exaltation finds a true
expression in the conventional phrases which are borrowed from the
voices of the singers whose inspiration they think they share.

Looking at this poem as an expression of some aspects of the ars
, with some passages which I can read even at this mature period
of life without blushing for them, it may stand as the most serious
representation of my early efforts. Intended as it was for public
delivery, many of its paragraphs may betray the fact by their somewhat
rhetorical and sonorous character.

SCENES of my youth! awake its slumbering fire!
Ye winds of Memory, sweep the silent lyre!
Ray of the past, if yet thou canst appear,
Break through the clouds of Fancy’s waning year;
Chase from her breast the thin autumnal snow,
If leaf or blossom still is fresh below!

Long have I wandered; the returning tide
Brought back an exile to his cradle’s side;
And as my bark her time-worn flag unrolled,
To greet the land-breeze with its faded fold,
So, in remembrance of my boyhood’s time,
I lift these ensigns of neglected rhyme;
Oh, more than blest, that, all my wanderings through,
My anchor falls where first my pennons flew!

. . . . . . . . .

The morning light, which rains its quivering beams
Wide o’er the plains, the summits, and the streams,
In one broad blaze expands its golden glow
On all that answers to its glance below;
Yet, changed on earth, each far reflected ray
Braids with fresh hues the shining brow of day;
Now, clothed in blushes by the painted flowers,
Tracks on their cheeks the rosy-fingered hours;
Now, lost in shades, whose dark entangled leaves
Drip at the noontide from their pendent eaves,
Fades into gloom, or gleams in light again
From every dew-drop on the jewelled plain.

We, like the leaf, the summit, or the wave,
Reflect the light our common nature gave,
But every sunbeam, falling from her throne,
Wears on our hearts some coloring of our own
Chilled in the slave, and burning in the free,
Like the sealed cavern by the sparkling sea;
Lost, like the lightning in the sullen clod,
Or shedding radiance, like the smiles of God;
Pure, pale in Virtue, as the star above,
Or quivering roseate on the leaves of Love;
Glaring like noontide, where it glows upon
Ambition’s sands,–the desert in the sun,–
Or soft suffusing o’er the varied scene
Life’s common coloring,–intellectual green.